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10 things I learned from “How to Change your Mind” by Michael Pollan

10 things I learned from “How to Change your Mind” by Michael Pollan

    1. LSD was hugely influential in the development of Silicon Valley in the 1950s and 1960s.

    Engineers claimed that it helped them visualize complex circuits before computer aided design. Steve Jobs is widely quoted about his LSD experiences.

    2. Bill W from Alcoholics Anonymous got clean after a psychedelic experience in the 1930s

    He also explored LSD therapies in the 1950s

    3. Pollan is a very entertaining speaker and writer: I found out about his after seeing him on a podcast

    4. The structure of the book was very good for “edutainment”

    He had a very good flow of going between personal stories and research in fairly large sections. This is not something I normally even notice, but I appreciate how well he did it.

    5. The title of the book was somewhat misleading

    The book was essentially an advertisement for psychedelic drugs and psychedelic drug experiences. Maybe he would sell more copies, if the title was "psychedelics are really awesome"

    6. The importance of “sitters” for intense doses/trips

    This is important not only so that somebody does not go wandering off, but also to allow the user to really explore the psychedelic experience without any fear and to be able to lean into it without worrying that something will go wrong back in reality.

    7. There is value to recollecting experiences

    Once you have been to "those places" in your mind, you can revisit them during meditation, or even as a reference, like visiting the Grand Canyon, or something and understanding what that might be like.

    8. At this time in history it is interesting to see whether psychedelics will be legalized

    At this point in history, many people that are now in charge of organizations and might be in their 60s or 70s have probably had a psychedelic experience or 10 themselves.

    9. Legalization is always tricky

    I am not sure how I feel about it. By default I am libertarian and think that things should be legal. However, when things are legalized, they are frequently set up for massive abuse. There are legal marijuana products that are far more powerful than the marijuana of even 30 years ago, and they are capable of creating psychosis because they are so much stronger than the plant. 

    The author mentions that nobody has died of an overdose of psychedelics. This might be true but there are a lot of people that have been fried by an overdose of psychedelics. He did not really explore this.

    10. Many Californians definitely have a unique view of the world

    With the creative centers of Silicon Valley and Hollywood, the California culture gets expressed worldwide in a variety of ways. The author is from California and for many people over there it just seems like they are able to live in a fantastic reality that does not seem to match my own. I guess I am a little bit jealous because it seems pretty awesome for the Movers and shakers of California society. A guy I used to work with would always say "California, land of the tulips!"

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