Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Hamilton Morris (TW: @hamiltonmorris, IG: @hamiltonmorris), a writer, documentarian, and scientific researcher who currently studies the chemistry and pharmacology of tryptamines at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. With some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!
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Tim Ferriss: Hamilton, welcome to the show.
Hamilton Morris: Thanks for having me.
Tim Ferriss: I have been hoping to have this conversation on the podcast ever since I first saw your show and have recommended the show to probably more people than any other show I’ve seen in the last three to five years. So thank you for making it, first of all.
Hamilton Morris: That’s great. I’m glad you like it.
Tim Ferriss: And I wanted to begin the conversation. We’re going to bounce around a lot. I will mispronounce many, many things, so please pardon my ignorance.
Hamilton Morris: That’s fine.
Tim Ferriss: This has been a trend already in our conversations. But I thought we could start off by introducing people to a character they may not know, and that’s Alexander Shulgin. And I think the best way to do this is to read the opening of the last interview with Alexander Shulgin. And here we go. Feel free to correct any of this –
Hamilton Morris: I’m already feeling embarrassed, before you even start. This is a pretty old piece of writing.
Tim Ferriss: Let me just get through it. Is that okay?
Hamilton Morris: That’s okay, yeah.
Tim Ferriss: I love Alexander Shulgin. I’ve loved him from the first moment I read about him. He is my idol, my hero, my sun, my O2. I love each of the 978 pages of his phenethylamine magnum opus, PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved), and every milligram of his 1.13-kilogram tryptamine treatise, TiHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved). Above my bed I’ve pinned a large picture of Shulgin cuddling with his wife, Ann. I often sleep with a copy of PiHKAL not under my pillow, but as a pillow. He is the grandfather of Ecstasy, the molecular magician, the atomic conquistador. Over the span of 50 years he has created more new psychedelic drugs than the Amazon jungle ever has. He is more of a mythological creature, a chemical centaur, than he is a real person. Who is Alexander Shulgin?
Hamilton Morris: Alexander Shulgin is a chemist who has just a career so amazing that you’d think he couldn’t be a real person. He’s very much a product of the 1950s. And I could tell you his life story, in a condensed way, but I’ll just do that very quickly.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Let’s do it.
Hamilton Morris: The basic story is that Alexander Shulgin came from a poor family of Russian immigrants in California. And he was accepted at Harvard I think as an unusually young freshman. I think, at that time, it was somewhat more common for people that were very young to go to college early. And he felt alienated from his classmates because they all had money, and he didn’t. And he made a small bomb out of mercury fulminate and blew up the windows of his freshman dormitory, and then decided to leave Harvard and join the Navy. And in the Navy, he injured his thumb and had to have a small, surgical procedure done to sew up the wound. And before the procedure, a nurse gave him a glass of orange juice that had crystals of morphine that were floating on the surface of the orange juice, and he drank it and passed out.
And they sewed up the wound. And when he regained consciousness, he thanked the nurse and said, “Thank you so much for giving me that morphine. It really made the procedure painless, and I don’t think I could have gotten through it without the morphine.” And she said, “There was no morphine. Those were sugar crystals.” And that first encounter with the placebo effect was so profound for him that he realized he wanted to dedicate the rest of his life to understanding drugs and the mind. And when he was in the Navy, he brought this chemistry text book with him by a chemist named Paul Karrer and studied it. And these are early chemistry text books. They had synthesis of mescaline, synthesis of lysergic acid, synthesis of harmaline. All of these things weren’t treated as taboo subjects.
They were simply legitimate areas of scientific inquiry. So he was being exposed to all of this chemistry that would later serve as the foundation of his career. And then, he got out of the Navy, went to Berkeley, got a degree in biochemistry, and started working for Dow, which then was in a controversial time because they were supporting the manufacture of napalm in Vietnam, and there was all of this sort of political protest surrounding the work. But he had developed a profitable insecticide called Zectran. And because he had made them all of this money, they said, “You can do whatever you want.” So while he was still working at Dow, he started making a variety of different psychedelics. And you can actually see his Dow notebooks online with the Dow logo and everything.
At that point, he was not only synthesizing these things, but he was testing them on himself, which was the only effective way to do it. And at some point, they decided they didn’t want him to do that anymore, but he had enough money that he decided to continue the research in his backyard. And he did this all openly. He didn’t hide anything. He published in the most prestigious scientific journals then and now, Nature and Science. And he did it all from his home address with no university affiliation. And he did amazing research. There are entire pharmaceutical companies that have done less than he did in his backyard. He is considered responsible for reintroducing MDMA as a psychotherapeutic tool. In addition to that, he created countless derivatives of MDMA. He also created a chemical called Ariadne or Dimoxamine that was used a potential treatment for CNL dementia.
He created Methylone, which he patented as an antidepressant. You could go on and on and on about the amazing contributions of this guy. So he’s someone that you rarely have these experiences in life where you can point to them and say that changed my life. But I remember, as a high school student, reading a profile of him in the New York Times Magazine, sitting in my parents’ kitchen, and thinking, and I wasn’t even very interested in drugs, I was probably a little bit more interested than a typical high school student, but I wasn’t a druggie. I had smoked salvia and cannabis a number of times and drank alcohol a number of times, but I wasn’t actively pursuing this. And then, I read a profile of this guy and thought wow, he is inventing not only new drugs but new types of drugs. Drugs that I didn’t know existed and no one knew existed. And he was doing it in his backyard.
What an amazing human being. What a totally fascinating creature this person is. And I became pretty seriously obsessed with him. Ordered his books, read the books. And the books, I think, have many levels to them that you come to appreciate. There’s the superficial level, which is you read these things, and they’re fantastic. It’s some of the best, not just best books about drugs ever written, some of the best books about science ever written. So if you’re just interested in science, I can’t recommend these books –
Tim Ferriss: Are they accessible to non-chemists?
Hamilton Morris: Yes. They’re absolutely accessible to non-chemists because there’s a narrative component to each book, a love story, and stories that are more accessible. And then, there’s hardcore chemistry as well. So the typical way somebody reads these books is you read the stories, and you read the qualitative effects of the drugs, and you kind of skim over the chemistry because it’s too complicated. And that’s the way I read it the first time as well. And then, there’s a kind of second reading, which is now, you’ve taken or I had taken general and organic chemistry. And now, I’m ready to really understand these things. And then, you realize, okay, wow, this is real. And then, the most amazing thing, and this is maybe what really has reinforced my love for him is then, following some of these recipes, in a university research laboratory, and realizing this is real, this really works. These are scientific tools.
And the syntheses that he provided are not only effective, they’re often brilliant roots to producing these compounds. And what an amazing contribution this man made.
Tim Ferriss: What made him so good, in the sense that, presumably, other people had access to the same books and similar training? I don’t know what distinguishes a great chemist from a merely good chemist.
Hamilton Morris: Well, he would, actually, often say that he was a terrible chemist because his PhD was not in chemistry. He was more interested in biochemistry and enzymes and things like that. And that’s an interest that carries over into a lot of his later work, in certain ways. But what made him great is not so much the chemistry itself, although that was fantastic, and I would never suggest that it wasn’t, but what made him great was he had a perspective on science that a lot of people don’t have. A lot of people, they think whatever they’re doing right now is state of the art because it is. And they don’t think, “What if this fMRI stuff we’re doing right now, what if a decade from now, it’s all garbage? And what if this was a huge, very expensive waste of time?”
But what’s the one thing that won’t be a waste of time? What is certain to be timeless? And that’s experience. That’s the one thing that never becomes obsolete. And he understood that. If he had been, like so many of his colleagues, and said, “Oh, wow, I just discovered a new derivative of mescaline, I can’t wait to cut out a strip of a rat’s uterus and place it in a bath and see if this mescaline derivative causes the strip of uterus to contract. This would be so interesting to find out.” Well, all of the research that was done on isolated uterus tissue and things like that, it’s all obsolete. You can’t cite that in a scientific paper in a meaningful way without kind of understanding that it’s not considered useful because it doesn’t differentiate between the different subtypes of serotonin receptors.
And there’s so many variables to consider. So he understood that all these pharmacological assays were flawed, but his own experience was the bottom line. That’s what mattered. And there have been a number of philosophers that I think had a similar attitude. Goethe also wrote this amazing book on colors. I don’t know if you know about this book.
Tim Ferriss: I know of it, I haven’t read it. I have a friend who is a memory competitor who has read this and recommended it to me.
Hamilton Morris: It’s a really amazing idea. I’ve been reading it recently. And he was saying physicists are saying color is made of waves of light. There are these different theories. But what difference does it make? We don’t experience color as waves of light. So why don’t we take our own experience as seriously as the physicists that are measuring the wavelengths of each color of light? And why don’t I sit and describe the experience of green and sit and describe the experience of yellow and what it’s like? And what does it look like during the day? And what does it look like at night? And how does it change? Everything that I can observe. And to not underestimate my perceptual apparatus as a sort of analytical device.
Tim Ferriss: What is the value of the subjective experience or describing that experience and how generalizable is it? You mentioned color. So it makes me think of how certain cultures treat and perceive colors very differently.
Hamilton Morris: Right. Of course.
Tim Ferriss: So in the case of say a Shulgin or others, what do you see in the value, or what did he see in the value of describing this subjective experience? And I’m sure the question a lot of people are wondering is how the hell did he risk mitigate? If he’s creating these novel compounds, how do you think about risk, in such a case?
