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Psychic truffles are a variety of truffles which have psychic powers to alter the feelings of animals in order to get them to eat them. This allows them to spread their spores through the animals feces

The problem with humans is that we don't defecate out in the woods, so the truffles we eat are wasted. One strategy the psychic truffle might use is to psychically drive humans away, but the issue is that truffles, lacking senses or intellect, cannot distinguish between different animals. However, humans are rather distinct from other mammals, so in theory it seems possible to generate a special set of feeling that will only turn away humans: My question is, what would those feelings be?

The psychic truffle lives in Eastern Europe. The truffle must cause a specific set of feelings: These feeling must motivate the average Eastern European mammal capable of digging up truffles to go eat the truffle, while motivating humans feeling the same feelings not to eat the truffles. Non-mammals are irrelevant. The non-human mammals mustn't be motivated to do something unduly dangerous, but what the humans do is irrelevant. If an animal is caused to feel something too complex to normally feel, it feels a less complex form of that feeling

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    $\begingroup$ Some dogs and pigs are trained specifically trained to find wild truffles, I would suggest you deal with them first! $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Feb 28 at 9:49
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    $\begingroup$ Where were the humans foresters crapping 200 years ago? that seem like a short period for such a complex behaviour to evolve, $\endgroup$
    – Jasen
    Feb 28 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ "The problem with humans is that we don't defecate out in the woods..." Perhaps evolution could make you very tasty and prone to inducing unexpected explosive diarrhea? $\endgroup$
    – ceejayoz
    Feb 28 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ I don't have time to write up an answer (anyone who likes the idea and would like to do so is welcome), but something like an intense existential crisis might be perfect. Humans are left crippled by their utter insignificance in the face of the immensity of the cosmos and the feeling increases as they approach the truffle. Dogs? Dogs know exactly who they are and why they are doing what they're doing - food, sex, and a comfy place to sleep. $\endgroup$ Feb 28 at 20:35
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    $\begingroup$ @ceejayoz, or just what if the psychic control could turn anyone in the area into savage animal for a couple of days? That will have only urge to gorge on truffles, then ran as far as they can, until digestion does it work and shit there. And then regain their senses. $\endgroup$
    – user28434
    Feb 29 at 11:21

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Frame challenge: If you don't care about individual lives (which, since you apparently want to be eaten by animals, you don't), making humans want to eat you is the single most effective way to reproduce lots and lots of yourself. Humans have something way more efficient for facilitating reproduction than pooping in the woods: agriculture.

For example: being humanity's favorite bird to eat has made chickens the most successful species of bird on the planet. One in three birds in the world today is a chicken.

(According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization there are 33 billion chickens in the world right now. According to the Smithsonian there are 50 billion wild birds of all species. These statistics don't include other domesticated birds.)

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    $\begingroup$ Further to this - there are plants that have evolved to produce chemicals that makes them extremely undesirable to other life. Some species have started synthesising capsaicin a chemical that makes bugs or animals eating it instantly regret it as pain immediately grips basically any part that is touched by this. We call these plants "hot peppers" and humans grow them in quite large numbers because they enjoy it. There are other plants who decided to wage biological warfare even around them. Poisoning the ground to keep competition at bay and protect against insects. The poison is caffeine. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Feb 28 at 6:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Vesper His point is not that we will poop out the spores, his point is that humans would cultivate them if we liked eating them, which is way better than being dropped off in a random pile of poo. With all our cows, pigs, and sheep: Even medieval humans are a freaking poo cartel. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Feb 28 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ This is the correct answer. Humans plant great fields of oak trees to produce truffles. If we don't eat psychic truffles, we'd produce fungicides to kill it instead. $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Feb 29 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ Truffles are notably hard to cultivate, it took until the start of the 19th century before we had any success at trufficulture: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truffle#Cultivation $\endgroup$ Feb 29 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Elerium115 about $2 a pound! $\endgroup$
    – g s
    Mar 1 at 18:18
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Delayed panic

No need for telepathy. You can do it with psychoactive substances.

