Discovering Terence McKenna and the Tyranny of Neoteny

The greatest benefit of having a resource like the Internet is the way it makes so much information available. The chance of making serendipitous discoveries is enormously increased by being able to interrogate and cross-reference vast databases, such as those of Google and YouTube, and this birthday weekend was no exception… I listened again to someone I had heard of previously and respected but did not view often enough, and discovered that he had hit a nail quite squarely on the head some time before he died…

Also, since I begin writing this piece of extended bile, over the big pond in America they had an election, and what a surprise, the candidate favoured by the press lost! And in the process of trying to condition the electorate into believing that Killary was a better bet than Flump (as if this really represented any kind of reasonable choice), they lost their own credibility forever. The notion that the American press are ‘free and impartial’ is gone, and people are looking to alternative news sources for a true account of reality – and Europe has wasted no time in trying to enact legislation to stifle the voices of the genuinely ‘free’ sources. But more of that later…

To celebrate my 53rd birthday (quietly), and by invitation, I took a bus to Changwon that Friday [8] afternoon and stayed at my customary motel. The ‘party’ was, alas, merely four of us, but of course, it’s the fact that those few people cared enough to come and give whatever gifts they felt were fitting for the occasion that is most important.

We’ll skip over that event, and cut to the early hours of the morning: munching on a couple of cheese toast sandwiches (my avoidance of gluten-rich products tossed temporarily out of the window due to a case of the munchies), I found that there was plenty of unsecured wifi available to that room, and watched a very interesting two-hour lecture by the late Terence McKenna:

(The point in question is at about 31:30 minutes into play time)

For those of you not familiar with this person, he became famous for his studies of ethnobotany and the relationships between psychedelic plant extracts and shamanism, and their use as entheogens [1]. Like many of those who have sampled potent psychedelics (although this is not absolutely necessary, of course), his mind became much more open to ideas which conventional ‘education’ (read: ‘social control propaganda’) would otherwise stifle and suppress, and he made a set of remarks which, even at that early hour and with a masticated glob of cheese toast sliding down my throat, struck a chord and made me realise that he was discussing precisely what I myself had been suspecting for a very long time, although perhaps using a rather different phraseology: the inculcation of a state of neoteny in humans as a means of social and psychological control.

McKenna’s extended description of ‘neoteny’ was not as accurate as I myself would have preferred, although his initial definition was fair enough: in animals, neoteny consists of the retention of larval (or other immature) body features whilst simultaneously being able to reproduce. In other words, the retention of juvenile morphological features of the species in the adult morph; this is also referred to as paedomorphism or paedomorphosis. When I was younger, the most commonly-quoted example of neoteny was that of the Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), in which retention of neotenous features is postulated to be part of a survival mechanism in environments which tend to be low in available iodine, which is required for the thyroid gland to produce the growth hormone thyroxine. Experimentation showed that administration of iodine, either as an injection or in food, permits an increase in thyroxine production and consequent metamorphosis to the adult (salamander) form.

The main neotenous features observed in Axolotls are the retention of the larval tail and external gills, as well as underdeveloped fore and hindlimbs, but they are able to produce viable sex cells, and thus also reproduce. More widely, however, as the term refers to the retention of juvenile features in adults, there are notionally ‘neotenous’ features which separate humans morphologically from both supposedly ‘ancestral’ primates (surviving apes have more extensive body hair than humans, for example) and other cultural or other ethnic groupings within the species (see [2]). Interestingly, commentators such as the late Lloyd Pye also pointed to a range of such features which, it was claimed, constituted evidence that humans were not, in fact, apes [3].

McKenna postulated that humans had historically been kept in a state of psychological neoteny, and that their immature mental state mirrored that of their bodies, which in fact more resemble those of baby (or even foetal) apes rather than the adults of other ape species. Cultures supply individuals with a simplified and likely mythologised explanation of reality, which is extremely convenient for those parties whose interests are well-served by the distraction and ignorance of others, and such a mechanism therefore keeps people in a psychological state which is more easy to control – alienated and psychotic. He has absolutely hit it on the head.

