Chapter 3: Harmless – The Team

Six harmless participants: Me, Peter, Jay, Tom, Lucien, and Bill. And a group of advisors who don’t know about the project – who aren’t directly involved. They will help us think. It reminds me of Shulgin’s approach, described in PIHKAL, the first of his trilogy on psychedelic chemistry. He had a ‘tester’ group and a more extended ‘advisory’ group.


I’m the initial instigator and organizer – and the oldest of the group. I assume primary responsibility and legal liability. I’m the key connector, facilitator, and funder. My wife, Diana, knows my political interests and concerns, but knows nothing about harmless. Like Snowden’s girlfriend in Hawaii, she’ll only learn about it after it all happens, after I’m arrested, or after I tell her.


I know enough chemistry to be able to work closely with Tom. I have enough background and experience in pharmaceutics and biochemistry to work on the delivery and dosage needs. I still have an active (albeit Emeritus) faculty appointment and can purchase materials through my U account for use in my ‘lab’ (my Emeritus office, which doubles as a ‘shop’).


Jay is a tall, lean retired ‘facilities’ person. He knows buildings, spaces, ventilation systems, basements, remodeling, etc. He says he’s finally escaped his ‘learned helplessness’ by learning to trust and by using his imagination. He wants to make up for lost time.


Peter is a medical caregiver with considerable hospice experience. He’s also our most experienced chemical tester. He knows the health care delivery community and industry, can work with and around quite old people (like some Senators and Supreme Court Justices!), and is our direct link to the action and experience of the sixties and seventies. He travels to Amsterdam annually for drug-related enhancement, primarily via cannabis.


Lucien’s the youngest of the harmless. He’s experienced with natural, botanical materials, meditation, and related aids. He knows about environments, music, set, and settings. He will serve as our botanical collector, perhaps grower, as well as tester – and apprentice chemist.


Tom is our chemist – a very effective and experienced organic chemist. He can make the materials needed from precursors we will acquire, including botanically derived materials. The ‘safest’ precursors are likely to be those derived from natural sources. Tom’s time is very limited due to his newly diagnosed pancreas and now liver cancer. Although he’s in intense chemotherapy for the next four months – so far doing well – he may well be gone before harmless is completed. But by then the materials will have been synthesized, purified, characterized, formulated – and carefully stored – and in sufficient quantity to keep harmless supplied until we decide the project is finished.


Bill is our botanist and traveler. His Australian trips and connections will likely prove helpful. He has incredible knowledge of trees and shrubs, and has strong credentials and experience in botany and natural products, including a personal introduction to mescaline. He’s had a varied scientific career, is very personable, and is a superb connector – he seems to know everyone!


Those reading this account of the State Change Project need to think of themselves as part of the harmless team. Join in the dialog, the planning, and the execution of the plan. Suggest improvements, strategies, and methods. Participate. It’s your country and your future. Join harmless! Start a local ‘chapter’. And be prepared to go to jail.




“The plan is to read and digest what’s known about empathogens – their chemistry, actions, and delivery. We’ll study the current clinical trials – especially the overseas ones. We’ll then have to ‘guesstimate’ and test appropriate mixtures or sequences of agents for our unique purposes,” I said.


“Just about everything I need to know for synthesis and purification is in the Shulgin books,” Tom said. The first halves of PIHKAL (phenethylamines) and TIHKAL (tryptamines) are semi-autobiographical and detail some of his – and Ann Shulgin’s – experiences and even recommendations. The second half of each book is basically a chemical encyclopedia on hundreds of compounds. We’ll know in a week or so what our inventory list should include.”


“And for sure, I think, LSD and MDMA will be at the top of that list,” added Peter.


“Some of the agents, and most of their key precursors, are ‘readily’ available,” I said. “The Czechs have done – and continue to do – so much in this area. We could do a trip or two to Prague before we’re ready to start. I’ll also look into what’s possible via Portugal. Switzerland and The Netherlands may also be useful. It’s interesting that in Portugal and the Netherlands, marijuana is formally illegal – but small possession and use is not prosecuted.”


“There’s a little saying about the Dutch,” Peter added, “from a guidebook I read:

One of the most original of Dutch traits is the tendency to let in a little evil in order to keep the big evil out.”


“That’s so reasonable,” Jay said, “and wise.”


“The Rick Steve’s guide to Amsterdam is useful,” Peter continued. “There are ‘coffee shops’ with menus for sativa and indica preparations, seed shops for the grow your own crowd, and ‘smart shops’ for the fungi – psilocybin types. No convenient MDMA shops – it’s ‘on the street’.”


“The problem,” Jay noted, “is that you never know what you’re getting. Since MDMA is illegal, there’s no quality control, testing, or safety considerations. Most street stuff, including so-called Molly, is extended, filled, and otherwise adulterated, often with toxic and dangerous materials.”


“I suppose you all saw that recent Times piece on the Wesleyan Molly episode?” asked Bill.


“Yes,” I said. “The Wesleyan stuff was, according to the police, a very ‘bad batch’.”


“Q.E.D,” smiled Peter. “It’s interesting to note that ecstasy is the feeling, but ecstacy is the pill, although that distinction is rarely made.”


Peter’s not a scientist, but loves to read and learn science stuff. He picked up Q.E.D. from a Richard Feynman book he read.


“Molly became popular because the users became afraid of all the bad stuff in the pills,” Lucien added. “Earlier on they were told Molly meant purity. Now pills in Britain and the US are generally only one-third MDMA, but in Holland they can be up to two thirds MDMA.”


“That’s why on the street the suppliers sometimes say Dutch quality pills,” Peter said.


“And at least one third crap,” Bill grimaced.


“Yes, the problem is all the other stuff that’s in there,” I added. “There’s now new stuff from China called flakka, which is literally deadly. It is essentially poison. Although somewhat related to khat, it’s been engineered to be very potent and addictive. And other new stuff tries to get around Britain’s laws, which tend to be more specific than our more general ban in the U.S.”


We were all aware of the severe problems with street Molly or Ecstacy and the additives used to cheapen and extend it. There’s also even more concern about additives and extenders which are strong, addictive, and very dangerous drugs, including methamphetamine and heroin.


CheckIt! is a program in the Vienna area which goes back to about 1997 in which drugs are tested on site, for free, at raves and related events. According to a 2005 The Scientist story, Rainer Schmid and his volunteer team use a pair of HPLC units that can detect more than 1,000 psychoactive compounds – from LSD to MDMA, within 15 minutes. The results are anonymously posted and the user can then decide to use or not. They’ve found that even unadulterated, Ecstacy pills can contain as much as five times the typical dose. With the test results in hand, ravers often subdivide their pills. For every pill tested, the CheckIt! team conducts about five counseling or information sessions with ravers. CheckIt!’ has had an uneasy truce with the Vienna police department, in which no one will be arrested for drug possession in the booth’s immediate vicinity.


The UK government says that all street drugs are bad and illegal and refuses to implement a CheckIt! – like program, although there are some local efforts. Fiona Measham, a criminologist at Durham University, does some limited event testing as part of her research activities. There’s an Amsterdam equivalent at .


Drugs Unlimited, a fairly new book by Mike Power of The Guardian, discusses nearly all street drugs, including those available via the internet or DarkNet, and means and methods for monitoring drug production, sales, and distribution. Although there are several newer drugs with MDMA-like effects, there appears to be nothing superior to or safer than MDMA for our purposes.




“MDMA it is, then,” Tom concluded. “We will make everything from scratch, with good QC at every step.”


“I can start testing almost anytime,” Lucien volunteered. “I assume we’ll adopt the Shulgin five step self-testing scale.”


“Yes, that’s reasonable.”


Turning to Tom, I asked “Any thoughts on your lab?”


“Well, not my home or your U office,” he answered. “Perhaps some place very convenient, cheap, and largely invisible. And maybe in a state where the laws are not ultra hard-nosed.”


“Even though it’s Federal laws we’d be breaking, doing it in a semi-progressive state might help. That rules out Utah. Perhaps Oregon, or Northern California?” I asked.


“I vote for Oregon,” Peter said.


“Me, too,” agreed Lucien.


They both live in Oregon.


“And I’d love to get back to Oregon while I still can,” said Tom. “And – if my prognosis deteriorates – Oregon’s Death with Dignity law could be a real advantage.”


“But you’d have to be a formal Oregon resident to utilize it,” I cautioned.


“No problem,” added Peter. He knows, due to his hospice experience. “You just need to move, have a permanent residence, get an Oregon driver’s license, and register to vote in the state. It all takes six months or less.”


“And I probably have that long,” Tom said. “I may have to change doctors and hospitals, which might be a problem. I’ll look into it.”


We had also discussed California, now that they have a death with dignity law. But it was decided – Oregon’s the lab site.


“I’ve studied Shulgin enough to know that standard organic chemistry procedures will suffice – none of it will be very complicated or tricky, but it is quite time-consuming,” Tom said. “We can even set the lab up in an RV or small trailer if we had to, but a large bathroom and a storage closet will work.”


“We can rent a place for a short time,” I said. “Diana and I have done that often. works well.”


“Manzanita might be ideal,” Lucien noted.


“It even has its own airport,” Peter said, “ – at the adjacent state park. I can fly stuff and people in and out.”


Peter’s a pilot and has access to his aging dad’s aged Cessna. Manzanita is a low key place. We can rent a storage unit to store the equipment between visits. It could all be in the guise of family reunions and vacations.


“You know my constraint,” Tom added. “Once we begin – we need to have it all done in three or four months. And if I decide to become a resident, harmless can help me rent a place, right?”


“Sure,” I said.


“And I get to stay in Salt Lake and research the buildings, chambers, and events we’ll need to understand in order to effectively deliver our revelatory experiences.” Jay – our facilities man – is not that excited about Oregon. He prefers Utah’s red rock desert. He’d prefer to be a park ranger in Canyonlands or Arches – just like Edward Abbey.


So far, so good.




I’ve now read nearly all of Shulgin’s PIHKAL and TIHKAL, Holland’s Ecstasy: The Complete Guide, and Eisner’s Ecstasy – The MDMA Story – and looked at more sites, including,, and, of course, .


“The New Yorker just published a piece profiling Earth and Fire, the couple who founded and run the Erowid site,” I reported.


“It’s been very helpful. Nearly everything on psychedelics and related chemicals is somewhere on that site,” Tom added.



Claudio Naranjo in The Healing Journey considers the psychotropic drugs in three functional categories: the ‘head’, ‘gut’, and ‘heart’ drugs. LSD is a head drug, ayahuasca a gut drug, and MDA, and later MDMA, a heart drug. MDMA elicits openness, awareness, communication, group interactions, trust, empathy with and for others, and absence of fear.


Grinspoon and Bakalar, in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, 1997, wrote:


            Although [chemically] related to both amphetamines and psychedelic drugs, it [MDMA] does not produce either the stimulant effect of amphetamines or the dramatic emotional and perceptual changes associated with LSD or mescaline…it heightens the capacity for introspection and intimacy without distracting changes in perception, body image, and the sense of self. Intensified feelings and self-exploration are invited rather than compelled. Users often say they lose defensive anxiety and feel more emotionally open…


MDMA really is very unique. It’s essentially three neuro-drugs in one, with a delicate balance between the three functions: inducing serotonin release, inducing dopamine release, and blocking serotonin reuptake. Here’s one view from the recent book by Power, Drugs Unlimited, 2013:


            The magical ratio of serotonin-dopamine-norepinephrine release and reuptake prompted by the presence of MDMA in the human brain is not produced by any other substance. Other recreational drugs come close, but the charged, empathetic, transcendent peak-MDMA experience has yet to be matched by any designer drug. It’s called Ecstasy for a reason.


It’s been said that the door, once open, stay’s open – or can be very easily opened again, without drug assistance. Bruce Eisner is reported to have said, When you get the message, hang up the phone’.


That is revelation, epiphany, breakthrough understanding. Once you ‘get it’ – you can’t really unget it. Awareness and revelation is largely uni-directional. You can’t go back. Once there are openings – windows or doors – in the tunnel, they tend to stay there.


In Life Begins at Sixty, essayist Walter Houston Clark wrote

            I have changed my attitudes, ideas, and sometimes my values quite radically since my watershed ingestion of that first dose of LSD.


Revelations are not just for the young. Had Clark used MDMA, he may have had an even stronger revelation related to values and attitudes.


Ralph Metzer’s co-author, Padma Catell, said: Somehow MDMA has the unique and almost ‘magical’ power of reducing fear’.


Ann Shulgin said, ‘… it’s a lovely, gentle way for people to connect with each other’, and Sasha Shulgin added,

…the blending and integration of interactions between people is an extremely healthy evolutionary adaptation.




“Evolutionary adaptation?” Bill asked, smiling. “I like that.”


“It’s like MDMA cracks open the closed windows or closed doors, letting in some fresh air – fresh, unconstrained thinking and perspectives,” I added. “I don’t think there’s any point in looking for other agents or their combinations. MDMA seems to be ideal, except for delivery problems.”


Bill added: “There’s growing acceptance of its safety and role in difficult psychiatry cases, like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” He had recently alerted us to the Diane Rehm NPR episode on MDMA and PTSD.


Some very recent work reinforces and expands upon the earlier studies and observations.


Baggott and co-workers reported that

MDMA produced a prosocial syndrome that seemed to facilitate emotional disclosure and that appears consistent with the suggestion that it represents a novel pharmacological class.


It tends to increase self-awareness, personal authenticity, and decreases social anxiety. It tends to facilitate a ‘tend-and-befriend’ response rather than a fight or flight response.


Oxford University’s Molly Crockett’s recent work with dopamine and serotonin suggests that their control and modulation can result in enhanced moral decision making. Although she has not studied MDMA, her current conclusions and hypotheses appear to provide a mechanism for MDMA’s apparently unique ability to modulate and adjust serotonin and dopamine. In fact, in an online video titled Can Pills Change Our Morals she fantasizes What if negotiators popped a few moral enhancers before heading to the [negotiating] table?’


“Diplomats, negotiators – better yet, Supreme Court Justices – and presidential candidates,” Bill enthused.


“We’ll get there,” I said, “voluntarily or – until enhancers are legal – involuntarily.”


“Let’s ‘deliver’ it the old fashioned way,” Peter suggested, “using liquids and drinks.”


“It apparently tastes terrible,” Lucien added, “so water won’t work.”


“If orange juice was good enough for the Shulgins and others, why not?”


“Coffee, tea?” asked Lucien. “Doesn’t it start with sassafras? And that’s used as a tea.”


“But one individual revelation does not make a functioning Congress – or Supreme Court,” noted Jay.


“No, but tipping points do evolve, tides and times change,” I said. “One of MDMA’s unique features is group empathy – group consciousness.”


‘Yes! Holland writes about the connection to others, the clan orientation. She discusses the ‘rave’ – group dance phenomena – like the tribal and native dances around the fire while under the influence,” said Lucien. “That’s the ayahuasca ritual – and with other drugs as well.”


“Did you see that recent New York Times story on Brazilian inmates participating in ayahuasca rituals?” Bill asked. “It really helps them calm down.”


