Using LSD As A Learning Tool
As the true potentials of LSD unfold, the notion that it could be used as a learning tool is rapidly taking hold.
The modern paradigm of learning tends to focus on standardised tests. Memorising the required information in order to prove you can meet the day’s requirements. However, cramming information doesn’t necessarily mean it is being learnt or assimilated, simply that it can be regurgitated.
BREAKING THE CYCLE WITH LSD
It turns out that a way of overcoming this could be with small amounts of LSD. There are quite a few reports and studies out there (which we shall look at later) that all suggest that LSD can be an extremely effective educational tool. Yet despite this, there is very little clinical research taking the matter forward.
This does not mean that the potentials of LSD are not being tested though, oh no. LSD is becoming a go-to tool for some of the brightest minds attending some of the world’s top universities, and they all attest to LSD’s potential. Even the risk of prosecution is not dissuading the student users in the pursuit of true knowledge. The drug’s impact is so much so that even professors and university administrators are beginning to acknowledge the trend. For example, Merwin Freedman and Harvey Powelson, both senior members of reputable psychology departments, wrote on the matter:
“The interest of many students in drug experience may not be dismissed simply as a sign of delinquency, rebelliousness or psychological pathology. It represents a search for a new way of life. It indicates needs and desires that American society and education do not now meet or fill. The brightest and most sensitive of college youth are examining the values of the Western world, and are finding them wanting. Questions of ethics and morality are on their minds as perhaps never before in American life—not since the Civil War, at any rate. And their education is not meeting these interests. The things that are most important to many young Americans are not being discussed in academic life. The sterile formalism of much American higher education can hardly hold a candle to the psychedelic experience.”
WHY DOES LSD BOOST LEARNING?
There are a few thoughts as to why LSD boosts leaning. Freedman and Powelson believed it was not due to LSD allowing facts to be “absorbed”, but more likely that it gave a gut reaction to them, removing the inertia that normally block intellectual curiosity.
Albert Hoffman, who first recognise LSD within the lab, described it as a central nervous stimulant, that would have taken the place of Ritalin had it not been outlawed. As a learning tool, he said, “I would suspect that learning in tasks which are trivial for the subject would be impaired, e.g., psychological learning tests, whereas matters of great importance to the subject might be learned even more quickly”.
IT IS ALL ABOUT DOSE
However, don’t think that taking a normal dose of LSD and then trying to sit down and study is going to work. Using LSD as a leaning tool has been found to be most effective when it is microdosed, meaning it is taken in sub-perceptual amounts. Instead, it acts as a non-specific amplifier, improving all manner of functions – one of which is learning.
Although not clinically proven, we wouldn’t go and say that LSD has potential as a learning tool without being able to back it up with a few examples.
The first worth looking at is Stafford and Golightly’s paper “LSD — The Problem-Solving Psychedelic”. In this paper the duo explore the potential mind boosting effects of LSD. Of particular interest is the account of a student trying to learn German. They found that the leaning ability of said student was greatly enhanced when under the influence of a small amount of LSD. Most interesting is the account of the student himself, but as it is quite long, we would recommend you take a look at the report to read it. One thing that is apparent from it is that the student had a real drive to immerse himself in the language, holding it as a core interest and desire. This supports the notion that LSD boosts the learning of things that we see as mattering.
Next is an experiment into creativity and problem solving from back in the 60’s. A group of professionals (experts in their fields of work) were given 50 micro grams of LSD, whilst another group was given 100 milligrams of mescaline. Each professional then went about trying to solve work related problems that had been holding them back for months. The solutions they came up with were profound, and each was put before a board of other professionals in the same field of expertise to assess whether the drugs had had an effect. It was found:
“LSD absolutely had helped them solve their complex, seemingly intractable problems. And the establishment agreed. The 26 men unleashed a slew of widely embraced innovations shortly after their LSD experiences, including a mathematical theorem for NOR gate circuits, a conceptual model of a photon, a linear electron accelerator beam-steering device, a new design for the vibratory microtome, a technical improvement of the magnetic tape recorder, blueprints for a private residency and an arts-and-crafts shopping plaza, and a space probe experiment designed to measure solar properties.”
It just goes to show that we have barely come to understand the full potential of psychedelics, and their use goes well beyond the traditional higher state of existence. We are not saying you should go out there and put all your hopes on LSD as a learning tool, but the theoretical and experimental potential that is on offer here is certainly well worth a look at!