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Silicon Valley Avant-garde Have Turned To LSD in a Bid To Increase Their Productivity (1843magazine.com) 305

Every three days Nathan (not his real name), a 27-year-old venture capitalist in San Francisco, ingests 15 micrograms of lysergic acid diethylamide (commonly known as LSD or acid). From a story on 1843 Magazine: From the start, a small but significant crossover existed between those who were experimenting with drugs and the burgeoning tech community in San Francisco. "There were a group of engineers who believed there was a causal connection between creativity and LSD," recalls John Markoff, whose 2005 book, "What the Dormouse Said", traces the development of the personal-computer industry through 1960s counterculture. At one research centre in Menlo Park over 350 people -- particularly scientists, engineers and architects -- took part in experiments with psychedelics to see how the drugs affected their work. Tim Scully, a mathematician who, with the chemist Nick Sand, produced 3.6m tabs of LSD in the 1960s, worked at a computer company after being released from his ten-year prison sentence for supplying drugs. "Working in tech, it was more of a plus than a minus that I worked with LSD," he says. No one would turn up to work stoned or high but "people in technology, a lot of them, understood that psychedelics are an extremely good way of teaching you how to think outside the box." San Francisco appears to be at the epicentre of the new trend, just as it was during the original craze five decades ago. Tim Ferriss, an angel investor and author, claimed in 2015 in an interview with CNN that "the billionaires I know, almost without exception, use hallucinogens on a regular basis." Few billionaires are as open about their usage as Ferriss suggests. Steve Jobs was an exception: he spoke frequently about how "taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life." In Walter Isaacson's 2011 biography, the Apple CEO is quoted as joking that Microsoft would be a more original company if Bill Gates, its founder, had experienced psychedelics. As Silicon Valley is a place full of people whose most fervent desire is to be Steve Jobs, individuals are gradually opening up about their usage -- or talking about trying LSD for the first time.

Silicon Valley Avant-garde Have Turned To LSD in a Bid To Increase Their Productivity

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  • I thought we covered the dosing morons in an earlier article:
    https://yro.slashdot.org/story/17/05/16/0330245/uploadvr-had-a-kink-room-pressured-female-employees-to-microdose-alleges-lawsuit

    Long story short, if you need this crap to "perform", it's time to get out of the gene pool.
    • by thebullshitpatrol ( 4673009 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @02:19PM (#55175621)

      Is the use of tools and technology not the key motivation behind human evolution?

      Psychoactive drugs can be tools, and are most definitely technology.

      • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @02:35PM (#55175763)

        Didn't mass adoption of caffeine help spur on the Age of Enlightenment.

        • by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @04:35PM (#55176747)
          I like my coffee, but the answer to your question is that it's hard to say because around the same time, clean drinking water/better sanitation practices also became available en masse in the major cities, reducing the need for people to drink beer instead of water. Factories and scientific research tend to run better when everyone isn't a little buzzed.
        • by caseih ( 160668 )

          No I don't think so. The modern age of coffee-fueled offices is entirely a product of Maxwell House's 1950s advertising with the slogan, "Take a coffee break." I kid you not. The modern "coffee break" is the result of an ad campaign. It was successful beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

          Before that time, coffee was only consumed in the home, probably at breakfast and after supper. And if you go back even farther, coffee wasn't really a part of American households until after World War I when returning veteran

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You do realize that we already use copious amounts of drugs to "perform" in everyday society right? Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, nicotine, the list goes on and on. I find it equal parts amusing and disturbing when people harp on about drug users while sitting next to a pile of Monster drink cans or a week after they went balistic beacause the coffee ran out in the break room.

      • "while sitting next to a pile of Monster drink cans or a week after they went balistic beacause the coffee ran out in the break room"

        LMFAO!!

      • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @03:35PM (#55176271)

        Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, nicotine, the list goes on and on.

        Sugar is not a drug.
        Alcohol is awful for society, as is nicotine.
        Caffeine is mostly innocuous, and often mostly pointless. Once you become a regular caffeine user, you depend on it to get to your normal. People who drink x cups of coffee daily perform the same as people who don't drink coffee (or otherwise consume large amounts of caffeine).

        • Sugar is not a drug.
          Wow that was silly.
          For people who are addicted to sugar, sugar obviously is a drug.

