The recent proliferation of malperceptions should not be lamented but embraced. Natural selection needs mutations. If all members of a species were identical in genotype and phenotype, there would be no variation for the operation of natural selection. The more intraspecies variations, the better the prognosis for the future evolution of that species. The remarkable frequency and variety of malperceptions indicates that homo sapiens is on the threshold of breathtaking new changes in the range and penetration of its perceptual capacities. We now realize that we are limited, as a species, to a tiny perceptual window on reality. Of the infinite range of electromagnetic radiation, we can see only the vanishingly small bit that happens to fall in the narrow range of wavelengths between 400 and 700 nanometers. We have no perceptual detectors for the weak or strong nuclear forces, and only the crudest perception of the gravitational force. Gravitational waves are completely beyond our perception or even our most advanced technologies. The proliferation of malperceptions holds promise that this might not always be so. One day, perhaps soon, the windows will widen, the doors blow open, and we will embrace a more complete and unifying vision of our multiverse.
Overspecialization is a death sentence. A species that traps itself in too narrow a niche makes itself vulnerable to extinction, should that niche change or disappear. If the eucalyptus perished, so too would the koala. Ninety nine percent of all species that have sojourned the earth are now extinct. Those left are disappearing at a rapid clip. Homo sapiens gives every evidence of bucking this overwhelming trend. The multiplicity of malperceptions promises a healthy widening of our niche. Granted, most mutations are deadly. But they are deadly to the individual, not to the species. For the species, they are the very engine of adaptive radiation. Malperceptions are the halting steps of homo sapiens toward opening new vistas of perception. Those vistas, once opened, can then be colonized. The earth itself will one day be to narrow a niche for our survival. The sun will soon exhaust its hydrogen and expand as a red giant, swallowing Mercury, then Venus, and finally Earth. Only by escaping this narrow niche can we survive. Malperceptions are salutary steps toward this escape. Those rare individuals exhibiting malperceptions should not be sequestered as oddities, but elevated as harbingers of the new humanity. They are our hope, our future. Their new doors of perception will be our entree to worlds now unimaginable, and to the survival, nay the blossoming, of homo sapiens.
Timothy Reilly is a professor at Haverly University who has for years studied the possibilities of expanding the range of normal sensory perceptions through the careful administration of psychoactive drugs. His research was censored by the US government and finally shut down. But he continues to lecture on the results of his experiments and to promote the next step in evolution towards cosmic consciousness of homo sapiens.