One sketch pad had a long black squiggle on it, the same design you'd make if you fell asleep while holding a pen to paper, and the rest had even less (One was literally two 1" lines forming a 90 degree angle). The next day they described the night as a huge success even though they never really attained any of their stated goals.
I don't doubt they had a good time, but seeing them utterly fail to use the drug as a tool kinda makes me skeptical of the productive benefits.
As a side note, if you want your ego stroked then ask a student artist for his opinion of your work. In the two years I lived with artists not a single negative comment was spoken by a student of anyone else's work. It was a guaranteed self-congratulatory feedback loop.
We would always make sure to have plenty of supplies. Art or otherwise. Pen and paper was probably the most difficult. The effects on your vision are pronounced and drawing can be... hard. I always enjoyed oil pastels the most. Thick and flowing pools of color. Man those were good times.
I was in art school at the time, and critique (the ability to give and receive) was one of the greatest things I walked away with. We would formerly critique on a regular basis in class.
> I don't doubt they had a good time, but seeing them utterly fail to use the drug as a tool kinda makes me skeptical of the productive benefits.
This is akin to coming onto a software project, seeing a huge tangle of grotesque code produced by some other programmer(s), and determining that the tools were at fault. In both cases it is not necessarily the wand, but perhaps the magician.
I think the OP missed the point-- LSD isn't Aderall, it isn't something that makes you push out more. Rather, it can unlock doors that were perhaps holding you back.
P.S. There is a huge amount of inefficient and even dangerous psychotherapy schools, and there is quite a lot of inefficient stuff in "NLP", that's why I recommend exactly the above techniques.
There is a saying of a guru: "If something goes bad, just drop some more acid" but I am not sure if it is a good advice, only that it doesn't work with weed.
I'm all for anyone doing whatever they want with drugs, psychoactives in particular, but taking more is usually the wrong answer. Psychoactive drugs are not a cure-all or magic key that opens creative inspiration in uncreative types, just as much as taking Vicodin won't give you an erection lasting for more than 4 hours.
This was an 8 hour marathon of oil pastel madness. I was in my tiny apartment with 6-8 friends and literally spent the entire time engrossed in this thing. The background was the technique that I could never get back. This was a series of this basic type of drawing I did. There were 4 and this one I like the most. Gave one away to some chick I was seeing :/
Bic pens have always been a favorite as well. These are actually meeting drawings from a fairly recent (sober) time, but are representitive of the drawings I don't want to go dig out and scan. My brain didn't do this prior to LSD ;)
A friend of mine tried to program while on Salvia (I gave him the programming problem to solve: basically implement Solomon Golombs self-describing sequence) and as he scribbled notes on paper, he kept muttering phrases like "what is she saying to me now". We didn't check the results until the next morning, but it turned out he had figured out an O(1) closed form for the sequence - it was very simple and very fast. He claimed a woman told him the answer.
I have since searched for good solutions to the same problem and the only thing I could find that is better than O(n) is a 70's paper on the sequence. The solution in the paper was complex (I didn't understand it - actually, I don't know if it even came up with a closed form or not...), certainly not as short and simple as the one my friend came up with. Sadly, we didn't think much of it and didn't write it down - which, of course, means I have no proof to back this story up. Still, it was a pretty strange and interesting thing to witness.
 We also only tested it with a handful of numbers and did not make any attempt to formally prove its correctness, so its not impossible that it was just coincidence that it worked for the test inputs (we only verified low input numbers against the naive implementation). Still, I like to think it was a full solution.
Anyway, not enough to convince me.
Edit: of course, I would like to know more :)
Having said that, I obviously simplified the story and I have a pretty good theory of how he came up with the solution (since I now know the guy a lot better). I actually think he has a very very slight case of autism (never diagnosed, but over the years, there have been some hints that it may be the case). I of course don't believe that a woman actually told him the solution, I think the autism is what helped him come up with it (since properly autistic people are able to do some amazing things) and the drug made him trip out and believe a woman spoke to him.
As for not believing that somebody could do things on Salvia, I disagree. Normally I don't like to admit to drug use on the internet (since its easy to figure out who I am), but what the hell. Maybe I'll come to regret it later... While I haven't taken any in a few years, I have taken Salvia many times over the past ten-ish years (and I took it that night with my friend too). I have taken it in the middle of the day, in the sun. I have taken it at night, in a dark room. I have taken it at a party (despite people saying its not a party drug). Each time the experience was very very different. It depends on your surroundings and on your mood. Yes, salvia is extremely intense and gives a very disconnected experience, but I think the actual extent depends on the factors I mentioned above. For example, every time I took it at night, it was a very weird and "heavy" experience, but when I took it in the sun, it was a bright and happy (almost mdma-like) experience.
I don't know if you get this on Salvia, but most people I have spoken to about it have said they experienced something similar. When on Salvia, theres this feeling of "pressure" pulling you into the experience (often its a feeling of something pushing or pulling you some direction, perhaps spinning around, falling or weightlessness). I've got this every time (that I remember, there may have been times when I didn't that I don't remember). Every time I've tried to resist it and go against it, I broke out in heavy sweats. When we did the programming problem, it took a LOT of effort to resist it to write in the notepad. After a few minutes, I gave in and forgot about the notepad (skin soaked with sweat). I guess my friend was able to resist it more than I was. But. honestly, I don't remember the exact details, nor do I remember anything about the trip I had or what I wrote in my own notepad, since my friends was much more interesting and this happened maybe five or six years ago.
My point is that it is hard to resist it, but its not impossible (at least, for a while) and while resisting it, you can be tripping and still do things (well, kind of). But, at the end of the day, if you don't believe me, thats fine. Maybe you can try it for yourself? Just be aware that (in my experience) there will be an intense "pressure" pulling you away from what you're trying to do and you may have to try pretty hard to resist it.
The woman part was the interesting part to me because thats something recurrent, the presence of a woman (maybe not a woman, but a femenine entity)
I get the pressure while on the effect, and most of the people I have seen smoking extract here at home do too (some just getting pulled to a specific direction, others feel a rotating force).
Not everyone gets the same physical effects but a lot of it is common.
Something that happens to me that so far only one friend has shared is being split in two (we feel it on the tongue, the nose, the chest, the whole body, left is separated from right).
But the physical aspects of the experience are not what I find problematic for trying to do something like scribbling, it is the mental aspect. Do you even know that you are under the effects before they are already fading out? do you remember that you wanted to scribble? do you know who are the people there with you? mm.. do you even know that there are people there?
How did you guys (in your experiment) consume it? smoked extract? smoked leaves? chewing leaves?
