The CIA’s experiments with mind-control and hallucinogenic drugs are well documented. It’s hard to forget about programs like Operation Midnight Climax, in which the agency studied the effects of LSD by dosing unsuspecting clients at brothels. But did the agency go so far as to send an entire French village on an acid trip that killed a few people and institutionalized a bunch more? According to The Telegraph, the CIA did just that in 1951.
For years, people familiar with “the incident of the cursed bread” (or le pain maudit) have subscribed to the theory that villagers in Saint-Pont-Esprit in Southern France suffered massive delusions because they all ate bread contaminated by ergot, a hallucinogenic fungus. After eating bread from a local baker, the villagers reported such delusions as the conviction that they were missing body parts or had animals in their stomachs.
Now, The Telegraph reports that the incident was not “ergotism” caused by the fungus, as previously believed, but was actually a bad trip caused by the CIA, which had spiked the village bread with LSD, or maybe just sprayed LSD into the air. Quite a story, huh? Too bad it doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.
Researchers want to find out if LSD could help medical research, but first they first need to examine the inside of a brain under the influence of the drug to see exactly what’s happening. National Geographic takes an inside look at their Explorer program:
Using enhanced brain imaging, non-hallucinogenic versions of the drug and information from an underground network of test subjects who suffer from an agonizing condition for which there is no cure, researchers are finding that this “trippy” drug could become the pharmaceutical of the future. Can it enhance our brain power, expand our creativity and cure disease? To find out, Explorer puts LSD under the microscope.
Want to see for yourself? Take a look inside a tripper’s brain:
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Video: YouTube / NationalGeographic
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is rumored to have dropped a little acid in his day, and apparently Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD, knew it. In fact, Hofmann reportedly wrote a letter to Jobs asking if the he’d be willing to donate some cash to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, an organization dedicated to investigating the psychological and medical benefits of psychedelic drugs.
A Huffington Post article brings us the original letter and a little background on the relationship between drugs like LSD and successful computer scientists:
Psychedelic drugs… pushed the computer and Internet revolutions forward by showing folks that reality can be profoundly altered through unconventional, highly intuitive thinking. Douglas Engelbart is one example of a psychonaut who did just that: he helped invent the mouse. Apple’s Jobs has said that Microsoft’s Bill Gates, would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once.” In a 1994 interview with Playboy, however, Gates coyly didn’t deny having dosed as a young man.