Hamilton Morris: Right. And that’s a great question. There’s two ways to think about the risk issue. There’s one way that you could say how could he possibly have done this. It was so dangerous. He was the first person to synthesize these things. No one knew anything about them. They hadn’t even been given to rodents yet. So how could he possibly take that risk? The flipside is do we really know anything about any drugs that we take? There’s still fundamental debate going on right now about whether or not cannabis decreases IQ after long term use. I have the psychopharmacology textbook that I was using when I was in college that says it does. Then there’s endless debate about it. We haven’t resolved very basic aspects of the toxicity of the most widely used drugs on earth.
So I would say, before we magnify the potential danger in unknown substances, we shouldn’t minimize the potential danger in the known substances because really, everything is unknown to a certain extent. And the basic way that he mitigated that risk, and he actually published a scientific article describing his methodology that’s worth reading for anyone that wants to get into this area, is to start small. To start at one-tenth of whatever the absolute smallest imaginable dose might be for something. So this is completely hypothetical. Suppose you made 6 methyl DMT. So 6 methyl DMT is likely to be inactive. It probably won’t have any activity. But just to be safe, if I were hypothetically making that, I might want to start at 100 micrograms. All evidence would point to it being less potent than DMT, but why risk it? Start at 100.
Nothing in an hour? Move up to 200, then move up to 400, and then, over the course of days, very gradually escalate the dose. And if you do it that way, you can say with a pretty high level of certainty that you won’t poison yourself because, even if it were cyanide, you wouldn’t poison yourself if you were doing it that way. You would recognize that it was toxic before you reached anything close to a lethal dose of the material. Same would be true of strychnine.
Tim Ferriss: Which you wouldn’t advise.
Hamilton Morris: Which I would not advise, although strychnine has been used medicinally in the past. And I would actually be curious about trying it at a low dose. But maybe this just shows the sort of person I am.
Tim Ferriss: What would people search for, if they wanted to find that methodology in his description of it?
Hamilton Morris: I believed it was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. I think it’s called –
Tim Ferriss: Any type of gingerbread trail, we can put it in the show notes.
Hamilton Morris: I can definitely pull it up for you quickly with a Google search. I can’t remember off the top of my head.
Tim Ferriss: Perfect. No problem. And for people listening, we’ll put that in the show notes. And also, for people listening, a quick audio engineer note here in my sound studio. This is the hour of the blue jay. So if you hear any birds in the background, those are blue jays, and it is my kitchen table. Shulgin, he’s captured my fascination in the last few years. But part of me is maybe embarrassed or insecure about picking up this book beyond the narratives because I know no chemistry. I’ve never taken a chemistry class. How would you recommend, or would you recommend, to people who are out of school who would like to gain a basic literacy in chemistry? Is there any particular approach that you would recommend?
Hamilton Morris: Definitely, yeah. I think this is a great time to learn anything. There’s so many educational resources available to people on the internet. So when I was taking organic chemistry, there are two books called Organic Chemistry as a Second Language, Part 1 and Part 2. Those are fantastic, very well written, very clear, very accessible books.
Tim Ferriss: Are there any prerequisites before reading this, or can you hop right into –
Hamilton Morris: It just depends, I would say, on your basic, foundational, scientific literacy.
Tim Ferriss: Got it.
Hamilton Morris: I would say, for most people that have, let’s say, high school level understanding of chemistry in the sense that they know about elements and things like that, it should be accessible, I believe. It’s been a little while since I’ve looked at it. But I remember it being pretty accessible. And then, there’s Khan Academy videos that are very good as well. And there’s a kind of industry. There’s actually a pretty big educational industry surrounding organic chemistry specifically because it’s a class that’s taken by a lot of people that don’t want to be taking it because it’s a pre-med requirement.
So an industry has emerged to help all of these pre-med students who don’t want to become chemists and don’t find chemistry interesting to ensure that they can pass the class, so they can go to med school, which is nice because the same isn’t true for some other technical things. This is really purely a product of the pre-med requirement, I believe.
Tim Ferriss: I remember having another scientist I had spoken with, Nav, on a prior episode with Peter Attia for people who have listened to this podcast for a while, and you’ve seen these characters recur, had recommended actually getting the test prep books for some of these related subjects. And I think it was something or other 101 that was all in a Q&A format. But the Organic Chemistry as a Second Language will be on the shopping list.
Hamilton Morris: Definitely get that. And then, the other thing is I learn about things when I have a practical application for them. There are a lot of things that, as an abstract idea, don’t have a lot of value. So, and I say this with some hesitation, but if you really want to learn these things, the absolute best way to learn them is to do chemistry, ideally, in such a way that you don’t hurt yourself or other people or get arrested. But there’s a lot of basic chemistry work like distillation that you can do. And it’s a lot of fun to distill essential oils or to extract various things from plants. You could extract piperine from black pepper or a number of different things. And that’s not illegal. And it gives you a basic idea of how to do these sorts of chemical manipulations.
I think that, if I didn’t have experience working in a lab, I don’t think I could ever care about chemistry as much as I do because you need that practical application, typically, to really dig deep into something.
Tim Ferriss: When did psychedelics enter your life experience? And why has it stuck and held your interest for so long?
Hamilton Morris: I was always aware of them and always interested in them, even as a child. I remember there was a book called Buzzed that was sort of like I think my school library had a copy of it. And it was an educational drug book. And they had a section about DMT in it. And I remember, even as maybe a fifth or sixth grader, thinking, “Oh, wow, this DMT stuff, they call it the businessman’s trip on the street. And that sure sounds interesting.” And I remember, I don’t even know if this place still exists, but there was a shopping mall called The Garage in Harvard Square. I grew up in Cambridge. And I remember a drug dealer approaching me at The Garage saying, “Do you want some LSD?” And I said, “Well, I don’t really want LSD, but I would like some DMT if you have that.”
Tim Ferriss: The discerning consumer of street psychedelics.
Hamilton Morris: And I was probably 12 or something like that. But he didn’t, of course, and I didn’t take the LSD. But I was aware that they had a certain power. My dad was very afraid of them. His child psychiatrist had written some medical papers about how damaging it is for people to use LSD as children. And so he had been very much influenced by his psychiatrist who had led him to believe that LSD was dangerous. So he had, I would say, a pretty permissive attitude towards most things, but he really felt – he would say, “Don’t take LSD. Promise me you won’t take LSD.” And I went to a kind of alternative high school, and there was also there a little bit of a sense that psychedelics didn’t necessarily do people any favors. A lot of the people that used psychedelics weren’t people that I wanted to be like.
I was a pretty nerdy guy. I was on the science team. And certainly no one on the science team was using psychedelics. And so I was afraid of them and simply didn’t use them in a major way in high school, other than salvia, which I actually loved – although I was fascinated by them and their power.
Tim Ferriss: How did salvia enter your life? What was the first experience?
Hamilton Morris: Because, for better or worse, it was very available, at that time, in headshops. And so it was the sort of thing that high school students would talk about. There’s this stuff. It’s legal. You can buy it in stores. You smoke it. It causes you to trip dramatically for a few minutes, and then you’re back to normal. It’s a pretty good sales pitch, if someone is a 14-year-old. And so I tried it, and this was also before people considered it as frightening as they consider it now. There wasn’t this fear narrative surrounding the substance. And I tried it, and it was utterly amazing. And that was my first experience beginning to appreciate that these things were not only very different from the way they had been described but, to some extent, they were not describable to begin with.
That no matter who was describing them, there was going to have to be some degree of distortion. And it really was the sort of thing that had to be experienced. And then, I started to understand a little bit more about, culturally, why these things are misunderstood and why they might have more potential than people realize.
Tim Ferriss: Why is that? Why do you think they’re called – well, let me mention two things. One, is that before people listening run out to find their local salvia distributor, watch a few YouTube videos. It’s worth being cautious about. I find salvia fascinating and the science equally fascinating. But it is fairly well known for people who jump into it without doing a whole lot of reading as something that people do once, in many cases. You tend to, in some cases, like to run away. So check out the YouTube videos first. But secondly, why are these substances culturally misunderstood?
Hamilton Morris: Part of it has to do with there being no place for it, I think. What do we do with salvia experience? It’s a little bit weird to even talk about it for a lot of people. So what do you do with it? It doesn’t fit into any spiritual or religious frameworks in our culture. We don’t have a framework for them. Scientifically, at least at that time, it was barely studied. I think, when I first used it, it may have been before they even understood that it was a kappa opioid receptor agonist or anything about it. So there isn’t a lot to do with them. So they’ve become marginalized almost because there’s nowhere else for them but the margins. What do you do? You can write an Erowid Experience report and tell your friends about it, and then, that’s the end of it. But the potential, of course, extends far beyond that.
And these are really important tools for studying consciousness. And, in certain cultures, or even in our own, if you develop a framework to do it, could be ways of treating disease or having a spiritual type experience.
Tim Ferriss: Would you consider yourself, and this is not a trick question, there’s no right answer here, but since you used the word, to be spiritual, a spiritual person?
Hamilton Morris: I am not a spiritual person at all. In fact, I’m not even sure I know what the word spiritual means.
Tim Ferriss: Me neither. So in that case, is there value in the spiritual experience for someone like yourself?
Hamilton Morris: Yes.
