Any dreadlocked white guys finding this article after Googling "Drugs Rule" should know that we've given this list about drugs a rule. To make the cut, an accomplishment has to be considered great by people who could pass a field sobriety test. So no Grateful Dead music. We're sure someone somewhere has enjoyed the Dead perfectly sober, just as there are probably non-Christians who listen to Christian Rock. But we're just as sure that in the grand scheme of things, those people don't count.
In fact, because we're masochists, we gave ourselves a strict no music policy, leaving us with ... well, not a whole lot actually. Turns out most great things were accomplished by people who just said no, at least immediately prior to accomplishing them. Except for these five.
#5. Francis Crick Discovers DNA Thanks to LSD
For the few Cracked readers not versed in the history of human genetics, Francis Crick is the closest that field gets to a rock star, which is pretty fucking close as it turns out. In 1953 in Cambridge, Crick burst through the front door of his home spouting what his wife Odile originally thought was crazy jibberish about two spirals twisting in opposite directions from one another. Like all great rock star's wives, Odile was an artist, and drew exactly what her husband described. Then the pair and research partner James Watson all went out to a pub and got drunk.
Odile had no idea what they were celebrating. "Francis was always saying things like that." If so she probably should have drawn every word because those twisty spirals went on to become one of the most reproduced drawing in the history of science, a first draft of the double helix structure of DNA that scientists today still describe as "balls on."
LSD. Yes, when not discovering the key to life, and winning the Nobel Prize for it, Crick spent the 50s and 60s throwing all night parties famous for featuring that era's favorite party favors: LSD and nudity. Crick never made it a secret that he experimented with the drug, and in 2006, the London paper The Mail on Sunday reported that Crick had told many colleagues that he was experimenting with LSD when he figured out the double helix structure.
Drugs? This guy? No way.
Why It Makes Sense:
The double helix is essentially the Sgt. Peppers of scientific models, a ladder that's been melted and twirled by a pasta fork, or the two snakes from the caduceus if one of them was fucking the other with 100 dicks (depending on whether the artist ate the good or bad acid).
Now obviously scientists don't arrive at models by doodling on their trapper keeper and picking out the shape that looks the coolest. To do what Crick did required an insane amount of analytical, theoretical, and spatial thinking. It's not like Crick dropped out of high school and then used acid to turn himself into a supergenius.
Crick was a fan of Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception, a study of the human mind which was undertaken like all good studies, while driving around LA on mescaline.
Huxley wrote that the sober mind has a series of filters on it that basically prevent abstract thought (evolution put them there for the sake of survival, since having daydreams about the nature of the universe while driving can cause you to plow into a semi). But Huxley and Crick thought drugs like mescaline and LSD could temporarily remove those filters.
So rather than melting his mind into a lava lamp of trippy shapes, Crick probably used LSD to get unfiltered access to a part of his brain most normal people rarely use.
"It's so fucking beautiful."
Before You Go Trying It...
The long term effects of acid aren't so great. While Crick never officially rocked a tinfoil hat, he was known to argue that life was seeded on Earth by a race of prehistoric aliens, a theory that has yet to gain widespread acceptance among the scientific community, or really anyone who isn't a character on the X Files or L Ron Hubbard.
#4. Freud and Cocaine Invent Psychoanalysis
Freudian psychoanalysis is one of the most influential and controversial theories of the 20th Century. While you can argue its merits all day (though we wouldn't recommend it) you can't deny that it created an entire branch of medicine, and more importantly, gave us the two best seasons of The Sopranos.
Cocaine. The first ten years of Sigmund Freud's career were like a roving cocaine pep rally. He prescribed cocaine to his friends for headaches, nasal ailments or just to "give (their) cheeks a red color." After all, why whore yourself up with makeup when you can get the same effect with a little cocaine?
Freud wrote unintentionally hilarious letters to his wife promising to show her what happens to a woman in the hands of a "wild man with cocaine in his blood." Oh, and he wrote an entire book called On Cocaine that's basic thesis was: Cocaine is fucking awesome. You should really think about trying some.
After one of his friends died from the drug, Freud quietly folded up his cocaine pom-poms and sweater skirt combo, and went on to found the theory that was named after him. But a respected Freud biographer seems to think the drug played a huge role in the less embarrassing, second act of his career.
