Reportedly, Woody Harrelson has signed on to play Timothy Leary in an adaptation of The Most Dangerous Man in America. No network is attached yet, but with the well-known source material and a big star, it seems likely to happen. Vice tells more.
For those who don’t know Leary, here is the quick: he was a Harvard psychology professor who co-led the ethically problematic Harvard Psilocybin Project with Richard Albert (who later became self-help guru Ram Dass). Both Leary and Alpert were fired from Harvard and Leary went on to live an orgiastic debaucherous lifestyle in a Massachusetts mansion, in Mexico, the Bay Area and jail. He was famously sexist and homophobic, he coined the phrases “set and setting” and “tune in and drop out”, he was a psychedelic evangelist to the 10th degree and his ego-fueled cultural stardom is retrospectively considered a significant factor in the federal scheduling of LSD and henceforth a roadblock in the legal approval road of contemporary psychedelic research.
MDMA leads to permanent brain damage is a recurring refrain, even today. This idea has roots in a study in the early 2000s. Johns Hopkins researcher George Ricaurte injected squirrel monkeys with what was described as a “heavy party night’s dose” of MDMA. Ricaurte’s team reported the results, that even one evening’s dose of MDMA may lead to brain damage (at least in monkeys) that resembles Parkinson’s Disease in humans. The study was repeated with baboons with similar results.
The drug war hopped on the bandwagon: “We’ve long known that repeated ecstasy use damages serotonin brain cells,” Alan Leshner, a former director of the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), told The Guardian following the study. “This study shows that even very occasional use can have long-lasting effects on many different brain systems. It sends an important message to young people—don’t experiment with your brain.”
However, it was all a mistake/lie. During the peer review process it was discovered that they weren’t injecting MDMA, but rather Methamphetamines. The bottles were mislabeled in the lab and the original study results were not replicable. Ricaurte retracted the paper from the prestigious journal Science.
These days, MDMA is back on the research track with human subject studies on adults with PTSD and end-of-life mental health issues. This study could have derailed any legality of pursuing these sorts of studies, had it not been corrected. However, the cultural impacts of this problematic study seem to exist to this day.
NOTE: I did not deeply research this article and this single article was my primary source. As I learn more I’ll update this post. Further, if any readers have thoughts/corrections/updates, please comment.
Dates All Common Era 306 Diocletian abdicates, Constantine I claims Roman throne. 313 Constantine converts to Christianity (sees cross in sky, says Eusebius). 300s-400s Huns under Attila control Eastern Europe, Goths and Vandals weaken Roman Empire. 323 Constantine moves capital to Byzantium and renamed Constantinople. Division of Empire begins. 325 Nicene Council 334 Constantine makes Christianity state religion. 381 Council of Constantinople elaborates the Nicene Council’s condemning of Apollinarianism. 410 Visigoths sack Rome. 413-426 St. Augustine writes “De Civitate Dei.” 430 (circa) Anglo Saxons begin settling Britain. 451 Rome sacked by Vandal Genserio 476 Romulus Augustulus last Emperor of Roman Empire, gives throne to Odoacer, a Danubian German. 570 Muhammad is Born. 800 Charlemagne crowned Emperor of the West on Christmas Day. 1000 (circa) Leif Erickson’s Vikings reach Vinland. 1054 “The Great Schism” East and West Churches split. 1066 Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror defeats the English at Hastings. 1096-99 The First Crusade, Jerusalem captured in 1099. 1147 The Second Crusade, Rallied by St. Bernard. 1163 Construction of Notre Dame begun. 1187 Saladin captures Jerusalem, leading to Third Crusade. 1194 Construction of Chartres Cathedral begun. 1202-4 Fourth Crusade 1218-21 Fifth Crusade 1228-9 Sixth Crusade 1248-54 Seventh Crusade 1270 Fifth Crusade 1267-73 Aquinas writes Summa Theologica. 1308-20 Dante’s Divine Comedy. 1337-1453 Hundred Years War between France and England 1347-50 The Bubonic Plague kills millions. 1378-1417 Later Great Schism, Rival popes in Rome and Avignon. 1429 Joan of Arc leads French victory at Orleans, has Charles VII crowned King of France. 1431 Joan of Arc burned for heresy. 1453 Turks sack Constantinople, collapse of Byzantine Empire.