You may have heard it once or twice before, that people with drug problems tend to have higher IQs and are also more intelligent than average. I have no idea if that is actually true, in fact, that may be the topic of my next blog once I do some research. What I do know though is that these 10 famous geniuses all had a drug of choice or DOC. Is the genius and drug use linked? That is up for debate, but these 10 and their drug use are absolutely fact. So here is number one!
A man after my own kind of drug use. For Freud, cocaine was more than a personal indulgence, it was a veritable drug for him and for many years he was one of its biggest advocates. He was a proponent of its use in a wide variety of ways. In a letter written to his fiance, Martha, Freud wrote:
“If all goes well, I will write an essay [on cocaine] and I expect it will win its place in therapeutics by the side of morphine and superior to it. . .I take very small doses of it regularly against depression and against indigestion and with the most brilliant of success.”
Freud also published a review, title “Uber Coca” in 1884. Interestingly, Freud’s paper was one of the first to propose drug substitution as therapeutic treatment for addiction. And while replacing morphine with cocaine is something we all know, doesn’t work, and in fact is counterproductive, the concept of substitution therapies still goes to this day. For instance, methadone or even Suboxone.
NEXT! Francis Crick. Who is Francis Crick, right? Well he was of the DNA-structure discovering group. And he also was part of the group that told numerous friends and colleagues about his LSD experimentation during the time he spent working to determine the molecular structure that houses all of life’s information. Wow right?
In a 2004 interview, Gerrod Harker recalls talking with dick Kemp, a close friend of Crick’s, about LSD use among Cambridge academics, and tells all saying that the University’s researchers often used LSD in small amounts as a “thinking tool.” Evidently Crick at one point told Kemp that he had actually “perceived the double-helix shape while on LSD.” Yep, that happened.
Edison, electricity and elixirs. In 1863, French chemist Angelo Mariani invented “Vin Mariani,” a wine treated with, well, cocaine. The ethanol content in the wine could extract cocaine from the coca leaves in it, leaving the wine with concentrations of about 7mg of coke per fluid ounce of wine. And this was Thomas Edisons favorite. Thomas Edison, the prolific American inventor and notorious insomniac (not surprisingly) was one of the many people who were known to regularly consume the cocaine laced elixir.
Paul Erdos was well known for his hyperactivity, his 19 hour work days and his ability to keep all of that up well into old age. He had a tendency to show up on his colleagues doorsteps and demand they “open their minds” to mathematical dialogue. He is and was one of the most prolific mathematicians who ever lived, publishing more peer-reviewed papers than any other mathematician in history. How? Amphetamines.
Included here is an excerpt from a book published in 1998 by Erdös’ de facto biographer, science writer Paul Hoffman, which explains Erdös’ proclivity for amphetamine use:
Like all of Erdös’s friends, [fellow mathematician Ronald Graham] was concerned about his drug-taking. In 1979, Graham bet Erdös $500 that he couldn’t stop taking amphetamines for a month. Erdös accepted the challenge, and went cold turkey for thirty days. After Graham paid up — and wrote the $500 off as a business expense — Erdös said, “You’ve showed me I’m not an addict. But I didn’t get any work done. I’d get up in the morning and stare at a blank piece of paper. I’d have no ideas, just like an ordinary person. You’ve set mathematics back a month.” He promptly resumed taking pills, and mathematics was the better for it.
So big in fact that he believed that experimenting with LSD in the 1960s was “one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life.” What’s more, he felt that there were parts of him that people he knew and worked with could not understand simply because they hadn’t done psychedelics. This latter sentiment also comes through in his recently published biography, wherein Jobs goes so far as to associate what he interpreted as Bill Gates’ dearth of imagination with a lack of psychedelic experimentation.
“Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”
“He’d be a broader guy,” Jobs says about Gates, “if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”
John C Lilly was a neuroscientist and pioneer in the field of electronic brain stimulation. He was the first person to map pain and pleasure pathways in the brain, he founded an entire branch of science exploring interspecies communication between humans, dolphins and whales, and he also invented the world’s first sensory deprivation chamber. He also conducted extensive personal experimentation with mind altering drugs like LSD and Ketamine.
Kary Mullis. Name probably doesn’t sound familiar, but there is a good chance if you have worked in a research lab since the 1980s that you have performed a polymerase chain reaction or at least are familiar with it. You have Mullis to thank for that. While Mullis didn’t invent the technique, he improved upon it, revolutionizing the field of biomedical research. The secret? LSD.
In a September 1994 issue of California Monthly, Mullis says that he “took plenty of LSD” In the ’60s and ’70s, going so far as to call his “mind-opening” experimentation with psychedelics “much more important than any courses [he] ever took.” A few years later, in an interview for BBC’s Psychedelic Science documentary, Mullis mused aloud: “What if I had not taken LSD ever; would I have still invented PCR?” To which he replied, “I don’t know. I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.”
Carl Sagan. Astrophysicist and cosmologist, whom I personally love, not only smoked marijuana regularly but was also a strong advocate for its use in enhancing intellectual pursuits. Having said that, Sagan did contribute an essay to the 1971 book titled “Marijuana Reconsidered” that spoke to the virtues of marijuana use. The piece was penned under the assumed name of Mr. X. The identity of the true author was only revealed after his death.