There are smart people and then there are geniuses. Smart people are those that are above average when it comes to intelligence, while geniuses are those that have excelled above and beyond in not only IQ tests, but in their ability to unleash the creativity needed in order to find solutions to life’s many questions. Many geniuses have explained that in order to embrace their creativity within, they have needed a little extra help from various drugs that are able to alter their minds for a brief while. The list below contains highly admired individuals that you would never imagine using drugs such as LSD or cocaine, and many of them have attributed their significant discoveries to using them. Here are ten geniuses and the drugs they used.
Please note: Most of these individuals experimented with drugs during a time when little was known about the side effects.
10. Kary Mullis – LSD
Nobel Prize winning chemist, Kary Mullis, is best known for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR has been noted as being one of the monumental scientific techniques of the twenty first century as it provides the ability to produce multiple copies of a specific piece of DNA. Despite being a Nobel Prize winner for his work, Mullis is recognized as being a down to earth person that is open about his usage of LSD during the 60’s while he attended Berkeley. Mullis has credited LSD with helping him achieve creativity and for allowing him to see science from a different approach.
9. Ben Franklin – Opium
Holding the title as one of the founding fathers of America, Benjamin Franklin, is known for not only his part in drafting the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, but also for his many inventions such as the Franklin stove, bifocal glasses and the lightning rod (a metallic object that is placed on top of tall buildings). However, despite his many achievements, Franklin succumbed to the addiction of laudanum in his later years. Laudanum, which contains a small amount of pure opium, has been given the title of heroin of the 19th century, as many prominent people of the time took laudanum for different ailments. Franklin became dependent on the drug as he struggled to deal with the pain caused by kidney stones.
8. Sigmund Freud – Cocaine
Sigmund Freud, who is best known as the founding father of psychoanalysis has been given the title as one of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the twentieth century due to his theories that dealt with the conscious and unconscious mind as well as sexual development. Freud was also noted for his use and fascination with cocaine. He was a well known advocate of the drug as he noted that it made his sadness disappear and he believed that he was able to talk about things that were locked away in his brain. Many believe that this is what led to Freud’s development of talk therapy. However, it was during the 1890’s that Freud had to stop with his usage of cocaine after he almost killed one of his patients’ that was under the influence of the drug.
7. William Halsted – Cocaine
William Halsted has been described as one of the most important and innovative American surgeons of all time. He revolutionized medical advances in surgery with his strict aseptic techniques, the use of the finest silk for suture materials and the pushing of complete closure of wounds whenever possible. The renowned surgeon began to become involved with cocaine after he found out that he could use it as a numbing agent for his surgeries. Halsted’s career began to crumble as he began to let his cocaine addiction take over his life, even having to walk away from a surgery that he was in the middle of due to being high on cocaine. Halsted recognized his need for intervention and committed himself into an insane asylum since those were the only available means for ridding an addiction during that time. However, Halstead was never fully able to free himself from the addiction which left him to struggle with cocaine for the rest of his life.
6. Francis Crick – LSD
Nobel Prize winner, Francis Crick started out as a biophysicist that helped develop radar and magnetic mines during World War II. Crick’s most notable work was his co-discovery of the double helix structure of the DNA strand in 1953. Crick has made it known that he was under the influence of LSD when he discovered the double helix structure of DNA. It has been reported that Crick often told other scientists that he would use LSD in small doses in order to boost his brain power. Crick was also a prominent supporter of novelist, Aldous Huxley, who was known for his use of psychedelic drugs.
5. Thomas Edison – Cocaine
Thomas Edison has been characterized as the most prolific inventor in American history. He can hold this title well since he held more than 1,000 patents on inventions that took place in fields such as electric power, telecommunications and cement technology. In order to find the time for his various inventions, Edison needed to be able to stay awake at night to get work done. Thus, he turned to Vin Mariani for an energy boost. Vin Mariani was a French red wine that was mixed with coca leaf extract. Vin Mariani was advertised as being an antidote for melancholy and a stimulant for the healthy. Edison loved it so much that he publicly endorsed the cocaine laced wine.
4. Steve Jobs – LSD & Marijuana
Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs is most recognized for not only his entrepreneurial spirit, but also for his creativity. Jobs had credited his ability to concoct creative ideas from his experiences when he used LSD. Jobs used LSD from 1972 to 1974 and had been quoted as stating that taking LSD was one of the “two or three most important things” he ever did in his life. Jobs reportedly took LSD on a sugar cube or in a hard form of gelatin. He took it when he was alone and loved the positive experiences he had from the drug. Jobs also utilized marijuana, as he said it would help relax and become more creative.
3. John C. Lilly – LSD & Ketamine
John C. Lilly was a prominent biophysicist, physician, inventor and neuroscientist that went on to specialize in the study of consciousness. It was during the early 50’s that Lilly invented the isolation tank, which was an enclosed saline bath, where he studied sensory deprivation. Lilly was also known for his work in studying the behavior of dolphins, which inspired the movie, Day of the Dolphin. It was during the 60’s that Lilly was introduced to LSD and ketamine and he used both drugs while in his isolation tank in order to gain a deeper grasp on consciousness.
2. Richard Feynman – Marijuana & LSD
Richard Feynman won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 with his fellow partners, Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for their work on quantum electrodynamics. Feynman also participated in the Manhattan Project where he provided assistance on developing the atomic bomb. The physicist was known for his eccentricities and had made it public knowledge that he was a cannabis user on top of having experimented with LSD. His experiments with LSD were due to his fascination with dream states which is why he also experimented with sensory deprivation. Although, Feynman did explain that he was a bit apprehensive to experiment with LSD since he was a big fan of thinking and didn’t want to risk destroying his ability to do so.
1. Carl Sagan – Marijuana
Astrophysicist and cosmologist, Carl Sagan was the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He was also a consultant and adviser to NASA and he made significant contributions to the study of planetary atmospheres. Sagan was also an avid proponent for the use of marijuana. In 1969, Sagan wrote a piece on how he believed marijuana “amplifies torpid sensibilities and produces what to me are even more interesting effects.” Sagan also noted that his use of marijuana provided him with an improved appreciation for art as well as heightened experiences in daily activities such as eating, listening to music and sexual activities.