Let hallucinations kick in hours after eating the truffle. Most animals won't make the connection between eating a truffle and getting so scared by everything that they soil themsleves at the slightest gust of wind. This also helps spreading the spores.

Humans are smart enough that they will understand what is going on. They will know that this is the wrong fungus to eat for a good trip, so they will leave the truffle alone. Mostly.

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    $\begingroup$ Any psychotropic effect will only make the right kind of people crave more of it. As the saying goes, joke's on you, I'm onto that shit! $\endgroup$ Feb 28 at 12:34
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Behavior control is common in parasite, even without psychic powers.

There are parasites which, after growing inside their host, need to spread their eggs into water. They achieve the goal by giving their host a craving for dipping their legs into water and once they do, the parasite pierces the skin and lay eggs in the water.

Your truffle can force the guest to feel the need to defecate in areas rich of wood, so whoever eat it will find themselves pants down doing number 2 in parks, gardens and so on, much to their shame.

Until either word spreads about this, keeping most people away (like poisonous mushrooms) or someone finds out that a wooden scented ambient perfume can cure thr effects by forcing them in the socially accepted place for that sort of business.

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    $\begingroup$ This counts as a frame challenge, IMHO. $\endgroup$ Feb 28 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ "It's not me committing public indecency, officer. It was all this truffle's fault." $\endgroup$ Feb 28 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ Behavior control parasites don't work well on humans though. $\endgroup$
    – Joshua
    Feb 29 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Joshua toxoplasmosis? Still under research, though. $\endgroup$ Feb 29 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ @htmlcoderexe: There's a reason why it only works on lonely old ladies. $\endgroup$
    – Joshua
    Feb 29 at 20:58
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Oops, I just threw up... or did I?

While a fungus could just try smelling like vomit, most animals will ignore or be repelled by it, but if the fungus makes you psychically believe that YOU just threw up... that is a different story. Most mammals will eat their own vomit as a way of having a second chance at digesting something that was maybe too much to handle on the first pass. Dogs, bears, rodents, deer, cows, etc. are all known to do it. But humans are different. When we throw up, we want nothing to do with it.

So, if the psychic mushroom gives mammals nearby the belief that they just threw up wherever the mushrooms are, then most mammals (but not humans) will feel compelled to reclaim thier lost resources.

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  • $\begingroup$ Have you smelt parmesan cheese? $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Mar 1 at 2:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Thorne Have you eaten parmesan cheese that you have personally thrown up? I mean, it still smells the same, so in theory, it should be no worse than the first time around. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Mar 4 at 19:57
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The feeling of disgust

Like in "argh I'm not touching that thing, it's so UGLY". Animals don't care if sonething is ugly, they only care about stuff being tasty or not, and this part is largely covered by smell. Truffles (normal) smell quite distinctively for pigs, so they can smell something good for animals but something indiscernible for humans, which, together with induced feeling, could do well in making humans avoid the shroom.

The feeling of mental aversion

Aka "there's nothing here, go away" instead. One of the abilities of a good stealth assassin, as well as for a spec-ops in disguise, is inducing disinterest in others, so in case they would get marked, it'll be a lot harder for whoever has seen him to accurately describe who was that. The same in general might be applied to any object (by magic mostly), but in this case those shrooms can emanate a compound that tells the brain "move along, nothing interesting here", with staggering efficiency. Animals don't get the impulse to go away because their brains don't get affected by this compound, and happily meet and eat the shroom.

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Sexual attraction with a big side helping of vore kink

This answer is probably off-putting to a lot of readers! :D Which of course is the point. Animals? I doubt they have enough self awareness, let alone social or religious norms and shame, to care.

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So these truffles project a distinct guise that they are pieces of human flesh.