Tim Ferriss: It’s lacking a better descriptor. I recognize that maybe that’s not the right word to use, but I don’t know how else to label it.
Hamilton Morris: Well, there’s a very tangible value, which is that, along with the visual distortions and the distortions of time and sense of self, there’s often these very simple, positive things that emerge like a sense of love for my parents or something like that, love for my friends, appreciation for being alive, gratitude, a desire to work hard, to use the time that I have on earth in a way that will benefit other people. These are basic things that sometimes emerge from the experience. And to feel those things in a genuine way is fantastic. It’s really good, especially, if you are a somewhat cynical, materialist person. And when I say materialist, I don’t mean in the –
Tim Ferriss: Acquisitive sense of the word.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. But just in the sense that you believe in physical reality as the ultimate be all, end all. And it doesn’t change that belief, but it gives me a sense that within that physical reality, there’s tremendous depth and beauty and so many things worthy of exploration.
Tim Ferriss: We were chatting a little bit yesterday about something, and I’d love to dig into it, which is very closely related. And it’s reflective of some trouble I’ve had with interacting with various types of explorers in this realm, meaning scientists on one hand, if I can simplify it. The sort of hard scientists on one end of the spectrum who almost, I’m not going to say universally, but very much fall, I would say, in line with the type of thinking you’re describing. And then, on the other end of the spectrum, people looking at psychedelics from a, for lack of a better adjective, shamanic perspective. And it’s hard to get – there seems to be allergies on both sides to the other, in some cases. What are the reservations that you have, aside from not believing in the deities, spirits, whatever might be used for explaining things, on the shamanic side?
It seems to be many people in the psychedelic experiences want that type of context, or they seek the shaman of one type or another to provide them with this container and experience. And even people who otherwise would view themselves as very hyper rational. How do you think about the shamanic cultural context? We lack it here, but there are cultures where that does exist, but it comes along with a lot more.
Hamilton Morris: Right. That’s a complicated question. There’s a lot of aspects to it that I find slightly problematic. One is that plants are the be all, end all. I think that plants are a wonderful starting place. And they introduce us to so many things. And maybe those things are the best. Maybe DMT is as good as it gets. But I’ve had the opportunity to try a number of different DMT derivatives, MET, MPT, DPT, DIPT, and so on, and IPT and a number of others. And what I can say about having tried all of these different tryptamine derivatives of DMT is that they have different properties and might be better for different things that we don’t need to use these in a one size fits all. So, for example, people often talk about ego death. I, for whatever reason, don’t even like using these psychoanalytic terms when describing psychedelic experience. But for whatever reason, with DMT, it tends to be about me, about my life, my friends, my family, my associations.
With DPT, it feels more universal. It feels like this is an experience that anyone, my DPT could have been your DPT experience, or it could have been anyone in the world’s DPT experience because it’s not about me. It’s not about my life, it’s about life. And I think, with the shamanic root, there’s often a lot of dogma. There’s a lot of, “This is the way to do it, and this is what’s traditional.” And there’s a little bit of discouragement of experimentation in favor of what is traditional, and that’s fantastic because we have a lot to learn from these traditions without questions, an enormous amount to learn. But I don’t think we’ve figured it out. I don’t think any culture has figured it out. And I am most in favor of anyone that is continually trying to push things forward, trying to see how can they be even better than they are.
And that’s maybe not a good mindset. Maybe it’s better to just be satisfied. But maybe it’s a scientific mindset. How can we change it? How can we make it better for people that don’t like to vomit? How can we make it better for people that want a shorter experience or people that are sensitive to this or that?
Tim Ferriss: And we chatted about this a little bit yesterday, but also, not just the specificity of action or being able to use derivatives for different types of experiences, but also, the reliability or accuracy of dosing.
Hamilton Morris: Yes.
Tim Ferriss: Which maybe you could chat about for a second.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. I think that, if there’s one thing that is not talked about enough, in the realm of psychedelics and drugs, in general, it’s dose. Dose is so important to understanding a drug’s effect. And it’s often not even discussed. People will say, “Oh, I hated Adderall,” or “I hated this; I hated that.” And I’ll say, “Really, you hated Adderall? How much were you taking?” And they’ll say, “Oh, I don’t know, a pill.” “Well, there’s 20 mg pills, and there’s five mg pills; which one were you taking?” And it makes a big difference. It makes a huge difference. The toxicology is founded on this idea, Paracelsus’s idea that the dose is the poison. That the difference between a medicine and a poison is the dose. And with plants, you don’t have that luxury of knowing the dose. You simply don’t. There’s tremendous variability.
Then, on top of that, they’re often being prepared in one way or another that can make it even harder to know exactly how much is being consumed. And then, someone drinks a cup of brew, and they say, “I don’t like ayahuasca; it’s too strong.” Or, “I didn’t feel anything. I’m not sensitive to ayahuasca.” And what’s sad about that is you can’t learn from the experience because you don’t know what you took in the first place. Whereas, if they had taken 45 mg of DMT freebase and a synthetic MAOI, then you could say, “Interesting, maybe you’re unusually insensitive to DMT. Next time, try 55 mg and work your way up gradually.” And, eventually, you’ll find the dose that works for you. And you can kind of troubleshoot the psychedelic experience. It doesn’t need to be just, “I felt it” or “I didn’t feel it” or “It was too much” or “It wasn’t enough” thing. You can figure out what works for you.
And that’s really important because these are serious experiences. There’s a lot of uncertainty going into these experiences. At the very least, to have that foundation of I know what I took, and I know how much of it I took is something that can’t be underestimated in its value.
Tim Ferriss: There are so many different directions that I want to go. But I’ll try to pick one for now.
Hamilton Morris: And just one more thing in that vein. That’s the real tragedy of psychedelics right now is for a common person, they have access to two psychedelics, LSD and psilocybin-containing mushrooms. And they don’t know the dose of either of those things. You take one blotter of LSD, maybe someone told you that it contains 100 micrograms of LSD, but you have no idea. I have analyzed blotters of non-LSD containing lysergamides like 1 PLSD blotter. I was working with a chemist friend on an experiment, and there was variation across the blotter. Then, on top of that, there are different salts of these different things, these different lysergamides. So you don’t know how much you’re taking to begin with. Making the assumption that it’s exactly 100 micrograms per blotter is a huge mistake.
You have no idea. And the same is true of mushrooms. Even the same species grown on the same substrate, there can be variation in potency between two different mushrooms. There can be variation and potency across the same mushroom between the stem and the cap.
Tim Ferriss: And just for sake of clarity, when you say variation and potency, we’re not talking like a 10 percent difference in potency.
Hamilton Morris: There’s a chemist named Jochen Gartz, I believe that’s how you pronounce it, and he published some work on this. So you can see exactly how much variation he observed. There hasn’t been as much research on it as I would like. But the general takeaway is that these things are not homogenous. And if you’re going into what is potentially a very profound experience, you really want to have that baseline confidence that “I took this much of something.” I think it really helps and is not to be underestimated.
Tim Ferriss: Particularly, if you’re coming in, as many people would, with a reasonable level of anxiety or fear or apprehension about something that you’ve never experienced that people describe, this is maybe an oxymoron, but describe as inevitable. Are there any books you would recommend or resources that you could recommend to people, aside from Shulgin’s books, for those who would like to learn more about psychedelics and you mentioned consciousness? I’m wondering if there any books that you’ve found very thought provoking that don’t also activate your gag reflex, given sort of the squishy nature of some of the writing.
Hamilton Morris: Right. There’s one book that I think hits all of those points that you just made that’s really fantastic. It was written by my thesis advisor, Nicolas Langlitz. And the name of the book is Neuropsychedelia. It’s an academic book, so it’s not as readable as maybe Michael Pollan’s book, for example. But I think it’s one of the best books ever written about psychedelics, neuroscience, and consciousness.
Tim Ferriss: What was his last name again?
Hamilton Morris: Langlitz. And he’s a really interesting guy, MD, PhD, really very dedicated to understanding the subject. And it came out almost a decade before the Michael Pollan book, but it also takes a very different perspective on the value of a lot of the neuroimaging research. So I think it’s a fantastic book that I can’t recommend enough. For those that are interested in the historical and anthropological aspects of all of this, there’s an anthropologist named Douglas Sharon who wrote a lot about San Pedro. He’s fantastic. There’s Marlene Dobkin de Rios who wrote a lot about ayahuasca in the ‘80s and maybe even in the late ‘70s. She’s fantastic. There is, of course, Jonathan Ott who wrote Pharmacotheon.
He’s fantastic and has written many books, and he’s great for getting a sort of wide, historical, and scientific view of things. I think he was one of the best for that.
Tim Ferriss: Great. I will put all of those in the show notes for folks. We’ll have links to all of those. Why put together the TV show? Why do so much work? Having some understanding, based on our conversation, also just watching the show, you realize how much work it is to put something like that together. Why do it?
Hamilton Morris: I wanted to do it for a number of reasons. One is that I’ve always felt that there are trends in journalism. And that certain things become demonized, and then, everyone talks about how terrible they are. And then, the public decides that’s truly the case. So right now, no one could write an article about opioids being good. You simply couldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be allowed. You would be violently attacked. But you can easily write an article about how psilocybin is good, and you will be congratulated for doing that. And I started thinking about what things can and can’t be talked about, and what can I talk about that no one else is going to talk about. And the main thing that I was interested in with the show is clandestine drug synthesis. That’s sort of the thing that I feel is most widely misrepresented in the media are the people that run underground drug labs.
