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One can say whatever they want about recreational drug use, but no one can deny the fact that the consumers tend to become more creative, open-minded, and explorative. These dispositions are not linked to any specific drug and absolutely do not guarantee that one will make a life-changing discovery should one consume these drugs. However, as with most aspects of life, there are exceptions. Drugs can cause an individual to break through barriers in their own cognition, which can result in making innovative and creative breakthroughs. While many consider recreational drug use to be a negative thing, let’s have a look at one of the benefits and learn about the many discoveries that may not have ever happened if it weren’t for the mind being under the influence.
Drugs Could Be Responsible for These Major Innovations:
Carl Sagan’s Research Findings:
According to Carl Sagan’s biographer, the scientist was “a secret and avid marijuana smoker”. Sagan reportedly used cannabis to solve problems since it “gives a kind of existential perception of the absurd”. By consuming cannabis, he was able to solve problems encountered in his own research as well as coming up with philosophical concepts. His philosophical perspective and research were and still are, being used in speeches and lectures. Sagan was also able to identify the surface temperatures of Venus, thanks to the cannabis. He even wrote a book called “Reconsidering Marijuana” about the cannabis virtues under the pseudonym “Mr.X”. As fate would have it, cannabis advocate and close friend Dr. Lester Grinspoon was an editor of this book. Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan, is even a member of the advisory board at NORML.
Steve Jobs was a “founder and tech visionary” of Apple who was “influenced by the 1960’s counterculture”. The revolutionist reported having consumed LSD and stated that it was “one of the two or three most important things” that he did in his life. That being said, it is believed that LSD unlocked his creativity and led him to the development of, arguably, the best tech empire. Additionally, one of his biggest competitors, Bill Gates, attributed his achievements to LSD. Gates admitted to using LSD during the early stages of Microsoft when he had an interview with Playboy.
DNA and PCR:
Francis Crick was a Nobel Prize winner who received the prestigious award for being the first to identify the double-helix structure of DNA. Crick was also rumored to be a big fan of LSD. While Crick was known to dabble with LSD later in life, many reports have accredited his DNA breakthrough to it despite him never admitting so. Biochemist Kary Mullis claimed that he could not have made his breakthrough if it wasn’t for LSD. Mullis is the man who invented the polymerase chain reaction- which is the essential process that makes cloning possible. Mullis was open about his use of LSD and even stated, “Would I have invented PCR if I hadn’t taken LSD? I seriously doubt it”.
The man responsible for the Pythagorean Theorem, the philosopher Pythagoras of Samos, not only equipped us with ‘A-squared plus B-squared equals C-squared’ but was apparently very into the use of psychotropics. When he was not busy contributing to your high school education, he lived as a “bit of an eccentric who traveled extensively delving into the secret societies of foreign culture and used these journeys to learn about all the aspects of intellectual life”. Pythagoras explained that his psychotropic drug use created a gateway to greater understanding thus his ability to “generate” new mathematical ideas. Additionally, Paul Erdos, a prominent mathematician, utilized amphetamines throughout his career. He reportedly would engage in mathematics for over 20 hours a day, at which it’s no wonder he went on to publish somewhere around 1,500 groundbreaking mathematics papers.
Frankenstein and The Vampyre:
Frankenstein is perhaps the most well-known monster to have been created by a mad scientist. Author Mary Shelley explains that the inspiration for Frankenstein came to her in the form of a bad dream after having taken laudanum and drinking wine while on a holiday with her husband and other prolific writers John William Polidori, and Lord Byron. This very night of drinking and tripping on liquid opium with friends led to the foundation of Shelley’s Frankenstein and Polidori’s The Vampyre, which is arguably the first-ever written vampire story.
Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and Many More:
Author Phillip K. Dick wrote the original books that inspired many of our favorite classic movies and shows. The author is known for his sci-fi novels that deal heavily with conspiracies, drug use, paranoia, and the perception of reality. There is no denying the brilliance of his work, but their obscurity is well explained by the fact that he experimented with a significant amount of drugs. Some of his notable works that have been adapted to film and tv include the Blade Runner franchise, Total Recall, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, Screamers, The Man in the High Castle, and many more.
Psychoanalysis and Freudian Theories:
Psychoanalysis is described by the online Oxford Dictionary as a “system of psychological theory and therapy which aims to treat mental disorders by investigating the interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in the mind and bringing repressed fears and conflicts into the conscious mind by techniques such as dream interpretation and free association”. Sigmund Freud is known as the father of psychoanalysis and perhaps a big-time cocaine consumer. He even researched cocaine, wrote about it, and leaned on it heavily to stimulate his mind and overcome social awkwardness. Freud’s increased insight as a result of cocaine use likely led to him not only develop a severe addiction but also his research in formulating the foundation of conventional psychotherapy and exploring the human subconscious.
Thomas Edison Stayed Up All Night Working on Inventions:
Thomas Edison is infamous for his inventions to the likes of motion picture cameras, light bulbs, etc. The American Addiction Centers explains that Edison was a “huge fan of ‘Vin Mariani’, a Bordeaux wine treated with coca leaves”. The wine not only contained the active ingredient of alcohol but also contained cocaine from the coca leaves. These ingredients were said to play a significant role in his chronic insomnia, but more significantly, impacted his ability to make inventions. If you’re going to be up all night, might as well work on discovery and invention.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:
Robert Louis Stevenson was the author of ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. The book was originally written in the short span of 6-days and contained around 60,000 words. It turns out, the author was able to accomplish this thanks to the assistance of cocaine. This story has become the “world’s most admired and profound horror story” but that the first, impassioned draft was “destroyed by the author’s wife”. Fanny Stevenson dismissed the work as “a quire full of utter nonsense”. The fact that Stevenson’s health was in decline, and that cocaine enabled him to write such a horror story, would explain why Fanny initially thought it was just nonsense.
The pharmacist who created the legendary beverage Coca-Cola, John Stith Pemberton, had a raging morphine addiction thanks to old military wounds. The drink began with two key ingredients, cocaine and caffeine, but this was before the effects of cocaine were fully understood. The cocaine came from the coca leaf and the caffeine was derived from the kola nut. These ingredients were also the reason for naming the beverage Coca-Cola, for coca and kola. The beverage was originally marketed as “a nerve tonic, mental aid, headache remedy, and a cure for morphine addiction”.
Andrew Weil is considered to be the father of “integrative medicine”, and was a common consumer of morphine. Weil is open about his substance use and even co-wrote a book called “From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs”. One of Weil’s most significant contributions, integrative medicine, is described as “healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle”. According to Weil, integrative medicine “incorporates elements of complementary and alternative medicine into comprehensive treatment plans alongside solidly orthodox methods of diagnosis and treatment”.
From breakthroughs in writing to science and biology to beverages, it’s easy to see how drug use could have significantly contributed to the current pool of knowledge and understanding. While these drugs have led to these amazing discoveries, it is important to understand that these substances are still illegal, risky and do not necessarily mean you will make a life-changing discovery as these people have. However, we are thankful for the risks these individuals took in order to bless us with horror stories, delicious soda, and a better understanding of our beings.
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