“Holland even refers to ‘Dionysian rituals’ – our Eleusinian Mysteries,” I continued; “She says ‘This has therapeutic implications not only for the individual but for our society as well’.”


“Reminds me of LSD-Johnny Appleseed ‘Captain’ Hubbard,” said Peter. “He wanted to transform world politics via LSD – or was it his friend Humphrey Osmond?”


“Weren’t they the ones who turned Aldous Huxley on to LSD?” Lucien asked. “Or was it mescaline?”


“Trying to enhance the world via revelation engineering isn’t new,” I said.




The more we learn about psychology and politics, the more we understand that it is largely due to the neurochemical receptor and chemical concentrations in the human brain. A recent New York Times story, The Feel-Good Gene, is a good example. Apparently about 20% of Americans (of European descent) have a mutation which results in higher levels of a neurotransmitter – called anandamide – than the other 80% or so. The ‘mutants’ are less anxious and less fearful than the genetically disadvantaged majority. Anandamide is often called the ‘bliss’ molecule and is our own natural cannabis (actually THC, its psycho-active component) – our own natural marijuana. Those with the ‘mutant’ gene don’t need or like marijuana. The normal majority likes it more.




Perhaps the Greeks and other ancients understood this, psychologically – and the Eleusinian ceremony was a way to even the chemical-psychological playing field.


A recent New Scientist story on belief ties to all this. Apparently our default brain state is to accept – to believe – what we are told: Belief comes easily; doubt takes effort.’ Our primitive brain ‘ primed to see agency and purpose everywhere, even when it’s not there, of course. And that ‘agency and purpose’ we see and accept facilitates our belief in religions and sacred books – and influences our politics. Believing people occupy different realities than those who can doubt and question – and those different realities result in different politics. Our culture – and our childhood rearing, via parents and teachers – build on our default state – to accept, to believe. And that results in a hard-wired brain, prone to belief-oriented politics – highly resistant to change. Our brain tends to construct – and rely on – a rigid tunnel, unless it is stimulated and empowered to do otherwise. The New Scientist piece concludes:

The world would be better if we all stopped believing in our beliefs quite so strongly.


Chris Mooney, author of The Republican Brain, did another fascinating piece recently, based on an analysis using Pew Foundation religious preference data. There is a strong correlation between religious preference and support for evolution AND for environmental regulation. Evangelicals, Mormons, and Seventh Day Adventists have little support for evolution and little support for environmental regulations. The more ‘liberal’ religious traditions (Friends-Quakers, Judaism, and Buddhist) and, of course, Atheists and Agnostics are very supportive of evolution and very supportive of environmental regulation.



“And where do Catholics fit in the correlation?” Jay asked.


“That’s very interesting,” I answered. “They are roughly in the middle – modestly supportive of both environmental regulations and of evolution.”


“And Muslims?” asked Bill.


“A little higher in environmental support, and a little lower in evolution support than Catholics.”


“I wonder if the Pope’s encyclical altered the present results for Catholics,” Bill said.


“With so many Catholics in Congress and on the Supreme Court there’s a chance the encyclical has had some impact on those Catholics.”


“Optimist,” Jay smiled.


“Hey,” I countered. “Nancy Pelosi is a Catholic. And so is Times’ columnist Ross Douthat. In fact he was just taken on in The Nation for his anti-women positions.”


“Douthat has a wide readership – if he tips, it could be significant,” Jay suggested.


“A Catholic shift may help make up for the Church stamping out the Eleusinian Mysteries in 400 AD,” Bill suggested.


“And we will be bringing the rites back, in a very altered form,” I said. “The Eleusinian rites functioned as a partial reset – a chemical ‘phone call’ to be less fearful, more open, more compassionate.”


“Which helped level the neurochemical playing field and the genetic dice perhaps dealt to many violent and warring sects and tribes,” added Bill. “If the world had continued as it apparently was in the Neolithic, with a true partnership between women and men in positions of authority and power, Eleusinian-like rites of passage may not have been needed.”


“Perhaps the remnants of the Goddess influence helped initiate the rites – to temper the growing influence of men – and their tendency to take over all power and authority,” I added.


“You obviously read Dianne Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade,” Bill said.


“Yes, and the earlier book by Merlin Stone, When God was a Woman, which helped inspire Eisler. In about 400 AD, the highly patriarchal Catholic Church decided it didn’t want open minded citizens or Goddesses – and so they shut down the Eleusinian rites.”


“Men rule,” Bill concluded, “thanks to our dominator society.”


“Stone says that the Koran includes the text ‘…the pagans pray to females’ and that Mohammed stated ‘ When Eve was created, Satan rejoiced’. He also suggested the story of Adam and Eve may have been included in the early Bible ‘…as yet another assault upon the Goddess religion’.


“Perhaps this was all to reinforce the movement toward patriarchal domination of religion,” Bill said, “delivering civilization to a fully male-dominated, warring society.”


“Remember our earlier discussion with Lucien and Peter, about Terrence McKenna, and our pathologic egos?” I asked.


“Yes, and the need, he said, to do a drug-induced reset periodically,” Bill recalled.


“I learned recently that the talk from which that came was called Archaic Revival, as in Neolithic,” I said. “Neolithic man and woman apparently had a close relationship with active mushrooms, and perhaps other psycho-active plants.”


“So they were resetting regularly,” Bill smiled.


“Which may be why those early cultures, as Eisler said, were not dominator societies – were not dominated by males. In fact there was a recent Science Magazine report about the sex equality within hunter-gatherer bands relating to cooperation and the evolution of culture.”


“Cool – so as we moved into agriculture, we stopped the auto-resets provided by foraging magic mushrooms,” Bill suggested, “and assumption-laden egos took over.”


“Perhaps – it does seem to tie together.”


“You know,” Bill continued, “much of this was discussed back in 1968 in White’s classical Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis – about the same time as Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons.”


“Yes.” I agreed. “White pointed out that those historical roots pointed right to the dominator, patriarchal culture of Western Christianity, with its gospel of conquering nature.”


“And conquering women,” Bill added.



The New York Times recently ran a story on a small, matrilineal and 700 year old culture in the Chengdu region of Southwest China – the Mosuo ‘Kingdom of Daughters’. The Mosuo are a minority ethnic group said to be the country’s last matrilineal society, where children take

mothers’ surnames and daughters are preferred to sons.


According to Chuan-Kang Shih, an expert on the Mosuo at the University of Florida, the system is underpinned by a fundamental belief that women are more capable than men, mentally and

even physically. The Mosuo also believe that everything people value in the world came from a woman, not a man. All male deities are secondary to their patron goddess.


The recent National Geographic photo piece, Kingdom of Girls, shows a matrilineal tribe in northeastern India, called the Khasi. A German photographer, Karolin Kluppel, put together a photographic exhibit on them. She says:

I want everyone to know about cultures that are different from the patriarchal world we live in – and I want people to question that system.






Selecting the empathogen MDMA certainly simplifies the project. The problem becomes the synthesis of one drug: MDMA.


There are several synthesis routes, well documented in Shulgin’s books and papers. One route starts with safrole, derived from sassafras roots.


There are several sassafras trees in Corvalis, according to the Oregon State University web site, although it’s not common in the Northwest. It is found throughout the Eastern half of the United States and is common in the Northeast. Extracts of the root are still used clandestinely for herbal teas, although it has been declared toxic and thus banned by the FDA. It is well known as a source of chemical precursor for the synthesis of MDMA. There are also sassafras trees in Portland. There is a volunteer-produced Portland Tree Inventory on line. We found one tree in the Woodstock area and three in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. There must be many others.



“Sassafras is pretty common in Australia – in temperate rain forests, although it’s likely a different species than Shulgin’s,” Bill noted.


“I think I read in PIHKAL about the Shulgins using a sassafras-based synthesis when they were in Brazil,” I added. “But they don’t really use the safrole precursor approach in their books or papers, perhaps because they already had MDA to work from.”


“You can even buy sassafras seedlings via the Arbor Day Foundation,” Bill said. He’s already done the requisite homework. “I’ll order several and we can plant them in our various yards. Salt Lake is in their tolerance zone, as is Oregon.”


“My back yard should be just fine,” Lucien said.


You do know it’s sassafras root and bark,” Tom noted. “We – or at least I – may not have the time to wait for trees to grow.”


“Let me look into nursery sources,” Bill said.


“We can ‘appropriate’ several small trees from large, unguarded nurseries – or even purchase them for a specialty landscaping job,” I suggested.


“Let me look into that,” Bill said, “Perhaps the U Arboretum can serve as a cover.”




By focusing on MDMA and given our tight time frame, we had to reconsider our delivery aspirations and strategies. We decided to use liquid-based oral delivery. As the intrinsic taste of MDMA needs to be highly masked, strong tasting carriers need to be used. Orange juice is common. We need to address teas, coffee, wine, and other mild alcoholic drinks. That means taste-testing and drug inactivation studies. Although LSD is very sensitive to inactivation, MDMA is relatively stable.


We also have to consider set and setting. The drugs work best when the patients are in a calm, relaxed, responsive setting. In a recent Guardian story on the work of William Richards at John Hopkins, one of the participants said:

… it takes skilled facilitators to get people in those spaces … the compound gets people to those states but their compassion, their empathy, their guiding of the session is really what did that.


We assume that our ‘patients’ political positions should be gently ‘primed’ by being in environments in which they are comfortable and by being with people they respect and trust. And those people – and those settings – will not be under our control. Our delivery means and strategies must be able to take advantage of the situations, schedules, and engagements of each of our patients.




“Now I get to do something?” Jay asked, smiling. “You know, Vice-Oresident Biden swore in 13 newly elected Senators in the Senate chamber back at the start of Congress.”


“Yes, and the Speaker did the same for the new House members in the House chamber,” Bill added.


“I’ll start studying the nature of the Chambers and the ceremony details,” Jay said. “Do they serve water? Is there a reception? Are gifts or other items given or exchanged? What’s in the packets they get? Since they’ll do something similar a year or so from now, we may need to be able to use the next event for our harmless purposes.”


“I certainly hope harmless is finished well before that,” I said. “And what about their individual seats or desks during sessions? How are they served or serviced? Which staff are involved? And their own offices – layout, staff, schedules?”


“I read in the Times that they get lapel pins which allow them to breeze through security,” Peter added.


“What I’d like,” I said, “is their electronic voting cards!”


Peter continued: “There was a big piece in the Times on the new Ted Kennedy Library and Institute in Boston and its full scale reconstruction of the Senate Chambers – perhaps it’s a good place to learn the layout and details without the security concerns.”


“I’m on it,” Jay said, “including the heating and cooling systems, electrical outlets, lockers, if any. Maybe we can target them individually rather than in groups. And, of course, the restrooms. All’s fair.”


Bill added, “Do include the committee meeting rooms and restrooms – and their staff and protocols. Watch C-Span for Chamber details – easy to see because the Congressmen are hardly ever there. And C-Span covers many of the committee meetings. Ex-staffers may be especially helpful.”


“And there’s always the cafeteria, the food delivery people, and the restaurants,” I added. “And parties, open houses, receptions…and Congress-people are just the beginning of our list.”


“Did you see the Times piece on the wages of Capitol food service workers – really low – just Federal sub-minimum wage,” Bill said. “ A disgruntled food service worker or two could be very helpful.”


“Best ‘facilities’ challenge I’ve ever had,” Jay concluded. “As Clueless George used to say, Bring it on!”



Bill, Jake, and I were meeting again on our other projects – unrelated to harmless. Our discussions somehow got us to talking, again, about evil.


“We discussed 18th Century assumptions in Hans’ class,” Jake said. “Most of the evil now being done on the planet is based on a set of simple-minded, out of date assumptions which are intolerable in today’s 21st Century. Acts based on those simple-minded assumptions are evil acts.”


“Yes,” I added. “Basically, the 18th Century assumptions on which our current political and economic systems are still based are: resources are infinite, land-water-air are infinite, and the completely unregulated free market is best. These assumptions are no longer valid. We now live in a resource-constrained, over-populated, and increasingly polluted and adulterated world.”


“Which means that continued belief on a now invalid set of assumptions results in an ideology which produces actions which are damaging to the planet and to the well-being of mankind,” Jay continued. “That’s a moral perversity – that’s evil.”


“Pontificating at podiums – and passing laws which produce policies which result in economic inequality and enhance planetary pollution – that’s the moral perversion which has driven our society to feelings of helplessness, inadequacy, and hopelessness,” Jake added.


“Did you see the New Scientist review of Virtuous Violence?” asked Bill. “It says most violence is morality-based – from the perpetrator’s point of view.”


“Decreasing violence and evil, as we already know, means changing people’s long held beliefs – their assumptions, and thus their motives,” I responded.


“The New Scientist piece ended by saying ‘…stop violence by making it immoral’.”


“Which argues for revelation engineering,” I concluded.




Evil is a very difficult term. Earlier I had engaged close friends and colleagues in discussions on evil. That led to interesting and even heated, highly opinionated, sometimes defensive responses.


Who is evil? Most generally agree that Hitler and Stalin were evil, though differently so. Is ISIS evil? Boko Haram?


What is evil? When is a deed or action evil – and when might the same deed or action be considered not evil? Is terrorism evil? Is murder? Is destroying the planet?


Is evil only about death? Human death? Immediate death, or is facilitating death in the future also evil?


One of the better treatments I found on the subject is John Kekes’ The Roots of Evil, 2007:


Forces of barbarism continually break through the superficial layer of order and threaten the security of a substantial segment of humanity….

evil is a moral problem … an attack on the fundamental conditions of human well-being….

Social conditions can encourage or discourage evil acts, but they cannot be sufficient to explain them….

Attributing evil to injustice, poverty, or a noxious ideology is thus to misunderstand it….

the causes of evil are in us, not outside us…in doing evil we express a deep part of our nature….

Evil has an ominous connotation that goes beyond badness…

evil has primarily to do with serious harm caused by human beings to other human beings…

Evildoers … show contempt for and flaunt fundamental moral prohibitions….

the evil of an action … consists in … three components: …malevolent motivation…; serious, excessive harm …; lack of morally acceptable excuse…

evil has many causes; the scheme of things is nonmoral; we have basic propensities for both good and evil…; evil actions may be reasonable; evildoers may be held responsible…

faith, ideology, ambition, envy, honor, and boredom …motives that may … lead to evil actions…

Elementary decency … marks the boundary within which civilized life can be lived and on the outside of which barbarism reigns….

Coping with evil depends … on combining the cultivation of moral imagination and the enforcement of moral and legal prohibitions by punishment….


A brief summary might be: Evil is something done by a human evildoer that causes great harm to another human without a morally acceptable excuse.


Of course, ‘morally acceptable’ depends on one’s culture, civilization, societal mores.


So Kekes’ treatment is not sufficient – and most others are worse.
Albert Camus’ take on evil, related to God and free will, is relevant:

            …either we are not free and God the all-powerful is responsible for evil.

            Or we are free and responsible but God is not all-powerful.


I then I came across, very recently, an even older little book, On Evil, by John Morton, 2004. The book begins with this quote by C. S. Lewis:


            The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.