So somebody at Johns Hopkins, if they’re doing research with psilocybin, we’re very eager to congratulate them for their work. But someone who is actually responsible for providing these drugs to the public, so that normal people can use them, we’re eager to demonize them, even though they’re risking their freedom to do that. And they’re, typically, not bad people. In many cases, they’re very good idealistically motivated people that do this because they think it’s the right thing to do with their lives. They really believe in it. So I thought, okay, with my understanding of chemistry, this would be a great opportunity to clear up a lot of the misconceptions regarding clandestine drug synthesis. That was kind of the most important thing for me to do. But then, beyond that, I wanted to tell drug stories that hadn’t been told and to present a basic case for understanding the value of these things.
And there’s a lot of different ways to do that. You can say, “Look, this is valued by an indigenous group. And they’ve integrated this into their traditions and into their spirituality. And they really appreciate it. So maybe think twice before making it illegal because these people are not only not experiencing problems with it; it’s making their lives better. So think very carefully before making a plant illegal.” That’s one basic idea that I wanted to communicate. But then, the other is these are real scientific tools. I’ve been on both sides of this discussion journalistically. I’ve had the opportunity to interview enormous numbers of people and to be interviewed many, many times. And, from being on the opposite side, from being interviewed and profiled by people, I’ve become aware of how stupid a lot of these discussions are and how easy it is for people to minimize and reduce the importance of all of this.
“It’s just drugs.” Just drugs? It’s everything. It’s your consciousness, all of medicine, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology. This is not a niche subject of study. This is one of the most important areas known to mankind and has been for thousands of years are medicines. So just to get people, at the very least, even if they don’t like it, to acknowledge its value and to take it a little bit seriously and not just say, “Oh, drugs, just that stuff that druggies use.” It’s so much more than that.
Tim Ferriss: So I’ve recommended this. I’ve recommended – there are a few different pronunciations – but Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, don’t worry about the spelling. Just search Hamilton on your favorite provider, and you’ll find the show. I watched it on Amazon Prime, but you can watch it anywhere. There are many, many, many different places. Which episode might you suggest – and I’m going to give you a few different profiles – a scientist start with? And I know that’s really broad. But let’s just say somebody who would consider themselves or who is professionally a scientist.
Hamilton Morris: It depends on what the – there’s an episode from this most recent season called A Clandestine Chemist’s Tale, and that’s about how the war on drugs has made it more difficult for people to have home labs partially. That’s one of the ideas that I was trying to communicate. It’s also about clandestine MDMA synthesis and features the first ever televised total synthesis of MDMA. And it’s real. That’s what you see is a real synthesis of MDMA. So just the amazingness of even capturing that on film is something that I think is cool for almost anyone who really wants to see this is where it comes from. This is how it’s done. We start with – not we. I didn’t, but the chemist starts with crude sassafras root bark oil and takes it all the way down to the re-crystallized MDMA hydrochloride over the course of five days and I was just kind of blown away by watching that process.
And I also televised the total synthesis of Quaalude. And also, we did a little bit of a drug called gaboxadol, got a little bit into LSD chemistry. There’s a lot of chemistry. I would say that, drugs aside, there’s probably more hardcore chemistry in this TV show than there has ever been in any TV show ever. If anyone can find –
Tim Ferriss: I would be astonished, if that’s not the case.
Hamilton Morris: Which is cool. I think it’s great because people find it interesting. And I get so many emails from people saying that they find chemistry interesting for the first time. And the way to do it wasn’t to simplify it. It was to show people how complicated it is.
Tim Ferriss: It’s not only not dumbed down, but I love that, routinely, in these episodes, and I’d like to think of myself as a reasonable well-read guy, but I haven’t taken much chemistry. And you’ll go through a number of different diagrams, and certain words will come up. And there is no pause for a 10-minute explanation of the term. It’s just provided in context, but it is sophisticated. It’s a sophisticated show but still very entertaining to watch. For someone who is a non-scientist, let’s just say they’re fascinated by what they have read about psychedelics or heard about psychedelics. They’ve never taken a psychedelic. They find it terrifying, on some level, the prospect. Is there an episode or some episodes you’d recommend?
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. Well, I’m probably the worst person to ask because the things that I like, in my own work, are always the things that are the most obscure that no one has ever done. But that’s from my own perspective. Whereas I think the mushroom episode that I did was the most successful of them all. So that’s probably – I guess that’s the people speaking. They like that one the most. That wouldn’t be the first one that I’d recommend, but people want to learn about mushrooms.
Tim Ferriss: What would be the first one you would recommend?
Hamilton Morris: Probably A Clandestine Chemist’s Tale or The Lazy Lizard’s School of Hedonism episode about this chemist who operated an MDMA lab in the center of a volcano.
Tim Ferriss: So you mentioned, which is a fantastic episode, you mentioned the mushrooms. What have the other most popular episodes been?
Hamilton Morris: I think people like the episodes that detail shamanism. I think people are very interested in shamanism, partially because it’s nontechnical. But because it’s such a foreign idea that you could have a spiritual tradition based around drug consumption and that it’s so non-taboo that people do it with their families, and they do it to heal. And they’ve just never seen anything like that before. And I hadn’t either, until I saw it myself.
Tim Ferriss: What episodes would fall into that category?
Hamilton Morris: The mushroom episode, the salvia episode from season one, both have that. And the San Pedro episode from season two is a pretty in depth analysis with actually no voiceover, though. It had a different format from the other episodes. But it’s a view of cactus shamanism in Peru that I think gives you an appreciation for the medical context in the community that this really is so different from what you would think of when you would hear this guy give people mescaline every night. These are people that are treating him exactly the same way you would treat a doctor, in the United States. “I have epilepsy. I have a sprained ankle.”
Tim Ferriss: I don’t know what he would call himself huachumero or curandero, but probably not shaman, but maybe he does. But I’m not sure how he would self-describe, from that episode. What would he call himself, do you think?
Hamilton Morris: He may have called himself a shaman.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, he did? Okay.
Hamilton Morris: He may have. I would have to double check.
Tim Ferriss: Maybe in English, yeah. A lot of those guys would say curandero or huachumero or something like that. This is not going to be relevant to anyone else, but since I’m curious, did you actually have toilet shit or chicken shit splashed in your face in that episode? Because there was a shot, while you’re doing your chores, where something awful, and it was edited into your cleaning montage, got splashed on your glasses, and it looked awful. I don’t know if that was done in the effects studio.
Hamilton Morris: Okay. You caught me. I couldn’t resist that gag.
Tim Ferriss: Okay.
Hamilton Morris: I just couldn’t resist it. I have a sort of –
Tim Ferriss: It was very fast.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. I have a slightly childish sense of humor. And yeah, it was – you had to –
Tim Ferriss: That was good. You got me. It stuck in my mind. That episode also features, I think, perhaps, my favorite wardrobe of yours, which is otherwise fairly constant. But the gigantic, yellow, Big Bird hat that you’re dressed in towards the end, I don’t want to give away too much. You didn’t look too happy to be doing I guess I imagine, I haven’t encountered this directly, in the San Pedro or Wachuma cactus tradition but the sopladas where he was having you take in the Florida Water or whatever that was into your mouth to spritz on him, you did not look happy to be doing that.
Hamilton Morris: Oh, so terrible. Have you done that before?
Tim Ferriss: I have, yeah. You don’t want to drink it.
Hamilton Morris: You don’t want to hold it in your mouth.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Hamilton Morris: It’s probably 95 percent ethanol. And I lost the ability to taste for several days after doing that. It was actually maybe one of the most damaging things I did in the entire show was holding the Florida Water in my mouth.
Tim Ferriss: What was one of the – we talked about people who are nervous or apprehensive yet curious, what about the overly confident, cocksure person who might go into something without a healthy level of respect? Is there an episode you’d recommend? The DMT episode. The opener for that episode, I think, does a pretty decent job.
Hamilton Morris: The 5-MeO-DMT. Yeah. It’s hard to say because that’s a great example. And I’ve seen that outside of my film work. I’ve seen someone who had a very cocky attitude approach 5-MeO-DMT as like, “I’ve done a 10 strip, dude.”
Tim Ferriss: 10 strip meaning LSD?
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. “I’ve done whatever, whatever. There’s nothing that can’t –”
Tim Ferriss: “I’m a veteran psychonaut. Bring it on.”
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. And then, it’s a bad attitude. You don’t want to enter any experience with that attitude because what good could possibly come of that? So it’s good to take things seriously. You don’t want to be afraid, but it’s a serious experience. I would say it’s no less serious than being reborn. So if you want to be reborn with an angry, cocky, confrontational attitude, then, go for it. But it’s probably not the best approach. But that’s the other thing is I’ve had to cultivate a really laissez-faire attitude toward a lot of things to do my show effectively. If you’re going to be a journalist, and you’re going to interview people, you can’t constantly be telling them what’s right and what’s wrong. And there’s a lot of moralism. And there’s a lot of psychedelic prescriptivism in the community.
