June 27, 2017

Reason.com presents LSD Microdosing as "The New Silicon Valley Productivity Hack."



That's mostly an interview with George Burke, who takes a tenth of a "typical dose" of LSD every day.
"I notice that my brain seems to be able to solve problems a little bit better than...before," says Burke, who runs a startup called Fuel that helps its clients custom tailor their diets to their unique genetic makeups.
I notice that his noticing is under the influence of LSD and that he's subtly acknowledging that by saying "my brain seems...." Why should we believe his perception? I'd like to see some scientific studies of how LSD affects problem solving ability.

Also, Burke talks about taking medication for ADHD and LSD working as a substitute for that drug. So he's struggling with something that is or has been diagnosed as a mental disorder. He's not beginning at normal/"normal" and edging away from that, but at disordered and attempting to replace whatever drug someone in the medical profession prescribed.

So the video isn't very convincing except as an appeal to freedom: We should be allowed to experiment with our own brains. We feel strongly entitled to affect our mind through reading, talking, and thinking about ideas, whether these ideas are at all likely to be useful or true and even if the ideas are shown to be plainly false and actively dangerous. If you can read, say, "Daily Inspirations for Creating a Life of Passion and Purpose," why can't you take a daily microdose of LSD? Whatever the actual value of either of these things to the human mind — even if it's nothing or less — it's a matter of freedom of thought, and it belongs in the realm of the individual.

45 comments:

Tim Gilliland said...

Placebo affect much?
Add in a dash of peer pressure and a healthy dollop of group think and we have a recipe for...
Disaster?

Tim Gilliland said...

I am generally very libertarian/contrarian on the subject of drugs. Look at the drug war. (we lost.)
That said I am very much afraid of the psychotropic drugs. Science doesn't really know what their effect is on organic systems.

I have had personal experiences with people who "experimented" with LSD. Results were not good.
This was back in the '70s.
I was there!

Ann Althouse said...

Yeah, but microdose...

Ann Althouse said...

I have had personal experiences with people who "experimented" with reading about Zen Buddhism. Results were not good. This was back in the '70s.

David Begley said...

This guy's "reasoning" is a pure rationalization. And as Althouse noted, he has no data. I further suspect some money angle here for him and his company.

If this guy is doing this and informing the entire world, why hasn't he been arrested? Isn't LSD still a prohibited drug regardless of dose?

gspencer said...

"I'd like to see some scientific studies of how LSD affects problem solving ability."

Art Linkletter's near 21 y/o daughter Diane used LSD. It solved her life problems. Permanently.

The only things crazier than taking LSD would be taking a ride from Ted Kennedy or getting into a car with Clemenza in the back seat.

Kevin said...

I notice that his noticing is under the influence of LSD and that he's subtly acknowledging that by saying "my brain seems...." Why should we believe his perception? I'd like to see some scientific studies of how LSD affects problem solving ability.

It's like how people say marijuana makes them more creative. I'm sure everyone would agree that when we think of the marijuana users we know, the first thing that strikes us is just how damn creative they are...

Biotrekker said...

Thanks, but I'll wait for the randomized double-blind placebo controlled study.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

I would be interested in seeing those studies, as well. I did quite a bit of LSD when I was far too young to be doing something like that but I would have to say that the overall experience was helpful to me. I had some positive and long-lasting insights (most of my insights went away when I came down) from the experiences. Having said that, I know several people who have been micro-dosing for years and all of them seem to not have their shit together nearly as well as they perceive.

Ann Althouse said...

"It's like how people say marijuana makes them more creative."

And what about cocaine? That helps you get work done...

Paco Wové said...

"a startup called Fuel that helps its clients custom tailor their diets to their unique genetic makeups."

I'm definitely taking my drug-use tips from a crook and charlatan. Definitely.

St. George said...

Meanwhile, the front page of the WSJ today reports that the Chinese government is installing facial recognition technology in public places. For example, if you jaywalk, your image is immediately broadcast in the public square and/or sent to your employer Do it again, and a public message says you are a repeat offender. Then citizens will get a "social credit" rating based on how they behave at work and elsewhere. Drone squadrons used to surveil crowds. Cameras at churches, including inside pointed at pews.

Welcome to a different sort of future.

Jupiter said...