McKenna’s interest in psychedelics and entheogens led him to suggest that they allow the individuals who use them to mature intellectually beyond their inculcated psychologically neotenous (read: ‘juvenile’) state and see the control system for what it is. It is interesting to note that in this lecture, he points out that he did not personally encourage or assist others in the use of psychedelics, which probably suggests why he was still lucid as the years advanced whereas another well-known tripper, Timothy Leary, seems to have become rather a wreck later in life.

For our purposes, however, it is probably sufficient to realise that a service such as the Internet functions rather like a psychedelic, in the sense that the abundance of stimulation (information) and connections between events can allow us to form a more accurate picture of the world than our cultures (read: ‘mutual self-repeaters of the propaganda of our would-be controllers’) desire us to see; specifically, the artificial limits to our horizons imposed by conventional publishing and media have been subverted by the democratisation of technology and information. Thus, rather than listening to the radio we might instead subscribe to a set of podcasts or Internet streams which we feel present us with more representative viewpoints, opinions and information; and now virtually anyone can create these, and since many of those who do so are likewise in a psychologically neotenised state, we have to use our intellectual faculties (in the sense that McKenna uses the term ‘intellectual’ here – in his own words: “Anyone who has figured it out”) to distinguish the diamonds from the dross. A huge amount of the material available on the Internet is pure disinformation, intended to create disorientation and keep observers distracted, and it takes critical faculties to avoid this, something which seems to be a bit of a stumbling-lock for modern educational paradigms. It goes without saying that because of the democratisation of the transmission process, we can access it repeatedly and at our own convenience, rather than as and when the originators (formerly the dominant TV and radio networks) desire.

My own experience with the Internet since 1997 seems to be that no source of information is one hundred per cent. reliable, neither at the institutional nor the individual level; an opinion is just an opinion (a point which is very important to bear in mind when, for example, you are a student using a textbook which is periodically ‘updated’ to a ‘new edition’ – it is surprising how much content may be replaced, but does this necessarily imply that what was replaced was somehow ‘no longer important’? Who decides these things? And did those bits of information cease to be? Surely the phenomena they describe are still with us?). Those with authoritarian tendencies would surely like us to believe otherwise, but that only undermines their own credibility, as the disparity between reality and their delusions is often clearly visible. We form a much more accurate picture of reality in our minds when we realise that every fact should be verified by as many sources as possible; this way, truths link with each other and non-facts are increasingly excluded [7]. Paradoxically, perhaps, we need to keep an open mind at all times, lest we dismiss facts in error by excessive scepticism.

The simple fact that so many authoritarians would like to limit free speech and to regulate what can and cannot be shared over a vast network like the Internet only serves to demonstrate that effective communication makes hiding secrets difficult, and the people who have the greatest desire to hide secrets are those whose (neoteny-based) power would be destroyed by it. How odd, then, that it is the authoritarian who loves to suggest that “if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear”!

“Let him that is without sin cast the first stone” is my response to that one!

At the heart of what McKenna was adumbrating, however, is the notion that by limiting and diverting the natural process of information accumulation through education and experience (and of course, by deliberate distraction in the form of the media, organised sports, etc.), authority keeps the majority of the citizenry in a psychologically and emotionally stunted, immature state, with a view to controlling them by imposing artificial barriers which people themselves then reinforce with stereotyped (culture-determined) behaviour (a point often repeated by our own dear David Icke). The citizenry therefore remain in an essentially psychologically juvenile or ‘neotenised’ state which is self-perpetuating for as long as those same citizens are prepared to tolerate the disinformed ‘peer pressure’ which supports the current paradigm. It is only when they are prepared to reject this that wider and more accurate viewpoints become possible, and the neotenous ‘spell’ is magically broken.

