Ask Dr. Shulgin Online

ARCHIVE:  May 30, 2001

Education and Entheogens

Dear Dr. Shulgin:

What legal path would you recommend for a college-age US citizen who is interested in pursuing the chemistry and exploration of the mind-altering substances as you yourself have done? 

--Gerald

Dear Gerald:

I would strongly recommend getting an advanced academic degree and a broad education. 

The degree, a Ph.D. would be most desirable, but the specific discipline you follow to obtain it is not as important as you might think. If chemistry is to be a major scientific area of curiosity, seek out a chemistry department, but enroll in an undergraduate program that allows the taking of non-chemical courses as well. This may lead to an A.B. at graduation rather than a B.S. The choice of your graduate advisor should be made, in part, to develop your understanding of the research concept. What your actual research will be that leads to your Ph.D. is still rather inconsequential. It is the acquiring of that doctorate degree that will allow your voice to be heard by a larger audience when you wish to share your discoveries.

But to succeed in sharing information you must communicate, and this requires a broad vocabulary. This is the reward for having taken courses in everything from psychology to theology in your undergraduate years. Many young scholars become trapped by plunging ever more deeply in an ever-narrowing field within their discipline. The excitement of discovery is every bit as rewarding from such highly specialized research, but there is an ever-smaller audience that can understand or even care about your findings. If you cannot communicate with many people you will lose the invaluable feedback that is essential in your search for a personal understanding of the effects of mind-altering drugs.

-- Dr. Shulgin

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