Alkaloids are extremely toxic and affect the central nervous system. The “potions” that the witches used included extracts from mandrake, belladonna, and henbane. All of these contain atropine and hysocine. Large concentrations of these alkaloids produced blurred vision, agitation, delirium, and euphoria.
During the Iron Age, milliions of women and children were burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured because they were accused of being witches. Many of the accused “witches” confessed to being a witch because they were viciously tortured. Some of them confessed to being witches because the potions they drank actually led them to beleve that they had been on a magic adventure.
I think the affect on these molecules in the modern world has faded, because not too many people believe in witchcraft anymore. There are still halucinogens that probably have the same effect on people as these alkaloids, such as shrooms or other more modern drugs. These drugs impacts in countries other than the United States might be larger because they are illegal in America.
I do think that the author’s argument makes sense, the molecules did make a very large impact during the Iron Age. There were millions of people killed, all killed because they were accused of being witches. Some of them even sincerely thought that they were witches because of the hallucinations that they had while they were on these alkaloids. I think these points that the author made were great points and this is why his argument makes sense to me.