In the past, when I personally have thought about these things, I have often considered what I call the ‘tyranny of the familiar’ – the fact that too many people exist within a culturally delimited ‘comfort zone’ and are unwilling to venture beyond it for fear of the great discomfort involved, which of course also includes the derision of peers due to the pernicious bubble of “… but everybody knows that..!” or “… but we’ve always done it this way!” … so how about this for a new concept? Try to be an enlightener and an opener of doors, rather than a mere repeater for the contemptible statist/collectivist controllers? Do you really need to be one of their robots? Indeed, what proof could you offer to others that you are truly an individual and a unique thinker? Where do the limits of your ‘knowledge’ really lie? When you read a book or a news article, are you doing so with a sufficiently critical mindset, or do you simply accept things as ‘facts’ because an authority figure is broadcasting them? Where does the ‘authority figure’ get his or her ‘facts’ from?

This is, I think, something we all need to discover. For example, when we look at the lauded ‘achievements’ of ‘civilisation’, what are we really seeing? If achievement requires venturing beyond the socially-enforced bounds of behaviour or thinking (here we might, as an illustration of ‘limits’, pause to reflect upon what is considered ‘acceptable’ to the current cosmological paradigm), is what we see from any particular era in human existence a set of creations produced by the thinking of free minds, or merely ‘reflections’ of the current thinking which seemed at the time to be ‘free’ simply because it was not subjected to realistic criticism, as it was actually conforming with the accepted and current ‘norms’? What is ‘civilisation’ really worth? One would venture to suggest that ‘civilisation’ and ‘culture’ are as separate as the stock market is from the wider economy, yet we allow an illogical mental link between the two to persist and the result is extremely damaging.

Worse, how about the bizarre position of an archetypal ‘Power User’ of computers, a stereotype which seems to have emerged very rapidly in tandem with the aforementioned democratisation of computing technology, where a person could be very adept in the use of a particular software package, but legendarily could not figure out how to turn the machine on and off? One would like to think that this was merely the stuff of urban legend, except I have known (and still know) so many people whom this characterises exactly – and not solely in relation to the use of computers either (you can find tons of real-life examples at Computer Stupidities [6]). People in ignorance (and I myself could be one of them, as a single person’s knowledge is strictly limited, which was Socrates’ most memorable point) assuming that certain types of behaviour are correct, when in fact they don’t realise what they are doing or whether it is beneficial or harmful. I have a feeling, personally, when I step back for a moment and ask myself what is really happening when I undertake even the most trivial activity, such as the substances I use for cleaning or personal hygiene, for example, that my own ignorance or refusal to acknowledge that my own actions may be in some way detrimental to the wider environment is thoroughly reprehensible. But I don’t have the whole story… and preventing people from having the whole story is they key to controlling them. ‘Someone’ decides which ‘news’ is worthy of publication and which is not, according to their own agenda; ‘someone’ decides which information is worthy of inclusion in the pages of WikiPedia, and actively removes anything deemed ‘incorrect’ according to their prejudices, rather than factuality; and ‘someone’ has been responsible for the repeated loss of knowledge throughout history through the destruction and looting of libraries, achieved by a hidden hand manipulating vast masses of people. War, in particular, is very effective in this regard as a plausible ‘excuse’ for ‘unavoidable’ damage, and a very convenient and lucrative smokescreen behind which to hind all manner of evil deeds – the wilful but clandestine destruction of society’s wisdom being one of them. We are constantly hammered by the idea that war is somehow ‘unavoidable’, when in fact, it’s just a rich man’s game, and the rest of us losers are expected to foot the bill, both financially and in terms of lives lost.

We come full circle when we consider the entertainment industries, whole sectors of society which are purely engaged in making ridiculous (and perhaps unjustifiable) profits from indulgence and distraction. It has not escaped my observation that these industries, whose business is essentially the promotion and exploitation of pointless flim-flam and the concomitant emotional responses to stereotyped visual tropes, are also intimately involved with the attempt to predetermine what users may or may not actually do online, not realising perhaps that this will eventually lead to a hypocritical and parasitic industry which will self-destruct as the Internet becomes little more than a means of consumption (or maybe it already has – witness Hollywood’s constant obsession with ‘sequels’, and when they proved to be insufficient, they started on the business of ‘prequels’… as our dear friend D. Icke often puts it, “You just couldn’t make it up!”).