People love to say you’re doing it wrong. You’re not serious enough. You’re just trying to get high. It’s not respectful. It’s not traditional. It’s abuse. And I really hate to see that. I think that’s one of the worst things that somebody can do because, ultimately, if you do that, you’re just aping the government’s same mistakes of setting up these rules of right and wrong ways to use drugs. Or you can use marinol if it’s prescribed by a doctor, and it’s synthetic THC. But you can’t use it from a plant. That’s the wrong way. You don’t want to go down that road of telling people what’s right and what’s wrong, assuming they’re not hurting other people. So I try not to tell people what is right and what is wrong.
So if people want to smoke 5-MeO-DMT with a cocky attitude, be my guest. But it’s really anything that I say, it’s just in an effort to minimize any harm that could come from these substances because it is a very serious experience. And it could be difficult.
Tim Ferriss: What was the scariest, if you had any, scariest experience or unsettling experience that you had not necessarily – given the places that you were going to, I can think of a few scenarios offhand with kratom, also safety, my God, there are so many ways that you could put yourself into difficult situations that are unrelated to the consumption of psychedelics themselves. But were there any experiences you had that were particularly difficult?
Hamilton Morris: I had one interesting experience many years ago where I’d been to China for undercover reporting three times. And the first time I did it, it was maybe 2012, something like that. And I was going undercover to a lab that was producing a synthetic cannabinoid called UR-144, which has a cool structure. And I went to the lab, interviewed the chemists, and they gave me a sample of the UR-144. So then, I was back at my hotel room, with my cameraman who has Crohn’s disease and loves to be stoned. He’s stoned all of the time. And it helps him with Crohn’s, but also, he just loves to be stoned. And so he was saying, “Should we try out this UR-144?” This synthetic cannabinoid. And I thought, “Well, yeah. I suppose we should maybe give it a little try,” but I didn’t have a scale. And typically, I would never use a drug without a scale.
But I thought, “Okay, this has been used by people before. There’s a little bit of information on it. I’ll take one grain of this granular crystal, and I’ll smoke it.” So I smoked a grain, and he smoked a grain. And we were both sitting in our hotel room and starting to get very, very high. And as I got more and more high, I started experiencing this fractal of uncertainty where I was thinking, “I don’t know if this is UR-144.” Then I was thinking, “Well, even if it is UR-144, I don’t know anything about UR-144. I don’t know if it has toxic metabolites. I don’t know if it is carcinogenic. I don’t know if it has any form of toxicity. But even if it didn’t have those things, I don’t know if this is pure UR-144. And if it isn’t pure, I don’t know anything about the toxicity of those impurities. But even if it is pure and doesn’t have toxic impurities, I don’t know the dose that I consumed. I could have maybe consumed an overdose.”
And just going on and on and on, all of the branching uncertainty about safety and purity and potency and dose. And I was fine, actually. And I actually ended up having a good experience. But it just made me think you don’t want to go down the fractal of uncertainty road. You want to minimize the uncertainty as much as you can because your own mind is already infinitely uncertain. So why not at least know that you’ve consumed UR-144 and know that you’ve consumed one mg, so you can at least rest on that foundation. So the negative experiences that I’ve had have almost always been a product of uncertainty and inadequate preparation. I would say that the negative experiences that I have had after carefully measuring doses have typically been okay because I did have that ability to fall back on. “I took 1.4 mg. Previously, I had taken one mg. This is not going to be that much stronger. I’m going to be okay. It was over four hours last time. It’s going to be over four hours this time.”
Tim Ferriss: And you also have the ability and the training to assess or improve purity yourself.
Hamilton Morris: That’s true. That is true, yeah. So minimizing uncertainty is really important. But then, some of these things are more challenging. And 5-MeO-DMT is an example of that. It has an ability to really frighten people. There are some people that only have these negative experiences. And when I was using it most recently, there’s a chemist, Casey Hardison, who is a friend of mine, and he had gone out drinking with a friend of his. And after drinking a little bit, they decided to smoke 5-MeO-DMT together. And they both smoked it at the same time, which is something that you shouldn’t do. You want somebody watching over you. And they both dissociated because it has a sort of dissociative character.
And when my friend Casey came back, his friend was dead. He had asphyxiated on his vomit while he was in this state, and there was no one watching him.
Tim Ferriss: Holy shit.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. So that’s a pretty frightening thing to have happened. And then I was filming this piece about it, and I remember talking to this gynecologist turned toad venom shaman, and I was saying, “I really have some reservations about this, to be honest with you, because this friend of a friend very recently died. And the fact that that happened is frightening to me.” And he was saying, “Oh, yes, it’s so terrible, just terrible. And no one would ever have expected it to happen to him because, of course, he was the son of a shaman.” And I was saying, “I didn’t realize he was the son of a shaman. That’s interesting.” And he was saying, “You’re talking about the recent death in Brazil.” And I was saying, “No, no, no, this is the recent death in Colorado. There are multiple recent deaths?”
So just the fact that it’s even implicated in these deaths, even though it’s not a direct effect, a direct toxic effect, it’s always people drowning while they’re dissociated or asphyxiating on their vomit, but just the fact that this had happened at all was enough to really give me some concerns about doing it.
Tim Ferriss: So you mentioned drowning. So I have to ask because I wanted to save it for this conversation. And it’s part of the reason that the 5-MeO episode opener is so attention grabbing. Why on earth did the, I suppose, shaman/facilitator choose a location with so much water and so many rocks?
Hamilton Morris: I have gotten so much criticism for featuring that. And that’s an interesting thing about making these documentaries is that there’s a question of showing things the way they are, even if the way they are is potentially unsafe, or trying to always set an example for other people because I don’t want to misrepresent reality and say things are a way that they’re not. But, at the same time, that experience showed me that you want to maybe set an example. I certainly got a lot of criticism for it. His reason for doing his sessions by the water is I think simply that it was a beautiful location. And the people that were smoking the venom were very experienced. So he thought that they could handle it. But clearly, there’s a risk of drowning. And clearly, you could hurt yourself on a sharp rock or something like that.
Tim Ferriss: I want to revisit something we chatted about a little bit last night because I had asked you, and feel free to correct my recollection here, why you hadn’t produced an episode with ayahuasca. And I remember this train of conversation in the truth barrel, in the sauna, but I found what you said very thought provoking, and I wanted to explore it here. I don’t know if you recall where we picked up, but it was related to shamanism and the providing of explanation, I believe it was, or something along those lines. And the mention of uncertainty earlier helped me to recall that portion of the conversation. But why not feature ayahuasca?
Hamilton Morris: Well, we can get back to that. I actually tried. I tried to do a story about the death of Kyle Nolan, I don’t know if you know that story, because one of my concerns, again, with dogma and with prescriptivism is that people start to say that there is only one way to do things. So when ayahuasca was at the height of its popularity, in New York at least, if you said to someone, “I’ve done ayahuasca,” the next question they would ask you is, “Did you do it in the Amazon?” And if the answer is no, then you didn’t really do ayahuasca, did you? You just did some perversion of ayahuasca that shouldn’t be called ayahuasca. And I found that very obnoxious and elitist and stupid because ayahuasca is a tea. And it’s a tea that anyone listening to this can make. Not that they should, but they can, assuming that you can boil plants in water.
And it’s not a special knowledge to make it. So the idea that you have to go to a foreign country and be with a different culture to experience it, I think, is flawed, especially because a tourist industry has emerged to satisfy this enormous demand of white outsiders in the Amazon. I don’t think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with drug tourism, but if the whole point of going there is to have a traditional experience, and then what you’re actually having isn’t traditional in the slightest, then what was the point of traveling in the first place? So one thing that happened is you had all of these white outsiders. There isn’t all that much anthropological literature on the subject. And they probably weren’t reading it to begin with. So they don’t know what is traditional to begin with.
So someone comes to a retreat, in this case, it was a retreat called Chimbre. And the shaman says, “I’m actually a Martian.”
Tim Ferriss: Always a promising start.
Hamilton Morris: Is it? This is a question. So you’re a white outsider. And somebody says “I’m a Martian.” You don’t want to appear racist. This could be their tradition. You don’t know what their tradition is. Maybe they come from a long line of Martians. And it would be very offensive to question their Martian heritage. You don’t know. So no one wants to say anything. So people are getting away with saying absolutely ridiculous things about themselves, just neglecting their duties, forget spiritual duties, just their duties as basically babysitters. They’re not watching people. And there was a teenager named Kyle Nolan who went to Peru to have one of these sorts of experiences with a shaman named Maestro Mancoluto. And he disappeared. His parents go to the retreat looking for him.
The shaman says he just walked away. Then, they find his body buried in a shallow grave on the outskirts of the retreat. So as soon as that hits the news, and it was actually international news, it was in tabloids –
Tim Ferriss: I do remember when that happened.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. Then, all of these people come out of the woodwork and say, “Maestro Mancoluto, I always knew there was something up with him. I always knew there was something wrong. He would just sit and watch soap operas while everyone was on ayahuasca. He wasn’t watching anyone.” And something about that struck me as being very dangerous that people cared more about what they perceived as being traditional than what was effective or what was safe. And if he had thought, “This is a tea, and if I’m really interested in it, maybe I can brew a low dose batch of it myself and test it out and figure this out on my own.” I guarantee he was capable of it. And he would probably still be alive.
Tim Ferriss: What was the cause of death? Was it ever determined?