After such positive results, did you ever try the experiment again? if not, why not? (if I had such experience I would like to try more and more)
The pressure aspect is very interesting. As far as I remember, I've always had it, but it varied each time. I've never experienced the splitting in two; that would certainly be strange. I remember one trip where it felt like I was slowly rotating, so that roughly 50% through the trip I was upsidedown. When I rotated the full way and was upright again, I instantly snapped out of it. I often had those kind of "when X happened, I instantly snapped out" experiences actually (another time I was walking around and it felt like I was falling (the pressure) away from where I took salvia (in a car), bouncing off people to get back "up" to where I was and when I got back, I sat into the car and the door shut, I snapped out of the trip).
Hmm, good point. Honestly, it was too long ago and I don't remember. I do remember that after a little while I gave up and dropped the pen. As for knowing if there are people or not, I've had different experiences each time - sometimes I forgot about people completely and was lost in my own world, other times the people were there with me (eg, the car trip I mentioned above, I was interacting with people and it felt like I was bouncing off them to get back to the car, kind of like being the ball in a pinball machine).
I've only ever smoked extract, usually in a pipe (the other times in a bong). I have smoked different strength extracts, the weakest being either 5 or 10x, the strongest being perhaps 50x and most often 30 or 35x. I have never tried it any other way (due to availability). I don't remember what strength it was that night or if we used a pipe or bong.
I didn't try it again. Thinking about it now, I really don't know why, it seems obvious that I should have, yet somehow it never ocurred to me to do it again. We thought it was a bit of a laugh really, which is probably why we didn't put any effort in recording the solution. Kicking myself now, of course. I remember that day we were doing projects for class or soemthing, so perhaps thats why we decided to program on it, while other days we wouldn't have been, but we did a lot of random programming, so I don't think thats why. I don't have a good answer for it really. Then over time I ended up taking salvia less and less until I stopped altogether, for no other reason than that I just didn't feel like it. Then they banned most formerly-legal drugs here, so now I don't think I can even get any anymore (afaik anyway, I never actually checked after most headshops were closed down here). I kinda want to repeat the experiment now!
I was kinda hoping you were going to run with that and turn that into a "green eggs and ham" tribute poem.
To make this germane to hacking: I'm kind of baffled that peer code review isn't the cornerstone of this industry. No one works best in a bubble, and everyone has something to teach and to learn.
One last thought -- context for feedback matters. It's a helpful, kind, human thing to do to give someone some helpful encouragement, even when it hasn't been earned yet.
Also, art is meant to be examined - that is its primary purpose. Source code, not so much.
I don't agree that source code is not meant to be examined ( but maybe we work in totally different fields ). I regularly read source code from my coworkers, and they regularly have to read mine. Often, the developer who wrote the code is not available for questions, or isn't with the company any longer. My own code might as well have been written by another developer if I look at it after about a year. All these issues could be mitigated or muted by another set of eyes, either by sharing the knowledge ( "Why did Bob do this?" might be answered by someone else who'd reviewed the code ) or by asking the questions initially ( "Bob, why did you do it that way?" Bob: "Because of X -- I'll leave a comment in the source ).
It's just that the Internet is home to a lot of people that believe rationalism is the only valid way to perceive the universe, when in reality it is just one way to do so. Personally, I found myself unhappy when I restricted myself to it. The universe seemed cold, empty, and cruel. I think a lot of people hit this stage and then just give up completely.
It's really sad.
It is. In safety critical situations. In situations where millions are at stake for a few hours of downtime.
Richard P. Gabriel has been advocating an MFA program for hackers. I don't think it's gotten off the ground yet.
There is a distinct diregression, regression, and then a peak of intense beauty.
You can't tell how much the person is getting out of the experience just by looking at them. They could just lie on the couch for ten hours with their eyes closed and be having one of the most profound experiences of their life. In fact, someone who is using the drug for introspection is almost certainly getting more out of the experience than someone who is using the drug to explore the world. Most serious psychonauts recommend taking the drug laying down in the dark while blindfolded to get the most out of it.
I mean think about it, you're about to have one of the five most important experiences of your life, on par with death or the birth of a child. Do you really want to have that experience while in a movie theater watching Harold & Kumar?
 source: http://csp.org/psilocybin/
"Even at the 14-month
follow-up, 58% of 36 volunteers rated the experience on the psilocybin session as among the five most personally meaningful
experiences of their lives and 67% rated it among the five most
spiritually significant experiences of their lives, with 11% and
17%, respectively, indicating that it was the single most meaningful experience, and the single most spiritually significant experience. Furthermore, 64% of the 36 volunteers indicated that the
psilocybin session experience increased their sense of well-being
or life satisfaction either moderately or very much, and 61%
rated that the experience was associated with moderate to
extreme positive behaviour change."
Research returns and is disappointed to find the pad empty and the subject unwilling to talk about his mother. The reason? He's just seen God and is busy drawing God on the wall.
So he utterly failed at his assigned task, but he had (arguably) achieved something far more important.
Psylocybin (however you spell it) actually tends to leak out through your sweat pores, so your dog was probably having just as fantastic of a time as you were.
When we did shrooms last time, we petted our cats for about an hour. Shortly after that, they went into the hallway and started chasing imaginary flies on the walls - leaping full-on into the wall, only to bounce off. They've been prone to that sort of thing ever since. :)
That said, I did perform a handful of solitary experiments where I would lock myself in my room with a programming assignment working non-stop for some 5-7 hours. The output was remarkable. But the drug was rough on my system and would take me days to recover.. so no more than once a month. Eventually stopped doing it altogether after a bad experience.
Then I took some mushrooms with a pen and paper in hand. All I could draw was stupid smiley faces. It was just inane gibberish.
So yeah, I guess there is a bit of a myth about LSD and creativity... at least anything that involves fine motor skills and concentration. In this context it was a creativity killer.
On one of the very few occasions I used it, I had what I thought was a profound understanding of how everything in the universe was connected together. I couldn't recall what the big idea was afterwards (or to this day), but I'm quite certain it was just my brain making up nonsense.
For those firmly rooted, it might be pleasurable or productive to become a little less so. If you're already sometimes on the edge, LSD can push you over.
This happened to one of my best friends. Growing up he was crazy, creative, always saw things a little differently, prone to manic behavior. After a year of regular LSD use he was unable to form a coherent sentence. Please be careful.
I think LSD trips are highly influenced by your state of mind and intention towards the trip. Sometimes I've tripped looking for a spiritual event or revelations, and they often show up (in some form or another). Other times I've done it more 'just for fun' and there hasn't been as much revelation in it.
