Drug Policy

Dragons of Eden Author, Draggin' and Eatin'

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Carl Sagan, pot smoker, cannabis advocate

I always knew the late scientist, writer, scientific popularizer and de facto Astronomer Laureate of the USA Carl Sagan was a cosmic guy, but I didn't know he was a semi-closeted marihuana advocate. That's another bar that the Hayden Planetarium's affable frontman Neil DeGrasse Tyson, betrayer of Pluto, will have to clear if he wants to follow in Sagan's footsteps.

By the way, since Pluto got demoted the number 9 doesn't have any astronomical significance anymore. Should baseball eliminate the shortstop position? It always seemed kinda redundant…

What was I saying? Oh yeah. Carl Sagan: major stoner, with meg-munchies. And a fairly interesting commentator on the effects of pot on creativity. (There's not a whole lot of competition for that title.) Here is his pseudonymous contribution to the 1968 anthology Marihuana Reconsidered:

There is a myth about such highs: the user has an illusion of great insight, but it does not survive scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that this is an error, and that the devastating insights achieved when high are real insights; the main problem is putting these insights in a form acceptable to the quite different self that we are when we're down the next day. Some of the hardest work I've ever done has been to put such insights down on tape or in writing. The problem is that ten even more interesting ideas or images have to be lost in the effort of recording one. It is easy to understand why someone might think it's a waste of effort going to all that trouble to set the thought down, a kind of intrusion of the Protestant Ethic. But since I live almost all my life down I've made the effort—successfully, I think. Incidentally, I find that reasonably good insights can be remembered the next day, but only if some effort has been made to set them down another way.

I'm not convinced chemical assistance does much for creativity. But there's little controversy around the idea that life trauma, family tragedy, illness, wartime experiences and other mind-blowers provide insights into a range of creative work. It's not a big leap to say the pot "trips" Sagan describes—which, unlike most legal and illegal drug usages, combine altered consciousness with a relatively low level of impairment—can do the same. Fire one up for me, Carl, in whatever afterlife scientific non-believers go to.

NEXT: Ready for Her Close-Up

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  1. “Should baseball eliminate the shortstop position? It always seemed kinda redundant…”

    Maybe to a geek.

  2. ” I am convinced that this is an error, and that the devastating insights achieved when high are real insights; the main problem is putting these insights in a form acceptable to the quite different self that we are when we’re down the next day.”

    There’s a very simple remedy to this…

  3. Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Darkness” should be required reading for, well, just about anyone.

    Which reminds me – I haven’t read it in years. Maybe I should dig it out and re-read it. Again.

    1. Anyone who believes in the religious shit in that butt pulp of a book should be banned from the halls of science forever. As should anyone who believes Carl Sagan was a “scientist” at all. Damn, what a fool! Good riddance, Sagan, and may Satan find you tasty.

      1. Suck your own balls.
        Sagan was a fully qualified and productive scientist. The fact that he also accomplished so much outside of science only adds to his achievements.

      2. So then you never read the book you’re panning. Either that, or you did, but your reading comprehension sucks.

  4. pot is like speed for the brain. No, wait, speed is like speed. Pot speeds my brain up. Or is it the other way around – is my brain moving really really fast and the world therefore seems like it is moving really really slow, or is my brain really really slow and that makes the world seem really slow?

    This one time, I thought of all this crazy shit. That happens every time I smoke pot.

    1. It’s a common experience that pot distorts/impairs one’s time perception, even to the point of thinking one knows what will happen before it does – or believing that one’s thought made the event happen. It’s an experience that’s not exclusive to pot either.

      1. A psychologist might refer to it as a kind of disassociation.

        1. Or mental dis-integration.

  5. Interesting. When I tried to draw (I draw comics) while affected, I couldn’t concentrate and would forget what I was drawing every 30-45 seconds. One might call the results “creative” but they certainly weren’t good.

  6. Hah. I kind of guessed.

    Back when I was at Cornell, and Sagan had his brain tumor (the one that killed him), I dated (briefly) the son of a friend of his (another professor). Basically the son confided to me that he gave him a bag of weed for Christmas that year.