'If you can read, say, "Daily Inspirations for Creating a Life of Passion and Purpose," why can't you take a daily microdose of LSD?'

I would say the better question is, if you can read Das Kapital, what's wrong with a little LSD?

Ann Althouse said...

"I would say the better question is, if you can read Das Kapital, what's wrong with a little LSD?"

The subject is daily microdoses of LSD, so my analogy needed something small that you read every day. Save Das Kapital for an analogy with taking one very heavy dose of LSD.

Tim Gilliland said...

Althouse said:
"I have had personal experiences with people who "experimented" with reading about Zen Buddhism"

Oh yeah? well i'll see your Zen Buddhism and raise you a Transcendental Meditation. My older brother's friend lost two years of his otherwise very nice upper middle class life on that road taken. Quite sadder and not particularly wiser for the experience.

Tim Gilliland said...

So... if Das Kapital is too much, could we compare microdose LSD to the blaring of CNN in every airport waiting area in the country? Microdosing the masses with mass hysteria can have a cumulative effect on the psych.

Darrell said...

Ms Althouse should provide a daily mega-dose for those who make more than five comments in a thread.

TreeJoe said...

I do a lot of formal work in placebo effect. The results are staggering.

In the subjective field of cognitive measurement - one of the most problematic areas in all health measurement - if you only feel "a little better", then I can assure you you wouldn't be separating from placebo in a careful analysis :)

People who simply get adequate sleep, eat a very clean diet, and get rid of/decrease caffeine intake will report feeling "a lot" better.

Consider the threshold for measurable improvement beyond these base thresholds of cleaner living and placebo response.

Lucien said...

The argument for taking LSD (or cocaine) shouldn't be that it helps you get your work done but that freedom is good and good for you, and free people should be at liberty to take whatever substances they want (with informed consent).

It's true that the consequences of prohibition have been horrendous at every level from black-clad SWAT teams breaking into people's houses and shooting their pets with impunity, to billions of wasted dollars, to propping up drug prices enough to to create billionaire drug lords, to getting a credulous Supreme Court to allow the abomination of civil forfeiture; but the reasons for liberty and freedom are that they are and should be rights of the individual.

Tim Gilliland said...

I've only made 4 comments on this thread so you couldn't Possibly mean me!

Bill Coggins said...

If you are looking for a start: Stealing Fire by Kotler and Wheal. I've not finished the book but it does claim that many mainstream organizations are seeing measurable productivity increases. I believe the references can be checked to determine if the testing is legit. The book is really about being "in-the-zone" to use the sports term and micro-dosing is supposedly one of several ways to get "in-the-zone" tho the use of the state has widened to education and business where demanding or difficult situations exist. That is the claim in the book.

Meade said...

"I've only made 4 comments on this thread so you couldn't Possibly mean me!"

That makes 5 microcomments. I'm cutting you off.

Ann Althouse said...

"Oh yeah? well i'll see your Zen Buddhism and raise you a Transcendental Meditation. My older brother's friend lost two years of his otherwise very nice upper middle class life on that road taken. Quite sadder and not particularly wiser for the experience."

Made me think of the old Roger McGuinn song, "I'm So Restless." The verse about John Lennon is:

Hey Mr.L. so you want me to yell
To howl at the moon when I'm losin' my grip
Without no possesions and findin' myself
The picture of mental and physical health
But I'm still payin' dues for that Indian trip
And I know what you mean and it sure rings a bell
But oh Mr.L. I'm so restless

Ann Althouse said...

"Without no possessions..."

Sorry for copying a typo.

Note the reference to the much-loved/much-hated song "Imagine."

Ann Althouse said...

What's worse, listening to "Imagine" every morning or talking a microdose of LSD every morning? And wouldn't it be a kick in the head if the results were absolutely exactly the same?

Tim Gilliland said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...
"What's worse, listening to "Imagine" every morning or talking a microdose of LSD every morning? And wouldn't it be a kick in the head if the results were absolutely exactly the same..."

Are those my only options?

Couldn't I sign up for the daily electroshock therapy class at 10AM?

Tim Gilliland said...

But Mr. Meade!

My comment on how many comments I made doesn't count as a comment since it just comments on another commenter's comment on my number of comments. right?