LSD has been one of the most profound experiences of my life. I now reserve it for special occasions, and combine a bit of ceremony to it. It's a powerful substance, so treat it with the weight it deserves.
I guess you could take it two, max three times a week.
I don't personally use LSD, but I believe this information to be correct: "There is a short period of tolerance after use. Using LSD two days in a row is likely to lead to a diminished experience the second day, though spaced 3 or more days apart, this effect is nearly non-existent." (via http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/lsd/lsd_basics.shtml) Yes, using it two days in a row will result in a less powerful effect the second day but most people wouldn't attempt it that soon anyways (I'd assume).
I only point this out as this thread makes LSD seem like a wonder drug and I'd want new users to get the correct information.
Also, the "Hope you..." phrasing makes your comment come off as a bit sneering/condescending, just FYI.
I would certainly agree that nicotine is profoundly addictive, and the cigarette as a delivery system equally so. It reduces anxiety (especially useful to smooth the effects of caffeine), acts as an apetite suppressant (long nights hacking can be interrupted by a five-minute smoke break rather than a thirty-minute food break), and is a mild stimulant. One issue here, though, is that as you become addicted, most of the anxiety you calm with cigarettes is caused by withdrawal symptoms or even fear of withdrawal symptoms, like headaches, hand tremors, dizziness, blurred vision, all very unpleasant. The pavlovian response is pretty strong: inhaling cigarette smoke gets you the effects within seconds. In the case of withdrawal symptoms, you have this discomfort, and it is relieved almost instantly after you inhale. People with anxiety disorders or depression have a strong tendency to self-medicate with nicotine.
Psychologically, it's nice to have something to do with your hands while standing around outside waiting. Like time in the shower, sometimes I have my best ideas outside smoking, thinking about nothing in particular. And an excuse to get up from the computer and go out for a little while is great, too. There are social benefits as well, if you live in a neighborhood or work at a company where there are people coming and going, happy to converse outside.
So the addiction goes fairly deep, and is often not understood by non-smokers. The fact that you see, in almost any major metropolitan environment, homeless people smoking is a pretty good indicator. Personally, there are times when I have opted to smoke rather than eat or sleep, and it is confounding but there's a deep urge anyway, as if my body were telling me that I "needed" to smoke, in the same way that it tells me I need to eat or sleep.
I've made a number of attempts to quit, and have found the nicotine patches to be the most useful method. (I have a couple of boxes of them at home, waiting for Monday to roll around.)
Easy to reduce on because you know exactly how many milligrams you're taking (like methadone or something) because of Swedish labelling rules. I'm hoping to be off snus within the next three or four months, but there's no big hurry because it's pretty cheap and very safe in comparison to other tobacco products.
Internet ordering directly from Sweden is easy, and some of the fancier US tobacco shops are starting to carry it - so you might get lucky.
It's just profoundly clear to me (from your comments, from similar discussions with lots of other smokers) that there's no going back to a pre-smoking life. Life after quitting smoking (or any other deeply-rooted addition, I suspect) is not at all the same as a life where you never started; that bridge is burned.
The second took a large dose about a decade ago and after being a very conservative straight guy. Mormon. Straight A's. Didn't take drugs or drink. He immediately dropped out of school, moved in with a prostitute and decided he wanted a sex change. That was 10 years ago. Last year he had sex reassignment surgery in Thailand.
In both cases I suspect the drug opened pathways that were suppressed. I see LSD as a truly mind altering drug. In rare cases it alters minds for the better. In many cases it exposes latent problems that can be debilitating and life-destroying.
Given that your friend is transgendered, it's probably a lot better that she figured it out while in school instead of when she was 40 and had a wife and kids, even though dropping out of school and getting one's sex reassignment surgery in Thailand are pretty bad ideas.
The fastest growing tourism segment here is medical tourism. High quality care at a relatively low cost & lots of good food.
The real question is: is he happier now?
Note though that his experiences were relatively minor compared to what some other people go through. Here are a couple songs about the same basic experience:
There's no question that people with a family history or other predisposition toward mental illness shouldn't use LSD. In general shrooms seem to be somewhat safer, probably because they last only a third as long. They're still not safe for someone with mental illness or a predisposition toward it, but they seem to be mostly safe for everyone else as long as those partaking take the time to learn and follow all of the relevant best practices. (Including being old enough; you always hear about all the psychedelic researchers who lived until old age, but what you don't hear is that none of them discovered drugs until their 30s.)
Bad trips were something else. We're talking about seeing everything bad about myself and humanity, which considering the basically selfish nature of a human is quite something. Very black-and-white, good-and-evil thinking, alternating between extremes. Synthesizing sounds, colors, physical things around me. When I read about people going nuts or harming themselves, I'm not surprised. Very black-and-white thinking can lead to some alarming thoughts.
I'd find that if I spent a few hours spiralling on that I could lose the ego totally and emerge with a very objective sense of the world. A world in balance, things as they should be, personal and friends' faults accepted, insights into myself and others. I definitely made some amazing self-discoveries, but at significant risk.
After 1971 Erdős also took amphetamines, despite the concern of his friends, one of whom (Ron Graham) bet him $500 that he could not stop taking the drug for a month. Erdős won the bet, but complained that during his abstinence mathematics had been set back by a month: "Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper." After he won the bet, he promptly resumed his amphetamine use.
Larger doses work differently, and less directly for me. They tend to help me gain greater perspective on my life and my work. It can give me a renewed energy and excitement for what I am doing, or, conversely it can help me realize that I am on the wrong track, and will motivate me to make changes that help me live a more fulfilling life. I often end a strong experience with so much energy that I can't wait for the next day to begin so I can put into action everything I had been thinking about. I code vastly better when I have a deep understanding about why I am coding.
As with anything, these experiences have diminishing returns, so spacing them out over years has helped me keep them 'productive'.
Here's another reported success: "Use of LSD-25 for Computer Programming" by Dennis R. Wier http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v18n1/v18n1-MAPS_24.pdf (Previously on HN: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=654168 )
I've given dex to other programmers on occasion; they're often amazed at how much it helps them concentrate and get things done.
It's kind of like coffee that WORKS.
Hence my favourite programming beverage: grind your beans, sprinkle finely powdered amphetamine on the top of the basket, and make yourself a nice motherfuckiato.
That's mighty addictive stuff, for someone with the wrong combination of genetics and psychology, this could be really bad.
The drug war is full of nonsense - but amphetamines are regulated for a good reason.
There are creative aspects to programming, and you might gain some insights that are applicable, but I'd save the implementation till you come down unless the dose was rather small.
