#313: Michael Pollan — Exploring The New Science of Psychedelics
This might be the most important podcast episode I've put out in the last two years. Please trust me and give it a full listen. It will surprise you, perhaps shock you, and definitely make you think differently.
Michael Pollan (@michaelpollan) is the author of seven previous books, including Cooked, Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to the New York Times Magazine, he also teaches writing at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley where he is the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Science Journalism. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
His most recent book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, might be my favorite yet. This is the first podcast interview Michael has done about the book, the science and applications of psychedelics, his exploration, and his own experiences. It is a wild ride.
In fact, partially due to this book, I am committing a million dollars over the next few years to support the scientific study of psychedelic compounds. This is by far the largest commitment to research and nonprofits I've ever made, and if you'd like to join me in supporting this research, please check out tim.blog/science.
In our wide-ranging conversation, we cover many things, including:
- The fundamentals of "psychedelics," what the term means, and what compounds like psilocybin, mescaline, and others have in common.
- New insights related to treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, alcohol/nicotine dependence, OCD, PTSD, and more.
- Recent scientific and clinical discussions of a "grand unified theory of mental illness."
- Potential applications and risks of psychedelics.
- Michael's own experiences — which he did not initially intend on having — and what he's learned from them.
- The "entropic brain," and why there might be a therapeutic sweet spot between mental order and chaos.
- Why researchers at Johns Hopkins, NYU, Yale, and elsewhere are dedicating resources to understanding these compounds.
- And much, much more...
The molecules discussed in this episode — and some incredible clinical results from well-designed studies — have absolutely captured my attention over the last two years. After wading in and supporting smaller studies, I've decided to go all-in on scientists exploring this area. It seems to be an Archimedes lever for potentially solving a wide range of root-cause problems, instead of playing whack-a-mole with symptoms one by one.
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