I realized that it was within my power to select and play almost any game, or even to deal myself out of games entirely. I decided at that time that the game I wanted to play was to become the holiest and wisest man of my generation—specifically, to expand and elevate the consciousness of the entire human race. Now, this may sound like a surprising ambition, but I don’t see why. If you can select any game, why not pick the most exciting and challenging game around? With full knowledge, of course—the knowledge that comes from a contemplative series of LSD sessions—that all human games end in a tie, and that the chances of succeeding in any human game are always statistically dubious.

from Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out (1966)

Portrait of Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary

October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996

Timothy Francis Leary was an American psychologist and writer known for advocating the exploration of the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs under controlled conditions. Leary conducted experiments under the Harvard Psilocybin Project when LSD and psilocybin were still legal in the United States, resulting in the Concord Prison Experiment and the Marsh Chapel Experiment. The scientific legitimacy and ethics of his research were questioned by other Harvard faculty because he took psychedelics together with research subjects and pressured students in his class to take psychedelics in the research studies. Leary's colleague, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), was fired from Harvard University on May 27, 1963 for giving psilocybin to an undergraduate student outside of their research study despite the university only allowing graduate students to receive psilocybin as research subjects. Leary was planning to leave Harvard when his teaching contract expired in June, the following month. He was fired, for "failure to keep classroom appointments", with his pay docked on April 30. National illumination as to the effects of psychedelics did not occur until after the Harvard scandal.

Leary believed that LSD showed potential for therapeutic use in psychiatry. He used LSD himself and developed a philosophy of mind expansion and personal truth through LSD. After leaving Harvard, he continued to publicly promote the use of psychedelic drugs and became a well-known figure of the counterculture of the 1960s. He popularized catchphrases that promoted his philosophy, such as "turn on, tune in, drop out", "set and setting", and "think for yourself and question authority". He also wrote and spoke frequently about transhumanist concepts involving space migration, intelligence increase, and life extension (SMI²LE), and developed the eight-circuit model of consciousness in his book Exo-Psychology (1977). He gave lectures, occasionally billing himself as a "performing philosopher".

During the 1960s and 1970s, he was arrested often enough to see the inside of 36 different prisons worldwide. President Richard Nixon once described Leary as "the most dangerous man in America".


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