I like that. Lewis and Morton really understand the problem. Morton goes on to discuss evil acts, people who commit those acts, groups and societies who tolerate and encourage such acts, and the various fictions and realities we call evil. He considers moral perversity, preferential wickedness, and moral indifference. He also suggests that evil is associated with a lack of empathy, and with a moral certainty which is believed and never questioned or challenged.



harmless brings a different perspective to the question. harmless is concerned about the Planet upon which humanity survives. harmless has decided that willful, repeated destruction of that planet or of its major components is evil; those involved in that willful destruction are evildoers – are evil people. harmless has also decided that denial – and even willful ignorance – is no excuse. harmless understands that nearly the entire basis of modern civilization – both political and economic – is acting to willfully destroy – or at least very seriously damage – the planet upon which all humanity – and other life forms – depend.


harmless is committed to transforming, changing, and if necessary neutralizing those committing such evil. Harmless is now identifying and prioritizing such evildoers and referring to them as its ‘patients’.




Is this ethical? Is it moral?


I started coming across work on human ‘enhancement’ – asking the question ‘is it ok to enhance capabilities, performance’? Or is enhancement ‘bad’ because we are ‘tinkering with evolution’, ‘playing god’, etc?


We generally think ‘enhancement’ is ok for those physically disabled or disadvantaged. We have wheel chairs, prostheses, braces, exo-skeletons, etc. But mental enhancement has been considered more critically. We’ve also been very resistant to genetic ‘enhancement’, although perhaps more receptive to tinkering with genetics to help alleviate adverse diseases and conditions caused by ‘faulty’ genes.


The field of enhancement bioethics is rich, active, and very uncertain. We’re somewhat accepting of enhancement via drugs – to ‘enhance’ our disease resistance (vaccines), to help our natural healing processes, to treat infection (antibiotics). More recently, we’ve accepted drugs to treat attention deficits, depression, and other issues more directly connected to the brain and nervous system.


There’s even a new industry for cognitive and mental enhancement: brain exercises, smart pills, supplements, etc. There is some evidence that exercise does increase a factor, BDNF,

that promotes new neuronal formation and growth. Certain conditions, especially depression, can lower BDNF levels, according to the New York Times’ Richard A Friedman.


We’ve come to accept – or at least tolerate – certain performance enhancing drugs, such as Prozac or Ritalin – even Viagra and its cousins – but not others (such as steroids in sports contests). I suppose if male erections or penile turgidity were an Olympic competition, Viagra would then be banned.


We accept and even celebrate certain narcotics and addictive drugs, such as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. They are legal and a key component of our economy, if not our wellbeing. But chemical enhancers, drugs, useful for exploring our own consciousness, which elicit feelings of empathy and compassion, which aid with personal understanding and growth, and which are useful for those with depression, PTSD, pain, and other ailments – are illegal and banned.


Paul Krugman wrote recently that we live in an era of ‘compassionless conservatism’; that conservatives today believe that the poor have it easy, and a conservative goal is ‘punishing the poor’. Conservatives know nothing about the realities of modern life for the poor. They need compassion; they need empathy; they need reality.


Once we got over the immediate shock of Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s death, some began to reconsider his judicial legacy and ‘brilliance’. There was discussion of his social and emotional ‘intelligence’ – and statements that he lacked empathy – that he rarely understood how his rulings affected the lives of others.




Is harmless ‘playing god’ by providing empathogens to those with serious empathy and compassion deficiencies? Can we say we are ‘treating’ Empathy Deficit Disorder (EDD)? If we treat ADD or ADHD, why can’t we treat adult EDD? Is it immoral and unethical to treat and enhance those with serious deficits in critical thinking skills, with a distorted view of reality, with little or no concern for humanity itself – with distorted morals, ethics, values? Is ‘moral enhancement’ a bad thing?



One of the books on human enhancement is Beyond Humanity. Isn’t that exactly what the discussion of climate change is all about? If very serious climate change and global warming accelerate, humanity itself is threatened. ‘Beyond Humanity’ can refer to an Earth without man, as well as to an ‘enhancement’ of humanity.


harmless feels that it is not ethical or moral to ‘eliminate’ future generations – indeed, we feel that is evil. We feel it is not ethical or moral to subscribe to a political system which fosters, by brute monetary power, a plutocratic government rooted only in the present – with no concern for the future – a plutocratic government dedicated, therefore, to committing evil.


harmless has concluded that it is not only moral and ethical to engage in chemically-induced empathogenic enhancement, it is our duty to do so. And if that requires – even involuntary – chemical exorcism, so be it.



“Now that the harmless six are somewhat organized and developing a plan, we need to discuss which patients most need our services,” I suggested.


“There are two I want to be sure are high up on the list,” Jay said. “The recent The Nation story on Big Oil tells me that Rex Tillerson of Exxon-Mobil and John Watson of Chevron need to be there. They’ve basically both given their middle fingers to the climate change movements and to the government. They’re ignoring the ‘stranded assets’ argument, the divestment actions, and McKibben and Klein.”


Jay was referring to Bill McKibben, founder of and activist-visionary behind the international fossil fuel divestment movement. He was also referring to Naomi Klein, whose recent book This Changes Everything takes on capitalism and climate change. A film with the same name has been released. He was also referring to Naomi Oreskes’ recent Times op-ed: Exxon’s Climate Concealment.



“Yes, I also read The Nation story,” said Bill, “and the fact that Tillerson’s favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged.”


“It was mine, too, when I was 14. But then I went beyond adolescent puberty!” That was Peter, back in town for our discussions.


“That makes me recall,” Jay said, “that Jennifer Burns, an Ayn Rand biographer, said Rand’s books are ‘…part of the underground curriculum of American adolescence’.”


“Let’s consider some of the other anti-environment voices that need our attention.”

“Pope Francis’ encyclical related to climate and environment helps with our ‘set’ and ‘setting’ needs, especially for our top Catholic patients.”


“Yes, like Rubio and Ryan,” Jay said. “In fact, about 30 percent of members of Congress are Catholics – and many of the GOP 2016 Presidential aspirants – Bush, Rubio, and Cruz.”


“No. Cruz is now a hard core evangelist,” I corrected.


“Thirty percent – that’s much higher than I thought,” Lucien said. “And half the Supreme Court, too! I’ll set up a spreadsheet on all of them all so we can keep track of activities, preferences, opportunities.”


“Did you notice all the Catholic-oriented countries that have legalized same sex marriage? Interesting.”


“Tipping points do evolve,” Bill said. “I don’t think anyone would have predicted national same sex marriage just five years ago.”


“We might include the USA,” I said. “With a majority of Supreme Court justices and 30% of Congress being Catholics, we’re sort of a ‘Catholic’ country.”


“Amen, again,” Jay smiled, “although our planet probably doesn’t have five more years for a climate-carbon tipping point to ‘evolve’.”


“Have you heard of the ‘Koch Primary’?” I asked. “A recent NY Times piece talked about GOP hopefuls seeking audiences with the Brothers, literally being interviewed by them – the hopefuls and the Kochs seducing each other. And since the Koch Brothers’ actions, philosophies, and policies are destroying the planet – they are evil.”


“Didn’t the Times report that they and their cohorts are planning to spend nearly a billion dollars on the 2016 elections?” Lucien asked.


“Yes, more than either major political party,” said Jay. “They’re already on our list.”


“A large cover story on Charles Koch in USA Today,” Bill said, “reported that the Koch folks will, in 2016, anoint the one GOP candidate whose platform is most agreeable to them – giving his campaign additional funds.”


“Adelson is doing the same thing in Vegas,” Jay said. “The GOP hopefuls come to

genuflect before him, hoping he’ll put a spot or two of multi-millions in their hands.”


“Certainly more effective than holy water on their foreheads,” I said.


“I don’t know how far we can really get in 3 to 6 months,” Bill said. “Maybe we ought to rehearse and work towards the new President and Congress elected in late 2016. That’s less than 18 months away.”


“Interesting,” I said. “But the longer we wait, the greater the chance we’ll be discovered – and exposed and possibly arrested. harmless is now, I think, about engineering many individual revelations in a short time window – rather than transforming a large group all at once. We can reinforce those individual experiences via a coordinated campaign of messaging and input – working to make the experience ‘stick’ and become a revelation of sorts. Several of those on a key committee, for example, can lead to a new discussion. And it’s possible we may have to engineer several experiences for some individuals.”


“I agree,” said Jay. “That’s why our deployment strategy is very important. We can start to nucleate a change in perspective or conversation by focusing on key individuals in key positions.”


“Yes,” I agreed. “And the sooner we can start, the better. Also, since the nation is so tightly gerrymandered in the conservative direction, the 2016 Congressional elections may not lead to a very different Congressional population that we have now.”






The synthesis of MDMA is not easy, even if one starts from its ‘parent’ drug, MDA. It involves a variety of steps and procedures. Although they are all common and straightforward, they are time consuming and require excellent skills and technique.


Tom is up to the task. We reviewed the procedures in The Shulgin Index, Vol. 1, and PIHKAL (for MDA, MDMA), some of the original research reports, some of the forensics and drug enforcement studies, and the several on line ‘do it yourself’ drug synthesis sites. Then we got ready.


Our first visit (separately) was to the U’s Surplus and Salvage facility, close to the Departments of Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology and the Medical Library. We each acquired, on different days and in different amounts over several weeks, hot plates, stirrers, condensers, beakers, flasks, funnels, separatory funnels, a small vacuum pump, a small drying oven, thermometers, a water bath, and related organic chemistry lab supplies and equipment. I managed to find a small, portable chemical ‘hood’ – a venting system to keep the lab area free of vapors and odors. We also acquired several small transparent safety shields, several laboratory-rated fire extinguishers, eye shields, and needed clamps and stands for mounting and assembling glassware. We also picked up a small centrifuge, several pipettes and micropipettors, and a UV lamp.


In our respective small talk with the staff we discussed what we were doing with the equipment. I was designing chemistry activities for public science centers/museums. Tom was getting a lab experience together for a new charter school focusing on science. That was more than enough to establish our ‘legitimacy’.


We got together later to wash and dry everything and package it in small moving boxes as if it were dishes and cooking ware. We of course tested all the powered equipment (hot plates, stirrers, etc.) and either fixed or discarded what didn’t work.


I have a great collection of Vernier Instruments sensors, detectors, and monitors. Tom and I selected the ones we needed – pH, gas pressure, temperature, flow rate, turbidity, color density, mass/weight, and even optical density (absorption spectrometer). Any others we needed we could easily buy without suspicion. These devices are used in many high school and college chemistry courses and labs. I also had all the digital interfaces, an old i-Book Mac with the old software appropriate for these various sensors, and even some handheld, portable, Vernier LabQuest units.



“Amazing,” Tom said. “Vernier’s stuff is good, cheap, easy to use. They even sell gas chromatographs, melting point rigs, and other equipment.”


“They’ve used all the new technology so that you can set up a fairly complete lab in any basic science discipline for a few thousand dollars – or less.” I said. “If only I hadn’t given away my old infrared spectrometer, we’d of had it all.”


“That was a great instrument,” Tom said. “Did you give it to the Chemistry Department?”


“Yes – for their science teacher education lab – just a year and a half ago. Too late now.”


“I think we can do without IR spectra,” Tom said. “Or one of us – you especially – could get a few minutes on one of the U instruments in Pharmacy, I’m sure.”


“The Beckman infrared unit was so cool for teaching basic polymer science. I kept it on a lab cart, and would wheel it to my classroom. That was when our offices, labs, and classrooms were all in the large Engineering Building. Then, as I introduced the various fundamental classes of polymers, I’d have the kids run their thin film IR spectra – so they could see and identify the various molecular bonds. As the paper chugged along, the spectrum would slowly unroll and develop.”


“They don’t get that experience anymore. It’s all Fourier Transform – based now; no ‘real’ spectrum, just a mathematical transformation,” Tom noted. “But it is faster and far more sensitive and precise.”


“Enough nostalgia,” I said. “Fortunately Shulgin has laid it all out for us – and you may not have a lot of time.”


“Shulgin did have his own mass spec,” Tom noted. “You may have to arrange for a few runs on campus for me.”


“I’m sure the ‘lab’ you set up will be at least as good as Shulgin’s,” I said. “When I saw his lab in the Dirty Pictures documentary, it was hard to believe he actually ingested stuff made in it!”


“Have you guys seen the first few episodes of Breaking Bad?” asked Lucien. “Teacher, lab, drugs – it’s all there – and in an RV!”


“My lab will be clean and orderly – and hopefully as productive as Shulgin’s,” Tom said. “I’m making a final list of chemicals and related supplies,” he said to me, adding, “Can you check U Chemistry Stockroom to see what we might get via them?”


“Sure. And I’ll be sure there’s some money in my U personal Research Fund so I can order stuff via U processes. I need to have a new research project in case anyone asks. How about ‘Green Chemistry Experiments’?”


“That sounds tame enough,” Tom said. “I’m off to Oregon next week. I want to start looking at places and possibilities right away. I’ll look in Portland first. If I decide I want to move, that may be better for me than Manzanita.”


“And still fine for harmless,” I added.


“I’ve decided, for now, to stay with the U Cancer Institute for treatments, so I’ll have 18 day windows between treatments to get to and from Oregon and to do the work there. It should suffice. I only need to make 2 or 3 batches to provide all we’re likely to need.”


“Let’s plan on you flying to and from. The folks in Salt Lake and in Portland can provide local transportation.”


“Deal,” Tom said.




Green Chemistry is safe chemistry, so I can say, if asked, that it’s ok to use my existing U office/shop for my new project. There’s already a small work bench in it. I just added some beakers, flasks, and a small hot plate for show, and some vials/bottles of common safe, green chemicals – the stuff I used during my bioluminescence demonstrations for teachers decades ago. It’ll serve as a suitable ‘front’. The stuff I actually purchase will be taken home and then on to Tom in Oregon. I’ve always had green plants in my various offices, including cacti and euphorbias (because of an interest in their oil-containing latexes). Some new and different plants won’t attract any attention. Bill has a key to my office so he can tend them when I’m on the road.



“I’ve been thinking,” Jay said. “It’s challenging and fun to think of treating our patients in their chambers or offices, but the security in and near the Capitol and the nearby office buildings is likely to be a serious problem for us. It might be wiser to interact with them in the field – on their home turfs.”


“Well, they are nearly always on vacation,” Bill said. “It just means more travel for those of us delivering their therapy. We need to get into their events, town meetings, district offices – and find out who’s supplying the snacks, the lunches, and even the dinners.”


“We need to select a patient for each of us to focus on – and come up with a set of plans and strategies to access and interact with that patient. These will be our case studies or examples,” I said.


“OK,” said Jay. “Let’s each pick a state and patient.”


“I want Darrell Issa in San Diego,” said Bill. “He is certainly high up on my ‘needs a revelation’ list. His district is easy for me to get to.”


“I’m partial to Florida,” said Jay. “Perhaps Marco Rubio?”


“And I’ll do my ‘friend’ Chris Stewart here in Utah,” I said.


“We need to be sure our first ‘cases’ are evil enough to merit our initial attention. Looks like we all have more homework.”


“I’ll coordinate with Lucien to get them on his master spreadsheet,” Jay noted.




