Did Magic Mushrooms Shape Human Consciousness?

Magic mushrooms and our primate ancestors

Photo illustration by Mark Riechers

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Magic mushrooms go way back in human history. People have been eating them, and tripping, and even worshiping mushrooms for millennia. Some people even believe eating psychedelic mushrooms led directly to the origins of human consciousness — essentially, the mushroom made us human. The "Stoned Ape Theory" is wildly improbable, but people can't stop talking about it.

Steve Paulson talks with ethnobotanist Dennis McKenna, bestselling author Michael Pollan and neuroscientist Robin Carhart-Harris about the remarkable history of the sacred mushroom.