Why It Makes Sense:
In those letters to his wife bragging that he was a cocaine fueled sex machine, the man who created the talking cure said he most relied on the drug to untie his tongue. Louise Breger, who is something called a professor emeritus of Psychoanalytics Studies at the California Institute of Technology, suggests that before Freud experimented with the drug, he was an emotionally sterile, socially awkward guy in a lab coat. Cocaine not only untied his tongue, it turned him into the chatty Cathy that wanted to discuss how you felt about your mother.
"I think I'll write about cocaine again."
This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who's been around people on the drug or at least seen the movie Boogie Nights. Cocaine bestows its takers with a preternatural enthusiasm for talking about themselves, often to the great irritation of the people around them.
Berger specifically points to a series of all night cocaine benders in which Freud and his friend Fleischel discussed their "profoundest despair," as he referred to it. From those sessions Freud came up with the whole idea of the patient pouring out his feelings on a couch while the therapist nodded and took notes.
Before You Go Trying It...
Fleischel, the friend who sent Freud on the path toward psychoanalysis was the same guy the drug ended up killing.
#3. Dock Ellis Trips His Way to a No-Hitter
In the hundreds of thousands of games in MLB history, there have been only 247 in which the starting pitcher records every out without giving up a hit. Pedro Martinez, like most pitchers, has gone his entire career without throwing one. In fact his team, the Mets, who've been sending a pitcher out to the mound 162 times every season for 46 years, have never had a pitcher throw one. Dock Ellis became one of the few to ever do it on June 20, 1970, though he barely remembers it.
Acid. The day of the no-hitter, Dock Ellis woke up around noon on what he thought was Friday and ate three tabs of acid, presumably because he was tired of Wheaties. But when his girlfriend arrived she was carrying Saturday's newspaper, which meant he'd slept through Friday or that his girlfriend's was a time traveler. The sports page had more bad news, he was scheduled to pitch in San Diego in six hours. Not only was the day that was beginning to swim around him the wrong one, the city his day was swimming in was Los Angeles.
"Not one thing about today makes sense to me."
We probably wouldn't have gone to the ball park that day (not to mention slept through a Friday and eaten LSD for breakfast). But Ellis had pitched high before. And by that we mean he had never pitched sober. Starting with booze as a high school prodigy and moving up through amphetamines and cocaine in the MLB, his Pirate teammates often took bets on whether anyone could take as many amphetamines as Dock.
Unfazed despite being on enough acid to melt Jimi Hendrix's guitar, Ellis hopped a flight to San Diego, and faced down a lineup that had woken up knowing what day it was, and also had the upper hand in the "not on acid" category. Not a single one got a hit.
Ellis remembers very little about the game, other than that sometimes the ball was huge in his hands and sometimes it was tiny, and that at one point he dove out of the way of a line drive, only to look up and see that the ball hadn't even reached the mound. If this sounds like a ridiculous cartoon to you, that's probably what it looked like to Ellis. So how the fuck did Ellis manage to pitch a better game than Pedro Martinez ever would?
Why It Makes Sense:
Writing in the New Yorker, Oliver Sacks describes a state of mind known as "the zone" in which "A baseball ... approaching at close to a hundred miles per hours ... may seem to be almost immobile in the air, its very seams strikingly visible... in a suddenly enlarged and spacious timescape." The zone is typically brought on by confidence, adrenaline and being fucking awesome at baseball. Ellis was all of those things, and LSD's affects include increased heart rate and the slowing down of time. So it's conceivable that Ellis tripped his way into the zone.
What Ellis saw the day of his no-hitter.
A large part of throwing a no hitter is getting over the fact that you're throwing one. As the game goes on and the lonely bastard in the middle of the diamond gets closer to immortality, the tension in the park and in the pitcher builds. Trying to throw a no hitter is such a mind fuck that it's considered the height of dickery for a teammate to acknowledge the no-hitter until the final out is recorded.
But baseball history was the last thing on Ellis' mind, keeping his shit together while a bunch of giant lizards fucked in the on-deck circle being the first.
Before You Go Trying It...
Ellis had the career trajectory of Darryl Strawberry, never reaching his potential because of drug addiction. Instead of being a household name, Dock Ellis is just that guy who threw a no-hitter on acid.