Psychedelics information for everyone
Making information about psychedelics more widely available.
Database, websites, research
Blossom works on various projects that spread information about psychedelics. These currently range from a database with contextual information about research, to easily searchable book listings.
Each project (see the homepage) aims to inform the reader and eventually help make psychedelics available for therapy and creativity. It's our strong belief that psychedelics can be an amazing tool that could help both those in need and those who want to learn more.
Who is Blossom
Think for yourself
Our mission is making information about psychedelics more widely available. To speed up the adoption of psychedelics as a tool in therapy and self-development. We do this by providing different resources, from articles to book reviews, that bring together different perspectives about psychedelics. We aim to be critical, grounded in a rational and scientific worldview, yet enthusiastic voice for psychedelics.
Floris Wolswijk - Founder
Floris started Blossom in 2019 and is currently the main contributor to the projects. Next to the three collaborators he's working with, he is looking to recruit others to help build out this information platform.
Floris has studied Psychology (2008-2012) at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. After finishing his Masters degree, he co-founded a start-up in a different field. Through first personal experiences with psychedelics and subsequently an encounter with the scientific literature, he fell in love with the psychedelics field. He hopes to play a small part in making psychedelics more widely available and being used both in medicine and for self-development.
The supernatural was the recourse of an insufficient imagination, a dereliction of duty, a childish evasion of the difficulties and wonders of the real, of the demanding re-enactment of the plausible - Ian McEwan
Blossom aims to be both a cheerleader of the psychedelics movement and stay critical at the same time. This part of the about page gives more background on our views of the psychedelic landscape and our worldview/lens.
We don't know yet and will never know
Science, according to us, is the process of conjecture and refutation. We make hypotheses/conjectures/guesses and then try and falsify them. Through this process, we learn more about how the world works, but we never have the chance to know for sure. All that we get are better explanations that hold up to more (and more) scrutiny.
This worldview is mostly informed by the work by Karl Popper and David Deutsch. The former argues that science cannot be based on inductivism (reasoning by induction - still commonplace in science) but should rather be based on falsification. This philosophy of science can also be called critical rationalism, using criticism (refutation) to get to ever-better theories of the world.
It's a process through which we gradually move closer to the truth. But we may never know if we've arrived. As an example, Newtonian physics is a very good approximation of that 'ground truth', Einstein's theory of general relativity is better. One day, another theory will supplant even Einstein.
With scientific studies on psychedelics, we aim to better understand how our psychology works and how we can help people live happier lives. Here too the process of conjecture and refutation helps us update our model of the mind (and the world).
We are just at the start
At this moment we see that psychedelics (from psilocybin to ketamine) are helpful in the treatment of a variety of mental health disorders. Studies are investigating the specific brain processes/interactions/changes that can predict clinical outcomes. Other studies investigate psychedelics at the psychological level and use concepts like 'open the mind' that can 'heal' a patient.
It's our understanding that in the coming years we will better understand how these two (of many) levels of analysis interact. New techniques in brain scanning, more psychedelic therapy, and newer compounds will add to this body of knowledge.
Psychedelics as a tool
Some of the current studies and treatments have led to major improvements in well-being for those who are suffering the worst. At the same time, this has happened under the best of circumstances. A full team of scientists, engaged therapists, a need to heal, and overall high expectations (to name a few).
All these factors (and others) may contribute to a placebo-effect of epic proportions. This is something that 'science' needs to account for, but something that we currently know not enough about to reliably do.
Or in other words, the enthusiasm that we all feel for psychedelics is based on real progress. At the same time, we should learn from history and be cautious and not inflate the promise of psychedelics.
When (not if) psychedelics will become therapeutic tools, they will not be for everyone. Many people are not open to having a psychedelic experience, some may have health issues that preclude them from participating, and for some it will just not work.
Personal psychedelic experiences
Psychedelics have saved lives by preventing people from committing suicide, helping those with depression live meaningful lives again, and entrepreneurs discover the next breakthrough.
Still, we have to remain critical and not conflate personal experiences with the scientific process (see above) that we have to go through. If something has worked for you, that doesn't mean that it will work for everyone.
