What psychedelic drugs illustrate about religion, death and consciousness

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The last sixty years have witnessed what may well be the greatest unplanned mass experiment in the history of neuroscience. Thousands of people have deliberately experimented on themselves by taking chemicals that altered their experience of reality — chemicals like … Continue reading

Science on crack, 4: The town that went insane

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In August of 1951, a strange epidemic struck the sleepy little town of Pont-Saint-Esprit in France. Over the course of a single day, hundreds of people lost their minds. A little boy tried to strangle his grandmother. A man realized … Continue reading

Science on crack, 3: When heroin was a drug you gave your children

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Guns ‘n Roses were infamous for their offstage antics, antics which inspired some of their most famous songs. “Mr. Brownstone” is a song about heroin, a drug with which GnR was very familiar, and the lyrics nicely illustrate why the drug … Continue reading

Science on crack, 2: Walter White & cooking crystal meth

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How many TV shows can you name that star a chemist as hero and feature references to reductive amination? I can think of only one. Breaking Bad is by far and away my favorite show on TV. It’s got a truly … Continue reading

Science on crack: the chemistry of illegal drugs, 1

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We all know that drugs like heroin, meth and cocaine have ruined a lot of lives. That isn’t (or shouldn’t) be news. And yet despite their dire effects, the science and the stories behind these drugs is sort of fascinating nonetheless. They’re sort of like … Continue reading

Does beer make you blush? or, why “race” is a myth

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Race is a word with an ugly history. Powerful countries have often used supposed differences between “races” as an excuse to conquer and enslave nations with technology less advanced than their own. In the 18th and 19th centuries, European scholars … Continue reading

Do vaccines contain toxic chemicals?

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The smallpox vaccine saved hundreds of millions of lives. Arguably it qualifies as one of the most important inventions in history. But that doesn’t mean it was a welcome invention when it first came around. Check out this cartoon apparently … Continue reading