Bill was right on it: Darrell Issa, California House District 49 – is his official site. District 49 spans the Southern California coast centered on Oceanside, between LA and San Diego. UC San Diego and La Jolla are just outside the District. Issa was negatively profiled in the New Yorker in 2011 and has been recently compared to the infamous Joe McCarthy. He’s a prolific tweeter @darrellissa . He posts regularly on YouTube. He has local district offices in Vista and Dana Point. He does local events, although no immediate upcoming ones on his Facebook page. His Facebook profile lists Atlas Shrugged as his favorite book.


“Another guy still trying to escape puberty!” Peter said.


“That’s just the beginning. Ethics issues, possible fraud, dogmatic, a denier,” Bill added. “He has a business BA degree from either Siena Heights (Catholic) University or Kent State, depending on which profile one reads.”


“He’s very pro-business – especially his businesses. His Congressional office and personal business office – in Vista, California – are in the same building – just a few doors apart. So much for conflicts of interest and full time work as a Congressman.”


“The New Yorker piece in 2011 is terrific – and his mother was a Mormon,” Jay said.


“Even better is his Wikipedia profile,” said Bill. “Problems with the law, auto theft, other issues; an in-your-face tough type. His wiki-profile was so negative that I’ve saved it, in case he insists on it being changed.”


“He’s not at all uncommon,” Lucien said. “There’s so many more like that – uneducated, dogmatic, arrogant, know-it-alls.”


“You don’t need to make them up,” Jay said. “Just look them up!”


“There may be an access issue,” Bill noted. “He doesn’t seem to have had a town or public meeting in the district for a long time. He may not be making local public appearances until the next election cycle.”


“Then we’ll just have to get to him in DC – perhaps at a Committee meeting, reception, or other event,” Jay suggested.


“Issa recently volunteered to be Speaker of the House – after railing at McCarthy for his Benghazi – Hillary political comments. He’s also criticized Chaffetz as being inadequate for the Speakership.”


“Testy ideologs don’t usually get along – they’re generally trying to outpiss each other,” Peter said.


“A good beginning,” I said. “Do set up columns in your spreadsheets for education, criminal-legal issues, company issues, offices, family, residences, schools, clubs, hangups,…and, of course, events, speeches, media, anniversaries, celebrations where we might be able to make some contact.”




My turn for case study – patient homework. I will do Stewart (Utah District 2), but a perhaps easier case is Mia Love, newly elected Republican – tea party darling in Utah District 4. Love is Mormon, a mother of three, very far to the right, child of Haitian immigrants, and black. She’s likely fond of Kool-Aid and Jello, Utah’s state desert. And I’m one of her constituents! She’s so young and inexperienced that I hope her neurons haven’t fully calcified yet – and that she might perhaps be more amenable to a facilitated revelation. She does have Mormon and tea party ‘bars’ on the few windows in her mental tunnel. I have some copies of the large picture book, Energy, by the Post-Carbon Institute, that I was supposed to present to Utah Congressmen – and now woman. I’ll arrange to see her. And I will get to Stewart as well (I gave him the same book earlier).




The harmless team now meets for coffee at The Roasting Company. Tom is now in Oregon and working with Lucien and Peter.




“Let’s discuss Hatch,” I said.


“Multilevel Marketing – or MLM – is Utah’s premier get-rich-quick industry – ” said Jay. “- marginally legal pyramid schemes. Nu Skin/Pharmanex and USANA are two major local players.”


“It’s Senator Hatch’s darling little industry,” added Bill. “There are so many to choose from. Perhaps the one who gives the most bribery money to Hatch?”


“They all give,” I said, “probably routed through the United Natural Products Association. Hatch’s job is to keep the FDA out of their territory. And he does a good job for them.”

“Yes, so good that the so-called Natural Products folks gave him a tribute luncheon a while ago, to celebrate and recognize the 20 year anniversary of the 1994 dietary supplement act,” Jay added. “That helped fuel Utah’s multi-level marketing industry and its pyramid scheme-like strategy for making big bucks off susceptible, largely ignorant people.”


“But it gives us the right to sell and buy such products,” Bill said, cynically. “Did you hear about the HBO TV program, Real Sports? It took Hatch on for allowing bad supplement crap to be sold to military men and women, impairing their health and wellbeing. He refused to be interviewed for the program, then foamed at the mouth when he learned how they presented him.”


“He deserved it. But he is technically interesting. He came out for stem cell research funding. He may not be completely hopeless,” Jay said, optimistically. “After all, Mormons believe in revelation.”


“We all mellow – or harden – with age,” I added. “Perhaps we can help him mellow.”


“Aged he is,” Bill said. “He’s now 81 and has several more years to serve in his seventh term.”


“His blatant plutocracy and hypocrisy is stronger than ever,” Jay added.


“Pray, tell,” Bill smiled.


“He’s been a strong advocate for the TPP – the trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal – until now.” Jay said.


“What changed?” I asked.


“He and his pharmaceutical industry buddies read the draft TPP, learning that USA biologicals will only get up to 8 years of exclusive, monopoly rights – rather than the 12 they wanted. So he’s cried foul and now threatens to oppose and derail the agreement.”


“He’s always been in the pocket of big pharma,” I said. “He’s been receiving more dollars from big pharma than any other member of Congress. And he’s been in their pockets for nearly 40 years.”


“Derailing the TPP is a good thing, I think,” Bill said, “but Hatch is doing it for the wrong reasons.”


“The Times article said there ‘…has long been a revolving door between his Senate office and the industry for employees’.”


“Including his son, Peter, a big pharma occasional lobbyist,” I added.


“At least Utah is consistent – our political hypocrisy is alive and well,” Jay said.


“As is our Mormon Church’s hypocrisy,” Bill smiled, “based on their recent LGBT and children non-revelation.”


“He’s so close and convenient, let’s put him on our list,” I said.


“Done,” Jay said.



I proceeded to make some multi-level marketing contacts. In doing my Mia Love homework, I noted that a significant donor to her recent campaign – thanks to the site – is something called the Direct Selling Association (DSA). Another advocate for pyramid schemes?


A little homework told me that folks high up in Nu Skin, Herbalife, and Amway serve on the DSA Board, so question answered. Yes, it’s – at least in large part – about multi-level marketing. And they have a PAC, of course. Perhaps Mia Love is being tutored by Orrin Hatch?




My U office was now ‘presentable’ for receiving and storing needed supplies and chemicals. I let the Department office staff know I was initiating a new project, put several thousand new dollars in my Research Fund, and said I would be submitting a few purchase orders very soon. They were happy to see I was staying active in research.


I came across my old Molecular Fingerprinting poster for a prototype exhibit at The Leonardo. Molecular Fingerprinting teaches the concept of organic functional groups and organic molecule detection. The exhibit and the instrument were in The Leonardo’s basement, stored, unused, and without any plans for its use.


I was concerned that we didn’t have any real analytical tools for insuring that Tom’s chemical creations were indeed what we expected them to be and for insuring that other products present were not toxic or otherwise damaging to the project – or to our testers. Having worked with Raman spectroscopy, and even a bit many years ago with a semi-magical method called surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), I did some homework.


Thanks, god, for Google! And for online library access. There’s a literature on the use of Raman for drug analysis. Although I knew that and it was part of the prototype exhibit, I didn’t know that SERS was being studied for analysis of illegal drugs – and apparently works very well. I found several good papers and protocols in the drug analysis literature.


The sample is first separated by thin layer chromatography (TLC), a simple, inexpensive, and very sensitive method to separate the molecular components of a sample. TLC is commonly used in science classes to demonstrate the physical properties of molecules, producing a set of spots on a plate.


Raman spectroscopy is generally not a very sensitive method, but by sprinkling some special silver-based powder (a colloid) on the spots, the silver surface greatly enhances the Raman signal, via the SERS mechanism, resulting in a spectrum which is interpretable in terms of the molecular bonds present – thus identifying the molecule in each spot.


The fiber optic Raman unit donated for and used in The Leonardo exhibit should work fine for the direct analysis of the purified and crystallized products of Tom’s synthetic organic chemistry work. So I retrieved it, cleaned it, and re-installed it in my U office – further enhancing the credibility of my new research activities!


And then I recalled that Nu Skin/Pharmanex – some years ago – actually applied a Raman-based skin analyzer to encourage the selling of its skin products.


More homework.



It’s now called the Pharmanex S2 Biophotonic Scanner. The sales person or ‘diagnostician’ measures your Skin Carotenoid Score using a Raman measure of your skin. It generally says you are in need of carotenoids – skin antioxidants, which Nu Skin, of course, sells. ‘… it’s a business opportunity like no other in the world’, their site says.


The NuSkin approach has nothing to do with our drug analysis, but it is interesting in view of the Hatch-Love-Chaffetz (Utah Congress District 3) support for MLM and related ‘economic development’ activities for Utah. Chaffetz used to work for Nu Skin! Mother Jones magazine did an interesting piece in 2012 related to the Romney campaign – about the love-fest between Romney, Utah, and MLM.


It’s been said that MLM stands for ‘Mormons losing Money’. They dress so well – and exude such ethical confidence! – and fleece their Mormon ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’.



“And now we learn that Kirk Jowers, former head of the U’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, quit to become VP for International Activities of a local MLM firm,” I said.


“An MLM ‘opportunity’, eh?” Bill said. “And the state just got an A+ for financial literacy in schools! But they don’t understand pyramid, Ponzi, and charlatan schemes!”


“It’s difficult to be financially literate if you can’t add or subtract,” I added.


“Or multiply,” Jay smiled. “Jowers expected to be Mitt Romney’s Presidential Chief of Staff. He was one of Mitt’s Mormon followers.”


“He wasn’t a bad Hinckley Institute Director,” I said, “but hopefully his replacement will be less obviously partisan.”



“Back to Issa,” Bill said. “There’s a Chaffetz – Issa connection now. Chaffetz became Chair of the House Oversight Committee; Issa could not continue because of Committee Chair term limit rules in the House.”


“So Issa can’t go around issuing subpoenas to everyone anymore?” Jay asked.


“Right. In fact, Chaffetz said he would run things differently.”


“He issues the subpoenas now,” Jay smiled.




harmless West – Peter, Lucien, and Tom – just met in Portland – Peter filled me in:


They had met at the Library branch near Lucien’s place. Tom had been in Portland for several days. Lucien mentioned looking for and seeing the Woodstock sassafras tree.


“It’s in a backyard behind the discount store I often shop at – really beautiful and very large,” he said. “It would be a shame to have to retrieve its roots for Tom to do a steam extraction and distillation.”


Peter quickly came to its – and Lucien’s – defense: “You might get shot digging up someone’s tree roots. Bill is looking for some in nurseries that we may be able to set free,” he said.


“I’ll plant several in my yard,” Lucien said. “Not for harmless, but for me. I understand the leaves are multi-colored and beautiful.”




Lucien had suggested a small cottage for rent near his home. Peter thought it looked OK, and the price was right – about $1,300/month with a six month lease. It doesn’t smell of fungus or excess humidity, and the windows and doors are intact and lock. It had a small, secure, windowless garage, suitable to store stuff. Peter will attempt to meet the neighbors, to see if they appear too curious or problematic. The bathroom and kitchen are functional, decent, and their windows face to the back of the lot. Curious neighbors or kids are unlikely to see anything. And the yard has several large trees and lots of foliage.


“The foliage should keep the black helicopters from seeing much,” Tom joked. “I’d suggest we get it. Two month’s rent in advance. And it’s available in about 30 days.”



I was delighted, as that would give me time to get the additional materials via U orders and time for us to get the equipment and related materials to Portland. Tom would do a return trip to Salt Lake for his next chemo session and then return to his new duties in Portland.



Peter confirmed that the neighbors seemed OK. Tom viewed the place, confirmed the functionality of utilities, doors, windows, garage, etc., and was assured the roof didn’t leak, that the heating worked, and that he could live there for short periods. He rented the place in his name so he could begin to establish residency and arranged for energy utility services. Lucien provided a local reference.


We would soon be making illegal drugs – with the non-defense that they should indeed be legal. With a little luck we should have small, test amounts of MDMA within 60 days.


It was up to Bill now to get some sassafras root and up to me to get the rest of the chemicals and materials. Tom and I will meet to decide upon synthesis routes and related chemical details.




Bill was back from Vista and Oceanside, key towns in Issa’s District 49.


“Real quiet there,” Bill said. ‘The major paper seems to be the San Diego Union-Tribune, which has a North County section covering much of the District. There’s also The Coast News. It’s surprising that Oceanside, a city of nearly 200,000 residents, doesn’t seem to have a major daily newspaper.”


“Maybe that’s why they keep electing someone like Darrell Issa,” Jay said.


“Well, Salt Lake has two major dailies, and look who we elect,” Bill responded, continuing: “Issa’s Vista office, and the new Dana Point office, were very quiet, although his personal business office in Vista seemed to be busy. I did find IssaWatch and IssaOversight web sites, but they don’t seem too helpful. I’m afraid it’s his Facebook and Twitter feeds that will provide the most information: his Facebook handle is just Darrell Issa; according to Facebook, he does get to dog parks.”


“Now that he no longer chairs Oversight, perhaps he’s not so important,” I suggested.


“Since Barbara Boxer just announced she’s not running in 2016, the California Senate race is wide open. Issa might just consider a run,” Jay suggested.


“Maybe. He was actually running for Governor in 2003 – until Schwarzenegger stepped up. Maybe 2016?” said Bill. “Let’s keep him on the list – he definitely needs exorcising. We may have access via his new Committee assignment: House Subcommittee on the Internet, Courts and Intellectual Property. The House Committees occasionally have hearings and meetings outside of Washington.”


“And while we’re on politicos,” Bill said, “did you hear what our ‘friend’ Chaffetz just did? He just told one of his constituents that climate change is an Al Gore hoax. No big surprise, I guess. And as the new chair of the Oversight Committee, he took down Issa’s portrait and those of earlier chairs – wants a new look in the committee room.”


“No wonder Darrell was pissed,” Jay smiled.

Chapter 2: From Eleusis to Revelation

“So how are you going to drug Stewart – in his Mormon coffee?”

That’s Jay talking about Utah’s then new District 2 Congressman, Republican Chris Stewart.

“Ryan couldn’t even begin to get him to think during his protest at a Stewart town meeting. The guy’s hopeless.”

Ryan is young, gutsy, passionate. On his first day as a public school bus driver in Salt Lake City, he altered his route slightly so the students on board could see the large protest near the Federal Courthouse – a protest against the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher for ‘disrupting’ a Federal fossil fuel lease auction (see Bidder 70 for details). Ryan was fired from his new job the next day.

“Stewart has been deprived of any intellectual puberty. He’s an anti-science ideologue, a far-right Republican – an arrogant denialist – and a Mitt Romney wannabe,” Jay said.

Jay helped during my campaign against Stewart in 2012. Jay’s tall, thin, bearded – and emotional and even impulsive, like Ryan but some 40 years older. He has a deep, resonant voice – and is impatient for change.

“But he is Mormon, meaning he believes in ‘agency’,” I said. “Maybe he can accept a ‘revelation’.”

“The Revelation won’t come from his Church,” said Bill. “That is truly hopeless.”

