Cannabis and Planetary Surfaces by Anonymous
Another scientist who has found cannabis useful tells his story. He awakens a special skill that continues after his marijuana epiphany, thus joining the numerous users who report cognitive benefits persisting into the normal state.
I am a forty-year-old geologist who studies the surfaces of planets and moons at a National Aeronautics and Space Administration research center. I began smoking marihuana in high school, partly out of curiosity and partly in response to peer pressure, after observing no ill effects on my friends who used it regularly. Since then I have used it for self-exploration, for religious experiences, and, of course, for pleasure, including enhanced appreciation of sex, music, art, and conversation. But cannabis has done more than that for me; it has actually helped me to acquire a professionally useful skill.
To analyze the underlying structures and history of geological change on a planet or moon, planetary geologists rely on images of landforms and surface markings radioed back from spacecraft. Landforms cannot be understood unless they are perceived in three dimensions by means of stereo images – paired photographs taken from slightly different angles to mimic depth perception.
Most people use mechanical devices – stereo-opticons of one sort or another – to judge depth from stereo photos. The machinery needed to view stereo images of planetary surfaces is particularly awkward and time-consuming to use. A few fortunate people can see three dimensions in stereo photographs without mechanical aids – a skill every planetary geologist would like to have.
When I was an undergraduate, a friend tried for months without success to teach me this skill, and I became convinced that people who said they possessed it were deluding themselves. But one evening we smoked some especially potent marihuana, purely for pleasure. I amused myself by looking at a pair of stereo photographs that had been left in the room. Suddenly the two pictures merged into a single three-dimensional view. It was like a gift from God. Overjoyed, I looked at other stereo pairs and discovered that I could perceive depth in them as well. I spent the rest of the evening gazing at stereo pairs. The next day, when the immediate marihuana effects had passed, I found that I retained the ability. The skill has saved me a great deal of time in consulting and analyzing stereo photos of geological field sites.
I believe my experience illustrates how marihuana can overcome deep conditioning, initiated immediately after birth, which locks us into perceiving reality in very narrow and formulaically defined ways. Marihuana shares with its stronger psychedelic brethren the power to cleanse the doors of perception and make the world seem as new. Its help in catalyzing the acquisition of a skill useful in my work is only one of the many blessings and insights it has provided.