          People who drink x cups of coffee daily perform the same as people who don't drink coffee (or otherwise consume large amounts of caffeine).
          Yes and no.
          The people who are depended on caffeine drop in performance significantly if they don't get it.

  • "There were a group of engineers who believed there was a causal connection between creativity and LSD,"

    So how many hits did it take for some creative "genius" to come up with the Juicero?

  • by H3lldr0p ( 40304 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @02:20PM (#55175631) Homepage

    Last I checked, it's still a Schedule-I narcotic which makes it unobtainable even with a prescription. What more does our anti-drug leaders need? It's a confession made free and clear in a news article. That should be more than sufficient grounds for a search warrant for house, car, and office.

    • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @02:29PM (#55175713) Homepage

      Last I checked, it's still a Schedule-I narcotic which makes it unobtainable even with a prescription.

      I think you need to review your definition of "unobtainable".

      • It was clear from context the gp meant "legally unobtainable". And as such the gp is right, baring scientific research (and even then good luck with the paperwork and security requirement) you cannot obtain LSD legally. Why you were modded insightful when the context is clear is beyond me.
    • What more does our anti-drug leaders need?

      Common sense? They've needed it for quite some time, though.

    • tricks are for billionaires...

    • by Kiuas ( 1084567 ) on Tuesday September 12, 2017 @06:38AM (#55179577)

      Last I checked, it's still a Schedule-I narcotic which makes it unobtainable even with a prescription. What more does our anti-drug leaders need? It's a confession made free and clear in a news article. That should be more than sufficient grounds for a search warrant for house, car, and office.

      Actually, I'd argue the exact opposite. Sure they could probably use the article as a grounds for arresting these people, but they'd be weakening their own position on the matter. You see, the only reason drugs, especially psychedelic drugs, have remained such a taboo and illegal for so long is that once people realized the 'reefer madness' -level claims about weed were BS, the same arguments were moved to psychedelics. To those who haven't tried it or haven't done any reading about it, which I'd say constitutes most people outside the psychedelic community, mind altering substances are still mythical in nature.

      This has fed into the drug-war propaganda and fears that people have. It's created this dichotomy in which people are divided into 2 categories of 'proper hard working people' and 'druggies', and the claim in the propaganda is that there is exactly no overlap. Because of this, people who actually use these substances responsibly, for personal gain or just for pleasure, have not typically come forth about it as they're afraid of losing face and being labeled lunatics. This allows for maintaining the control. If people - even the people who never have and have no desire for ever trying these things by themselves (which I can understand) - would understand how many of the 'decent' people they know and rely on have experimented with stuff other than alcohol, their image of the entire spectrum of drug use and drug users would start to change to a less black and white direction.

      Any drug, alcohol included, can lead to a person becoming a problem user or inflicting damage on themselves or their psyche. Think about if we only judged those of use who drink alcohol on the merits and state of alcoholics. I mean if you take someone and you give them the idea that 'alcohol use' is synonymous with, and will always lead to. alcoholism, then they'd obviously be likely to oppose the substance altogether, which is how prohibition was justified in many western countries back in the past. The culture of secrecy/silence allows for the continuation of this myth that all psychedelics-users are out of their mind raving eraserheads that've had their mind melted by a psychosis, and that while it remains okay and acceptable to inhibit/alter your neurons with ethanol doing permanent physical damage to them or now cannabis in many places, temporarily altering their action with other kinds of mechanisms is somehow heretical and must be kept illegal.

      What makes this all the more absurd when you get right down to it is that everyone, even those of us who use no substances whatsoever, are used to having experiences of a psychedelic nature every night while we sleep. Dreams are not obviously identical to the way psychedelics work, but they most certainly are an altered state of mind.

      Compare these 2 scenarios, a person has some kind of a problem, personal or work-related, and they do one of these:
      A) they think about it for a while and go to sleep. In their dream, they come up with a new way of approaching the problem as their unconscious mind develops an angle on it that they did not consciously see before. They wake up and proclaim to have solved the issue. Someone asks how they did it and they say they had a dream where they saw the solution.
      B) the same person takes a tab of LSD or some mushrooms and has a similar outcome for similar reasons. Someone asks how they solved it and they reply that they took some psychedelics.

      A) Will not cause any sort of uproar. There are quite many prominent scientists who've said openly that solutions sometimes 'appear' to them while sleeping and it's more or less generally accepted that sleep can have a positive effect on problem solving,

  • Modafinil (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jodka ( 520060 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @02:24PM (#55175669)

    I don't know about LSD, but Eric Raymond makes a plausible case [ibiblio.org] for modafinil [wikipedia.org].

