By Victoria Dekker and Mike Alexander
This week, we celebrated a humbling achievement at Psychedelics Today: three million unique downloads of the Psychedelics Today podcast!
This milestone couldn’t come at a more fitting time. It seems like the stars are aligning and shining a spotlight on progress in psychedelics, with Bicycle Day and the kickoff of our new, 12-month practitioner training program, Vital, both occurring in a 48-hour window last week. Amidst it all, the podcast download counter kept going, and rolled over to an incredible three million just a few days later. We couldn’t be more grateful to all our listeners who enjoy, support, and engage with the podcast. You’ve helped Psychedelics Today get to where we are simply by tuning in.
Psychedelics Today has also achieved the #9 rank of all Apple Life Sciences podcasts in the United States, and it stands alone as the only psychedelics-themed podcast in the Top 100 list!
When it comes to podcast guests, we’ve been lucky over the years. Our team has recorded with many world-renowned figures in psychedelic science, culture, and advocacy. But from the day we started recording in 2016, we wanted the Psychedelics Today podcast to be more than a platform for well-known figures.
Intentionally, we’ve made ample space for conversations with people who are quietly doing important work behind the scenes, too. Because this is an area of great complexity and one in which experience matters, the Psychedelics Today podcast is designed to give listeners a richness in perspective they won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to us. We are humbled by your support and your willingness to listen to all that we and our guests have to say – which, over the past six years, has been more than a mouthful.
Looking for some essential listening? These are the Top 8 most downloaded Psychedelics Today podcasts of all-time, and some of our favorite discussions:
Joe had been raving about Dr. Carl Hart’s Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear for months before we were able to get him on, and the nearly 2-hour conversation shows just how much Hart’s views align with ours: that the drug war is doing exactly what those in power created it for, that drug exceptionalism and only seeing one path towards progress is limiting, that our job is to use facts and logic to battle inaccuracies and people clearly pushing a false narrative, and that drugs can be fun and coming out of the closet about responsible drug use only opens up the dialogue more.
This is one of Kyle’s favorites, since it highlighted so much about cognitive liberty and failed drug policy – two ideas central to the Psychedelics Today ethos. And it may be Joe’s favorite episode: “That was a scary one, because I wanted to do it so well and I respect him so much, that I’m like, ‘Can we do this well?’ And we did. So please check that one out. That one’s really important to me.”
“When these people say that they are worried about drug addiction or [that] what I’m saying might increase drug addiction, that’s some bullshit distraction. If you’re really worried about the negative effects of drug addiction, you would make sure everybody in your society is working. You’d make sure they all have health care. You’d make sure that basic needs were handled. Because if you did those things, you don’t have to worry about drug addiction.”
Manesh Girn is a Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at McGill University and co-author of over a dozen scientific publications, most recently on the neurocognitive processes behind creative thinking and the potentiality for psychedelics to enhance creativity. He’s been on the podcast twice, runs a YouTube channel called The Psychedelic Scientist, and is now part of the Vital faculty as well.
This one went deep into a lot of neuroscience; covering neuroplasticity, the similarities between psychedelic mind states and dream states, distinctions in creativity, how psilocybin can affect creativity, and the complicated idea of ego dissolution: Do we really understand what it is? Do ego death and a mystical experience always have to go hand-in-hand?
“Other research has exclusively linked psychedelic experiences to the dream state, and seeing that they’re phenomenologically similar. There’s a lot of overlap in a number of different ways of looking at it. So then, on the basis of that, I was like, ok, so if we conceptualize psychedelics as almost being like dreaming (but awake), then that could be a great source of novel ideas and creative ideas because you’re now in this mental state that’s unconstrained by logic, it’s unconstrained by a need to make sense, and you can get this more free flow of ideas.”
Before Michelle was a member of the PT team and featured in many solidarity Friday episodes (and a follow-up to this episode on Magic Mushroom day), we just knew her as an extremely knowledgeable mushroom connoisseur and the author of Your Psilocybin Mushroom Companion, an easy-to-use guide to understanding magic mushrooms, trips, microdosing, and psychedelic therapy. Reflecting back, Joe said: “Michelle saw that there [weren’t] really great resources for people and put this book together. …I actually don’t know of anything better that’s mushroom-specific, still to this day.”
In the episode, she tells her story and why she wanted to write the book, which she also talked a lot about on Solidarity Friday episodes: that despite what many mainstream minds will tell you, there isn’t one right way to use psilocybin.
“As long as you’re being safe with your surroundings and with yourself, any way is the right way.”
