Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So the Ayahuasca Was Right

The day before the United States presidential election a group of Peruvian shamanic practitioners (note: not "shamans" - the term is culture-specific to northern Asia) issued their prediction for the race. Following a ritual that involved the consumption of the hallucinogenic plant ayahuasca and coca leaves, they concluded that President Obama would be re-elected - and he was.

Members of the group placed flower petals on photos of the candidates that were also swept over with tobacco smoke. The shamans chewed coca leaves, a traditional ceremonial and medicinal plant since Inca times that helps fight altitude sickness.

And the crew took some swigs of ayahuasca, a psychoactive brew used widely among Amazon basin indigenous people. At least one thing was clear, they said: Obama should defeat Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday.

It seems that the Mormon prayers supporting Governor Romney fell short in the end. However, a pretty good case can be made that they did something. In early October it looked like the Republican nominee was on the verge of being put away for good, but a fortuitous set of events coinciding with the prayer initiative gave his campaign new life.

Take a look at this poll tracker from Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight web site. The blue line represents President Obama's estimated chance of winning based on his standing in the polls, while the red line represents Governor Romney's.

As you can see, overall the polls favored the President for the entire race. However, his large drop in early October corresponds to both the Mormon prayer intiative and his terrible night at the first presidential debate. While the President is not a particularly good debater, his performance at that debate was by far the worst of the three. It's not hard to imagine prayer - that is, magick - playing a role. It just wasn't enough to swing the election Governor Romney's way.

In experimental psychology a statistical curve like this one usually indicates that some constant influence has come into play. In such cases the data curve shifts down by a fixed amount but otherwise retains its overall slope and trajectory. Was that influence prayer? One of the interesting things about the curve is that toward the end of October the President's line turns sharply upward - as though the influence that came into effect at the beginning of the month was somehow negated. With the curve continuing to shift toward the President did the Mormons finally give up? Or did some other magical influence neutralize their efforts?

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1 comment:

Imago said...

Does prove something - Ayahuasca is at least as effective as statistics. Maybe this will get us closer to that non-Euchlidean presidency I've been dreaming of.