Archive for the ‘Spring Term 2008’ Category

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Wellcome collections new exhibition “Life before death”

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So simple. So quick. It didn’t exactly feel historic. Mike Young took the clear gel capsule that was handed to him and the paper cup full of juice. Down it went….They knew that half the pills given out were placebos. Their chances were 50-50. Please, Young thought, let me be one of the group who got the drug. Across the room, a clutch of doctors, psychiatrists and researchers looked on. Among them was Timothy Leary, Harvard psychology professor and high priest of the budding psychedelic scene….While under the influence, the group participated in a Good Friday worship service. Afterward, they were interviewed in detail about their experiences. The study’s findings about the ability of psychedelics to produce pseudo-mystical states were startling and largely positive, yet the experiment was the last of its kind. By 1970, possession of psilocybin, LSD and other psychoactive drugs was illegal. Harvard had fired Timothy Leary. The research ended and the war on drugs began…

Drugs, are tools–helpful when used properly, potentially lethal if used the wrong way. “A hatchet is a very useful tool but it’s really lousy for parting your hair.” Young is just as concerned as anyone else when he reads about middle-school kids turning on to psychedelics. “One of the great ironies is that this stuff is once again becoming available,” he says. “You have people cooking up batches of LSD in their bathtubs and it’s hitting the streets. It’s there.” What is not there, he adds, is “the wisdom of how to deal with this.” And wisdom he knows, is more than just the contents of a gel capsule. It’s the ability to understand whatever secrets that capsule may reveal.

The Good Friday experiment was the blending of science and religion into the ultimate God experience.

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