Hamilton Morris: It was never determined, unfortunately. So I don’t – and that’s often the case with these. So it’s really out of open-mindedness that I think that people should be aware there’s multiple ways to do these things. That it doesn’t make your experience non-valid if it wasn’t conducted in South America. But the other reason that you were initially getting at is that the mystery of existence or the mystery of life is sort of the grand mystery that we all must figure out for ourselves. And it’s so difficult and painful to think about your own mortality and the death of the people that you love and what the purpose of life is that religions emerged to help people deal with these big, existential questions. And they help. They help a lot.
I think that’s one reason that religions are as popular as they are because it’s rough to sit alone in your apartment scratching your head wondering what the meaning of life is or something like that. And so I understand why people want these interpretive, conceptual frameworks for the psychedelic experience. And that’s why, from the get go, in the 1960s, it was zen Buddhism or the Tibetan Book of the Dead or whatever, any explanatory framework that could be found was jumped on because the reality that there is no explanation is not all that palatable. But as unpalatable as it is, I think that is the value. Exactly what makes it difficult is what makes it valuable.
And to have that experience, and I say this cautiously, but to have that experience by yourself with no one explaining anything to you, to be confronted by the full magnitude of the mystery with an absence of explanation is one of the most powerful experiences that you can have. And I don’t know if a shaman prevents you from having that experience. They might not. But I know that you will have it if there’s no one there to tell you what’s happening.
Tim Ferriss: How have you found it, if you’re comfortable sharing, positively powerful to sit with that great uncertainty versus profoundly destabilizing? And I’m not using that as a justification for having this overlay of like a shamanistic cosmology or anything like that, in every experience. But what is the internal self-talk or anything that allows – helps you – to turn that into a positive experience as opposed to a negative one or an overwhelming one?
Hamilton Morris: Well, the more that you can direct these things towards values that will help your life, I think that’s generally good because too much destabilization isn’t healthy. I remember the first really, really, really, really strong ayahuasca experience I had, I had a bit of that. I remember my friend was watching Seinfeld in the other room. And I came out of it thinking –
Tim Ferriss: When you say ayahuasca, are you talking about the –
Hamilton Morris: Pharmahuasca, synthetic DMT with moclobemide. And coming out of it and thinking that was a deconstruction of everything I have ever known and ever will know. I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what year it was. Time had completely deconstructed. I saw my entire life as a book with each day a page in the book. And just these profound reconceptualizations of every aspect of being. And then you come out of it, and what do you do? Do you go and join your friend and watch Seinfeld?
Tim Ferriss: I think that would be very difficult to do. I don’t know. Or maybe the easiest thing in the world. I wasn’t inside your experience at the time. What did you do?
Hamilton Morris: I apprehensively watched some Seinfeld and then decided against the Seinfeld.
Tim Ferriss: Newman! And what did you gain from that experience, if anything? What did you take from that?
Hamilton Morris: Here’s what I would say about that experience: is that I don’t know what to do with experiences of that magnitude. And I’m reluctant to find a framework that explains it. So I don’t know that it’s especially beneficial. I don’t think it was damaging, but I can say that, at lower doses, ayahuasca has had much more practical benefit and sometimes almost cartoonishly practical.
Tim Ferriss: Could you give an example?
Hamilton Morris: Yes. I remember once I had taken a low dose, I believe it was 45 mg of DMT with 300 mg of moclobemide. And I was writing. And I was really enjoying everything that I was writing. And I was thinking, “Damn, I’m getting some good writing done. I’m really working through ideas in an effective way. I’m loving this. But do you know what would make it that much better is a little nicotine gum because I like nicotine gum. And that will make my thoughts sharper. That will give me enhanced clarity. And it will make my writing even better from chewing nicotine gum.” And then I looked at the nicotine gum, and I thought, “But then, this is the thought that underlies all addiction. This is the thought that underlies all compulsive behaviors. I want more. It’s not good enough the way it is. I want it to be that much better. But it will never be good enough. And the nicotine gum is already inside of me. I can create my own nicotine gum!”
And I dramatically threw the nicotine gum across the room. I was like, “I don’t need this. I already am the nicotine gum!” And that’s, I think, why these things can have an anti-addictive effect. One of the reasons is there’s all sorts of pharmacological reasons, but even psychologically, they teach you that all of these things are inside of you and that you have the ability to create these sorts of drug effects on your own, to some extent. That it’s your acetylcholine receptors that are being activated. You can activate them on your own.
Tim Ferriss: Flashback to Shulgin with the sugar crystals on the orange juice. That’s amazing. I had never heard that story.
Hamilton Morris: Right, yeah. So that’s a very practical thing is: don’t chew nicotine gum to make your writing better because it’s already inside of you. And you just can create it yourself. And I’ve had so many of those low-level practical experiences. And I really like that because it’s not about time. Like what can I tell you about how my sense of time was deconstructed? I can go on and on about it, and you wouldn’t understand, and I wouldn’t understand. And it exists outside of the realm of any sort of comfortable comprehension, at least for me. Whereas thoughts about addiction, about how you construct your life, about how you ration your love, or how much love you have, or how to integrate love into your existence, those are things that have practical applications. And I think that’s important are the practical applications.
Tim Ferriss: This may or may not be a good segue, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway. I know nothing of Wade Davis. I don’t know if you’d be open to describing who Wade Davis is and perhaps, furthermore, defining the cultural matrix. But who is Wade Davis?
Hamilton Morris: Sure. Wade Davis was a student of Richard Evans Schultes at Harvard. He was an ethnobotanist who came to prominence in the ‘80s after writing a book called The Serpent and the Rainbow.
Tim Ferriss: Later made into a movie.
Hamilton Morris: Later made into a movie by Wes Craven. And proposing this pretty outrageous idea that the idea of zombies in Haiti was not only real, in the sense that there really was zombification. This wasn’t some kind of folk legend but that there was an intricate pharmacological explanation for how these zombies were created that involved scopolamine and the toxin from pufferfish, TTX. So really, amazing idea. He got a huge amount of criticism for it at the time of its publication and was even accused of fraud or contaminating his samples with TTX to prove his hypothesis. It was very, very controversial at the time. But it’s such an interesting idea, and it hadn’t been adequately tested. I wanted to go back, and did in 2009, to collect samples just to see if anyone else could find further evidence for what he said because that’s one thing that people do all of the time.
They endlessly debate, “Is it real? Is it not real?” instead of just going out and trying to see for yourself and collect new samples and do additional analysis and figure it out. But he’s had a lot of luck, I’ll tell you that. He’s one of these guys where the number of crazy things that he collected in his career borders on being suspicious. And I understand why people regard him with suspicion because, first of all, he’s a great storyteller, which makes people maybe regard him with suspicion for that reason as well because he’s not dry and serious enough. But he discovered a fungus called Dictyonema huaorani that contains sort of a lichen that contains psilocybin. Crazy. No one else has ever found the species. He just happened to find it. No one else has ever found it. Amazing. He also claimed to have found the tallest San Pedro cactus ever observed.
It was, I think, 100 feet tall. That one strikes me as unbelievable. But I’ve examined the specimen at the Harvard Herbarium myself and read his descriptions of it. I think maybe he didn’t bring a tape measure with him and made a little bit of a generous estimation of its height. But he really also was, by all accounts, a very hard worker and really was out there talking to people. He was a prolific writer and made a lot of really amazing discoveries.
Tim Ferriss: Was the field exploration and sort of the cultural examination, is that something that you try to emulate? Or is that –
Hamilton Morris: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: It seems like that’s a strong component of at least the TV show, from what I can tell.
Hamilton Morris: Sure.
Tim Ferriss: There’s another compound that I wanted to chat about, which is ibogaine. We didn’t really get into it yesterday over dinner. But can you perhaps introduce people to what ibogaine is and why it might be of interest or is of interest?
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. So ibogaine is an alkaloid that is found in the roots of a Central West African plant called Tabernanthe iboga. And it’s a pretty amazing molecule. It’s very, very difficult to synthesize all of the ibogaine that’s used commercially. It has to be extracted from plants. It’s very complicated structurally. And pharmacologically, it is one of the most complicated drugs I’ve ever read about. But the reason that people are interested in ibogaine is there was a guy named Howard Lotsof who was addicted to heroin. He tried ibogaine sort of on a whim. And then, afterwards, he lost his desire to use heroin and patented it as an anti-addictive intervention for treatment of heroin addiction. So it’s a pretty amazing thing. One of the most difficult pharmacological tasks is getting people off of opioids to the point that, to some extent, people have thrown up their hands and said the best we can do is agonist replacement therapy.
We’ll give them methadone. We’ll give them buprenorphine. And we’re just giving them another opioid that’s regulated, and that’s the best treatment we have. When it comes to actually getting people off of it, really, there’s nothing in terms of pharmacotherapy. There’s clinics that specialize in helping people wean off of it, but we don’t have drugs that are designed to reduce the addictiveness of the opioid itself. So it seems to have that effect for a lot of people. Unfortunately, It hasn’t been studied as well as I would hope because it’s a Schedule I drug in the United States, which has interfered with scientific research. But what’s really amazing about ibogaine is, even though it’s famous for its treatment of opioid addiction is that I think it has a general anti-addictive, anti-compulsive effect.
It also works for alcoholism. It also works for methamphetamine addiction. It seems to work for many compulsive behaviors.
Tim Ferriss: Does it only have that persistence of effect at high doses?