    1. A guy who thinks about the cosmos all the time is down with pot?

      Go Figure.

    2. You’re a chick?!?!!??! Or gay.

      1. News flash – Hazel is usually a girl’s name!

        1. and unless it’s entirely coincidence, a female character in Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

      2. I am always amused when someone expresses astonishment that a libertarian might be a woman.

        1. I am just happily surprised to see a fellow split-tail among the sausages.

          1. What? Zoltan is a female? Damn. Or perhaps I should say hot damn. 😉

          2. Woot!

  7. The modern baseball rules were first used in the mid-1840s. This predates the discovery of Pluto by over 80 years and is around the time of the discovery of Neptune.

    /pedant

  8. The last time i partook was at a performance of an Objectivist rock opera based on the classic NES game Megaman. The show was at a duckpin bowling alley. If the stuff had any effect, my situation was already too weird for me to notice.

    1. yeah, you’d need something atleast as crazy as mushrooms to tell a difference in that setting.

      Megaman Rock Opera? Time to hit youtube for some footage.

    2. Was that that one band…the…Protomen, I think they’re called? I’ve been to their website and listened to some of their stuff, they’re awesome.

  9. Dude: this isn’t about “chemical assistance”! It’s not about “drugs”, it’s about health, and clothing, and wonder drinks, and lots more stuff too and I know there’s a lot more just search for it on the internet.

    Stonertarians rule!

  10. Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko.

  11. That actually makes pretty good sense dude!

    RT
    http://www.anon-web.int.tc

  12. Megaman Rock Opera? Time to hit youtube for some footage.

    The Protomen, dude.

  13. Are alt tag jokes dead? I don’t see one.

    I so wanted “Space: You put your weed in it.”

  14. “I’m not convinced chemical assistance does much for creativity.” You have eithe gone to the wrong concerts or taken the wrong drugs to make that statement, the light shows alone much less the music could be considered very high in being high creativity.

  15. I’ve recently been starting to enjoy cannabis again for the first time since my adolescent years. It’s really a different experience using it as an adult in contrast to the young rebellious experimentation stage. It’s mood-brightening, relaxing, and (for me) allows me to appreciate small details in just about everything (food, music, art, movies) that I often overlook. What kills me is that as a teenager I channeled all of that into videogames, shitty food, and worthless friends. C’est la vie.

    I think that some chemical enhancement does help with creativity and insight, just as alcohol helps act as a social lubricant. You can abuse the effects of any substance, for sure, but they can be helpful or just plain fun as well!

    1. Damn how I envy you.
      That’s what it did for me as a teenager. As an adult I’m more paranoid and I get muscle spasms. I’m more “stoned” and less “buzzed”.

  16. Fire one up for me, Carl, in whatever afterlife scientific non-believers go to.

    “Ooooh, you’re gonna hate Fridays!”

    1. linky broky

        1. “That’s right! Thursday is drug day. Help yourself to a great big bowl of crack, or smack. Smoke a doobie the size of a submarine. You can do all the drugs you want, you’re dead, who cares!”

          ?? Doobie, doobie do. ??

  17. I always knew the late scientist, writer, scientific popularizer and de facto Astronomer Laureate of the USA Carl Sagan was a cosmic guy, but I didn’t know he was a semi-closeted marihuana advocate.

    Then you’ve been living in a cave.

  18. That’s another bar that the Hayden Planetarium’s affable frontman Neil DeGrasse Tyson, betrayer of Pluto, will have to clear if he wants to follow in Sagan’s footsteps.
    DeGrasse’s a clown. Not because of Pluto. Because he dumbs it way way down. He’ll never reach high enough to touch Sagan’s shadow. Carl knew how to speak to laypeople without diminishing the science.

    1. The entire Universe series on the history channel is total crap. I can’t watch 15mins without arguing at the TV.

  19. I’m not convinced chemical assistance does much for creativity.

    Really? Name me one great musician that didn’t find inspiration in a chemical or two.