The best way I could describe its practical long-term effects, (once you've come down and realized you haven't broken your brain) is that your previous knowledge has been helpfully flagged as invalid, allowing you to acquire new knowledge in a less stupid, more nuanced manner. Everything you knew about groups of people, genders, categories of objects, in short all the knowledge that allows you to assess a situation and make sense of the world is marked as fallacious, and your mind is now freed to learn how the world works in a more sophisticated manner.
I think everyone should take the opportunity to try it out, if given the chance to do so in a comfortable setting (comfortable socially - roughing it in the wild is fine, maybe even encouraged).
I am curious about whether or not you have ever tried living in another country with a different language and culture for an extended period of time, and then returning to live in a more familiar culture. That too can have the effect of flagging previous knowledge as invalid, allowing you to acquire new knowledge. Perhaps you have done this as well, but I'm not sure about that from what you say about yourself here. As G.K. Chesterton put it, "The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land."
The intensity and resonance of those experiences are such that it's sometimes hard to reconcile with the small fraction of the population who have known them. It's an essential part, to me, of the human experience.
That said, when I was younger I didn't always treat them with the respect they deserve, and it's difficult to determine in retrospect the effects they've had on my life - in part because I was still not yet fully formed when I began. I don't regret the path I've taken, but in retrospect it seems a fluke that I've arrived where I am with my sanity (arguably) intact; or even that I've arrived at this age at all.
To me, these are incredibly powerful tools, with amazing potential for both creation and destruction - but the infrastructure to support their responsible use didn't evolve at a pace to match their sudden explosion into mainstream awareness in the 60's, and the results were terrifying to many; alcohol can be an amazingly destructive drug, but societies have had thousands of years to grow comfortable with its effects, and to learn to mitigate its worst excesses.
As a result of this (perhaps rightly deserved) fear and confusion, we've collectively overreacted, not only banning them outright, but elevating their status to one of our most fiercely prosecuted taboos. I sincerely hope that this will change at some point, and that it will coincide with an evolution of the knowledge and wisdom required to use them responsibly.
To me it's evident that there are strong positive outcomes to be gained, from personal and artistic growth to effective treatment for psychiatric afflictions - but more than any other substances I know of, these drugs are chameleons that can change form entirely in response to one's approach to them. They rarely reward foolishness or irresponsibility.
Now, as ever, cultists are everywhere; I put my trust in science. And I hope that as the stigmas attached to these substances subside, our governments have the sense to entrust the exploration of this potential to scientists.
If you're thinking about it, please, do your homework. Thoroughly. As others have cautioned, drug use can catalyze psychosis, the permanent emergence of bipolar disorder, etc. Consider these risks as they relate to you in particular (your family history, etc) very carefully, and if you decide to go ahead, be sure you prepare with as much care, consideration and thoroughness as it deserves.
And if you do, I'd consider avoiding LSD unless you can guarantee its legitimacy and purity. Mescaline is readily producible from common cacti (San Pedro, et al), has a long history of safe use by e.g. native americans §, and will likely provide you with a more helpful experience. It's also much harder to take too much of than e.g. psilocybin or LSD, which are very easy to consume a psychiatrically dangerous dose of.
There is a wealth of information out there - some of it spurious, but much of it helpful. I would encourage wider use of psychedelics, but I strongly qualify this encouragement. Not everyone should try them: some people are irreparably damaged by their first trip, and I don't claim to be able to say why; nor will they reward being treated without the utmost respect.
That said, after almost a decade of abstinence from tripping, I discovered mescaline, and I intend to continue to use it up to a few times a year. Thus far I've found it to be an extremely rewarding and positive force in my life; I'm an atheist, but you could say it's my replacement for religion.
§ http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2005/11/69477 - "Peyote won't rot your brain"
Good sleep, meditation, regular exercise, a good diet, vitamin or fish oil supplements, possibly responsible use of some stimulants (caffeine, dexamphetamine, methylphenidate, etc - I do NOT advise using methamphetamine), quiet work spaces, trying different tactics (e.g. pomodoro technique) for minimising disruption and improving your concentration, fostering dedication to your craft - all of these are much more likely and FAR less risky candidates for making you a better programmer.
And as others here have alluded to, psychedelics yield diminishing returns. One or two trips could change your life and transform your outlook, hopefully for the better; using a psychedelic experience to collect and align your energies up to a few times a year could be a positive influence. Taking them more often than that qualifies as abuse, and will not help you.
Edit: ok, I scrolled up and now I've got it. I'm a bit slow today, maybe I need some stimulant after all...
But if you've ever seen Little Miss Sunshine, the grandfather has a perspective on drug use that I've adopted wholeheartedly:
Don't you start taking that shit. When you're young, you're crazy to do that stuff.
What about you?
I'm old! When you're old, you're crazy not to do it.
I have struggled a lot with the odds and gotten only a few moments of what I am after. But I realized one thing in the process that it requires quite a bit of unlearning, forgiving, accepting, non-reacting and seeing it as it is.
I still haven't lost any amount of belief in the feasibility of my experiment as I have gone closer to it - the fact that the degree and duration of my experience can be controlled by me alone is a powerful realization.
Baba Ram Dass' book referenced in one of the comments on the wired site might be worth trying out - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00486UF8Y/ref=s9_simh_gw_p...
These are all "drugs". Anything we put into our body, food or otherwise, is a "drug" and serves to alter us in some way.
You will always have "external dependencies". You are dependent on food and water to live, social interaction to love and to feel friendship, and other humans to make your life possible through manufacture, farming, and medical care, among other things.
We all have external dependencies. One of the beauties of ingesting hallucinogens is that this is the first realization you will likely have.
There is a big difference between dependency on food and dependency on beer for example. Need vs. Want. I don't need beer to survive, I do need water. Beer I will use to lighten up, enjoy - water to satisfy thirst and keep the body working. Drugs fall in mind made wants. Taking drugs to set yourself free of bonds and compulsions that kill your being, joy, clarity - that's illogical - you are trading one dependency for other.
I am also not claiming to have been 100% done - it's my steady journey towards that goal that I was sharing. It's all about changing gradually with full understanding instead of looking at it as a means to some end.
That's some trivial reframing -- if you stopped eating food, it would start to matter.
Are you reading this as "without (any) external dependencies, for example, drugs"?
That is a bit silly (as you're trying to point out).
Try "without external dependencies similar to drugs" (i.e., chemical substances that may dramatically alter physical & mental operation and are not at all required to lead a healthy life).
Rule of thumb -- if you find yourself explaining to someone that "you need food and water to live" or something else similarly basic, you've either misunderstood their point, or are talking to a 4-year-old. :)
The idea is that we alter our bodies through external actions in innumerable ways all the time. The idea that "drugs" are somehow different and not part of the human experience strikes me as an oversimplification.
