Archive for Month: November 2022
Eight billion people, and beyond
As of today, there are an estimated eight billion human beings on our planet. That’s great. More human beings is a positive thing. Every new human being brings more consciousness, meaning, and potential into the universe.
Our planet could sustainably hold and provide for eight billion people. However, at this moment, we don’t have the appropriate structures to do this, but instead we are wasting non-renewable resources and polluting our own nest at a truly terrifying rate. Changing these circumstances is, clearly, the greatest and most immediate challenge of our times.
Global population growth appears to be slowing down. With environmental challenges this large, this is probably a good thing in the short term. As our problems related to the environment and climate are better under control, I look forward to more rapid population growth later.
Biological (or cybernetic) immortality, which seems likely to be achieved within the next century, will in any case accelerate population growth once more. This is no reason not to strive for this most important goal for the near future of humanity. But as the human population continues to grow well beyond its current size, we will of course need to expand onto other planets or into outer space otherwise.
These three I consider the most important challenges for humanity as of today: overcoming death, developing a balanced relationship with our planet and a sustainable way of living on it, and expanding beyond our home planet. Insofar as we will not receive help in these endeavors from other possible sentient species out there, we will have to face these challenges by ourselves. For one or a thousand people, they would surely be insurmountable. That’s why I’m glad there’s eight billion of us.
Largest study of psilocybin for depression published with fairly positive results
Several companies and research groups continue to investigate the potential effectiveness of psilocybin, a classic serotonin 2A receptor agonist psychedelic, or psilocybin-assisted (psycho)therapy for several psychiatric indications, chief among them depression.
Results of the largest RCT on psilocybin-assisted treatment of treatment-resistant depression to date, with 233 patients, are now out in the New England Journal of Medicine. The main results from this private phase 2b study have previously been presented in press releases, however.
In the final published results by Goodwin et al. (2022), one session of 25 mg of psilocybin, combined with psychological support during the dosing session and a few preparatory and integrative therapeutic sessions reduced depressive symptoms more than smaller doses (10 mg, 1 mg). Compared to previous research and expectations, however, the results may still be considered modest, maybe even disappointing. In the treatment group, 37% of patients had a significant response and 29% were in remission three weeks after treatment, compared with 19/18% and 8/8% of patients in the 10/1 mg groups. At 12 weeks, a sustained response was seen in 20% of patients in the treatment group.