In scaling up psychedelics, in going from research lab to psychedelic clinic, we are faced with the challenge of providing the evidence as we have it. In doing so, we should not forget to present the facts as they are and let our enthusiasm not misplace the need for sober reflection.
The long-term effects
Translating psychedelic research to effective clinics/therapists must be done with a consideration of the long-term effects. There is a big difference between psychedelics 'healing' someone of trauma and let them resume a 'normal' life or temporarily putting your brain into a more plastic (fluid) state while your life circumstances don't change.
If depression comes back for a majority of participants in a psychedelics study, are psychedelics then really the solution? If unhappiness comes back after a week, two years, or at the next adverse life event, how much good do psychedelics bring to the table?
We need more data, but what is clear is that 'psychedelic science' needs to take a broader and longer-term view than what happens in the brain or during a psychedelic session. A (grand) theory of psychedelic (-assisted) therapy should look at how best to also integrate the psychedelic experience(s).
This does not mean that psychedelic researchers or therapists need to change the (whole) world. They are not responsible for tackling social justice issues, discrimination, or world hunger. This falls outside the scope of psychedelics (research).
We believe that this is the domain of policy (informed, in part, by scientists). We (the people) are responsible for how our world functions and should do our best to change it for the better. Systematic change around taxes or social justice is impacted by psychedelic science, maybe even advocated by psychedelic scientists, but not within its scope.
There are no mysteries
Where we differ from some/many in this field is that we don't believe there are any (true) mysteries out there. There are just phenomena that we haven't been able to describe adequately yet.
Where in ancient times we used the gods to explain why we had lightning, today we have quite a good understanding of electrostatic discharge ('we' here means humanity, not perse each one of us). Through conjecture and refutation, we've come closer to understanding many parts of the world around us.
It may very well be true that there are processes outside our current scientific understanding that will eventually make sense. Some of the traditional medicines (you could categorize psychedelics in this category) have turned out to be valid medications for a variety of harms.
Yet at the same time, many theories turn out to be bogus and don't stand the test of falsification (or are even unfalsifiable). In many cases, the suggestibility of people, selective reporting, regression to the mean, and other processes are responsible for the 'magic' that some report. This is as true for 'essential oils' as for psychedelic compounds.
Or put another way, non-scientific theories that have stood the test of time do not automatically mean that they are as close to the truth as those that have been tested. Taking something on faith, belief, or tradition isn't the way forward.
So yes, you are free to propose (conjecture) theories about DMT elves that show you another dimension. But make it testable (e.g. let them do math problems, falsifiable) and do those experiments.
The best is yet to come
Psychedelic medicine is at the very start (at the beginning of infinity as David Deutsch would say). The ongoing trials with natural (e.g. psilocybin) and man-made (e.g. LSD) psychedelics are only the first generation of compounds that may assist our strive for happiness.
Newer compounds (that possibly serve a wider audience) and better therapeutic models will possibly shape a new world in which psychedelics can help us thrive beyond our imagination.
The barriers to studying psychedelic (e.g. the extreme costs of obtaining psilocybin, DMT, or other compounds for research) have significantly slowed down the field. This is something that we are vehemently opposed to. The same goes for criminalizing behavior that influences no-one other than yourself (doing psychedelics).
Although our project doesn't touch policy questions directly, we do encourage all decisions that help make research and practice of psychedelics better.
Our models suck
Our model of the world isn't a perfect representation of how reality is (the map is not the territory). The same is true for how the 'establishment' of psychological care is currently set up. The DSM-V is something that is made (in part) by politics and compromise. The categories of mental health disorders don't make sense (as psychedelic-assisted therapy is showing by being effective for so many disparate categories).
It is up to us to update these models. In our opinion, this should be done by working 'in' the system, by becoming the establishment, not by overthrowing it.
This about Blossom page provides a small window into how our opinions are formed in this developing ecosystem. It is far from final and will be updated when necessary.
A critique of scientific practices (e.g. p-values vs Bayesian inference, p-hacking, over-optimism) is to be expected here in the future.