It reminds me of people who don't like things with "chemicals" in them. Chemicals are in everything... and food is the ultimate drug.
It was written during the brief period in Ram Dass' life when he wasn't taking LSD. He returned to the practice shortly thereafter, because he found that he needed the insight to stay on the path he had set for himself.
Also, Neem Karoli Baba never took the LSD; he performed a magician's pass and hid it in his clothing. So all that nonsense about his guru taking 900 mikes and not changing consciousness was just that, nonsense.
NK Baba later ground the LSD up with some holy ash and gave it to his closest disciples, who were blown away by the holiness and power of his darshan, no doubt.
Reference: the interview with Ram Dass in Zig Zag Zen.
A simple method is to start extreme. I think this applies to both graphic creativity as for programming creativity.
They also call it "out of the box" thinking.
Maybe his confidence to do that comes from having experienced some sort of revelations or profound experiences on LSD that make "good, but not good enough" products seem even more mundane and pedestrian to him.
That is, I don't really enjoy programming nearly as much compared to when I am a bit baked. Mind you, I can work.. but it feels like such a chore (not always but I'm talking typically). There are a lot of us like this.
As for LSD.. I have had many revelations while tripping, some I've had to later reject (which is a difficult process) and probably some that I should but have not yet. However, have learned a tremendous amount from whatever it is that is happening while tripping.
I really think most people should trip their face off at least once. What it feels like is that you are tapping into something truer and deeper (when you are tripping, the hallucinating reality is the 'real' reality, that is how you experience it). I don't know what is actually happening, but it can be just absolutely amazing, or absolutely devestating.
Take for instance, having an intellectual idea of the universe; like what it actually is. Some people are fascinated by thinking about these things anyway, others can't be bothered.
Now imagine, instead of having some mathematical and intuitive understanding of the 'building blocks' of the universe.. you were thrown into hyperspace and pulled of your body and shown what the universe is, and what your place in it is. And it's a truly beautiful, elegant thing. And many many people have seen the same thing (it's the universal 'mystical experience').
It's like you were pulled out of the matrix, if just for a bit, and you can actually talk to other people about it, because it happens to lots of people who trip.
Whether it is actually giving insight or not (it could definitely be some idiosyncratic interaction that lsd is having with your brain to make you see things in a certain way); it's at the very least fun, and can have a drastic effect on the way you oritent yourself toward reality.
It can also affect your mental processes--LSD has the effect (at least in me) of continually changing the level of abstraction I am thinking in. You see a situation, then you see the bigger picture of that situation, and on and on until your mind can't even fathom any thing anymore.
You set out to write a bash script to move some files, you suddenly realize an amazingly better way to do bash scripting, which makes you realize some basic change in the OS that would make UI 1000% friendlier, then you realize we shouldn't be using computers at all, then you realize you are here on earth for a purpose and you are wasting your life then your buddy is like--YO you're spacing off and the chain of thinking starts over.
But let's be honest here: If your goal was to write the script, that sounds horribly unproductive.
If writing that script at that time made sense and you were enjoying it, nothing could stop you from doing it. If you were wasting time and an unfocused individual, you'd see that.
Yes. Because if you are writing a script, it obviously serves a purpose.
I was just giving an example many people here would be familiar with so I could actually go through examples of each 'new level.' The whole thinking pattern goes on over and over starting with new 'seeds' to abstract from.
It might feel like you are tapping into something truer and deeper, but that doesn't mean that you are.
There are perceptions and there are facts. This is true whether the facts are easily knowable or not, and extends as much to the existence of God and other such questions as it does to the sum of two numbers.
Do you dispute that facts are also perceptions?
"Whether it is actually giving insight or not (it could definitely be some idiosyncratic interaction that lsd is having with your brain to make you see things in a certain way); it's at the very least fun, and can have a drastic effect on the way you oritent yourself toward reality."
There is something seemingly objective about it though in that others seem to have very similar experiences.
Then there's the solipsist point of view, which is to say, it doesn't matter that someone else thinks you are deluding yourself, because all that is knowable is in your own mind, so you aren't capable of validating anything anyway.
Either way, the experience is validated, to one's self or to the world.
Do people bring back useful (in the engineering sense) knowledge from their times tripping/rolling? Are they more likely to experience e.g., fruitful insights akin to Kekulé's vision of the benzene ring as an ouroboros, as a result of having consumed these drugs? If so, then the drugs may indeed live up to the claims that they grant access to "truer and deeper" levels of reality. Otherwise, their users are simply fooling themselves. (Although fooling yourself can prove useful; the almost universal belief in deities among humans fulfills some sort of purpose, though it is my belief that that purpose is no longer relevant.)
Or the woods, or a psychedelic show in the woods :)
Most of the energetic particles from the Sun are deflected around the Earth by the magnetosphere, but some get trapped. Electrons trapped in the Earth's magnetic field (the magnetic mirror effect) are accelerated along the magnetic field toward the Polar Regions and then strike the gases into the upper layer of the atmosphere, called the ionosphere. In the ionosphere, the speeding electrons collide violently with gas atoms. This gives the gas atoms energy, which causes them to release both light and more electrons. In this way, the gases of the ionosphere start to glow producing the spectacle that we know as the auroras.
Variations in colour are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.
Wow I would hate to have your perspective.
The Northern Lights are breathtakingly beautiful, considerably more wonderful than what you're seeing in photos, do not listen to this person.
How is this a 'geek wonder drug'? CAFFEINE is the geek wonder drug. LSD probably contributes less than 5% of the world's drug-induced geek accomplishments.
If we're casting around for a "wonder" drug, I'd suggest looking at dexamphetamine sulphate, modafinil, etc.
Alternatively, listen to Alicia Danforth's amazing talk on giving psilocybin to terminal cancer patients to ease end of life anxiety:
Of course, the same could be said for driving a car, having children, and a lot of other things that can make life better. Research and education are the proper responses to such risks and dangers, not banning the activity for everyone.
(not trying to invalidate your argument at all, btw. and I am not saying that LSD is the only way or the best way it could happen. But it's the way how it did happen.)
If I killed myself today, not a whole lot of people would know why. They might attribute it to something they knew about, but very, very few people know about the thing that makes me want to kill myself.
So what I'm saying is maybe you're right - I certainly have no idea why your friend killed himself, but maybe it could have been something that was devouring his mind that he kept covered up.
What do we lose by not hearing your answer? What might we gain?
Your call, of course.