    1. C’mon, NOBODY?!

      How about Nugent? Or does his adrenaline addiction disqualify him?

  20. My dog and I are still mad at Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

  21. And someone made this neat little tune form his broadcasts:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSgiXGELjbc

    1. I made the mistake of downloading the MP3 version of that song for my iTunes. Then I put it on loop. And now I have the song stuck in my head. Fortunately, it’s probably my favorite pop-culture “remix” ever.

    2. Damn it. I was going to post this link when I got to the bottom. I must really be a geek because I thought it was cool.

  22. I always loved listening to this guy, he was so open minded. Not surprising that someone so open to the fact that we may not be alone in the cosoms would also be open to the idea that we should have all the personal freedoms we want, including experimenting with the drugs of our choice. It’s just my honest opinion, but anyone who thinks that in this vast universe(multiverse?) that we are all the intelligent life that exists or has ever existed, it just seems very short sighted. I read an article not too long ago that in just our own Milky Way galaxy, scientist have now theorized that although we previously estimated the number of stars at around 100 billion, the number is likely closer to 3 trillion.

    http://www.sciencenews.org/vie…..llion_suns

    And that number is matched closely by our sister galaxy Andromeda. Food for thought, for those who want to think. I truly hate our federal government for destroying our space program and our personal freedoms. Maybe the private sector can revive the space program. Not sure what can revive freedom at this point, unless we can get off this rock and find our own. Not many places to find liberty on this planet any longer.

  23. cosmos, sometimes even preview is not an excuse…

  24. Gary Larson: Carl Sagan as a boy: “There must be hundreds and hundreds of stars out there.”

  25. ‘Fire . . . in whatever afterlife scientific non-believers go to.’

    Aren’t you being kind of pessimistic? We don’t really know where Sagan is right now. One can always hope for the best.

    Check out the following Sagan quotes. I admit that you wouldn’t have to be stoned to write them, but it would sure help.

    ‘The cosmos is all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be.’ [Cosmos, Ballantine Books, 1980, p. 4] Deep, man!

    ‘We can pray over the cholera victim, or we can give her 500 milligrams of tetracycline every 12 hours.’ [The Demon-Haunted World, Ballantine, 1996, p. 9] Yeah, the busy schedule of administering twice-a-day drugs will leave you no time for praying, man!

    1. ‘The cosmos is all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be.’

      He isn’t the only one to have ever expressed that thought – Ayn Rand (as ell as Nathaniel Branden) made essentially the same observation back in the 60’s or before. And yes, when one thinks about the ramifications of that statement it is kinda “deep.”

  26. “I always knew the late scientist, writer, scientific popularizer and de facto Astronomer Laureate of the USA Carl Sagan was a cosmic guy, but I didn’t know he was a semi-closeted marihuana advocate.”

    That horse bolted the barn many, many years ago, certainly not much later than the disclosure of Sagan’s cancer. Were you playing with blocks back then? There is no shame in saying “yes.” I’m just glad that you finally caught up with the historical record.

    I am convinced that Sagan was under the influence when he wrote the novel “Contact,” on which the Jodie Foster movie was based. When you get to the parts where he postulates the signature of God in fictional patterns within Pi and other irrational numbers, I think you’ll agree that this was a two- or three- bowl idea. Entertaining and thought provoking, certainly. But also drug-enhanced, I would bet money.

    RIP Dr. Sagan, wherever you are.

    1. When you get to the parts where he postulates the signature of God in fictional patterns within Pi and other irrational numbers,…

      Were they in fact fictional then? I was never familiar enough with the math to know.

      1. Welllllllllll, since the very definition of an irrational is that there is no repetitive pattern in the decimal places, yeah probably

        1. i.e. can’t make a fraction using whole numbers

  27. I’m not sure why, but everytime I hear Obama speak I am reminded of Sagan. I think it’s a similarity in their voices.

    1. Same arrogance, same lack of logic in everything they say, same herd of mindless sheep licking up everything they say…

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