Additionally, the bankers don’t even want us to have real money any more, but want to replace that purely with numbers in (their) databases. Thus they will control everything in our lives, and we will be forever and irretrievably ‘neotenised’ and increasingly dysfunctional and incapable at a personal level. Is this not a despicable and tyrannical vista to behold? It’s already happening in places like Denmark [9]. Or maybe people will develop a bartering system to replace money when their ‘governments’ only allow them to have a bank account and a piece of plastic. At least when the predicted economic collapse arrives, people will still be able to trade!

We do have to note, however, that the attempts to censor and limit access to the Internet may already be demonstrably self-defeating. For example, remote payments by such means as credit cards. As I have been living in Korea for such a long time, my bank (in England) now refuses to send items such as new cheque books, credit and debit cards to me as they have (apparently arbitrarily or whimsically) imposed an ’embargo’ on certain countries, and have told me repeatedly that South Korea is among these, however illogical that may seem. The entertainment industry loves to use the Internet as an excuse to force people to cough up more cash, but maybe is ignoring the fact that electronic payments are still an impossibility for huge numbers of the global population, and for the dumbest of reasons. But as a lot of their modern products are also correspondingly dumb and unworthy of purchase, why not just keep your cash to yourself and strangle them out of existence with the power of your wallet? Let’s face it, you won’t miss them…

At the same time, in the visual realm of what are often referred to as ‘special effects’, there has been a strong tendency to create a kind of ‘virtual reality’ which is clearly intended to be, ultimately, sufficiently indistinguishable from the real world that the latter can comfortably be ignored, as if our whole lives were being eked out on a film set – or rather that the boundary between the ‘real’ and the ‘unreal’ can no longer be detected easily, making the visual validation of falsehoods much more straightforward. And the fact that some precious people seem to think that their own behaviour should emulate the tantrums and follies of the various mind-manipulated moppet celebrities forced down their throats by the so-called ‘entertainment industry’ merely underlines a point in my previous articles about the dangers of narcissism – such a person is very easy to manipulate – and we can’t fail to notice that narcissistic, self-important personalities are also especially prevalent in the world of entertainment. Again, this is a kind of maintained neoteny, representing the intentional juvenilisation of personality, and consequent mass juvenilisation by imitation. Beware of the formation of a cult around a ‘personality’ (read: ‘celebrity’) when examination of the latter reveals them to be little more than a hollow, manipulated shell. More and more, famous people under stress have been seen to experience very public ‘meltdowns’ which are being observed on TV – just Google for ‘celebrity meltdown’, the list is endless [10].

It all means that in every possible way, we must resist the tyranny of imposed neoteny, and the only way to do this is to surround ourselves with verifiable facts and counter-arguments to the constant flood of deliberate disinformation and outright lies which mockingly purports to represent ‘reality’. It means that we need to supply our own antidote to the sensual and intellectual garbage constantly forced upon our consciousness by the agents of our would-be controllers, and construct our own factual schema to counteract the encroachment of a pernicious ‘virtual reality’ which seeks to imprison us in our own personal ‘goldfish bowls’ of distorted vision and narcissism. And most importantly, perhaps, we should vote with our wallets and choke them all off at source.


[1] Wikipedia:

[2] Wiklipedia:

[3] See for the full lecture. Unfortunately, Pye used to espouse a lot of otherwise dubious ideas, such as the stories of Zecharia Sitchin, which are interesting but somewhat discredited.

[4] See for McKenna’s lecture; discussion of cultural neoteny begins at 31:30

[5] Note that neoteny is characteristic of the Tiger Salamander family, of which the Axolotl is a member; see

[6] Rinkworks:

[7] Take a cue from the late journalist John Keel, who sought at least three verifiable sources of information for each occurrence in his investigations of UFO incidents, and used this as a filter for exclusion of a huge corpus of witness accounts.

[8] Birthday Thursday, October 15th 2015; went to Changwon the next day.

[9]; since I began writing this, Sweden have now started making similar noises – google ‘sweden cashless society’ and notice that the prominent news sources on the first search page were also Killary supporters during the 2016 Presidential election.

[10] See, also, the ridiculous parade of celebrities who screamed that they would leave the country if Flump came to power. Example: … my first reaction on seeing a lot of this stuff was: “Who..?”