Hallucinating Peruvian Shamans Predict the Election Winner

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 6 2012 10:38 AM

Hallucinating Peruvian Shamans Predict the Election Winner

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A healer (L) starting an Ayahuasca ceremony by offering the plant to a person taking part of the ritual in Tarapoto, northeastern jungle of Peru in 1999

Photograph by Jaime Razuri/AFP/Getty Images.

You can look at the numbers. You can go with with your gut. Or you can go the slightly more exciting route and ingest a hallucinogenic cocktail and then use flower petals and a couple of photographs to choose the winner of this year's presidential election. Completely your call.

The AFP explains:

Using maracas, coca leaves and a hallucinogenic brew [ayahuasca], shamans in Peru got down to business Monday using pre-Columbian traditional ceremonies to pick a winner in the US presidential race. "The apus (gods of the hills in indigenous mythology) tell us (Barack) Obama will be reelected," predicted Juan Osco, known as the Shaman of the Andes on San Cristobal hill overlooking Lima.
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.
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Feel free to doubt the shamans' drug-fueled predictive powers all you want (and we obviously do), but keep in mind they've offered about as much of a detailed explanation of their methodology as some political pundits who are covering this race professionally. They also have much less of a stake in the outcome.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.