Any carnivore animals will readily eat pieces of human meat, but humans of that region will never touch it, and in general try to be as far as possible from these.

It is also obvious how it could evolve, a pressure from human overpicking of generic meat truffle has led evolutionary advantage to the ones which were considered inedible by humans. And that are ones which felt like human, dog or cat meat. Maybe crow meat and the like.

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They effects of the truffles depend on the level of the consuming animal's sentience and intelligence.

Rodents love them and experience no ill effects. Smarter animals like hogs might feel a little weird, but will still gorge on them as humans do Taco Bell. However the neural sophistication of primate brains results in catastrophic psychosis.

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Think positive. At first.

The simplest form is just to have the truffle produce a negative physical effect a little while after being eaten. That won't do any good for the truffle that just got consumed, but humans would associate the badness with eating truffles and would stop consuming them. An animal would be less able to associate the result with the action of eating the truffle. This is especially true if there's a good chance that something else will be eaten in between.

You can see this effect in humans with food poisoning. You eat something bad. Nothing happens for up to 24 hours, during which time you eat other things. When the nausea and vomiting and diarrhea appear, you form a strong mental association with a food and the sickness—but often the food blamed is not the original problematic one. It's more likely to be the one most recently eaten, or the one that your logical brain settles upon (I bet it was the cheese! Something about it seemed fishy.)

But humans do figure it out eventually, especially with multiple occurrences ("what was common between the two times I got sick? Oh right, the truffles...") Animals very well may not.

This doesn't require any psychic influence, though it would magnify the effect if the truffle projected an initial and temporary feeling of ease or disconnection from consequences. The negative stuff would kick in later. And it wouldn't need to be an emotion, it could be physical retching or paralysis or whatever. If you want the effect to by psychic, I think your best bet would be in that initial phase, where it would psychically be having a positive effect that animals and humans would enjoy alike. It's just that the humans wouldn't find it worth the eventual negative physical results, whereas animals wouldn't know what hit them.

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gonna go out on a limb here. if they're psychic mushrooms, I would assume they would be a bit smarter than the average shroom.

honestly, the best question is what somebody else brought up:

it would be easy to seem unappealing to eat to a human.

a pig or dog, on the other hand? I guess they would have to make them think they were seeing a much larger predator, but still no certain win. animals are as unpredictable as people when they feel threatened.

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Your truffels can easily have different effects

The question as I read ut is specifically interested in different effects on different species. To answer this quickly and easily, yes. Plants and herbs have different effects on different species.

To start with, there are a great many plants in the wild that humans can't eat, while others can. Many berries or leaves can be disastrous, but harmless to many other creatures.

A closer look to drugs is catnip. To start with, it has different effects within the cat population, where some are basically not affected, while others go absolutely bonkers for it. Humans apparently has some effect, but doesn't have as much effect.

Let's look at a wildly different and more interesting one. Chocolate. Both dogs and humans love them. Dogs are able to eat small amounts of chocolate without harm, but an overdose is all too easy and leads to death. A human in comparison can eat literal kilos from the stuff and only have part of their soul die when they look in a mirror.

There will be many examples of such, but we've covered the bases. Chemicals can range from no effect, to full blown behavioural and mental changes, to death between and sometimes within species.

Now that we have answered the question, we can look at some examples just for fun. Keep in mind that even if some part of the human population still tries it, they can be few enough to make a difference for the truffels.

  • Humans are similarly pleasantly affected, but can incredibly easy overdose like a dog on chocolate. Darwin sorts out the rest.
  • humans are adversely affected. In general they have a bad time, discouraging most to try it.
  • Humans sre unaffected. It is unpleasant in taste.
  • Humans are pleasantly affected, but with repeated use a toxic buildup will further discourage consumption. The buildup needs to be quick enough, or else the humans will not notice or care (see smokers).
  • Humans are pleasantly affected, but as they go on a rainbow rampage they are put down by other humans as soon as possible.
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