First, of all the hundreds of little insights, interesting trains of thought, and connections made between previously unrelated ideas, there is one revelation in particular that floats to the top of my mind. It's this: LSD confronts you, in an extremely visceral way, with the fact that the entire universe that you perceive and interact with, the whole world and everybody in it, is entirely in your own mind at all times. Sure, it's perfectly reasonable to believe that it's all derived from an objective, external world - but you've never interacted directly with that one, and in fact you can't.
Now, you might say that you already "know" this, philosophically. You can even do the smug, Internet know-it-all thing and say this is completely pedestrian, name-drop Descartes and a bunch of other philosophers, and hit me with a zinger about how this is about as deep as "The Matrix". But I'm not claiming that LSD leads you to the philosophical idea; I'm saying that it slaps you right in the face with it, viscerally. It doesn't tell you, so that you have to think about it in the abstract; it shows you, literally with your own eyes. It's the difference between knowing what the Grand Canyon looks like from pictures, and standing on the edge of it.
It is very common for people to describe the onset of their first trip in terms of waking up, for the first time, ever. I'd describe it this way, too. It feels like waking up for the first time, and realizing that you'd been dreaming your whole life. Of course, this is really just an analogy, and it's more than just a feeling. It's a sudden shift in your actual perceptual processes, which are largely chemical, and have now been altered. But by the mere fact of them being altered, you realize that the default way of perceiving is just that - just a default. It isn't more "true" or more "real" - it's a default, it's massively culturally constructed, and it's characterized by a certain amount of non-questioning of assumptions. What's a color? What's a country? What's a "week"? What's a leader? What is solid? Which way is up? What's a job? Your brain starts trying to decompose every concept into basic principles, and you realize that for a lot of things in the human world, there are none. Just made-up, widespread beliefs that cause lots of people to act as-if, and in so doing, make them "real". Again, there is a difference between merely realizing this philosophically, and being transported outside of the web of culturally-reinforced beliefs and observing it from the outside.
So there's a lot of shedding of constructed concepts. What's left when all that chaff blows away? Whatever it is, it a) seems a lot more real, and b) is obscured in normal consciousness. I'm not suggesting that it would be desirable to permanently lose the ability to think on the level of appointments, check-writing, stop-lights, prospectuses, and the rest of the "mundane". I am definitely suggesting that what is left of experience after all that is obliterated from consciousness is worth seeing. There are parallels here with Buddhism and enlightenment traditions. It's also extremely common for people to offer meditation as a substitute. It's perfectly fine if you don't want to do illegal drugs - hardly anyone will fault you. But don't fool yourself that you're getting the same effect. I've practiced meditation too, and while it does alter consciousness, there are many meaningfully different altered states - they are in no way equivalent or substitutable. (Think about it - if you can simulate an LSD trip by meditating, do you simulate a K trip by meditating differently? Can you meditate yourself to a heroin high by a different technique? LSD isn't just another interchangeable "enlightened" state - they're all specific in their sets of effects. I have no doubt that I too have missed out on plenty of profound experiences by not taking, doing, seeing, or achieving any number of things. It's a big world.)
Sadly, this is turning into a wall of text, and I could still go on for the rest of the day. So, I'm going to force myself to wrap up with just a few more short highlights:
* I learned OpenGL while tripping. The subjective experience was of the information slipping into my brain effortlessly. Normally, I have to read sentences and paragraphs multiple times for them to "sink in". That time, I just skimmed, and understood. The next day, sober, I wrote a couple of neat height-field/terrain programs in OpenGL. Of course we've all learned dozens of even more complicated topics without any drugs, so this anecdote is meaningless, right? All I'm talking about is what it felt like to learn it. It felt effortless by comparison to the way I normally learn. Placebo? Selective memory? Your other favorite bias? Might be interesting to know definitively - but I still had a really good time that night.
* I once won a game of Mastermind on the first turn, without making any other guesses. This seriously freaked out the other people at the table. I wasn't tripping at the time, but I was in a distinctly "trippy" mentality - so much so that I was having a mini-flashback by the end of the turn. What I had done was to realize that the room was a closed system, containing the information about the winning pattern, and that as part of that system, I might have access to the information via other channels. Basically, I just paid very close attention to the other person's body language as I fingered different colored pegs, and allowed him to inadvertently "tell" me the correct colors and order.
* I once did a drawing of a woman from the neck up, while tripping. When I started drawing her hair, I got lost. I was drawing hair for what seemed like hours. I was hiding dozens of other, nested, drawings inside the texture of the hair. It still looked more or less like hair, but if you really looked at it, it was teeming with a whole bunch of unrelated drawings. Sure, I could do the same thing now, but it had never before occurred to me to try that. There is something about tripping that is inherently amenable to that kind of recursive, fractal thinking.
In short, don't knock subjective experiences. The enjoyment of music is a subjective experience, is it not?
To me one of the more present dangers of the "acid experience" is that the tripper latches onto the alternate state they experience and devolves into crapping on about chakras, energy fields, or little elves that live in their garden; the real lesson, as you've rightly identified, is not that the new experience is objectively real - it's that our "normal" daily experience is entirely subjective.
It's not necessarily the most natural conclusion, however, and I suspect that maintaining this kind of scientific (read: sane) outlook becomes increasingly difficult with frequency and intensity of use.
While I've personally never tried LSD, my favorite is, e, which offers a similar, but different, opening of the mind. Since I've never tried LSD, I can only say that e opens one in an emotional way, one that allows you to empathize and understand the universe in a way that you otherwise wouldn't. It also invokes an odd existential dialog within oneself about how the world works and why we think the way we do.
I suppose I quote you because as a musician and software engineer, it is often the case that I ask myself why it is that certain things are the way they are. For example, anyone that's studies AI realizes that one of the harder concepts is that of _understanding_.
How do we make a machine understand when we ourselves don't understand the _why_ around us?
Drugs like e and LSD present an insight to us that allows us to realize that the answer is a lot more distant than just what we perceive.
I read it cover-to-cover in about 2 hours and I thought it was the most amazing material. The structure of that book is very much like the thinking process of someone on hallucinogens, or rather, a dialogue between a person on LSD who's babbling and a completely sober person trying to refute the babblings. It ends up making sense though.
Wittgenstein wasn't eating any hallucinogens as nice as that might be to consider. The structure of his works follow the thinking process of somebody who has grasped intersubjectivity at an unprecedented level.
Sounds like a day with a toddler ...
Excepting the fact that mine have never got in to the "why" phase (I blame my need to over describe and analyse everything and constantly ask them why) - breaking down concepts gets complex pretty quickly. Explaining a day off turns in to the complexities of royal [male] succession. Life's fun.
He said it perfectly when he said it "slaps you in the face" with this idea.