All's fair in Red Rover and Electricity!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

TreeJoe said...

I do a lot of formal work in placebo effect. The results are staggering.

Maybe you can give me some clarity on something I saw that I thought was strange.

I was in the lobby of a doctor's office at university-associated hospital. There was a flyer recruiting subjects for a study on the use of the placebo effect for treating IBS.

Questions:
1) Doesn't telling people that you are studying the placebo effect get in the way of the placebo effect itself? I know it doesn't make it go away entirely, but I would expect a diminished effect if the subject knows you are looking for the placebo effect.

2) If you are doing a double-blind study, and giving the test group a placebo, what do you give the control group? A fake placebo?

Etienne said...

it's a matter of freedom of thought, and it belongs in the realm of the individual.

Fine. Then why are people crying out for free federally funded drug treatment centers to repair their damaged brains?

If it is the realm of the individual, then pay for it yourself. Don't get society to fix your problem.

Fernandinande said...

Tim Gilliland said...
I have had personal experiences with people who "experimented" with LSD. Results were not good.


Actual studies show the opposite. And, yes! You can find them on the internet.

Ann Althouse said...
Yeah, but microdose...


"Microdose" means what? 1/10th the normal dose? Because "decadose" doesn't sound catchy?

gspencer said...
"I'd like to see some scientific studies of how LSD affects problem solving ability."


Research has been illegal (until just recently, maybe).

Art Linkletter's near 21 y/o daughter Diane used LSD. It solved her life problems. Permanently.

Nope, Art made that up.

Fritz said...

Because "decadose" doesn't sound catchy?

That should be "decidose."

Meade said...

"My comment on how many comments I made doesn't count as a comment since it just comments on another commenter's comment on my number of comments. right?"

Mr. Gilliland, you are obviously tripping your balls off.

Tommy Duncan said...

What's the question again?

mockturtle said...

Self delusion is strong in the Valley.

n.n said...

A reading of Althouse.blogspot.com a day, keeps the brain in play.

Gahrie said...

Taking LSD in not a thought..it is an action.

Gahrie said...

How long until the government stats issuing Soma?

Rae said...

I cant wait for a ritalin addled, Common Core educated, LSD micro dosing engineer to design my next car.

Rae said...

Why do people who regularly take psychoactive drugs trust their own judgement? Why should we?

mockturtle said...

I cant wait for a ritalin addled, Common Core educated, LSD micro dosing engineer to design my next car.

Or build our next airplanes. Boeing is 'encouraging' older, experienced workers to retire early or risk being laid off. They are hiring younger, cheaper workers to replace them. This should prove interesting.

MikeR said...

Greg Cochran believes that being an Ashkenazi Jew is a productivity hack. Tay-Sachs is the cost. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/cochran/overclocking.html#Cochran

MayBee said...

Quit trying to make LSD happen.

Yancey Ward said...

I would certainly volunteer for a microdose study. When I was a post-doc in the early to mid 1990s with a group of medical school students at Emory University, I did LSD on three occasions at a dose of approximately 300-500 micrograms absorbed sublingually. The visual and auditory hallucinations were intense, and somewhat frightening in retrospect though at the time I don't remember being frightened by it. Continual use, though builds up tolerance, and I don't really know if microdosing day after day would do so, but it is possible that Burke's doses no longer actually have a true physiological effect.

Darrell said...

Quit trying to make LSD happen.

But the SUMMER OF LOVE!

EMyrt said...

Thanks Ferdinande, I second your omnibus comment.

Retired Acid Queen here (doses from micro to macro almost every weekend for 25 years, often mixed with MDA or even more exotic psychedelics). Yes, it can be damaging, but it depends on one's individual biochemistry. Important to stop for a few days every week because tolerance (and to keep one's day job).

In the 80s, there were microdots--50ish micrograms of LSD in tiny pills, aka Disco dots. They were excellent for dancing all night, with alcohol to take the edge off. So I have a good idea what microdosing feels like. It's not a placebo effect. It will be different taken during the day for task focus than taken at night for fun, but I can sorta see his point. Every day sounds like a bad idea, because the tolerance curve means every dose after the first is less effective. I suppose (I don't do talking head videos), they take weekends off? Pretty funny to reverse the traditional weekend tripping.