    • I don't know about LSD, but Eric Raymond makes a plausible case [ibiblio.org] for modafinil [wikipedia.org].

      Eric Raymond is mentally ill, I doubt that he is capable of making a reasonable case.

  • Fools (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @02:29PM (#55175715) Homepage

    1) This isn't new. Creative people have been doing this since the discover of drugs. It's a common trope of the drugged out artist. Tech people have always had more in common with artists than businessmen, so it's no surprise that techs prefer the artistic drugs over the businessman's drug (cocaine).

    2) It doesn't work the way people think it does. You are not more creative under the influence of drugs, you are actually less creative. But you stop asking yourself "Is this a good idea?" and just do it. It's basically brainstorming for one person. They also make you stop worrying about outside distractions (failure, your marriage, etc.)

    Drugs do not add anything to your mental capacity. Anything you do under the influence is something you could have done anyway without it, as long as you did not let your own personal demons get in the way.

    But some people are ruled by their personal demons, so they do better work on the drug than off. Sad really.

    • So like how I worked out a social insurance plan by basically burning the world on paper, rebuilding it, and then finding a way to do it in real life without burning the world on the way there? Social insurances are filled with sacred cows nobody will even suggest touching, much less remove in a thought experiment and then re-create later in that experiment.

    • >> Tech people have always had more in common with artists than businessmen, so it's no surprise that techs prefer the artistic drugs over the businessman's drug (cocaine).

      This loser's a "27 year old VC". That pretty much means he was lucky enough to be sitting in the right place at the right time, has no real technical ability (otherwise he'd be out on the lecture circuit or picked up by a tech company to lead X, Y or Z), he's trying out the "businessman" thing (since investing and managing your inv
    • thank you

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      You are not more creative under the influence of drugs, you are actually less creative. But you stop asking yourself "Is this a good idea?" and just do it. It's basically brainstorming for one person.

      Robin Milner, computer scientist and Turing-award-winner, sometimes used sleep-deprivation to the same end. When he was sleep-deprived, he said, the internal censor that too often says "this is a bad idea" was suppressed long enough for him to get the idea down on paper. Then he could evaluate it the next day.

    • Back in my younger days, I played guitar in a band for a while, and hung out with a group that liked to experiment a bit with psychedelics.

      My recollection of LSD was it felt like "shorting out your brain". Your sense of touch would become all mis-translated, so for example? The sensations you normally block out as irrelevant (like the feeling of the back of your leg pressing against the seat of the chair you're sitting in) all became "significant". You might have the "wires are crossed in my head" experienc

    • That's really not a good description of the way hallucinogenics work at all. It's more like you have a planner in your brain with 'do this, do that, this is your list of assumptions' and the hallucinogen wipes the planner clean....
    • Don't even need drugs to have a similar effect. I can't say how many times I wake up with a brilliant idea from a dream, and a few minutes later go, that was really stupid...

    • Citations needed.
    • Drugs do not add anything to your mental capacity. Anything you do under the influence is something you could have done anyway without it, as long as you did not let your own personal demons get in the way.

      Citation needed.

    • Anything you do under the influence is something you could have done anyway without it
      That is nonsense.
      As always, I suggest: read a book about it.

  • Philip K. Dick wrote science-fiction, not manuals!
    • PKD was a speed freak. No doubt he did some LSD, but the speed was what made him batshit.

      It's also why at least half his stories don't have endings.

  • You would need to be among people that take hits of LSD every day to think a $400 fruit squeezer was a great idea.

  • Or does this strike anyone else as looking particularly desperate?

    • "Or does this strike anyone else as looking particularly desperate?"