Bill (William) is a PhD plant ecologist – a good friend. We meet about weekly to talk and commiserate. He loves to read, ponder, discuss, but rarely acts. He almost never writes a letter or asks a question in public. We sometimes call him William – the Connector because he loves to bring different people together.

Bill continued: “The Mormons just had their General Conference. Three of their Big Twelve died recently – they had three big slots to fill.”

He was referring to Mormonism’s twice a year General Conference and to their ruling body, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The Quorum advises and reports to the First Presidency, a three man group reporting directly to Jesus Christ.

“Yes,” Jay said. “And they filled them with old, Utah born, white guys. So much for recognizing diversity.”

“Well, we didn’t expect a woman – but someone at least off-white would have been interesting,” Bill added.

“Someone with some hope of receiving a revelation or two would have been helpful,” I said.

“A little LSD might work – better, Ecstasy.” That was Peter – he’s been there, he knows.

Peter’s a close friend – fond of Nepal, impossible hikes, and pushing the limits. He was in Salt Lake to see me and meet Jay and Bill. He’s the most ‘experienced’ of our group.

Lucien added: “Ayuhuasca is easier to get. Maybe we could enroll him in one of the new clinical studies!”

He was joking, of course. Lucien and I are closely related. He also lives in Oregon, and was in town for our discussions.

I had talked with each of them, individually, about my concerns and plans. This was the first meeting of the entire group. They were getting to know each other.

We went on. Is the ‘engineering’ of revelation reasonable? Legal? Ethical?

“Real education is about revelation,” I said, “getting people to relax their preconceptions and getting them to think – rationally, objectively, critically.”

“Not in Utah,” said Jay, “nor in roughly half of this country.”


I had no ‘experience’, although some of my in-laws and friends do. Clinton and Obama apparently experienced marijuana, but I got through Berkeley, the Free Speech Movement, and my California-based education in the sixties without smoking – or taking – anything. ‘You’re a pharmacologic virgin’, an anesthesiologist colleague once told me, decades before my interest in revelation engineering.

We agreed to do some homework – and to meet again the next day.


“Have you heard about Delphi – and the Oracle?” Bill asked. He’s well read, interested in everything, and a great conversationalist. We were talking about my early ideas for the ‘project’.

“Tell me more,” I said.

“The Greek God, Apollo, had a site, Delphi, where a priestess, supposedly Apollo’s voice or messenger, said wise things – advice, predictions, cautions… It was so significant and important that a temple was built on the site and became known as The Oracle of Delphi.”

Bill loved history, especially archeologically-based history. He had heard of the ‘vapor’ mechanism – that the priestess, according to popular historian Thomas Cahill, was apparently high on vapors. The Delphi oracle or priestess was called Pythia – and she was stimulated and empowered by a sweet smelling vapor.


There is credible evidence that the site indeed had seismic activity, underground springs, vapor releases, and was likely a source of at least sporadic hydrocarbon releases. The current consensus seems to be that the active agent was ethylene – the reason some sniff glues, solvents, etc. Once used as a sweet smelling anesthetic, ethylene produces – in light doses – a sense of mild euphoria. Plants produce and respond to ethylene – it seems to be a regulator or signaling agent. Some Delphi stories suggest that the vapors were the sweet breath of Gaia – the breath of God. There’s also an oleander hypothesis – that ingesting or breathing oleander smoke may help explain the priestess’ behavior.


“There’s an earlier theory about the Oracle,” noted Lucien. “There’s a lot written on the history of hallucinogens and cannabis. The Greeks used to drink it with wine and ate hemp cakes to get high. Hemp seed vapors can turn most anyone into an Oracle of sorts.”

“Right,” Bill added. “And there’s credible evidence for medicinal and even psychedelic drug use that even pre-dates the Romans and the Greeks.”

Soma is what it was called in India, Tibet, and China,” Peter said. “Long before Huxley experienced mescaline and wrote The Doors… he called his Brave New World drug soma.”

“I’ve done a bit more reading on the Oracle and Delphi,” Bill said.

“I’m not surprised.” I said. “It’s not really homework, is it?”

“Nope. If you’re alive and curious, it’s life.”

“It’s the excitement of experimenting – of figuring things out.”

“Which is the title of one of Richard Feynman’s little books – The Pleasure of Figuring Things Out,” Bill continued. “It’s also about the pleasure of just learning something new.”

“Which reminds me of a recent post on writing and teaching, by James M. Lang:

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

“That’s the first line of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Bill said, excitedly. “Such curiosity, such staying power – and you can’t stop reading!”

“You never know when and where what you’ve learned will come in handy,” I smiled.

Bill continued: “There’s a book by William Broad called The Oracle – very complete and fascinating. He starts with a quote from Socrates on the Oracle: ‘The greatest blessings come by way of madness, indeed of madness that is heaven-sent’.

“Or chemically facilitated?” asked Lucien.

“It was likely chemically facilitated at Delphi,” Bill continued. “The priestess acted hallucinatory, possessed, even mad.”

“So Cervantes may have been quoting Socrates, in the last lines of Don Quixote: ‘Too much sanity may be madness – and the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it ought to be’.”

I don’t recall where the link to the Eleusinian Mysteries came from – someone must have told me something. But when they did, it immediately reminded me of my own honor society initiation at San Jose State, well over 50 years ago. I was a clueless undergrad at the time, with no idea that such a significant and seminal event in my own development may have had its origins in Greece.

Tau Delta Phi was San Jose State College’s (now University) honor society. I was a fresh UC – Berkeley dropout, newly transferred to San Jose. Confused. Disillusioned. Great grades that first semester at San Jose, qualifying me for Tau Delta Phi membership. Little did I know, until very recently, that my initiation was based on ancient Greek rites.

It was an evening event. We assembled on a street adjacent to a University building, lined up, single file – as I recall. I was with one of my housemates at the time, also a new initiate. There were only a handful of us and some dozen or more ‘leaders’. Our ‘teachers’ – members and former initiates – were in white gowns. It was dark. We were fitted with blindfolds, so we ‘wouldn’t be distracted’, nor know where we were going, or where we had been, or who was questioning us. We were led into the building – various floors, corridors, rooms. We could hear but we could not see. Each initiate was questioned – many times – by multiple leaders. Questions involved personal philosophy, education, perspectives, knowledge. But it wasn’t really about knowledge, it was about thinking, arguing. There was no alcohol, no drugs – just darkness and questions, discussions, criticism, dialog; it went on for many hours. It was not harassment – it was about personal growth and intellectual development.

It was an incredible experience.

That was way before David Foster Wallace and his 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College. If only I had been exposed to his level of perception and thinking some 50 years ago I might have learned and accomplished much more – and been more helpful in working to save the world.

The Tau Delta Phi initiation was a transformational moment. It was when I really began to think for myself, really developed some self-confidence, some intellectual foundation. I had been through a rite of intellectual and philosophical passage. It inspired me to take Philosophy of Personal Values – the best course I’ve ever taken.

Some fifty-five years later I learn about Eleusis and its ‘Mysteries’!


About 2000 years ago – and for 2000 years before that – a rite of passage and mental expansion was performed in ancient Greece. Steeped originally in pagan Greek religion, it apparently evolved into a rite for responsible citizenship – a process for self-understanding – for proceeding, for transitioning, from one world or state to another. It was finally snuffed out by Christianity just before 400 AD, because the Eleusinian experience was at odds with Christianity’s insistence on a God who didn’t seem to like self-transcendence.

Not much is known about the Eleusinian ceremony. It started out as a pagan religious ritual to be kept secret, upon penalty of death. That’s why the activities are referred to as the Eleusinian Mysteries.

There are several somewhat incomplete descriptions, including Mylonas’ Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries, 1961. The Road to Eleusis, 2008, by Ruck, Hoffman, and others is very relevant to our interests and project. It was a multi-day event, involving processions, sacred objects, a special drink or potion called kykeon, and periods in the dark, probably blindfolded. It was held in and near Eleusis, among fields well suited for the growing of barley and other grains.

A type of barley was harvested, extracted with water and mint, transferred to special cups or chalices, and solemnly presented to the initiates to drink, after a long procession, fasting, and various ceremonies. They then waited in darkness. Slowly a hallucinogenic-like experience evolved. This ‘trip’, in the presence of mentors, sacred objects, and other initiates, ‘…evoked alterations in their souls.’

The original Eleusis-focused event gained great prominence. It became a component of Athenian citizenship. Over the years the rites apparently expanded throughout Greece and even major parts of the Roman Empire. The event was apparently held every five years (some say annually) at a giant initiation hall in or near Eleusis, with over 3,000 inductees!

The Road to Eleusis notes that

…revelations about the essence of human existence and about the meaning of life and death must have been imparted to the initiates. The ceremony lead to healing, …to the transcendence of the division between humankind and nature – …the abolition of the separation between creator and creation.

No wonder Christianity was opposed!

Cicero, a Roman philosopher and statesman, apparently experienced the ‘Mystery’, saying:

               …Athens brought forth numerous divine things, yet she never created anything nobler than those sublime Mysteries through which we became gentler and have advanced from a barbarous and rustic life to a more civilized one…

“From ‘barbarous’ to ‘more civilized’ – that’s exactly what we want. That sure sounds good to me,” Bill concluded.

“I saw in Stamets’ book on Psilocybin Mushrooms that the Aztecs did something similar, an annual ‘Feast of the Revelations’ involving mushrooms, honey, and chocolate,” Lucien said. “There’s very little documentation. The Catholic Church may have stamped out the practice shortly after the Conquistadores arrived.”


Although my Tau Delta Phi experience didn’t involve any potions or drugs, the Oracle of Delphi and the Eleusinian Mysteries apparently did. Indeed there is evidence for mind-expanding chemical use throughout history, on all continents, by many if not most cultures.

Ruck also published Mushrooms, Myth and Mithras in 2011. In Mithras he notes that Eleusinian-like rites and initiations were very common throughout much of the ancient world, utilizing a variety of fungi for the chemical agents. Some of the ceremonies involved intense, rhythmic drumming to facilitate transcendence. He notes that today some isolated groups of Kurds use similar ceremonies. And today some of that Kurdish Yazidi sect are being targeted and slaughtered by the ISIS ‘caliphate’ in Iraq.

Masonic or Free Mason groups also employed rites and rituals involving chemical agents and active vapors.

Ruck concludes with:

What better a hope has humanity than to tear asunder our preconceptions and psychological obstacles … to our present folly, and to more fully realize our best hopes for a more civilized future?

If the Greeks and other ancients can employ drug-induced revelation, then perhaps so can we.


“So we need to institute an Eleusinian-like experience as part of the swearing in of newly elected public officials?”

“It makes more sense than a hand on a bible,” added Jay. “Republicans do like pageantry – and recognition.”

“And some of them like to smoke. Wasn’t former Speaker Boehner a pack a day guy?” I said. “He apparently smells and exudes smoke, according to his replacement, Paul Ryan.”

“Well, Boehner is largely out of the picture now – and so is Kevin McCarthy – originally Boehner’s heir apparent!”

“Before Kevin verbally blew off his own toes,” Jay smiled. “Republicans – the party of chaos.”

“I don’t think getting Paul Ryan – or any of them – to smoke pot is the way to go. We need something stronger, more empathetic, more effective. Some entheogen – an empathy-inducing psychedelic might help – yes, an empathogen,” Peter suggested.

Jay: “Easy to say and very hard to do. Except for marijuana in a very few states, they’re all illegal. And Tea Party Republicans won’t agree to magic incense at their swearing in!”

“It has to be clandestine,” I said. “Clandestine and all at once.”

“What are you smoking?” asked Lucien.

“Nothing, yet. I’m a pharmacologic near-virgin, remember?”

“The Eleusinian ceremonies were voluntary, weren’t they?” Lucien continued.

“Sort of – they were ‘expected’ of all good citizens. That probably means not quite voluntary. The historical record is not very complete.”

“In Island – Aldous Huxley’s last novel – he describes an initiation ceremony for all youth – involving physical ordeals followed by ingestion of a transcendental agent, moksha. His key character, a Dr. Roberts, says: ‘When it’s time for them to learn the deepest truths …we…give them four hundred milligrams of revelation.’ They repeated the experience every year until they graduated to adulthood.”

Interesting. And moksha apparently means liberation.

It got me thinking – and doing more homework. Time to put my old, latent organic chemistry training – and drug delivery days – to work.

What might psycho-pharmacology really have available?



Albert Hofmann died in 2008 at the age of 102. His work and journey is documented in LSD – My Problem Child, first published in German in 1979, with the third and most recent printing in 2005. A recent and very good biography is: Mystic Chemist, 2013.

Hofmann, working at Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, first synthesized LSD in 1938 as a chemical derivative of ergotamine, a component of ergot, a fungus often common to rye plants and also widely found with wheat and barley. Grains heavily infected with ergot – and breads made from such grains – can cause severe human toxicity and even death.

Hofmann’s precise and exquisite organic chemistry skills led to many derivatives, the most interesting and important of which is lysergic acid diethylamide; he labeled it LSD-25, now commonly just called LSD, lysergic acid, or ‘acid’ in popular drug slang. It was not until 1943 that Hofmann personally experienced the psychedelic effects of extremely small quantities of LSD-25 – the most powerful and potent psychedelic agent known. He was apparently the very first to experience an LSD ‘trip’. As LSD-25 is non-addictive and has very low toxicity, starting in 1947 Sandoz made the drug available to chemists, scientists, and physicians for research purposes. The practice was stopped when psychedelics were declared illegal in the United States in 1968.

Aldous Huxley helped popularize psychedelics via his own personal experiences, made well known by his little book: The Doors of Perception, 1954. The term psychedelic was coined by Humphrey Osmond, one of Huxley’s mentors. Osmond was a psychiatrist working in Saskatchewan – one of the very earliest LSD investigators. Huxley experienced mescaline, psilocybin, and LSD. He was already an internationally recognized writer and intellectual when he published The Doors of Perception.

Awareness of LSD and other psycho-drugs and their diffusion into popular culture was facilitated by a group of fascinating, creative, forward-looking (and some careless) individuals, resulting eventually in abuse and overuse of LSD and other psychedelic drugs. The drugs were declared illegal in 1968, thus stopping nearly all scientific and medical research with them in the United States. Limited studies did continue in several other countries.

Illegalization makes the illegal agent even more desirable and popular – and fuels an extensive street trade and economy – with no regulation and thus potentially dangerous products. Much illegal use and abuse did continue in the U.S.

Sidney Cohen was an objective, respected physician and LSD researcher who in 1964 published a seminal book, The Beyond Within. This is, in my opinion, the most poetic, succinct, and informative book title I have ever encountered. He published an updated second edition, with two additional chapters, in 1968, just before the 1968 ban. Cohen’s rational approach to the subject and good writing skills put the LSD situation on a solid foundation. He wrote:

A pill does not construct character, educate the emotions, or improve intelligence. It is not a spiritual labor-saving device, salvation, instant wisdom, or a shortcut to maturity. However, it can be an opportunity to experience oneself and the world in a new way – and to learn from it.

There is a vast beyond that lies within… We will not see the complete end of LSD taking until something even more attractive comes along…The present cast will have to leave the stage before a more hopeful, new beginning can commence.