It's like all your input filters and mechanisms for categorizing things are stripped away, and your mind just gets raw input - filters you normally don't even realize are there.
This makes a speck of dirt on the floor just as interesting as the hot chick standing next to you - and it can make it difficult to impossible to utter a coherent sentence, let alone put together a coherent thought - it's more like raw, pure sensation, unfiltered.
Of course, there's the psychedelic part, with visual disturbances and sensory weirdness too.....
There is no guarantee of good feelings or euphoria like you get with E.... it can best be described as simply "an experience"
this epiphany occurred to me through a drug induced change in consciousness. i realized that every material thing in this universe is just a product of my consciousness. this then got me thinking: how is it that material is a product of my consciousness, yet science tells me that my brain (a piece of material produces consciousness).
I flirted with this paradox for months. I concluded that everything in the universe is just a system of interconnected systems of the same energy. I thought of the things in the universe as just different manifestations of a single type of energy at different points in space and time.
Then I read about Amit Goswami and learned some very useful scientific jargon for what i was experiencing. Anyone who is interested in "conscioussness" should research this man - he is leading a thought revolution
I can definitely sympathise with the flavour of insight you're talking about though, and this guy seems to hold some credentials, but phrases like "make brain circuits of positive emotions" trip my hippie detector.
I wonder if all these psychadelic drugs are doing is enhancing the communication between right and left, or perhaps suppressing the left such that the right takes greater charge? The left does, after all, have very narrow focus as opposed to the right, which processes greater but less focused patterns.
Let me put forward a metaphor: you're currently experiencing reality indirectly, through an imperfect lens which throws into focus an internally coherent system of perceptions we might colloquially call a "seratonin hallucination". You could think of the changes that occur after taking e.g. LSD as replacing that lens with another one.
Is it a less accurate one? Almost certainly it's one less valuable in helping our ancestors adapt to the evolutionary pressures they faced than our normal neurochemistry; in terms of representing an "objective" reality though, there may be some ways in which it affords a more faithful depiction.
Or perhaps not; it's hard to say. I think the value lies not in the affordance of new and more authentic powers of perception, but in shaking up the assumptions we make about how objectively truthful our "normal" experiences might be.
Classical psychedelics like LSD tend to impart hallucinations which are reinterpretations of familiar objects: hearing a song in the sound of flowing water perhaps, rather than a disembodied voice dispensing commands; seeing a cloud as an intricate organism dripping with lacework skirts drifting in the eddies of an invisible current, rather than a creature standing in the middle of the room with no basis at all in reality.
Furthermore, it's generally pretty obvious to those involved that what they're seeing is an "hallucination"; the deliriants, such as scopalomine, are another story, and an altogether more terrifying class of drug.
Bicameralism's emphasis on bona fide auditory hallucinations, especially disembodied voices issuing commands, is quite distinct from the subjective experience of most psychotropics; the inhibited self-awareness and metareflective capacity described by the article - the "zombie mind" - is almost the opposite of a trip, where every perception seems saturated to the point of overflow with deep, often autobiographical, meaning.
What you're suggesting bears some similarity to the writings of Aldous Huxley:
""One explanatory model for the experiences provoked by hallucinogens is the "reducing valve" concept, first articulated in Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of Perception. In this view, the drugs disable the brain's "filtering" ability to selectively prevent certain perceptions, emotions, memories and thoughts from ever reaching the conscious mind.""
In summary, I'd suggest that it's quite possible that inter-hemisphere communication is increased, but certainly so is the way the entire brain functions.
Richard Dawkins wrote of it: “It is one of those books that is either complete rubbish or a work of consummate genius, nothing in between! Probably the former, but I'm hedging my bets.”
There's a few related pages worth reading:
I do know that Colin Wilson subscribes to the theory, so some of his nonfiction works might be helpful (I seem to remember something in The Criminal History of Mankind).
On the specific issue of programmer or scientist creativity and productivity, that too is a much researched field, but again there are not well controlled studies showing that anyone increases productivity or creativity in any occupation while using LSD. The checkered academic career of Timothy Leary is instructive in this regard. What research shows makes a huge difference in the productivity and work quality of programmers and scientists is steady deliberate practice building up problem-solving skills and growth mindset, along with accumulation of domain-specific knowledge.
YouTube keeps deleting it, so in case link goes bad, just search for this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_%281998_film%29
Did anyone else look at the symptoms of the drug he took (the fictional "NZT-48") and think, "hmmm, sounds like a more extreme form of MDMA"?
Haven't tried it myself. Heard lots about it.
The bright blue skies and sun dappled leaves. The pronounced extroversion and talkativeness that makes you think you're a suave genius. The fearlessness. Like Jay-Z said, "MDMA has you feeling like a champion." MDMA is an amphetamine, so presumably all amphetamines may share these traits. If Adderall does it quite to the same degree as MDMA, I envy diagnosed sufferers of ADHD.
for the most part, those experiences are false
However, we tend to associate the parts of our life that are more contemplative with the religious or the supernatural. That is why the _descriptions_ are often religious in nature. That is, however, a limitation of our culture. Because we have traditionally delegated those states of mind to the idea of religions, of Church, of God and so on.
LSD will tear you apart and put you back together and you will be better for it. However, even if it was immensely important for me, do not take LSD, even if for this reason alone: it's illegal. I regret my LSD times for that reason alone. I think society is wrong in that regard, but I still like society and I am willing to put up with it being wrong once in a while.
If you want to experience the whole mind-bending experience, go study Philosophy. Read the complicated, boring, dreary stuff. Read Kant and formal logic and everything you can put your hands on. Whatever little thing LSD may have done to some people, Philosophy will do to you a thousand fold. It's the harder path, but it will give you skills that you can control at your will, and it will make you better in every area of your life, permanently.
Philosophy is the whole book to LSD's Cliff's Notes.
As for it making everything seem hyper-real and 'true', yes, it also does that but it is false. If you were to remember everything from a trip, the likelihood of most of it being useful or correct is probably pretty low.
Lastly, I agree that it is too dangerous -- I don't suffer from psychosis but nevertheless my one experience was not enjoyable. It turned bad; I believe I had a panic attack which I acted upon in the worst possible way. You do not want to experience feelings of failure on LSD. Trust me. My body created physical sensations based on my own thoughts and I lay on a bed shivering...
However, I guess it had a profound and positive effect on me. I realised that the experience was not the one that I wanted from life and it made me reflect on who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live. I realised that one of the best things about my mind has always been the clarity of thought that I have in comparison to many people. I refuse to let that go and since then I've actively sought purpose.
In that case, wouldn't a better process be to expose yourself to new experiences, especially those that challenge you or take you out of your comfort zones? How about reading books and watching movies you have not viewed before? That would have a similar effect, right?