Hamilton Morris: That is a question that hasn’t been thoroughly investigated. But my guess is that there are alternative dosing strategies that are safer than taking single high doses, which are referred to as flood doses. And that would be microdosing over longer periods of time or taking lower doses over longer periods of time. And this is especially useful because ibogaine is cardiotoxic and has been associated with a number of deaths. So any way to reduce that toxicity is a boon to the therapeutic use of the substance.
Tim Ferriss: Are there other, outside of addiction, applications or potential applications of ibogaine that people are exploring or hypothesizing?
Hamilton Morris: Yes. So one of the most interesting things that I have researched regarding ibogaine is its effect on a protein called GDNF – that’s Glial Cell Derived Neurotrophic Factor. And this is a protein that is very useful in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. There’s been some limited clinical work where they showed that it can cause a regrowth of dopaminergic neurons, which is the mechanism of Parkinson’s. Damage to the brain is loss of dopaminergic neurons. So it’s directly reversing the toxic effect of Parkinson’s. And they found that ibogaine causes a release of the same therapeutic protein. So that’s pretty damn useful. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with it. It also seems to synergize with dopaminergic drugs. So it’s possible that it increases patient sensitivity to the L-dopa treatment as well.
And on top of that, it seems to have an antidepressant effect, and depression is one of the major symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. So I think it could really be helping people with Parkinson’s. And there’s a sort of underground community of people with Parkinson’s that use ibogaine. And I, occasionally, receive emails from these sorts of people. Often, they use it at 20 mg a day, and they seem to really believe in it as a treatment. And, on one hand, I understand that it’s irresponsible to talk about these things without a lot of serious medical support, but the flipside is that it needs to be studied. People need to be aware of it. And it’s very sad to see the same treatments being used for Parkinson’s today that were used 30 or 40 years ago. It’s still pretty much take L-dopa, wait until it stops working, and then we’ll switch you on to something else.
But there’s no treatment available that’s actually addressing the root cause of the neurodegeneration. And if this does, and patients are being deprived that treatment, it’s a tragic thing.
Tim Ferriss: You mentioned in the beginning of your description of ibogaine that it’s extracted from plants and difficult to synthesize?
Hamilton Morris: Very difficult, yeah.
Tim Ferriss: And I’m so glad to have you on the show for many, many reasons. But also just to discuss this spectrum of, I don’t know, scientific materials, I’m not sure if that’s the right description, all the way to shamanistic practices and so on. But because while watching the 5-MeO-DMT episode and the capturing of toads and also your commentary at the end, it made me think or contemplate how one of the weaknesses of the argument for whole plants is that – or squeezing toads, for that matter – is it seems very environmentally unsustainable. And if the objective is to get some of these compounds, too, you could have farms like they do in Brazil for Santo Daime where they have ayahuasca vines for just hectares and hectares and hectares.
Hamilton Morris: Oh, wow, that’s amazing. Have you seen that?
Tim Ferriss: I haven’t seen it, but I know a guy who knows a guy. But is one of the arguments for synthesis that it’s just a more scalable solution, if one wants to – let’s just say, maybe not in the case of Parkinson’s, although it is widespread, but for OCD or utilizing some of these psychedelic compounds, if they were to be rescheduled or derivatives developed that were not Schedule I, the synthetic route is the sustainable option, compared to using naturally occurring plants and so on. Is that – I don’t know the realities of extracting or synthesizing because I’ve done neither. But is that something you thought about quite a lot while making the show or something that came up a lot? Like kratom is another example.
Seeing the kind of devastation and the conflicts between I don’t know if you’d call them kratom poachers and people who are attempting to preserve some of these last existing forests. It’s so much violence, so much destruction. Does synthesis fix that?
Hamilton Morris: Sustainability, of course, does matter. And synthesis is, typically, more sustainable. But the other thing is that these plants are genetic reserves that, if we’re just looking at them as a crop and not appreciating them as something to conserve and study, then, we may be losing the opportunity to discover all sorts of new things. I’m sure there are old ayahuasca vines that contain beta carbolines that have never been found before. And if we’re just chopping them down to use them in a brew, when you can just as easily use Syrian rue, peganum harmala, or something like that, you have to wonder whether or not we’re potentially losing the opportunity. Or they could be useful cultivars. They might be faster growing. There’s all sorts of reasons to keep and study plants as opposed to just using them up.
The same is true of peyote. There are so many different alkaloids, and there’s been very little study done in terms of finding faster growing varieties of peyote or finding strains that have a higher mescaline content or a higher peyotine content or things like that. And if we wanted to make these things available, those would be necessary things to do, in the same way they’ve been done with cannabis. You don’t just grow any cannabis. You grow cannabis that has been bred to have the qualities that you’re looking for. Typically, high THC content. But there’s a lot of other things. High THCV or high CBD content. And so I think that that’s really important. You want to have natural reserves of these things that can be studied and can be used as stock for breeding. And you risk losing all of that if you’re just thinking only in the moment, I want it now. Same is true of these toads.
There’s a lot of basic, scientific questions that haven’t been answered about the toads. I would love to see people studying the rate that they regenerate the venom or how they respond to the milking or if they’re sensitive to their own venom, which is such a fascinating question because with pufferfish, they’ve actually evolved a mutation in their sodium ion channel that makes them insensitive to the toxicity of TTX. Is this same true of the 5HT1A receptor in the Bufo alvarius toad? Have they also evolved a different type of serotonin receptor that makes them insensitive to their own venom? Those are the sorts of things that I would love to be doing with the toads answering these basic, scientific questions.
When it comes to just using them as a source of drugs, you can make 5-MeO-DMT from melatonin, and it’s so much more efficient and so much cheaper probably as well that it just seems that, without a good reason, why even potentially harass a toad? And then, on top of that, you have the certainty regarding dose, which is so wonderful to be able to say, “This is exactly 15 mg of 5-MeO-DMT freebase” as opposed to “This is 100 mg of toad venom that might contain who knows how much 5-MeO-DMT and however much 5MEONMT or serotonin O-sulfate or whatever steroidal lactone that’s found.” There’s a lot of stuff in there. And it’s rarely looked at objectively or quantified in any way, so the people that are using it doesn’t really know what they’re getting.
Tim Ferriss: I’m going to pause for a second for just a remedial definition for me and anyone who might be curious because a word has popped up a number of times that I’ve read 1,000 times, alkaloid. Can you define what an alkaloid is?
Hamilton Morris: Sure. In the strictest sense, an alkaloid is a material isolated from a plant that contains a basic nitrogen atom. So that’s an alkaloid. Sometimes, the term is extended to include any material that’s extracted from a plant. But, in the strictest, classical definition, THC would not be an alkaloid because it doesn’t contain a nitrogen atom. Salvinorin A would not be an alkaloid because it doesn’t contain a nitrogen atom.
Tim Ferriss: Terpenoid? No.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Another thing that I don’t understand but I’ve read.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. So that’s it. It’s a term mostly derived from the classical methods of extraction from plants. So all of these drugs that have basic nitrogen atoms, behave in a certain way chemically, and can be extracted from plants using an acid base extraction. And that’s how they get this name.
Tim Ferriss: Thank you. This is the type of education that I need. But I won’t take up the podcast to do that. I’ll be looking at the book recommendations. I know we have not too much time left, and I’m keeping an eye on time. But gear shift to smart drugs, nootropics, I’m not sure how to pronounce that either. Are there any particular types of cognitive enhancers that you find interesting? And one which maybe you can recall the name of came up in one of your episodes, in fact, because it was described in a pamphlet by one of the chemists. I think it was the same chemist who had –
Hamilton Morris: Darrell Lemaire, 2CD.
Tim Ferriss: All right. Are there any particular cognitive enhancers that you have found effective and/or interesting?
Hamilton Morris: It’s such a philosophically interesting question because, whenever people say something made them smarter, I always think of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Are you familiar with that?
Tim Ferriss: I don’t know what that is.
Hamilton Morris: It’s these two psychologists at Cornell, I believe, found this effect that the more competent someone is in a given task, whether it’s musical ability or humor, the more likely they are to underrate their ability. And the less competent they are, the more likely they are to overrate their ability. So I always wonder what would be the manifestation of a true cognitive enhancer? Would it make you feel stupid? Would it make you feel increasingly aware of all of the things you don’t know? Would you feel intellectually ashamed of yourself? And could it be that the true smart drugs have all been abandoned because they actually made people feel abysmally stupid? There’s a major problem with self-assessment in the realm of nootropics. Just because something makes you feel smarter does not mean that you are smarter.
And then there’s a larger question of how do we define intelligence? What does it mean to be smart? Is having an improved memory, does that mean that you’re smarter? Is being more creative a sign of intelligence? It’s typically not included in any kind of objective measure of intelligence. So how do you define it to begin with? And what are these drugs doing? And what is the intended effect? It’s a really complicated question. The most basic thing, I think, is memory. That’s the thing that most people can agree, if they had a better memory, it would be useful. And I do believe that some of these things, often, some of the most mundane things like nicotine improve memory and aid focus a little bit. So of all of the things that I’ve tried in the realm of nootropics, and it’s many, the one that I still use is just nicotine gum. I try to use it less.
I sometimes don’t use it at all. I know I told that story about not using it. But I still chew it on occasion because it really helps me read, especially if I’m plowing through a dense novel or something. I like to go to the library and pop in a square of nicotine gum and just really try to focus. But Noopept was okay. PRL-8-53 was okay. Phenylpiracetam is okay. Typically, it’s the stimulating ones that are a little bit better. But then the question is: are these nootropics or are they simply stimulants? And are stimulants nootropics? How do we designate these things?
