LSD Microdosing: The New Silicon Valley Productivity Hack

George Burke says taking tiny hits of acid has changed his work, and his life, for the better.


Tech entrepreneur George Burke consumes a tiny amount of LSD (about a tenth of a typical dose) every morning before he goes to work.

He says "microdosing" subtly improves his cognitive functioning.

"I notice that my brain seems to be able to solve problems a little bit better than…before," says Burke, who runs a startup called Fuel that helps its clients custom tailor their diets to their unique genetic makeups.

The use of psychedelics as productivity and creativity hacks is deeply rooted in Silicon Valley culture. Burke was partly inspired to go public about his drug use by the late Steve Jobs, who told his biographer Walter Isaacson, "[t]aking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life."

"People have to actually have to step up and state what they've been doing," says Burke.

Reason spoke with Burke and with James Fadiman, a scientist researching the effects of microdosing.

Watch the full video above.

Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera Alex Manning. Additional graphics by Meredith Bragg. Music by Kai Engel and Broke for Free.

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  1. It’s good eye makeup.

  2. I’m just going to point out that having a web site doesn’t make a marketing company into a tech company. Neither does locating it in the Santa Clara valley.

    This guy is just another diet huckster, they’re a dime a dozen.


    1. This guy is just another diet huckster, they’re a dime a dozen.

      Not just another diet huckster, another *genetics-based* diet huckster.

  3. No one knows what the long term effects of this will be. He’s volunteering for a medical experiment. Hope it works out for him.

    1. Albert Hofmann lived to be 102. That’s what drugs do to you, kids.

      1. Seriously, though, what’s with all the anti-drug snark in these comments? Aren’t we Reasonoids supposed to be open-minded? Even if microdosing isn’t personally our thing, we should be cheering this guy on.

        1. You must be new here, no shortage of self-righteous snark has ever been noted.

      2. No you’re right, that one guy that one time took tons of drugs and lived to be 100 years old. Obviously that means drugs are totally safe.

        This is how logic and probability works.

  4. I don’t know about LSD micro-dosing being some kind of cognitive enhancer – the guy says the micro-dosing allows him to cut back on his ADHD medication, which suggests the LSD is just making his brain more “normal”. In my case, I know LSD shuts off the overly-analytical part of my brain that tends toward obsessive/compulsive behavior, helps me relax and just quit thinking about so much shit all the damn time that’s just not helpful to think about. So, yeah, maybe it’s a cognitive enhancer in the same way having a blindfold removed is a vision enhancer, but I don’t know that normal people are going to get any benefit from having their brain function tweaked a little bit. I suspect a lot of the Silicon Valley types would benefit from micro-dosing, but that’s because a lot of them are spazzes, dweebs, nerds and weirdoes anyways. Like Steve Jobs.

    1. Steve Jobs used to wash his feet in the toilet (when he washed at all) because it didn’t occur to him that water from the toilet was different than water from the shower. So, yeah.

      1. We’ve finally produced an economy that richly rewards people who would have been eaten by predators and/or naturally selected out of the gene pool during any other period in human history.

        Truly a wondrous time to be alive.

    2. Anecdotally, I’ve heard a lot of positive things about microdosing. It’s supposed to help with depression and anxiety and things like that too. It makes sense that it would work for people with ADHD as it is kind of speed-like in small doses. Other common ADHD drugs work as congnitive performance enhancers for “normal” people, so it doesn’t seem unlikely that LSD would too.

      Too bad people aren’t allowed to study it without jumping through ridiculous hoops so we could really find out.

    3. On a black market there is unhealthy lack of standardization. The stuff they called acid in England back when was almost like a sacrament when the California product was a Merry Prankster roller coaster ride. But calling really weak acid microdosing… there is a novel marketing idea.

  5. a bump is a bump…der

  6. RE: Why I Microdose Acid: Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Speaks Out: New at Reason

    Well, that explains why my computers is always fucked up.

    1. What explains your grammar?

      1. Ten year old scotch.

    2. Well, that explains why my computers is always fucked up.

      Also, I don’t know how much time he’s spent climbing, but there’s an awful lot of air between him and the wall.

  7. I was more of a macro-doser back in my LSD days.

    1. Oh yes. To the point where “no-dosing” seemed the best option.

      1. I spent a lot of time occupying various administration buildings, smoking a lot of Thai stick…

    2. Jim Morrison is alive and posting at H&R.

      I’d cut a blotter square of orange sunshine in half. Wait, and take or not take, the other half about an hour later. Back in the day.