>expose yourself to new experiences, especially those that challenge you or take you out of your comfort zones?
I haven't, and am not saying you should, merely pointing out that you seem to object on principle rather than for a reason. Drug "education" when I was in grade school amounted to massive scare tactics, usually without supporting evidence, while they now give you similar things for ADD (but you pay a hell of a lot more, and the chemicals have only existed for a few years). There's a lot of general, unsubstantiated fear in this area, and a lot of irrational trust in drug companies.
I rest my case.
To quote Salvador Dali:
I don't use drugs.
I am drugs.
But I found a certain solace in the aesthetics: valuing individual moments more, breaking the spell of materialism, thinking deeply about rather abstract concepts, and not being afraid to embrace mystery when necessary. None of these require the aesthetic experience, they're just by-products of a mind that is being expanded. And they're quite similar to the insights of people on this thread who reported dropping acid.
this epiphany occurred to me through a drug induced change in consciousness. i realized that every material thing in this universe is just a product of my consciousness. this then got me thinking: how is it that material is a product of my consciousness, yet science tells me that my brain (a piece of material) produces consciousness.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2WurhYEQyY [Flash video!]
Things like LSD (or meditating, running, ...) allow you to to get your mind into a state that enables you to look behind nature, people, society and everything else. It's not a productivity tool and should not be used as such I think :-)
And by powerful I mean I've had bad trips where I thought I was being raped, and hallucinated a giant penis staring at my face for eight hours.
On the other hand, acid is one of the best drug out there if done right, it unclutters minds.
"The goal is being high, not getting high."
-Be Here Now, Ram Dass
Ha, maybe that works too ;)
Do I think these drugs are evil or that no one should use them? Of course not. They have incredible therapeutic potential and it's a travesty that they're illegal. On the other hand, I think a lot of people overstate their power (in terms of the ability to improve oneself) relative to alternatives. Do these drugs (LSD, MDMA, mushrooms, ayahuasca) have a place, for some people and in some circumstances? Absolutely. Should psychedelic therapies be researched and made available? Of course. Should anyone go to jail or be considered "evil" or "hedonistic" for the curiosity to try some psychedelics? Obviously, no. That said, I think a lot of "geeks" tend to overstate the benefits and downplay the dangers of recreational drug use, especially as a lifestyle. Timothy Leary was actually a mess toward the end of his life, and I've seen a few "psychonauts" crack up.
There may be benefits of long-term recreational drug use that I'm wholly ignorant of, having never gone down that road and having no intention to do so, but what I've seen around me recommends against that pattern. I prefer meditation because, although it requires more time and patience, it scales better: you get accelerating positive returns, and safely as well.
The damaged people might be due to more factors than the drug. Besides possible use amphetamines or other drugs, too, your experimental pool would only consist of those who would choose to use these drugs a lot for lengths of time and advertise this. There are some decent studies on use of peyote and ayahuasca where participants use it weekly or more for many years. They scored the same on physical well being but scored higher than the control for mental well being.
BTW, I totally agree that the term 'geek wonder drug' is inappropriate.
I've been thinking about this stuff all day, and trying to figure out how to reconcile the potential rewards with the dire risks involved; should I recommend dabbling with this crazy mojo, or should I tell people to leave it the hell alone and not to risk it?
I suspect some of the appeal for those of us who've been down this path, especially when young, was the risk itself; because "we are a generation of men raised by women," and we wanted to test ourselves against every boundary we could find - even the borders of reality itself, if we could find them - and to be tested ourselves.
I suppose the socially accepted alternative is to get as drunk as you can and pick a fight.
The illegality of these drugs, in my estimation, actually encourages irresponsible use patterns, through hard-to-control dosage and intermittent access. There's definitely a mentality of "trip hard now because you may not be able to get this stuff in a year" in the U.S. psychedelic culture, and the drug laws are culpable for creating it.
Psychedelics are an intense way of doing this.
The best programmers in the world -- those who work together to solve the most complex and aggressive problems asked of the human mind -- are those who come to work every day, solve problems, and write code, and go home. They don't spend their time justifying "lifehacks" like taking LSD for that extra "edge" over other programmers.
It's about wanting to know more and to expand your horizons for their own sake. Look at some of the "best programmers in the world". Lots of crazy beards in that group, right?
How do you know? That is what I asked, and you haven't answered me. You're making assertions about the best programmers in the world that you can't possibly back up. How do you know that some of them don't take LSD?
They won't be exceptional programmers because of this, but being a professional and still being curious is not something hardly imaginable.
Either that or you've discovered some property of 'complex' problems that precludes the use of LSD to solve them. Otherwise, yes, it is less true (i.e. baseless and false).
Such a broad statement strikes me as saying something akin to 'I can prove there is no God.' As much as I believe it to be true and want to see it proved, I just can't say for sure.
"But how much work the software does is not what makes it remarkable. What makes it remarkable is how well the software works. This software never crashes. It never needs to be re-booted. This software is bug-free. It is perfect, as perfect as human beings have achieved. Consider these stats : the last three versions of the program -- each 420,000 lines long-had just one error each. The last 11 versions of this software had a total of 17 errors."
Do you think that perfection, that stability, in the face of lives at risk for every mistake, is a suitable place to suggest that taking LSD could make them better? These are the best programmers in the world, by many standards. And they're not writing node.js servers and map-reduce queries, they're using billions of dollars of hardware to achieve manned space flight. And they don't take LSD.
"It's strictly an 8-to-5 kind of place -- there are late nights, but they're the exception. The programmers are intense, but low-key. Many of them have put in years of work either for IBM (which owned the shuttle group until 1994), or directly on the shuttle software. They're adults, with spouses and kids and lives beyond their remarkable software program.
That's the culture: the on-board shuttle group produces grown-up software, and the way they do it is by being grown-ups. It may not be sexy, it may not be a coding ego-trip -- but it is the future of software. When you're ready to take the next step -- when you have to write perfect software instead of software that's just good enough -- then it's time to grow up."
Says who? The article says 260 people worked on that part of the code. I'm sure they're all security-cleared and background-checked up the wazoo, but i'd wager that more than a handful of those 260 have had psychedelic experiences at some point.
Do you have any experience of the challenges of spaceflight software to demonstrate that all problems are of "sub-mind-bending" difficulty?
EDIT: and among other things that I'd consider important to mention, there are significant robotics challenges, autonomous behavior and decision making (with associated problems in formal model verification), along with the general high degree of fault tolerance required in just about every software (and hardware) subsystem. I think many of the hardest problems in CS can be found in the spaceflight domain.