David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

Want a shortcut to better living? Psychedelics may be it.

LSD may help us change our lives by spurring perspective shifts.

MICHAEL POLLAN: There was work done in the '60s and early '70s to judge the role of the possibility That LSD could enhance creativity. And there was a group down in the South Bay in California. And James Fadiman is a psychologist there. And he assembled a group of creatives in various fields-- engineers, architects, musicians, all of whom Way with their work. And he gave them 100 micrograms of LSD. It's not a huge dose. He let them sprawl around the floor for a while, And he said, OK, get to your workstations. And they all got to their work tables, and they Started working on their problems.

And many of them reported a breakthrough. An architect who had some issue designing the flow of pedestrians through a mall or something figured out a novel solution. An engineer, a software engineer, designed a tool to help boys with toilet training, Tinkle Toy, where the stream of urine would drive a pinwheel. He came up with this idea on psychedelics-- not a great contribution to human civilization, but OK. He went on to design email, the mouse computer mouse and videoconferencing. So he made a huge contribution, but he doesn't credit that to LSD. But this is not a controlled trial. This is not anything we could go to the bank with. And studying creativity is very difficult. The kinds of anecdotes that I found most moving in a way were those of the addicts.

I remember talking to smoking addicts, and one in particular. Because I was a little baffled at how could a single psychedelic experience break what was a lifelong or very, very long term 30 year smoking habit in a woman who was 60. She was Irish. She was a book editor, and she wanted to quit smoking and had tried everything without success. And she had a psilocybin trip. This was at Johns Hopkins. And she said, "I sprouted wings, and I flew all through European history. And I saw the Battle of Waterloo and saw Shakespeare. And I died three times, and I saw the smoke from my body rise from the Ganges on the funeral pyres. And I thought to myself, there's so many amazing things to do and see in the world that it was really stupid to kill yourself with smoking." And she stopped.

Now, I was very struck by the fact that surely, she had had that insight before that life is too interesting to shorten it by smoking. But for some reason, in the midst of the psychedelic trip, those seemingly ordinary, even banal insights, take on an authority. They're sticky. They're sturdy. And there's suddenly something that doesn't just seem like a insider, an opinion. It seems like a revealed truth-- absolute knowledge. And this is very common on psychedelics. And it's very common in the mystical experience. William James said that-- the noetic quality is what he called it. This idea that what you Learn in that experience has a special absolute authority. It's just a factor in mystical experience.

So this is what I think allows many of the addicts to break their habit. The kind of resolution that most of us make every day and break the next day becomes something that they can actually live by. And I thought that was quite extraordinary. And I heard that from many people. And they would all say the same thing, "I realized I acquired a new perspective on the scene in my life. It was like the camera had been pulled further back than it's ever been. And I saw myself, And I realized this is really stupid." So perspective-- a perspective shift can be very powerful. And it's very hard for us to get out of our heads and acquire a new perspective. And sometimes years of psychotherapy can give us that perspective, but this can happen in an afternoon.

  • Psilocybin trip may turn banal insights into "sticky" and "revealed truths" that change the way we live our lives.
  • For instance, LSD may be able to help smokers cut their addiction. How so? By allowing them to have a perspective shift on its effects.
  • Sometimes the insights made during psychotherapy, after years of counseling, can be made with an LSD trip in a single afternoon.

Malcolm Gladwell live! | Strangers, Storytelling, and Psychology

Join the legend of non-fiction in conversation with best-selling author and poker pro Maria Konnikova.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to your calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Can a quantum strategy help bring down the house?

Study finds quantum entanglement could, in principle, give a slight advantage in the game of blackjack.

Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash
Surprising Science
In some versions of the game blackjack, one way to win against the house is for players at the table to work as a team to keep track of and covertly communicate amongst each other the cards they have been dealt.
Keep reading Show less

Virgin Galactic uses space tech to create new supersonic jet

The space tourism company Virgin Galactic teams up with Rolls Royce to create a new Mach 3 supersonic aircraft.

Credit: Virgin Galactic
Technology & Innovation
  • Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic announces a partnership with Rolls Royce.
  • The space tourism company will create a new supersonic jet for super-fast travel on Earth.
  • The aircraft will travel at Mach 3 – three times the speed of sound.
Keep reading Show less

Map of the World's Countries Rearranged by Population

China moves to Russia and India takes over Canada. The Swiss get Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi India. And the U.S.? It stays where it is. 

Strange Maps

What if the world were rearranged so that the inhabitants of the country with the largest population would move to the country with the largest area? And the second-largest population would migrate to the second-largest country, and so on?

Keep reading Show less

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

  • Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
  • As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
  • The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
Keep reading Show less