Erowid is an organization that provides information about drugs and the experiences that drug users report. From the earliest days of its website (that predates the organization by about a decade), it has more focused on psychedelic drugs (but it covers all of them). On the site are lots of “trip reports” where people explain what happened to them while high.
The deliciously evil Max Read over at Gawker has created a test to see if you can tell the difference between passages from Erowid trip reports and the recent Newsweek cover story, Heaven Is Real. Let me offer you a taste of this with one passage each from the Newsweek article and an Erowid trip report. I’ll tell you which is which after you read through them.
This is really hard. The truth is, even after looking at the answers, I keep mistaking one for the other. I’m pretty sure that the first one is the trip report and the second is the Newsweek article. But if you really want to be certain, you should click over the the Gawker article and see for yourself.
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about this. I am not ridiculing the drug trip reports. These things are beautiful and meaningful. They say much about what we are as human beings. The problem is with the Newsweek article. It claims to be something that the trip reports do not: a report of some external reality. The human mind—under the influence of drugs or not—has an astounding ability to create narrative structures based upon the smallest of external stimuli.
It’s pathetic that Newsweek doesn’t seem to understand this. But what do you expect when a major news magazine puts Tina Brown in charge?
Thanks to regular reader Andy for pointing me to this.
 It’s astounding: