For every genius and visionary, there are countless theories for why they are who they are and why their brainpower is so much greater than that of the average person. Recently, there has been increased interest in a hypothesis that posits that there is a link between cerebral aptitude and recreational drug use. Whether there is an actual link will remain to be seen, but the theory is certainly interesting enough to explore. Five drugs in particular seem to be the drugs of choice for various virtuosos of intellect.
Despite his fears that he would ruin the beautiful machine that was his highly functioning brain, Richard Feynman, noted theoretical and quantum physicist experimented with marijuana as part of an experiment to explore the power of hallucinations.
In addition, Carl Sagan was a regular marijuana smoker and activist for the benefit of its use in intellectual optimization. He wasn’t outspoken as some of his marijuana-using contemporaries, but did write about the advantages of using marijuana under a pseudonym that was only divulged, after his death, to be Sagan.
You’re undoubtedly familiar with the work of Crick and his partners Watson and Franklin and their discovery of the structure of DNA. What you may be less familiar with is Crick’s admission that most of the time he was working to uncover the structure, he was using LSD as a thinking platform. Speaking of DNA, you may also be familiar with the work of Kary Mullis, who developed a method by which pieces of DNA can be copied ad infinitum. Mullis credited his use of LSD as the catalyst to his revolutionary discovery.
You might think the field of genetics has the market cornered on dropping acid. You’d be wrong. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates also experimented with the psychedelic. Gates was pretty hesitant to admit it and didn’t give it any credit like Mullis. Jobs, on the other hand, considered the use of LSD one of the best things he’d done and that others could benefit from its use.
John C. Lilly was a pioneer in the field of neuropsychology. He was fascinated with human consciousness and sensory deprivation. He personally experimented with ketamine and other drugs. Ketamine is predominantly used as general anesthesia in humans and in veterinary medicine. His description of his experiences of his ketamine intoxication in 1978’s The Scientist led to an increase in its use throughout the century, perhaps most notably as a party drug.
Eccentric Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdös was most well-known for solving many of the world’s most looming, previously unsolved, complex mathematical equations. Among his friends, he was equally known for his penchant for amphetamines. He was an eccentric who worked nearly entire days with no sleep. Once dared to quit taking amphetamines for 30 days Erdös did, but admitted that during that time he found it impossible to work.
5. Cocaine and Cocaine Elixirs
Most who know anything about Sigmund Freud know that he often used cocaine. Unlike many, Freud didn’t postulate that the cocaine made him a better thinker or otherwise heightened his intellect. Freud was one of the first to publish a paper on the practice of drug substitution when battling addiction. While his theory that cocaine should be substituted for morphine wasn’t successful, it still led to greater study and use of the concept.
A cocaine elixir occurs when coca leaves are mixed with alcohol. The ethanol draws cocaine from the coca leaves and makes the drink much more potent. In Thomas Edison’s case, he preferred his with Bordeaux. Edison’s abundant and innovative inventions, which were visionary, may have been fueled by his regular consumption of this concoction.
Whether you subscribe to the belief that this recreational drug use contributed to the mind power of these individuals and others like them may be a matter of personal taste. It cannot be argued, however, that their inventions, discoveries, theories, and solutions paved the way for almost everyone who followed them.