  8. “The Microdose” was my nickname in college.

    1. Better than Bill Gates’s nickname of “The Microsoft”.

  9. Ah, so this explains why companies like Amazon that rarely if ever make profits have a share price of $1,000 or companies like Tesla have such high market cap.

  10. I keep seeing an ad* here that offers “Download our free divorce guide for men.” with a hipster dad holding his hipster son.

    I’m pretty sure that the cause of his divorce was insisting on getting that hair cut for his son. I can see how living with two hipsters could be too much.

    *I specifically exempted Reason from my ad blocker because I consider it a bit of a donation for them to get revenue from my clicks. As long as the ads here are not rude as fuck, they will stay exempted.

    1. I specifically exempted Reason from my ad blocker


  11. There is no mystery here. LSD is also a stimulant. Anyone who has come down from a trip, only to spend the next few hours staring at the ceiling knows this.

    Micro doses avoid significant hallucinogenic effects while retaining stimulant effects. the giveaway is that he’s been able to reduce his ADHD (ie. stimulant) doses.

    1. I would also add that there was a time (about a century ago) when people thought microdosing of strychnine was a wonder drug, and it is a pretty decent stimulant. The problems are, dependence, the dosing is tricky, and chronic toxicity, (strychnosis.)

  12. I think I now understand why most Silicon Valley types are so far to the left.

    1. You know what I learned from Silicon Valley culture? That just because you’ve been CEO/CIO/CTO of a dozen companies before the age of 28, doesn’t mean you’re really CEO/CIO/CTO material.

      1. That just because you’ve been CEO/CIO/CTO of a dozen companies before the age of 28, doesn’t mean you’re really CEO/CIO/CTO material.

        *And* that there’s an entire valley full of people chronically incapable of making that distinction.

    2. Christianofascist intruder alert! Somebody explain the Nolan chart versus the Hitler Stalin left, right, left, right, left monofilament to Tennessee Zed

  13. This guy is just another diet huckster, they’re a dime a dozen.


    1. He is a productivity hack all right.

  14. I think I’ll wait for an objective scientific study rather than accept his subjective analysis.

  15. “Let me tell you about the first time I tried micro dosing…. I had a big task, a major project….” huh, this seems like something you might want to ease into when you don’t got shit to do..

    1. I was thinking the same thing: the guy is obviously irresponsible. Legally, it is also idiotic admitting to having been taking drugs while drafting important documents.

      After this interview, I’m less inclined to believe that microdosing has any positive effects, because the people doing it appear to be gullible morons like him.

  16. It seems less odd when you realize that actuarial information shows that teetotalers have a shorter life expectancy than folks who enjoy a couple of drinks a day–kind of like an inverted Laffer curve. Also, there is no disguising the fact that for musicians, LSD is an advantage on the order of sight reading. And it doesn’t hurt if a few thousand members of the audience are similarly tuned in during a performance.

    1. It seems less odd when you realize that actuarial information shows that teetotalers have a shorter life expectancy than folks who enjoy a couple of drinks a day

      That’s simply because some people don’t drink for health reasons. Moderate alcohol consumption probably has no overall benefits for any particular individual.

      It’s a simple instance of Simpson’s paradox: if you add together populations with negative correlations (alcohol consumption vs life expectancy), you can still end up with an overall positive correlation.

  17. MMMMMMMMMM, LSD. not much on this planet can equal that experience. can’t fathom ‘micro-dosing’ though. was always about the macro.

  18. Jefferson Pierre Gustave-Toutant Beauregard Sessions’s narcs will soon be coming to save America from the clutches of better thinking.

  19. Ah, those shareholder lawsuits are going to be fun:

    “Mr. Burke, you say that the contingency plan that failed and cost our clients $120 million dollars, was put together while you were high on LSD? Did it not strike you as irresponsible to put together such a vital document while high on drugs, Mr. Burke?”

  20. Jeff Sessions no doubt wants this guy in prison.

    I never tried LSD, but I did try mescaline and psilocybin mushrooms a few times in college, in the late 1970’s.

    I have no interest in trying any micro-doses of LSD or mescaline, etc. – but it’s okay with me if others want to give it a try (assuming they’re not putting others in danger).

  21. We are suppliers of pain Killers and Anti Anxiety pills, Medical Marijuana and seeds. Hash, Rick Simpson .

    LSD, Nembutal, MDMA..etc

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