Depicted above, Amanita muscaria, a toadstool native to coniferous forests, by now represented all over the world. It is so successful that it's in fact improbable to manage a five mile walk through any such forest without running into at least one.
It is an edible mushroom that figures proeminently in the cultural traditions of virtually all peoples worth the mention, from Siberia to India - its distinctive red cap with white spots perhaps the most readily recognised icon of the concept of "mushroom", worldwide. Certainly the one recognised at the earliest age - you're probably not going to find many ignorant five year olds.
It is also psychoactive, through its content of 5-(Aminomethyl)-isoxazol-3-oli, which is found extremely concentrated - as little as one gram of dried mushroom potentially sufficient to send your average adult looping.ii
Romanian, and Eastern European cultivars are generally regarded as of particularly good quality. Here is what the mainstream Romanian thought has to say on the topic :
Despre recoltarea ciupercilor > Cum să recoltăm ciuperci în siguranţă?
NU LASATI COPII SA RECOLTEZE CIUPERCI!!
De ce oare în cărţile de desenat pentru copii, la grădiniţe şi în primele clase, peste tot apare specia de ciuperci Amanita muscaria - pălăria şarpelui sau muscariţa ? Explicaţia ar fi aceea că ea este de culoare roşie şi este uşor de colorat.
Ideal ar fi ca lîngă ea să apară şi avertismentul de cap de mort, din care să se reţină că este toxică şi produce moartea.
Pălăria şarpelui prezintă pălăria de culoare roşu-intens, cu puncte albe, solzoase ce dispar după ploaie. Nu trebuie pus mâna pe ea, nici nu se va recolta şi pune peste alte ciuperci în coş, deoarece şi sporii ei sunt toxici. De asemenea nu se vor recolta ciupercile pe o rază de un metru în jurul acestei specii deoarece acestea pot fi şi ele toxice.
On picking mushrooms > How to safely pick mushrooms ?
DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN TO PICK MUSHROOMS!!!
Why is it that in coloring books for children, in kindergartens and early grammar school, everywhere one finds depictions of Amanita muscaria ? The explanation could be that its bright red color makes it easy for children to fill in. Ideally however next to it would also be printed a skull and crossbones warning, from which children could remember that it is toxic and produces death.
Amanita has a red cap with white scaly spots which disappear after a rain. It should never be touched, nor should it ever be picked, or allowed to mix with other mushrooms, as its spores are also toxic. Also mushrooms for one meter around will not be picked, as they can in turn be toxic.
This is, of course, patent nonsense. Pre-communism, Amanita was known and consumed in Romania too, as part of various surviving pre-Christian and pagan practices of a dazzling richness and variety.iv Twenty years post-communism, people are still parroting the nonsense as given holy word of gospel.
Why ? Well because that's what was printed in the official literature, which, through being the only literature available within the narrowly controlled scope of most people's cultural environment, managed to create the illusion of agreement, which is how you get the young to believe nonsense and defend it with their life. That's the recipe at work here : take a kid young enough, surround him with nothing but affirmation of any one theory, odds are he'll allow that to filter into his construction of identity and the self, after which discovering that indeed Amanita is about as poisonous as smoking pot or sucking cock will create deep, painful inner questioning such as "do I even wish to live in a world in which Amanita is no longer poisonous".
You could probably use this simple process to create a population which you can then get to suicide by sections as need be : if you publish "The Sun is really Yellow" all the cab drivers commit sepukku on the road side, if you publish "The Earth is really round" all the plumbers flush themselves down whatever toilet they happen to be working on at the moment. If you have the "emperor" talk on the radio everyone's bawing their eyes out like idiots.
You may think this is all fun and games, but lo and behold : twenty-years post communism derps are still parotting the core tenets of the official ideology in their field. Because who's going to go taste a poisonous mushroom to actually make sure what they hear is true, and much more importantly : who's going to perceive the need to do so ?
Meanwhile, you should never believe anything you see everyone agreeing upon, which advice is of course wasted breath : you already DO believe this sort of nonsense, on account of you having been twelve at the time and this being how the brain works at that age.
- Agarin, a very selective GABA receptor agonist, enjoying the distinction that it binds at the same site as GABA itself, unlike virtually all others. [↩]
- Psychoactive doses start somewhere around 7-8mg, the LD50 is probably about 50mg/kg taken orally, making dosage safer than in the case of the majority of medically relevant chemical compounds. [↩]
- This is forever going to be a hysterical string of honorifics in Romanian, on account of the particularly ignorant ex wife of the ex communist dictator pretending to the same. It technically means "doctor", as in PhD and "engineer", as in having completed an undergraduate program in "polytechnic" college, neither particularly impressive claims to scholarship today. [↩]
- Which, after having managed to survive fifteen centuries of Christian warfare were readily anihilated in half a century of statally directed "ethnography". Because this is what the strong state does, it fucks everything up everywhere it goes. [↩]