      Yea, you don't do any better on drugs, you just think you do. Besides this whole psychedelic thing was tried in the sixties and nothing of value ever came out of it. Ken Kesey [wikipedia.org] wrote one good book then took to the road with his Merry Pranksters [wikipedia.org] who daily groked on psychedelic soup and then self destructed. See also Timothy Leary [wikipedia.org], anyone even remember him?
    • Me too. IMHO, creativity feeds on downtime, which by definition is separate from working hours so your brain can switch into different modes in different times. It looks like these guys are trying to integrate downtime into their working hours. It's like having an open office plan so that you can have a downtimely chat with your friends while focusing on your work.
  • Back in the early 70s when I was a grad student in biology, there was a lot of LSD around; also psilocybin, mescaline, and of course pot. Many of us used them as recreational drugs. It was fun, but it sure as hell didn't get your thesis written or your research done, even. For that you needed coffee. The few who took the "insights" of those trips seriously wound up going down the rabbit hole of "deep ecology" or some other bullshit.
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @02:54PM (#55175937)

    The article summary says it right there -- everyone in startup land is trying to be Steve Jobs. Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos fame even wears black turtlenecks to try to complete the look.

    It's just the personality version of cargo-culting. Plenty of business types do this but most don't have the degree of success they think they will:
    - Tons of people try for the Jobs personality, or the Linus Torvalds personality, etc. Most end up only picking up the mannerisms and not the intelligence part. (Linus acts like a jerk, but he's usually correct and doesn't seem capable of being nice about it.)
    - Go into any airport bookstore and look over any of the books aimed at MBA types. Since most of the customers are consultants, it's a pretty easy predictor of what "brilliant innovative groundbreaking paradigm shifts" will be tried at their customers -- and subsequently by tons of others.
    - Similarly, any executive who starts using other executives' direct quotes is definitely wishing for similar success. My favorite of late, which I've heard come out of tons of "thought leaders" is the "2 pizza team" concept that Jeff Bezos talked about when he referred to keeping product groups small enough to feed with 2 pizzas.

    If it requires taking LSD, they'll do that too. It's just a bunch of MBA weenies emulating their heroes.

    • Steve Jobs emulators

      Let's not forget that Steve Jobs was against emulators because it allows you to bypass security measures.

      Linus acts like a jerk, but he's usually correct and doesn't seem capable of being nice about it.

      How the fucking hell is he supposed to be fucking nice when everyone around him is a fucking idiot?

      And let's not forget what MBA really means: Must Be Asshole.

  • I couldn't find LSD, so I tried taking LCD instead. There's one major downside to it: everything looks pixelated now.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday September 11, 2017 @03:33PM (#55176259) Homepage Journal

    But it's not a substitute for effort.

    Researchers who've studied creativity define it as an unusual and appropriate solution to a problem. It's easy to get unusual with drugs, but appropriate is more of a challenge.

    Creativity presupposes an unsually deep understanding of a problem domain. That's why your weird doodles aren't worth as much as Picasso's. He could do representational art if he wanted to. He drew this [nga.gov] when he was twelve years old.

    Now in my experience moments of creative inspiration come after you struggle with a problem for a long time, and you've exhausted all the conventional approaches to it. But because inspiration only comes after a struggle doesn't mean it always comes.

    In particular you can be derailed by certain distractions. Fear of failure is one. A little bit of fear is healthy, but if you're ruminating about what comes after failure you're off-task. And another thing that takes your brain off-task is wanting to appear creative.

    So I wouldn't be surprised if someone who'd put in the blood sweat and tears but wasn't letting his brain get on with the job might benefit from a little chemical help. But I'd be amazed if someone could waltz into an unfamiliar situation, pop a pill, and know what to do.

  • LSD is a freakin' drug. It is not the miracle substance that will make you better against the government conspiracy blah blah blah.

    Yes, LSD is fun. No, it won't kill you. Want to try, sure, go ahead. There are risks but if you take the necessary precautions, it is not that risky.

    But as a productivity booster, no way. I suspect it is a bit like cocaine : you feel better but you aren't. It may give you a bit of inspiration if you are in a creative profession but I don't see how it can help with the rational t

  • How much LSD did it take to get VCs to invest $120 million in Juicero?

  • To be creative, I don't use drugs. Instead, I remember that "a way" to do something != "the only way". Maybe there's a better way.

  • Ah, so LSD anesthetized Steve Job's conscience enough he didn't feel bad about taking his friend's ideas and getting rich off them, while not paying to support his daughter growing up.

    Clearly it's a useful tool to the american corporate executive.

  • About weed, not LSD, but the point remains. It makes you think funny, and believe you're being profound. But you're just getting high.

    Same thing with dreams. Make perfect sense while you're having them. Make absolutely no sense once you're awake and thinking clearly. Occasionally a good idea will pop out of the noise. Just like occasionally you'll win the lottery or have an apropos captcha in the comments section.

Byte your tongue.

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