In this episode, Joe interviewed computational neurobiologist, pharmacologist, chemist, and writer, Dr. Andrew Gallimore; one of the world’s most knowledgeable researchers on DMT. They discussed all things DMT, from entity encounters to his intravenous infusion model, which would allow a timed and steady release of DMT to induce an extended-state DMT experience – the goal being to slowly make that space more stable (and comprehensible) over time, to eventually live in the DMT space as you would in this reality. “We’ve nerded out and talked about the extended state DMT stuff for a bit. That’s highly fascinating,” said Kyle.
Gallimore was featured later in a unique podcast with Dr. Peter Sjöstedt-H, where they discuss Sjöstedt-H’s critique of Gallimore’s book, Alien Information Theory: Psychedelic Drug Technologies and the Cosmic Game.
“We know how the brain learns to construct worlds, but we don’t know how the brain learns to construct DMT worlds.”
In this episode, Joe and Kyle finally got to interview legendary author and microdosing popularizer, James Fadiman, Ph.D. Fadiman talked about transpersonal psychology, microdosing and how it emerged, how researchers are finally starting to look at brain waves of microdosers, and his newest book, Your Symphony of Selves: Discover and Understand More of Who We Are, which says that we are all made up of different selves which take lead depending on the situation.
Kyle (who has an undergraduate degree in transpersonal psychology) lists this as one of his favorites, as Fadiman laid out the emergence of transpersonal psychology and the early days of the Transpersonal Association: “I think one of my favorite parts about this was just exploring some of the history of transpersonal psychology. It was really cool to chat with him about that.” Joe added: “He was there. He is named as one of the 4, 5 people, in a sense ‘in the room’ when this came about. He’s got a lot of connection to this stuff.”
“The secret of microdosing is if you’re noticing it, that’s a little too high a dose. …The perfect definition of a microdose is: You have a really good day; you get things done that you’ve been putting off; you’re nice to someone at work who doesn’t deserve it; after work, you do one more set of reps at the gym than you usually do; you really enjoy your kids; and at the end of the day, you say, ‘Oh, I forgot I had a microdose.’”
In this episode, Joe interviewed Wade Davis: Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, explorer, ethnobotanist, star of the recent documentary, “El Sendero de la Anaconda,” and author of several books, including the bestseller, The Serpent and the Rainbow.
Davis discussed his history with Richard Evans Schultes, the strange phenomenon behind the growth of ayahuasca, Haitian zombies, Voodoo, and Colombia and its relationship with cocaine and coca. This one covered a lot of ground other podcasts haven’t, and it was awesome to have him on, as Joe called him “possibly the most famous person on the show, other than number 1.”
“This quest for individual health and healing, for individual enlightenment, individual growth – which, at some level, is completely understandable, but it is also a reflection, in good measure, of our own culture of self; the ongoing center of narcissism, the idea that one’s purpose in life is to advance one’s own spiritual path or one’s own destiny – that is, in my experience, very much not what is going on in the traditional reaches of the northwest Amazon, where the plant (the medicine) both originated, but also, where today, it’s taken very much as a collective experience, such that the ritual itself becomes a prayer for the continuity and the wellbeing of the people themselves – where you’d never even think of this in terms of Self or I.”
In this episode, Kyle and Joe interviewed Chris Bache, author of LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven. Bache talked about music in psychedelic sessions, the debate on whether facilitators should have experiences before helping others, and the five levels of the universe as he understands them. But he mostly discussed what he learned about psychedelics, the universe, and integration from going through 73 high-dose LSD sessions (after which, he doesn’t recommend working with high doses).
Looking back, Joe said, “I think the most important part are his lessons learned and like, ‘What would you have done if you knew what you knew now? What would your protocol have been?’ I think that’s a big deal. [There’s] no way for him to go back in time but we can all learn from what he did.”
“We are moving toward a collective wake up, it’s not a personal experience, it’s a collective experience – an evolution of our species.”
While most of these episodes have been in the Top 8 for a while, we knew James Fadiman would likely end up here pretty quickly. And we were all certain that it would take no time at all for Hamilton Morris’ episode to take the top spot (also by far our most-viewed YouTube video, even though we weren’t even able to record video for the episode). How could it not take the top spot? From his work with Vice, Morris has become the go-to media consultant around psychedelics, and specifically new psychedelics, as many consider him to be the next Sasha Shulgin.
While they discussed what you’d expect (including his controversial 5-MeO-DMT episodes of “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia”), this episode is especially notable because it’s the first time Morris had really publicly talked about his relationship with Compass Pathways – a development seen as problematic by many in the space, but a relationship that’s helping him create massive amounts of new compounds week after week.
This was an in-person recording, as Joe traveled to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia to meet him, and they recorded just outside Morris’ lab. “It was fun,” Joe said. “[I’m] really grateful for Hamilton spending time talking to us and going into some of these fun topics.”
“Yes, there are very serious differences between [psychedelics and other drugs], but if we fall into the same moral binary, then we’re ultimately no better than people that think that the distinction between licit and illicit drugs is a pharmacologically or medically meaningful distinction.”