The 1968 illegalization encouraged skilled chemists to develop non-illegal versions of the drugs: so-called non-psychoactive substances (NPS) which are ‘legal’ until they are explicitly declared illegal. A number of very creative and skillful organic chemists rose to the challenge, including Dr. Sasha Shulgin.

Shulgin’s summary is the clearest I’ve seen: the P, T, and Q molecules. The Qs are based on a double ring structure containing nitrogen (N), called the isoquinolones. Shulgin’s last major book, with Wendy Perry, is called The Simple Plant Isoquinolones.

The P class is the subject of his first major book (with his wife Ann) called PIHKAL (Phenethylamines I have Known and Loved, 1991-1998). The basic structure is a benzene ring, with three methyl ether groups (called methoxy) on one side and a three carbon chain on the other end. The Ps could be considered the simplest class, with only one ring as the core chemical structure. Mescaline is the best example.

A combined two ring system where the second ring includes a nitrogen, an indole structure, is the basis of the tryptamines. This is the T class and the subject of the Shulgins’ second major book, TIHKAL (Tryptamines I have Known and Loved, 1997-2014). Psilocybin is the best known example. The amino acid tryptophan is another indole-containing chemical. It is often written that LSD is another member of the T class, although LSD is far more complex chemically than psilocybin or tryptophan.

For both the P and T classes, a two carbon structure with a nitrogen on its end is required for psychedelic activity. That same structure is also characteristic of methamphetamine.

MDMA can be thought of as a highly modified P class, where two of the methyl ether (methoxy) groups have been ‘forced’ together to produce a second ring containing five atoms – two of them being oxygens. This unique structure (called a heterocyclic methylene-dioxy ring) is found in the natural compound safrole, which is often used as a starting material for MDMA synthesis. MDMA’s unique, unusual structure provides a pharmacology very different from the more traditional mind-altering compounds.

There are various ways to look at the many different molecules – structurally and functionally. Good summaries of psychedelics and related neurochemicals are available:

Daniel Perrine, The Chemistry of Mind-Altering Drugs, 1996.

David Nutt, Drugs without the Hot Air, 2012

Mike Power, Drugs Unlimited, 2013

Ben Sessa, The Psychedelic Renaissance, 2012.


“Hofmann could make almost anything – and Shulgin made nearly everything,” Tom said. He was new to the discussion. Tom and I worked together some decades ago on materials for medical devices. He’s one of those organic chemists who can make almost anything. He even looks a bit like Shulgin! I recruited Tom by telling him I was starting a new, interesting, politically effective, and largely illegal project. Tom was well aware of my concerns about the state of the nation and the planet – and was generally in sync with the concerns of the group. He was interested.

“I’m working with – and leading – a very small group concerned with the rapid deterioration of our democracy – and the rapid and possibly irreversible degradation of the planet,” I said. “We think that the time for politics is over.”

“Because it doesn’t work?” Tom asked. “Because of gerrymandering, money in politics, plutocracy?”

“Exactly,” I agreed. “The nation is so far over to the right – controlled by a bunch of simplistic, uninformed, and largely apathetic ideologues.”

Tom is another avid New York Times reader: “There was a good perspective by Douthat in the Times recently – related to evangelicals supporting Ben Carson’s candidacy. He said there is an ‘…evangelical tendency … to look for a kind of godly hero, a Christian leader … evangelical Christians … are always looking for a hero’.”

“Until the general population feels so oppressed, used, and manipulated that they actively rebel, nothing will happen,” Jay said.

“And by the time we reach the rebellion threshold,” Bill added, “ the degradation and deterioration will likely be irreversible, so we need to rapidly engineer an Eleusinian-like experience – a set of practical revelations.”

“Yes,” I seconded. “And it has to involve a sufficient number of elected officials and opinion leaders – in a short enough time window – to result in a change of mental, psychological, political states.”

“A National Revelation!” Tom said.

Tom had lived in Utah a long time – he understands revelation.

“Exactly,” I said. “A National State Change.”

“Cool,” Tom said. “I get it.”


“You do want an empathogen, like MDMA, don’t you?” Peter asked. “Huxley, Osmond, and Hubbard didn’t know about it because it didn’t exist in 1962.”

Actually, it had existed since 1914, when Merck patented it, and then again in 1960 when two Polish chemists again synthesized it. But its psychoactive characteristics were not generally known.

Peter’s reference to Hubbard refers to Captain Hubbard, a gutsy, charismatic, early LSD apostle who advocated using LSD for political and societal enhancement. He was called the ‘Johnny Appleseed of LSD’.

“I think so,” I said. “We want to, secretly, ‘engineer’ an internal revelation which leads our ‘initiates’ to be more compassionate, caring – more interested in humanity as a whole rather than solely in the individual – and more caring for the planet. We want all to feel an empathy for the planet.”

“You want to make Buddhists out of them!” Bill said. “Buddhists say the three major components of Wisdom are Interdependence, Mindfulness, and Compassion.”

“Sounds more and more like MDMA – Ecstasy,” Peter continued. “If they’d only called it Empathy, rather than Ecstasy, it might be legal today.”

“If you’re buying stuff on the street, would you buy Ecstasy or Empathy?” Lucien asked; he knows about ads and messaging.

“The terms empathogen, entactogen, and entheogen are used more or less interchangeably – but they are different,” I explained. “Entheogens relate to spirituality, visions – even religions – to seeing or experiencing God – to awakening the God within. The 2012 book edited by Thomas Roberts, The Psychedelic Future of the Mind, covers the field. LSD, mescaline, ayahuasca – the traditional psychedelics – are usually considered entheogens.”

“MDMA is not,” Peter said. “It’s an empathogen and an entactogen – meaning touching the self within.”

“What’s the dosage range for MDMA?” I asked.

“Roughly 100 milligrams of pure MDMA,” said Peter. “LSD works in the microgram range – 100 micros of LSD results in quite a trip. It’s the most potent psychedelic known. Most other drugs, like MDMA, require a thousand times higher dosage.”

“Delivery will be very difficult. We probably want something extremely potent, like LSD – micrograms rather than milligrams or grams,” I suggested.

“If it’s LSD, 100 micrograms is an incredibly small amount; there would be issues and difficulties because it is so potent,” Lucien noted.

“LSD is too hallucinatory – it’s for trips, not empathy,” Peter noted.

“But, how is it – or they – to be delivered?” asked Bill.

“How can we deliver illegal ‘drugs’ to groups of mentally rigid people who would never agree to ‘taking’ such drugs – and do it in an encouraging and facilitating social environment conducive to new thinking and even revelation?” I asked.

“Did you ever hear of a book called, Poisoning the Press? It’s fairly recent but was about Nixon and his cronies in 1972,” Jay asked.

“Is that the one where they put LSD on the target’s steering wheel?” Peter asked.

“Yes. They were after Jack Anderson – a muck-racking Utah columnist who covered the White House and the Capitol. Nixon wanted him killed.”

“Utah, again,” shrugged Bill. “But why not spike his milk directly?”

“The milk proteins would likely bind some of the LSD,” I said. “And, as you’ve suggested, they couldn’t spike his drinks, because he was a Mormon.”

“Yes, with nine kids as I recall,” Bill said.

“He might have absorbed enough LSD to go on an interesting ride – or road trip,” Peter smiled.

“They actually hoped he’d absorb enough to have a ‘hallucinogen-crazed auto crash’ – hopefully lethal.”

“And?” Bill asked.

“Apparently G. Gordon Liddy offered to assassinate Anderson ‘on the street’ – himself – as all other methods being proposed were just too iffy,” Jay said. “But it never happened. I think the whole Nixon pyramid fell apart at about that time.”


“The Eleusinian process was largely voluntary, in large groups, heavily facilitated by mentors and ceremony, and socially accepted and encouraged – and took a week or so to accomplish,” Bill added.

“And it was to help facilitate the development of socially responsible and effective citizens.”

“Yes, but it’s unlikely we’ll have access to large ceremonies or large groups.”

“Who are our targets?” Tom asked.

“Not targets,” I said, ‘you mean our ‘patients’.”

“Aren’t we talking about decreasing evils – political, economic, and environmental evil? Isn’t our goal to protect and save the planet from the evil of modern economic humanity?” That was Jake – normally quiet, but this time almost explosive in his intensity and commitment. He’s got a proud arrest record for environmental causes.

I knew Jake as a U undergraduate. He worked with me as an intern and then as the webmaster for my sites. He has worked with Peaceful Uprising, the group founded by and with Tim DeChristopher after his Federal auction action, arrest, and conviction. Now referred to as PeaceUp! they are focused on stopping tar sand development.

Jake continued: “It’s humanity we are really trying to ‘save’ – from itself. It is about evil – about irreversibly damaging the planet and thus endangering all of humanity. So our targets must be those doing or facilitating such evil.”

“Then that means the climate deniers, the Koch Brothers, the fossil fuel establishment,” Jay said.

“Yes, and the others pushing for a growth-oriented, consumption and resource-based, unregulated, ultra-Capitalistic economy, “ I added.

“So it’s not just Congressmen and Supreme Court Justices?”

“No, but perhaps we can start with them.”

“I think you need to expand the list to include truth deniers – liars. They’re the foundation for political evil. They deny, rewrite, expunge, destroy truth – deny reality,” Jake said. “We’re now in a planet-wide Tragedy of the Commons, and almost no one gets that.”

“Yes. They deny environmental realities, they deny gun violence realities, they deny everything they choose to not believe.”

“Did you see the recent Times editorial on Cruz, Ryan, and Obama’s very minimal executive orders on guns?” Jay asked. “The Times wrote ‘…hallucinatory fictions peddled by opportunists like Mr. Cruz’.”

“And by Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan – and the rest of the GOP circus,” Bill said.

“Putting them on LSD can’t hurt,” Peter smiled. “They’re already hallucinating.”

“But in the wrong direction,” Bill added. “And they’re not really hallucinating – they are opportunistic liars pandering to a scared, simplistic, fearful population.”

“Even selfish, evil-doing liars – even psychopaths – can experience revelations,” I suggested.

“Perhaps,” Bill said. “Mormon Church revelation functions as a history reset. They just ignore the past history, the past revelations, and start fresh. That’s why Romney was called the Etch-A-Sketch candidate in 2012. He just reset his old positions. They don’t need to rewrite history – they just ignore it!”

“And Catholics do something similar, on an individual basis – we call it Confession,” I said, recalling the Catholicism of my ancient adolescence. “They then start fresh, cleansed, expunged. Catholics and Mormons don’t lie – they just say ‘Opps’, and move on. Catholic Confession and Mormon Revelation have nearly the same function.”

“But Mormons don’t even have to say mea culpa – or a bunch of Hail Marys,” Bill noted. “They can just hit reset – and all is new and well.”

“Very efficient, isn’t it?”


Jake was very interested in our discussions, but was too young to be directly involved in the project. Although he already had an arrest record via his Tim and PeaceUp! related protests, I felt we couldn’t involve him any further. Bill agreed. We each kept working with him on our other projects, but stopped talking about MDMA or psychedelics.


“Our earlier discussion ties to a piece I just read by a former CNN investigative reporter,” Lucien said. “She said psychedelics saved her life, via a reset-like mechanism.”

“McKenna said the same thing back in 1989,” Peter said, referring to Terrence McKenna, who focused on psychoactive plants and fungi. “I heard him once, way back. He said the ego is like a tumor, growing by taking in unchallenged, taken-for-granted assumptions, resulting in what he called the dominator personality – and a dominator society.”

“Yes. His Esalen video is linked to on the CNN gal’s new site, ,” Lucien continued. “She quotes McKenna as saying that we have to reset our ego regularly – and that psychedelics can do that.”

“McKenna also said,” Peter recalled, “that our ego is really a pathological condition – it needs to be treated.”

“And that can be done via a psychedelic reset?” Lucien asked.

“That’s exactly what he said.”

“That’s what the CNN lady and is advocating,” Lucien said.

“Instant revelation, via instant reset,” Bill concluded. “Sounds like something Mormons should do at their semi-annual conferences – or every Sunday.”

“Amen,” I said.


“I don’t think we should consider new psychoactive substances just to skirt the law. Nearly all are not as good and most are really illegal anyway – and will be declared specifically illegal in a very short time,” Peter noted.

“Actually they’re all illegal. The designer drug laws of 1985 generalized the definition of illegal drugs to include nearly everything, including MDMA.”

“I think we need to be able to ‘deliver’ to individuals; to small groups, like a small committee or staff; and to bigger groups, like Supreme Court Justices. If so, we may need different methods of delivery.”

Bill: “Volatiles via inhalation; liquids via aerosols, skin contact, bathing or ingestion; and solids using pills, foods – via the GI tract.”

“On the street, solids are often dealt with by snorting, as well as by pills. It’s all dependent on dosage, solubility, speed of delivery,” said Peter.

“And that’s dependent on the specific drug or drug derivative; it’s size – molecular weight; it’s acid-base, polar, and hydrophobicity character; and the other chemicals in the mix. It’s all involved in what the pharmacy people call compounding,” I added.

“Well, I can probably synthesize the stuff – with the help of Shulgin’s books and papers,” Tom said, adding: “You weren’t told, but back in the late 70s when we were working in your U lab on hydrogels, I dabbled a bit trying to make several psychedelics, just for fun.”

“I certainly did not know,” I said. “How far did you get?”

“Making psychedelics was sort of a rite of passage for young organic chemists back then,” Tom answered. “Nearly all my friends in Goldstein’s lab made some, but most were too cautious to try any. This was before Shulgin began to publish on MDMA.”

“But you’re not so cautious now?” I asked.

“Why should I be, now? Tom said. “My situation – and the planet’s – have dramatically changed.”

“I was told at a dinner a few weeks ago that U Chemistry students chalked a large exterior wall of their building with structures of drugs – for display to the public at graduation ceremonies – ten or so years ago.”

“Chemists like chemistry – and chemicals.” Tom said.


Diana and I heard an NPR TED Radio piece about ‘willful blindness’ – about Margaret Heffernan. She addresses selective and willful ignorance in one of her books. She notes that there is a

…legal concept of willful blindness: You are responsible if you could have known, and should have known, something that instead you strove not to see.

That means you are indeed guilty if you ignored or denied something that is an obvious fact. Denial – or contrary ‘belief’ – is not a defense. Intentional ‘blindness’ or intentional ignorance is no excuse. We convinced ourselves that what we are discussing and planning is not evil – it is for societal and planetary good – it is about correcting ‘willful blindness’. I recalled reading, many years ago, someone quoting a part of the UNESCO Charter:              

               Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that we have to erect the ramparts of peace.

Our project is to assist ‘the minds of men’ (and women).

And in considering evil, the other, and the enemy, I recalled the great lyrics from South Pacific:

You’ve got to be taught

               To hate and to fear.

               You’ve got to be taught

               From year to year …

               You’ve got to be taught

               Before it’s too late

               Before you are six,

               Or seven or eight

               To hate all the people

               Your relatives hate.

And – for those who have been so taught, our goal is to undo that old teaching. We call it revelation.


“Many years ago I heard about an event in Orinda, where Owsley did a demonstration with DMSO.” Peter, again. He did have a varied youth.

