(cross posted from the best forum ever, as bob as declared it)
This is the quote
In the present work, 36 healthy, well-educated volunteers-most of them middle-aged-with no family history of psychosis or bipolar disorder were selected. All had active spiritual practices. “We thought a familiarity with spiritual practice would give them a framework for interpreting their experiences and that they’d be less likely to be confused or troubled by them,” Griffiths says. All gave informed consent to the study approved by Hopkins’ institutional review board.
They took people that they felt wouldn’t be too freaked out by the experience. Active spiritual practices doesn’t mean they were all new agey and expecting to have mushrooms have effects on them, it means they believed in some sort of spiritualness and practiced it. I read that as they were religious people, in one way or another.
In designing the study, researchers had to overcome or at least, greatly minimize two hurdles: the risk of adverse side-effects and the likelihood that the expectations of getting the test drug or the placebo would influence subjects’ perceptions.
To lessen the former, each subject met several times, before drug sessions began, with a reassuring “monitor,” a medical professional experienced in observing drug study participants. Monitors stayed with them during the capsule-taking sessions. Actual trials took place in a room outfitted like a comfortable, slightly upscale living room, with soft music and indirect, non-laboratory lighting. Heart rate and blood pressure were measured throughout.
The researchers countered “expectancy” by having both monitors and subjects “blinded” to what substance would be given. For ethical reasons, subjects were told about hallucinogens’ possible effects, butalso learned they could, instead, get other substances-weak or strong-that might change perception or consciousness. Most important, a third “red herring” group of six subjects had two blinded placebo sessions, then were told they’d receive psilocybin at a third. This tactic-questionnaires later verified-kept participants and monitors in the dark at the first two sessions about each capsule’s contents.
They created a good place to trip, that’s all. The people there to help them didn’t know they whether they were being given the drugs or not.
Then again, to be fair, I’m predisposed to believe this sort of thing because too much history has shown otherwise (i.e. - thousands of years of medicine men).