Tim Ferriss: Have you tried 2CD? I have not.
Hamilton Morris: Yes, absolutely. And 2CD is really interesting because one thing, if you read about people, mnemonists, people with photographic memories, one thing they all seem to have in common is they’re all synesthetes. And one thing I’ve wonder about that synesthesia that they have is is this multisensory cross linking of information aiding recall because, if every –
Tim Ferriss: And just for people listening, to define that term, it’s people who may smell colors or visualize numbers, that’s the type of cross linking that you see. It’s like The Mind of a Mnemonist by A. R. Luria gets into this in great depth. Sorry to interrupt. Please, continue.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. When you think of an orange, it’s not just an orange. It’s the color. It’s the smell. It’s the taste. It’s the sound. It’s the texture. And there’s all of this multisensory encoding of the information. Does that allow you to recall the orange in a different way? Or do you have more handles on that memory that allow you to retrieve it more easily? So psychedelics also induce synesthesia. And that was one question that I had was: could this synesthesia-inducing effect be harnessed in order to aid retention of information? And I don’t have a real answer to that question. But I think that, if drugs like 2CD do have any sort of nootropic effect, it may be as a result of that kind of – there’s different ways. Maybe encouraging synesthesia would be one way. Another way might be just a basic stimulant effect.
And another way might be that they cause you to approach problems from a different perspective. And this is why James Fadiman is very interested in psychedelics in problem solving is because sometimes, having a different way is all that it takes. Not necessarily a better way. Not necessarily a smarter way. Simply a different way of looking at something is all it takes to solve that problem because you got locked into a certain way of approaching it. You’re only thinking about it one way. And just to mix it up, to shuffle the deck for a moment and think, “Maybe I could have done this in a completely different way” is what it takes.
Tim Ferriss: Jim is great. He’s really fun to chat with, too, about the studies that they had conducted related to the problem solving with hard sciences and a lot of engineering problems. For people interested, I also spoke with Jim on the podcast. So you can find the Fadiman episode pretty easily. For you personally, if you had nicotine gum currently in pole position, would you put anything in second or third place?
Hamilton Morris: I think the classics, nicotine, caffeine –
Tim Ferriss: Caffeine anhydrous or I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing that correctly.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah, you are, yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Sweet.
Hamilton Morris: And good, old fashioned Ritalin, on occasion. I say this with a little bit of reluctance because stimulants are addictive. And it’s kind of a bad habit to get into. But I would be dishonest if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that using low dose Ritalin has helped me.
Tim Ferriss: What does low dose mean?
Hamilton Morris: Like 10 mg. I don’t take it every day. But it’s a tricky one because it does give you a certain intellectual stamina that helps you read and write and think. And I think that, with a lot of discipline, you could achieve those same effects without Ritalin. But it’s helped me.
Tim Ferriss: You mentioned something that I want to come back to just for a moment for people who might be listening and interested, if they want to assess before and after effects on cognition. You can find online tests that are used in studies to assess reaction time, working memory, things of that type. So if one were practically looking at the before and after effects of just about anything, yerba mate or alcohol, it doesn’t really matter, there are tests, if you look up some of the studies done by any number of cognitive neuroscience, Kahneman and others, where you can identify online tests that can give you – help you to establish a baseline, if you want to look at some of the effects. But yeah, the intelligence can be fine sliced into so many different component areas.
We can get really, really complex from people who would be – I was actually involved with a study. People should check this out. He’s also been on the podcast, Adam Gazzaley out of UCSF, at the Gazzaley Lab. They developed a software called Neuroracer that was very, very effective. They ended up I think it was the cover of Nature, at one point, being able to reverse certain aspects of age-related cognitive decline. And that after the cessation of training with software, there was a persistence of effect, I want to say, at least six months later. It was really remarkable. So there are tests you can use to assess the effects of these types of compounds. Hamilton, we could go on, or I could go on for hours and hours and hours. But I suppose we should probably wrap up in just a little bit. Where can people find you, say hello, and otherwise learn about your work?
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. I have a Twitter @hamiltonmorris, Instagram @hamiltonmorris. I’m starting a website, hamiltonmorris.com, but it’s not up yet.
Tim Ferriss: My prediction is that we will have it up, the royal we, in this case, meaning Hamilton and people I might introduce you to, by the time that this goes live. So Hamiltonmorris.com pending.
Hamilton Morris: And if you want to watch my TV show, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, it can be purchased for $3.00 an episode on iTunes and Amazon. And it’s also free on Hulu, and it’s on National Geographic and Viceland. I’m sure you can also Torrent it as well.
Tim Ferriss: And if you have Amazon Prime, I think it’s actually available with Prime membership as well. Do you have any ask of the audience? Is there anything that people can help you with besides the TV show?
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. I self-fund a lot of the scientific research that I do. So if there are any psychedelic philanthropists out there that are interested in funding nonclinical, basic science research that’s chemistry and pharmacology with no clinical end in sight but are just interested in understanding the mechanisms of these substances, reach out to me because, in a chemistry lab, a couple thousand bucks can go a long way. And it’s always important to remember that, without the basic science, the clinical work can’t really be done.
Tim Ferriss: To what type of research would, if somebody is listening and says, “I don’t have a lot of money, but I could probably dig up $2,000.00 to $5,000.00 for something interesting,” what might that be applied to?
Hamilton Morris: Right now, I’m working with a chemist named Jason Wallach. And we are trying to do a process called autoradiography where you take a radiolabeled drug, and you look at the distribution in the brain. And we’re looking specifically at a drug that seems to distort the way sound is perceived based on Shulgin’s reports. And we want to see, with the radiolabeled drug, how it will distribute in a rodent’s brain. So we’re trying to raise a little bit of money to do that sort of research. It’s not all that expensive. And it could really have interesting bearing on our understanding of auditory perception.
Tim Ferriss: We didn’t have time to get into Oliver Sacks, but have you read Musicophilia?
Hamilton Morris: I haven’t read it.
Tim Ferriss: I think you would love it.
Hamilton Morris: I have to, yeah.
Tim Ferriss: It’s almost entirely about auditory pathologies of various types. But I think you would greatly, greatly enjoy it. We did not have a chance to get into Oliver Sacks. We did not have a chance to get into Claudio Naranjo, is that how you say the name?
Hamilton Morris: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Maybe another time.
Hamilton Morris: He’s amazing.
Tim Ferriss: So for people who might be interested in helping you with some of this science, I would encourage them to first, go to hamiltonmorris.com. It may be unavailable, but there may be a contact form on there by the time that is ready. If not, is Twitter, generally, the best way to contact you?
Hamilton Morris: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Do you have any other recommendations, suggestions parting words, book recommendations, anything at all that you’d like to say or share?
Hamilton Morris: I really can’t overestimate the value of PiHKAL for understanding these things. It’s such a fantastic book. It will tell you almost everything you need to know about psychedelics and drugs, in general. And it’s a really great love story. And it’s a moving experience to read it. So I hope everyone will run out and buy a copy. I think it’s $15.00 or something.
Tim Ferriss: Why PiHKAL and not TiHKAL.
Hamilton Morris: Well, PiHKAL is the first one. And if you like PiHKAL, you’ll move on to TiHKAL, I would hope.
Tim Ferriss: And I’ve also, not surprisingly, in almost every office I have been to, with researchers who are involved in these fields, they have PiHKAL and TiHKAL right there prominently displayed either in front of or right above exactly where they sit. And I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read it because I feared that I would perhaps, like taking the ultimate smart drug, see just how ignorant I am and become overwhelmed by the chemistry. So it’s nice to know that you can read it in multiple passes and get different things from it.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. Absolutely.
Tim Ferriss: Well, Hamilton, thank you so much for the time today. I would encourage everybody to watch the show. It is spectacular. I don’t know which I would recommend people start with. I particularly enjoyed and have enjoyed recommending the 5-MeO-DMT but the ketamine episode also I thought was just beautifully shot and edited and crafted. It was really well done. And all of them that I’ve seen have been exceptionally well done. And I don’t say that lightly.
Hamilton Morris: Thank you.
Tim Ferriss: But I encourage everybody to check it out. There’s no reason not to. The episodes are very short, very digestible. Who did the opening animation for the series?
Hamilton Morris: It was a group of animators at Vice actually.
Tim Ferriss: It’s spectacular.
Hamilton Morris: Yeah. It was a guy named James Blagden. And he sort of contributed the style. And then, it was a number of different animators’ advice that executed it, and they did a great job.
Tim Ferriss: On that fine closing note, thank you to everybody listening. Thank you for taking the time. And I’ll make one last request of the audience, which is if you would perhaps like to hear Hamilton do his own podcast, let him know. I think it would be a gift to the world to hear some of the interviews you have done in extended form. So that will be my plea to the universe that maybe someday, you put some of your audio out there for people to hear.
Hamilton Morris: Yes, I’ll consider it.
Tim Ferriss: All right, guys. Until next time, the show notes, we will include links to everything, the books mentioned, the studies that were conducted, or I should say conducted and published by Shulgin, including his self-experimentation methodology. I will figure out the best link for that. The Fadiman episode, tim.blog/Fadiman. And you can find links to Hamilton and everything else that we covered today at tim.blog/podcast.
Posted on: September 24, 2018.
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Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.