Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Drugs

John C. Lilly: Province of the Mind

 John C. Lilly: Province of the Mind

The figure of John C. Lilly as psychedelic dolphin communicator burns in the collective memory as a counterculture avatar, yet his legacy embodies far more than the mythologized and/or vilified figure that most of us know. Join Robert and Christian as they examine the life, career and ideas of Lilly the scientist, Lilly the counterespionage researcher and Lilly the psychonaut. Welcome to the province of the mind. See more »

MDMA: Pharmacological Healer

 MDMA: Pharmacological Healer

In the form of recreational ecstasy, the psychoactive drug MDMA carries with it a stigma of wide-eyed ravers, free love and counterculture pharmacological spirituality. But beyond its cultural legacy, MDMA offers a potent therapeutic tool for doctors and therapists -- if we can only unravel its mysteries. Join Robert and Christian for a look at past and current studies into the healing properties of this powerful substance. See more »

MDMA: Pharmacological Ecstasy

 MDMA: Pharmacological Ecstasy

Some of you have tried the ecstasy. Others have merely heard about the drug on a TV sitcom, or heard about it in a news report. Either way, MDMA’s power resonates through our culture -- and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the truth form the misinformation. But what exactly is this psychoactive agent? Where does it come from and what sort of effect does it have on the human experience? Join Robert and Christian as they explore the origins and properties of MDMA. See more »

The Halloween Costume Made Me Do It

 The Halloween Costume Made Me Do It

What happens when we slip into a costume? Be it a monster pelt, a sexy witch or a simple children’s ghost mask, a psychological transformation takes place. Join Robert and Christian for a fittingly seasonal look at enclothed cognition and deindividuation. See more »

The Science of Dune: Biology

 The Science of Dune: Biology

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” the game-changing 1965 sci-fi novel full of space-age feudalistic intrigue, rampaging sandworms and prescient mind drugs on a desert world. Even today, the work resonates with scientific wonder and philosophical intrigue, so join Robert and Joe for a two-part exploration of the science of “Dune.” In this episode, explore the lifecycle of the sandworm, mentats and the power of the spice. See more »

Wes Craven Tribute: Serpents, Rainbows &  Zombies

 Wes Craven Tribute: Serpents, Rainbows & Zombies

With the recent passing of horror director Wes Craven, it seems appropriate to cover the science behind his 1988 film “The Serpent and the Rainbow.” Join Robert and Christian for a discussion of Haitian folklore, zombie powder and the challenges of filmmaking. See more »

The Psychedelic Nightmare of Ergotism

 The Psychedelic Nightmare of Ergotism

Imagine an entire 15th-century town overcome by a collective waking nightmare. The afflicted walk the streets with blackened limbs and seeping sores, all while psychotic hallucinations assault their fragile hold on sanity. Join Robert and Joe as they explore the world of Ergotism and discuss how a toxic fungus terrorized and inspired generations of Medieval Europeans. See more »

Spanish Fly: The Deadly Aphrodisiac

 Spanish Fly: The Deadly Aphrodisiac

It's easy to assume so-called ""Spanish fly"" is nothing but a myth, but this legendary aphrodisiac is as real as it is deadly. Just why did humans come to treat male sexual dysfunction with ground-up blister beetles? How does it work and why is the Marque de Sade involved in all of this? Find out in this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind.   See more »

The Scientist and the Shaman: Hallucination

 The Scientist and the Shaman: Hallucination

Join Robert and Julie as they continue their discussion of the overlap between shamanism and cognitive neuroscience. What sort of experiences do substances like DMT, psilocybin and salvia grant users? Why do human bodies have trace elements of DMT? Find out in this classic episode of STBYM. See more »

The Scientist and the Shaman: My Egoic Mind

 The Scientist and the Shaman: My Egoic Mind

A shaman consumes a psychedelic mushroom and visits the spirit world. Meanwhile, a scientist studies the effects of psilocybin on depression and conceptions of self. In this episode, Robert and Julie discuss the common ground shared by these disciplines in a classic episode of STBYM. See more »