Psychedelics Today Team Recommendations
The members of the team who have been here the longest (and therefore listened to years worth of episodes) talked about some of our favorite episodes as well, and we thought it’d be cool to share which ones we liked the most.
Having been involved in the majority of episodes, Joe was a bit overwhelmed with this question. Dr. Carl Hart’s episode was the first he mentioned, but these were some he particularly liked as well:
- PT293 – Stanislav & Brigitte Grof – The Evolution of Breathwork and The Psychology of the Future (this is obviously one of Kyle’s favorites too, as this was a HUGE honor to record.)
- PT295 – Sidarta Ribeiro – Dreams, LSD, and Biopiracy
- Richard Grossman PhD – Exploring Ayahuasca, Acupuncture and Healing
- PT311 – William Leonard Pickard – LSD, Fentanyl, Prison, and the Greatest Gift of All: The Natural Mind
“Leonard Pickard just came out. That was extraordinary for me. I don’t know how it listens as a podcast, but I loved his story.”
Kyle’s top 3 have already been mentioned: Dr. Carl Hart, James Fadiman, Ph.D., and Stan and Brigitte Grof.
“Grof’s work has been at the foundation of PT, so this episode felt like a huge milestone for us and I’m so grateful for Stan and Brigitte’s time,” said Kyle. “One thing I really enjoyed about this episode was hearing what Grof’s vision is for the future of psychedelics.” A few others he really enjoyed were more recent:
- PT288 – Annie & Michael Mithoefer – Vital Psychedelic Conversations
- PT297 – Laura Mae Northrup, LMFT – Radical Healership in a Profit-Driven World (“I always enjoy the somatic/trauma perspectives that she offers.”)
- PT308 – Dr. Ido Cohen, PsyD – Vital Psychedelic Conversations (“I loved Ido’s last conversation about long-term therapy. I think that’s important.”)
In addition to managing several projects, Marisa handles most of our social media, our affiliate programs, and contributes a lot of art and graphics. Marisa wrote the show notes for each episode up until June of 2020. “There are so many episodes that I love, but the ones that make me feel are the ones that resonate.” She particularly loved these three:
- Lori Tipton and Shari Taylor – A First Hand Report of MDMA Therapy for PTSD
- Aaron Orsini – How LSD Helped Bridge the ASD Neurotypical Divide
- PT237 – Dena Justice – Finding the Frequency of Safety
“These episodes stand out to me because they are extremely moving stories of how psychedelics have the power to heal, leaving me in tears of inspiration.”
Other than the very early episodes, every episode of Psychedelics Today sounds much better than it originally did because of Rob’s work. In addition to being our main audio engineer, he’s helped with video on many courses at our Psychedelic Education Center. The episodes that came to him right away were:
- PT259 – Dr. Devon Christie and Will Siu, MD, DPhil – The Mind-Body Connection, MDMA, and Chronic Pain (Also a favorite of the rest of the team – it’s very interesting.)
- PT240 – Ralph Blumenthal – Alien Abductions and The Believer
- Erik Davis – High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies
- Matthew Pallamary – Exploring Ayahuasca Shamanism
I didn’t listen to many episodes before (sorry, Joe), but since I took over writing the show notes in June of 2020, I’ve listened to every one. Dr. Carl Hart was also one of my favorites, and although it was hard to listen to, I strongly recommend the same Dena Justice episode Marisa picked. Other than those, the ones that stand out to me are the episodes that make me think of things differently or present opposing viewpoints to what we’re used to. A few that instantly come to mind are:
- Solidarity Fridays – Episode 31 (with Will Hall)
- Solidarity Fridays – Episode 32 (with Will Hall) (It’s rare to hear any amount of cynicism in the psychedelic space, so these episodes really wowed me.)
- PTSF59 – Bipolar and Psychedelics, with Benjamin Mudge (The idea of using psychedelics for bipolar disorder is very controversial but very intriguing.)
- PT215 – Cultivating Connections – The Power of Rituals (A fairly non-psychedelic episode, as Ryan and Rory of Cultivating Connections use the power of connection to heal, through rituals and eye-gazing (which I had never heard of and fascinates me).)
Between our regular Tuesday episodes and different Friday episodes (Solidarity Fridays and Vital Psychedelic Conversations), there are over 400 episodes of Psychedelics Today to listen to. And the best news of all? With that many episodes and three million downloads now under our collective belt, we’re just getting started.
Keep listening, and we’ll keep bringing you psychedelic conversations that you won’t hear anywhere else.
Follow the Psychedelics Today Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you like to listen. Have an idea for a podcast theme or guest? Was there a guest that blew your mind who you want to hear from again? Do you have feedback about how we can make the show better? Connect with our team on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or by email at email@example.com.