Owsley Stanley was the Grateful Dead’s sound man and was personally responsible for providing millions of doses of LSD in the sixties. He died a few years ago in Australia.

“You were on a first name basis with him?” I asked.

“It was all first names back then.”

“Ken Kesey had some fantasy about using DMSO and LSD to transform the California Democratic Party,” Lucien added. “There’s a short section in Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aid book on it.”

“There are ways to increase skin permeability, to allow faster and more effective drug penetration and absorption,” I added. “Today there are better enhancers than DMSO – and the new ones don’t smell!”


Matt is an activist climate justice lawyer, with an office near the U and right above where Bill and I often meet for our luncheon discussions. Matt was Tim’s lawyer on the Federal lease auction case. He provided background and perspective for me on water and land issues during my 2012 run for Congress. I sought his perspectives and advice on State Change.

“You do know how illegal this all is?” he asked. “Everything you’ve told me is illegal – and legally indefensible. Tim couldn’t use good intentions. He couldn’t use ‘Save the World’ arguments during his defense. The Judge ruled it not legally relevant.”

Tim knew that what he was doing was formally illegal; that he’d likely be charged, convicted, and sentenced; and that he’d probably have to serve time. It’s in all his speeches. It’s the foundation to non-violent resistance: you get arrested and you, often, do time. It’s understood. But our situation would be different.

“I don’t know if there is a legal precedent for changing people’s minds – chemically. But making, selling, owning the stuff is illegal, yes,” Matt continued. “And poisoning people is certainly illegal.”

“But hypnosis isn’t illegal; charlatan TV evangelists aren’t, seducers aren’t,” I protested. “Are quacks, cheats, swindlers, or psychic manipulators illegal or liable? Not in our society today. Even lying seems to be no longer illegal – it’s now called free speech by our own Supreme Court.”

“And condoned – even advocated – by Republican presidential candidates,” Matt responded. “No one ever suggested the legal-justice system is rational or reasonable.”

“It is possible to have visions, altered consciousness, and trip-like experiences via fasting – or even hyperventilation,” I said. “And that’s legal. In fact there’s a well known former LSD therapist who continued his practice after LSD was banned – by using hyperventilation and rhythmic music – he calls it ‘holotropic breathing’.”

“Well, even I know enough chemistry,” Matt said, ‘to know that hyperventilation can lead to alkalosis and, if significant and prolonged, to changes in cerebral metabolic activity and even EEG patterns.”

“Hard to believe you’re a lawyer,” I smiled. “Unfortunately we don’t have time to engineer visions and revelations via extended holotropic breathwork. Drugs are faster, easier, more effective.”

“Yes, but very illegal. Have you considered inhaling Carbogen? It’s 2/3 oxygen and 1/3 CO2. I’ve heard it gets you high quickly – and legally.” After pausing, Matt added: “See that’s what I learn by being on the Department of Chemistry Advisory Board.”

“That sounds like an early, faster version of holotropic breathing,” I noted, “or of hyperventilation.”


There is much more to holotropic breathwork. The techniques go way, way back. Stanislav Grof’s Psychology of the Future discusses the relationship to Chinese chi and Japanese Ki as well as Indian pranayama. It’s used in various forms of yoga and in Sufi, Buddhist, and Taoist meditation. Music is a key part of Grof’s approach, as well as in Balinese and Inuit Eskimo versions.

‘The combination of music with faster breathing has a remarkable mind-altering power,’ Grof writes. But the technique is slow, requires many sessions with good mentors or therapists, and simply takes time. Grof concludes:

               The most powerful technique of inducing holotropic states for therapeutic purposes is, without any doubt, the use of psychedelic plants or substances.

MDMA is fast, effective, safe – and illegal.

“If you’re going to go ahead with your clandestine Eleusinian plan, read The Burglary,” Matt said. “Do as they did.”

“I’ve read The Burglary – and saw 1971. Your brief discussion after the showing was fascinating. I had no idea you were involved with the Church Committee,” I said. “I especially liked John Raines’ comment: ‘…it was time to move from non-violent protest to non-violent disruption’.”

Matt continued: “We have a functionally indifferent citizenry, born of cynicism, wallowing in a delirium of fear. We do have Wiki-Leaks, and Snowden, a Senate report on NSA activities, and a few Libertarians crowing about freedom and privacy. But you are right – the political situation is likely to get worse – a mental change of state is needed. But there is something new, thanks to Tim DeChristopher.”

“Are you referring to his new Climate Disobedience Center and the ‘necessity defense’?” I asked.

“Yes. The necessity defense was allowed in a Seattle case of five activists charged with trespassing and disruption of a mile long oil train. Amy Goodman’s program covered the trial, and said that ‘…the presiding judge will allow the defendants to argue their actions were necessary because of the threat of climate change’.”

“As to why the judge made such a ruling, DeChristopher wrote in a recent op-ed in The Guardian:

The judge has shown himself to be committed to a fully open trial of all the factors that would drive people to risk their bodies to stop fossil fuel expansion. This kind of openness is distressingly rare for civil disobedience cases in American courts. Why this particular judge, Anthony Howard, is breaking ranks in this climate trial is unknown, but I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that he is young enough that he will still be alive in 2050.

“It’s possible that if you and your colleagues are arrested and charged you might be able to use such a defense. Unlikely, but possible – it all depends on the judge.”

“That’s slightly better news,” I said. By the way, the commercial DVD of 1971 includes a special feature – a panel discussion with several of the burglars, the author of The Burglary, and the film’s producer – and includes Edward Snowden via Skype from Moscow.”

“Thanks,” Matt said. “I have to hear the interview.” Pausing, he continued: “I certainly do not advise you to break any laws … but if you do, consider doing it secretly – and keep it quiet for the rest of your lives. That’s the only way to stay out of jail. But do understand – you’ll probably be caught, convicted, and spend the rest of those lives in jail.”

I nodded.

“Goodbye and good luck,” he smiled.

We had also discussed youth, fear, the lack of drive or passion, the need for heroes, education, narcissism of public officials, and the popularity of youth-oriented novels and films, like The Hunger Games and Disney’s Frozen.


I shared Matt’s perspectives and advice – and the information on Tim’s new Center – with the group, continuing “We’ve all seen CitizenFour and know about Greenwald’s No Place to Hide – on Snowden and the NSA. And there’s a billion plus dollar new NSA facility in Bluffdale, just South of us.”

“Don’t try to talk us out of this,” Jay said. “I’m in. I’m pushing 70 – and a fan of Jim Hansen, who said: At my age I am not worried about having an arrest record.’ I can learn to shut up in public – and keep a secret.”


Knowing Jay, I wasn’t so sure about his being able to be quiet. And I know he’s only 65.


“And I’m pushing 74,” I said. “It’s time to do something that has a chance of being effective – of working.”


“Me, too,” added Tom. “And in case you didn’t already know, my cancer diagnosis gives me just three to six months of reasonable function, so let’s get on with it.”


And Peter: “My annual Amsterdam excursions might be helpful. My heart is problematic. My cardiologist is a bit too honest with me – I know I could go anytime. Until then, I can be chief tester. I’m in.”


“Me, too,” said Lucien. “I’m a tester, too – and could help Tom in the lab.”


“And you, Bill – the world’s greatest connector?” I asked.


“My plant background and credentials could be very useful. I still run a greenhouse at the U – and my annual trips to Australia could be helpful. And it’s time I stopped complaining and did something.”


“You mean to make up for never writing letters or op-eds, or going to legislative committee meetings?” Jay probed.


“Or running for office,” Bill agreed, looking straight at me.


Bill did a lot of things in the background – introducing people; telling his friends and colleagues about events, news, happenings, events; and just bringing people together – a real connector.


“Didn’t you make the original connection between the Tafts and the U – which led to the U’s new Environmental Humanities Center in Montana?” I recalled.


“Yes. I first tried to get The Leonardo interested in Taft’s property and ideas – via Merry Mull.”


The Leonardo is Salt Lake City’s downtown Center for Art, Science, and Technology – . We often called it The Leo.


“The Leo didn’t really exist then,” I said. “It was still a vision, a dream at the time. But when Merry left to join the U’s Humanities staff, you encouraged the U connection with the Tafts, right?”


“Yes. Merry already knew them. We had made a trip to Centennial Valley together when she was running The Leonardo project.”


“Well, it all worked out. The Leonardo exists, and so does the U’s Taft Center in Montana.”


Jay looked at Bill and Tom – then at me: “You already knew we’d come on board, didn’t you?”


“We did have our earlier individual conversations about the possibility. I thought you’d each be very receptive to the idea.”


“Receptive isn’t the right word. Let’s say enthusiastic,” Bill said.


“Then that makes six of us,” I said. “Not exactly the Justice League, but a good, varied group. A NATURE magazine cover last month was all on superheroes – cartoons of people and companies doing great things for the planet.”


I continued: “As we go forward, we need to talk differently. We must no longer discuss this project with others. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, we’ve moved on – we’re doing other things. We’re just peripherally curious about politics, drugs, psychology, etc. No action…just talk. Just six harmless guys talking about saving humanity.”


“With no time to lose,” Bill added.


“It’s homework time,” I said. “Let’s begin by reading, or rereading, The Burglary. If you haven’t seen 1971 yet, here it is,” I said. “It finally became available for personal purchase – at Target, of all places.” I handed the DVD to Bill. “Note that the DVD also includes a nearly 90 minute discussion between the 1971 Burglars and Snowden. Fascinating!”


“And I’ll review the Shulgin and Hofmann books,” Tom added.


“And the Shulgin documentary Dirty Pictures; it’s on this flash drive, about 90 minutes,” Lucien said. “If anyone asks, you’re watching molecular pornography.”


“Great,” I said. “I’ll get the books. I buy so many books from Amazon that there’s a good chance they won’t even be noticed. They’ll come to me – then to you.” I handed my copy of The Burglary to Tom. Jay had already read them.


The Shulgin books arrived a week later. I gave the set to Tom.






We agreed to meet often, each having done substantive homework. We are all avid New York Times readers and Google/internet users – and each of us has a small network of well informed, interested, and involved friends providing information, ideas, and perspectives.


“When we meet, everyone present will speak and contribute. We are a team,” I said, adding, “The Supreme Court, according to Justice Breyer’s new book, has an unwritten rule – nobody speaks twice until everybody speaks once.”


“And we, obviously, have to be very well prepared,” Bill added.


“Homework!” Jay chided.



I talked with Jake about Snowden and the NSA, but not about our now active project, harmless. Jake was too young to involve in such a dangerous project. I wanted to be sure that he – and all of our advisors, friends, and family – were protected from our clandestine actions.


After more thought and homework I made some difficult and unilateral decisions related to moving ahead with harmless.


As we are likely well below NSA’s active ‘radar’ for now, we won’t bother with serious encryption, covering our email and internet trails, or becoming otherwise paranoid about possible surveillance. We will ‘wash our hands’ from online connection whenever we can – and minimize cell phone, text, etc. usage. And also minimize use of public wi-fi, Bluetooth, and related conveniences.


Pondering secrecy, I recalled a meeting with Drahoslav Lim in Prague some 40 years ago – before the Berlin Wall came down. Lim was an early Czech mentor and advised me on hydrogel chemistry. He was restricted and being monitored due to working with Western scientists and especially for overstaying an early 1970 scientific visit to Salt Lake City (he had returned to help his old and ailing mother). He insisted we meet at Hradcany Castle, on the grounds, talking only while walking in the open stretches – not under trees or near structures. Surveillance technology then was not what it is today. We walked and talked about how I might assist him. We were careful, but he also said


            …there are so many people listening to so many others that it becomes one enormous collection of unrelatable and unprocessable information.


That was long before the film The Lives of Others, well before ready access to computers, and before the NSA, of course. But the Lim comment did suggest to me that we might raise as much suspicion by being too careful than by simply being prudent. Thus no encryption, no drawing attention. We’re harmless.




We are developing a common sense code for the agents we’ll be considering when we do have to email or talk on the phone. For example, LSD is now LDS (we’re in Utah!), and MDMA is now MADD (Mothers against Drunk Driving). And MDMA also stands for the Medical Device Manufacturers Association – a good fit for my bioengineering credentials! MDMA will also be referred to as moksha – easier to remember than kykeon! Our people-of-interest entries are now referred to as ‘patients’. Other terms will evolve as we need them. Our evildoer priority list and its individual entries will also be coded.

This book will likely not be released, made available, or published until the actions we develop and plan are actually carried out. Unlike Mark Twain’s Autobiography, we expect the book to come out well before 100 years from now – perhaps in 20 or so, perhaps less. The project will be kept quiet, secret, unknown until we unanimously agree to release it. It will all stay hidden – in the words of Ralph Metzner – ‘ ...out of respect for the restrictions and prohibitions of mainstream culture’. We have obviously, been influenced by The Burglary and by Matt’s advice.


The Plan is to enhance politics and government via empathogen-enhanced revelation prepared by and delivered by harmless.

Chapter 1: Concerns and Beginnings

“Did he really say that?” he asked, looking at me. We just happened to be sitting next to each other, very interested in the speaker and his words.


“Yes, I think so.”


“Is that really what’s needed, risking arrest to simply be heard?”


The speaker reaffirmed his statement. “Not just arrest, but possibly physical danger.”


Tim and I self-introduced each other after the discussion. He was an economics undergraduate at the University of Utah (the U). I said I am a professor of engineering, soon to be retired, concerned about the planet. That was all.


Mike, a rural Utah legislator, is 20 years younger than me. We argued several times – at hearings related to the Legislature’s efforts to ‘outlaw’ CO2. “CO2 is a plant nutrient,” he said. “How can it possibly be harmful?” I was surprised to learn of his BA in botany or zoology – from UC-Berkeley.


Hans, a now emeritus professor of economics, organized a session on climate change at a national meeting at the U. Hans asked me to speak briefly at the session.


The issue is NOT Science. … the issue is BELIEF. If you choose to Believe in something very strongly and you choose to adopt a position very strongly – no amount of science will change your Belief. It takes a private revelation … to really change .… We must understand that rationality is quite rare … We must identify those totally irrational legislators…and get rid of them.


That was the real beginning of my interest in ‘politics’ – and the evolution of State Change.



Tim went on to become bidder number 70, the man who protested George Bush’s last minute energy lease auction in late 2008. He ended up serving nearly two years in prison for ‘disrupting’ an auction which was later declared illegal by Obama’s new Secretary of the Interior. Tim served his time – and continues to be an exemplary and effective environmental and climate change activist. The film Bidder 70 documents some of the actions, events, and repercussions of that time.



I ran for U.S. Congress in 2012 – unaffiliated, no party, no hidden agendas, no dollars. A progressive idealist in the most conservative state in the country. I learned about campaigning, messaging, debates, discussions, and the lack of public and media interest – all summarized in The RUN – My One Year Experiment in Democracy. My ‘platform’ was very close to Bernie Sanders’ current platform.


I lost and did not run again. It’s too slow. The public is so apathetic, ill-informed, ideological, and worried about immediate survival that democracy is seriously compromised. Gerrymandering has made a very bad situation even worse. Our democracy has become too distorted to work. The planet will ‘die’ long before we rescue democracy and change Congress via traditional politics.


