There is a theory that claims humans evolved from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens because of the consumption of psilocybin mushrooms. There are also several theories that claim that dogs evolved from wolves because of hanging around human garbage dumps. Garbage in, garbage out.
A lot of what is called “science” these days are happy narratives based on… nothing. Yet, they are given credibility and news coverage as if they are proven and true.
Take the Stoned Ape theory. It is a huge leap to say that the consumption of any food would drive genetic changes to establish a new species. Micro evolution is easily seen, in that all of us look differently even though we are all humans. Macro evolution, the concept that a new species develops new genetic code to become a completely different species isn’t so clearly mapped out with this silly ape theory which claims credit for the development of religion, creativity, and culture through enhanced communications while intoxicated.
Let’s suppose that the apes which were high had enhanced communications. That doesn’t mean they would have new genetically acquired abilities which they could pass onto their offspring. In fact, wouldn’t it be so that if the drugs enhanced abilities, they would only have those abilities when high, and no biological need would be met unless and until high? If this phenomenon was so powerful, then we would assume human cultures that used such drugs would be much more advanced than those that didn’t. Which is not true at all.
I had a friend, long ago, who regularly started using hallucinogenic drugs. He claimed they made him wiser, more creative, and insightful. Instead, it made him lazy, and I saw no enhanced abilities at all personally or professionally. It was instead an excuse to be an addict. We don’t see any evidence that use of drugs like this causes users to display any superpowers. Likewise, it is pretty much a guarantee that whenever a celebrity becomes a consistent drug user their careers tank, their music gets worse, their performances slowly come to a halt, and we can all name people who are now in the grave as a result.
Which brings me to the Dog => Wolf theory. It’s a nice theory, and it has been abused by a lot of people in the dog world to mishandle dogs. However, there is no proof of this theory. None. Or any of the other variants of this theory. Read a few credible books on wolf behavior and ask yourself if your dog does any of this stuff the way wolves do. Notice how dangerous it is to treat wolves like these dog gurus say you’re supposed to treat dogs.
I have no problem with putting forth scientific theories, and then attempts to falsify or verify their conclusions. What I do have a problem with is claiming that happy stories like this are to be taken seriously when there isn’t any proof to back them up. Quite a few people have made lucrative careers over the years promoting this or that pop scientific theory.
How about this instead? How about saying, I propose this theory, but the current facts support the following conclusion: we don’t know, and we may never know.
I’ve read a lot of scientific books over the years. It is not unusual for authors, including authors of college science textbooks, to fill in the gaps of what is not known with happy stories like this. Students are then expected to memorize and recite these theories as fact. Wouldn’t it be better to tell students, “We don’t know” how this or that works or happened, so this is a great area to study if you want to make a career of this field of study? I have several biology books that run through all kinds of explanations, from page one to the appendix, never once saying which parts aren’t known and that the author is just making up a narrative to thread it all together.
It’s good to read science with a skeptical eye, especially these days. A lot of hucksters are out there in the science world. Especially in the dog behavior world. That also includes medically based behavior treatments. Just because someone has a list of initials after their name doesn’t mean what they are claiming has any credibility. We need to be skeptical of what we are buying into, and what we are being told to do with our dogs. You hear a lot of things that you should do with your dog that have no proof or are based on misreading or misunderstanding the more solid research studies. It’s time to take a new look at everything we do and see if it lines up with any known facts.