More active and direct action is needed – beyond petitions, banners, and non-violent protest.


Expanding a bit from Edward Abbey – we need to ‘monkey-wrench’ politicians directly. We need to get the worst ones out, by whatever means, in the hope that they will be replaced by more reasonable men and, preferably, women.



John F. Burns, after 40 years with the New York Times, said:

I carried back…an abiding revulsion for ideology, in all its guises. … there is no limit to the lunacy, malice and suffering that can plague any society with a ruling ideology.


Ideologues don’t listen, thus they rarely learn – and they almost never change. Most men, particularly ideologues, live in mental ‘caves’ or ‘tunnels’. William Blake said ‘…man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his caverns’.


The philosopher Thomas Metzinger says we exist in an Ego-Tunnel, constrained in part by our own mental development. Some of us have windows or semi-transparent walls in our tunnels – so we can perceive a bit beyond our constrained ideologies. But even those windows are generally barred by society, custom, laws, and expectations. Most of those bars are virtual – self-imposed. Revelations, epiphanies, Eureka! moments remove some of the bars on some of the windows – or even open doors.



Most Congressional ideologues are elected from now heavily gerrymandered GOP districts, guaranteeing them easy re-election. Running against them doesn’t really help. Trying to educate their constituents only marginally helps. Karl Rove said – now many years ago – ‘He who controls redistricting can control Congress’. And they did.


Getting ‘rid’ of the incumbents is unlikely to help, as other ideologically polarized candidates will be elected to replace them in the gerrymandered districts.


Compounding the problem is money – dollars. Most conservative ideologues are supported by – purchased by – plutocratic dollars. The Koch brothers, the deVos empire, the Adelsons, and many others spend enormous resources on sponsoring, supporting, and purchasing Congressmen and candidates, who then work to replicate the rigid, ideological mental states of their sponsors.


These many considerations led to my own recent revelation: since we can’t get rid of ideologues, can we ‘change’ them? Can we soften the walls, remove some of the bars – open some of the windows – even doors?

Revelation is a word and process very dear to the ultra-conservative Mormon majority in Utah. Although normally referring to direct input from ‘God’ to the ‘prophets’, Mormons as individuals are expected to seek and receive their own private revelations – a significant change in personal understanding, belief, or perspective.


How might we ‘engineer’ private revelations for Congressmen and their staff, for candidates and their supporters, and for voting constituents – and for others who ‘need’ such insight?


And that became The Plan: the ‘engineering’ of revelations…



What is the genesis of ideology? Why do people believe rather than think? There’s an old Buddhist saying: ‘Every belief system is an illness waiting to be cured’.


We seem to be ‘wired’ to believe. We claim to be independent, but we want to be told what is right and wrong, black or white, good or bad – simply, easily. We don’t like complexity. We distrust complicated solutions. We distrust the scientific and highly educated. We want simplicity, clear directions, and leaders who profess simple solutions.


Our patriarchal, male-dominated, testosterone-laden society underpins and reinforces such simple-minded thinking and actions.


I’ve pondered these issues over the last 25 or so of my nearly 75 years.


Our big brains don’t like uncertainty or mystery. We use stories to explain what we don’t know. And we develop new stories for new mysteries or concerns. Where did we come from? Why must we die? What’s after death? We developed stories and myths about creation, birth, death, and beyond death.

We tell those stories, we expand them, we write them down; they become comfortable. We print and distribute them. They become accepted. And many of those stories – in many cultures – are codified and some become ‘sacred’.

Myths are common stories with little or no evidence, like why the Universe was created – and why you are here. Myths are non-scientific becauses – fabricated by our brains to help minimize uncertainty and discomfort.

Myths develop – and the stories are told and retold so often they become believed; we assume they are indeed fact. If we hear something often enough, we generally begin to believe it.

If we’re used to the myths and the stories, then when we do get more evidence or more information, we often refuse to consider the new, more rational, story. We’re used to the old myth – it’s comfortable; it’s become ‘hard-wired’.

Religion comes from myth – to deal with why we were created, why we die, and what lies beyond. Those are tough questions with no answers. Religion helps many of us deal with the uncertainty and confusion of death – and other things we need or want to know but do not know. Religion is an elaboration of brain-created myths and stories. Religion is a way of dealing with the unknown – of dealing with ignorance.

Once we are hard-wired about something, it’s very difficult to change that wiring – to change our mind. So stuff that’s been told, written, and accepted as ‘gospel’, as dogma, as religious ‘truths’, is resident – hard-wired – in our brains. Much of that stuff makes no sense in today’s modern, science-based world. We know better. But we continue to accept and even worship those ancient stories and teachings – that ancient dogma. And we continue to preach and teach it.

Science is always probing and expanding – shining ‘light’ on the unknown. So science advances today into areas which represented ignorance yesterday – pushing into those areas which were – and still are – in the domain of religion.

We have a 250,000 year old brain ‘wired’ for hunter-gathering in small tribes and for dealing with fear and ignorance. That same brain is curious, inventive, experiential, creative. Some brains tend to be more creative and curious than others. And some tend to be more fearful and myth-bound than others.

The really curious ones often tilt toward science – and other rational, objective approaches to knowledge. The more fearful or less curious ones tilt toward belief and religion. We are all different. Believers tend to be politically more to the right – rationalists and objectivists more to the left. The ‘right’ tends to be more rule-based, wanting certainty, and looking for it in ‘sacred’ texts (including the Constitution).

I live in Utah. Some forty five years ago one of the local papers (now the Deseret Morning News) had the masthead: ‘We believe the Constitution is divinely inspired’. (It doesn’t say that anymore).

The ‘left’ tends towards equality, group decisions, community, grassroots democracy. The ‘right’ tilts to individualism, independence, rules, ultra-capitalism, and Ayn Rand.

Education used to be about learning to think for ourselves – learning fact from fiction, reality from fantasy, right from wrong – learning to become functioning, responsible participants in a representative democracy. ‘Education’ today is often far more about acquiring skills for specific jobs.

Generally we begin as infants and children with an authority figure (parents) telling us what is good or bad, right or wrong. That’s comforting, for a while. Then, particularly as we enter puberty, we begin to question that authority – we begin to consider our own identity and self. In good colleges we get exposed to philosophy and history and courses and discussions related to intellectual and personal development.

For many hard-wiring is difficult to undo – to rewire. Those often find it convenient and comfortable to stay with the hard-wiring they know. Others, perhaps those not so far over on the Believe Spectrum, do change their wiring – and many begin to think for themselves . And that can be uncomfortable.

We have special words for the rare times and situations when a very deep, solid belief is drastically changed or reversed: Revelation, Eureka Moment, Epiphany, …

Some people never get beyond child-like primitive beliefs – beyond Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy! Some migrate to the far other end of the Believe Spectrum – questioning everything and believing nothing – the non-thinking non-believers. They often think they are very open-minded, but unaware of the old quote: ‘I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.’

Ideally most of us strive for an open mind, but also a critical one. If we are not critical, rational, objective – then we cannot think or judge for ourselves. When there’s enough evidence, enough reason, then we can accept some fact or idea – we can begin to ‘believe’ it (our brains haven’t fallen out!).

Scientists are trained to be objective and open-minded and – at the same time – highly critical of very new ideas or criticisms – unless those new ideas come with a great deal of evidence. The key is to develop a balance between being critical or skeptical and being too believing. Pure belief just doesn’t cut it.

The economist John Keynes:

When someone persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?…The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones.

Those on the other end of the Believe Spectrum – the strong believers – are often the most vulnerable in our society. Someone offers them a special ‘deal’ or ‘opportunity’ to provide riches – or salvation – or fame. They don’t know how to ask critical questions, or how to seek and evaluate evidence or ‘facts’. They want to believe. If it’s a trusted friend, family member, or even a priest, bishop, or preacher offering the deal, they want to believe even more – and so they get swindled, scammed, victimized. They are subject to Ponzi schemes, ‘pyramid’ schemes, and ‘multi-level’ marketing (especially in Utah).

Simple dogmas and ideologies are comfortable, requiring no thinking or decisions. The problem is those simple ideas, beliefs, dogmas, and religious texts simply do not work for complex issues and problems in this 21st century.

How might one ‘engineer’ a revelation?


The most common way is via education and awareness – good teachers, good books, open-minded experiences. After seeing, hearing, and learning about something many times – over some period of time – we finally ‘get’ it. We develop a new perspective and level of understanding. We have a Eureka! moment – an epiphany. We’ve expanded our mental tunnel.

It doesn’t just happen in rational or objective directions. It can indeed go the other way. Religion-based missionaries work to ‘engineer’ revelations among the faithful – the believers. Sometimes it’s from un- or non-believers to believers; sometimes from one believer affiliation to another. Some people don’t relate to what they see out the window – or through the door. They want to close the door, close the blinds, even narrow and strengthen their tunnel. They want to believe in a more rigid or narrow ideology. We call them believers.

There are many types of practitioners and facilitators who work to empower spiritual and even mystical experiences, with the goal of facilitating epiphanies related to perceiving and understanding. Faith-based approaches strive for a God-based mystical/spiritual ‘awakening’. Some faiths even use food-based, herbal, or drug means to enhance ‘awareness’ and responsiveness. That’s all legal.

As I come from a science background and perspective, I’ve always been skeptical of God-focused or supernatural spiritualism or mysticism. But I am learning that there are approaches in those traditions which can be helpful, including fasting, meditation, mentors, gurus – as well as simple education and awareness.

For many – perhaps the half of the population that are at least receptive to reality, to science, and to at least some critical thinking – continued exposure and awareness does work, albeit very slowly. Small, multiple insights can chart a path in the brain, making it more receptive to future experiences, suggestions, even facts.

Experiences can help establish a brain ‘path’ that makes it easier for later events to trigger mystical experiences – or even a change in perspective or outlook. I like to call that revelation via incrementalism. That’s why basic thermodynamics is presented in many different courses in undergraduate science and engineering curricula – it takes many exposures over several years for some students to finally ‘get it’.

Special, very unlikely, events can also work. Most surviving victims of a sudden heart attack have near-instantaneous revelations about food, nutrition, exercise – general habits of healthy living. Ditto for smokers who get severe lung cancer. Near death experiences can be very effective. Steve Jobs, after his own near-death experiences, said: Near-death experiences can help one see more clearly sometimes’.

Experiencing severe storms related to climate change, or terrible fires related to climate change, or malaria or cholera due to climate change-induced migration of disease vectors – these can help the onset of a revelation – but only if the individual is already aware, somewhat rational, and receptive – and is responsive to Keynes’: ‘When some event shows me that I am wrong, I change my mind’.

Close family members and friends are sometimes effective. One example is former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis’ climate change revelation via his 18 year old son’s question. When Inglis received the Kennedy Profiles in Courage award recently, he mentioned the encouragement from his five children.

But such events happening to existing Congressmen and candidates are rare. And most affected individuals are too ideologically bound to even recognize the connections. The denier and doubt industry, so well studied and presented in The Merchants of Doubt, is constantly – and very effectively – reinforcing the reality-escaping ideologies. Those ‘merchants’ tell the ideologically-prone community exactly what it wants to hear: the science is doubtful, the risk is minimal, the government will over-regulate, your freedom to choose will be constrained, etc.


It is very difficult to engineer rational revelations for urgent and complex problems and issues like climate change, population, justice and prisons, taxes and budgets, etc. Congressmen need to be informed. They need to be objective, realistic, and effective. But we don’t have the luxury of taking many years to ‘educate’ them and their staff. Incremental revelation engineering is just too slow.

We need an efficient, effective, rapid, simple revelation engineering process – not just for one or two people, but for many, perhaps most, of our 535 Congressmen and for their opponents and potential replacements. We also need revelations for Supreme Court justices, world leaders, religious leaders, corporate and financial leaders, and the other powers in our planet-wide society.

Genes are somewhat effective. According to recent research, some of us are more genetically prone to rational and objective thinking, others much less so. But it is difficult and probably illegal to genetically modify (GM) existing Congressmen and candidates (GM Congressmen – interesting). It is certainly illegal to try to induce their heart attacks or cancers – or set up other events or near death experiences which might be revelation enhancing.

It is clear (to me) that a revelation – a significant change in perspective or understanding, especially one which is counter to a hard, firm ideology – requires a ‘rewiring’ of parts of the brain. It requires the removal of ‘bars’ or the opening of doors. Although that can be accomplished temporarily by certain types of electrical and magnetic stimulation, we don’t know how to use such tools to ‘engineer’ politically pragmatic and useful revelations. And even if we did, they would be – or would soon become – illegal.

Nature ‘knows’ how to modify parts and processes of the brain and neurosensory systems. Adults have been through puberty – a chemically induced and chemically maintained state. Our anatomy and physiology changed, our brain changed, our perspectives changed. We transformed into adults. Metamorphosis is well known among insects and other organisms. It tends to be genetically and, of course, biochemically driven. Perhaps some additional chemical encouragement could help us transform into more reasonable and responsible adults.


Drugs are the basis of a major industry – and one with great political and plutocratic impact. The purpose of legal drugs is to facilitate, improve, and enhance individual human health and wellbeing. We also use chemicals (including drugs) to facilitate and improve public health (water treatment, fluoridation, disease resistance, etc.). Our society consumes enormous quantities of drugs to ‘improve’ and enhance behavior, social acceptance, attention, education, and performance. Drugs to enhance your sexual potency are legal and very profitable, but drugs to enhance your performance in Olympic events, World Cup soccer, and other regulated sports are banned for such use. Many such drugs modulate or interfere with our neurosensory systems.

We also have substances which are widely used but are not legal, although they may be legal in other nations. There are substances illegal for many, but legal for some, such as special herbs or drugs for specific religious use. Some substances which were once illegal, like alcohol, are now legal, albeit regulated and controlled. Some substances which are illegal nationally are now legal in several states (marijuana in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington). What is legal or illegal can change via city, county, state, or Federal legislation and enforcement – and court decisions.

Some behavior and performance enhancing substances are natural hormones and other chemicals, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, oxytocin, cortisol. Although ‘natural’, and administered by clinicians to patients with recognized and measureable deficiencies, it may be illegal to take or administer them beyond ‘normal’ levels, such as testosterone and its precursors for performance athletes. And what is legal or illegal changes with measurement and analytical technologies and methods. Many substances are illegal today because we can now detect and measure them.

In addition, our health, behavior, and performance is affected by chemicals in the environment, resulting from pollution, additives for special purposes (flame-retardants), herbicides, pesticides, fumigants, perfumes, dyes, etc. For all we know, our collective social and political behavior may change as a result of exposure to environmental chemicals and drugs. Indeed, many of the drugs we take, legally and illegally, are excreted via waste streams into water supplies and into the general environment.

Chemically-induced experiences, perhaps resulting in ‘rewiring’, is one approach to revelation engineering. Both Aldous Huxley and H. G. Wells referred to the ‘Door in the Wall’, where the ‘Door’ is opened via particular chemical agents. Passing through the Door results in new awareness, new perception, perhaps new openness. As Huxley said at the end of The Doors of Perception, echoing William Blake:

…the man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.



And that became The Beginning…