The Sacred Mushroom

On January 24, 1961, the TV show One Step Beyond aired an episode about ESP and psychedelics which is available on YouTube. I loved hearing the One Step Beyond theme music, and host John Newland using his Ooh-I-Am-Saying-Something-Scary-voice to speak about an area that is actually pretty straightforward and not particularly spooky as unexplored (by science, then).

I referred to this episode in Unbelievable because the lab experimented briefly with synthetic hallucinogens and because two of the people who appear on the show are also part of the story I tell. They are Dr. Barbara B. Brown from the University of California and Riker Laboratories (who would become famous in the 1970’s for her research in biofeedback) and Andrija Puharich, a scientist Rhine never warmed up to.

On the show they conducted a couple experiments with hallucinogenic mushrooms. First a small group of subjects ate the mushrooms and they reported what happened, and later host John Newland took mushrooms and Puharich administered ESP tests.

It’s pretty astounding to watch, considering how things have tightened up since!

5 thoughts on “The Sacred Mushroom

  1. Stacy, you did well unearthing this gem – it’s absolutely fascinating.

    Nowadays a show like this’d probably never get made, never mind shown, if only because of health and safety issues, not to mention restrictions imposed by insurance companies.

    It also goes to show how open-minded American TV could be on such issues, even before the advent of the Beatles.

    Based on personal experience, I KNOW Carlos Castaenda’s books were factual accounts of authentic experiences he underwent and that Don Juan really existed, but this show should be a boon both for those desperate to reassure themselves he made the whole thing up and for whose resources only stretch to hoping he didn’t.

    Good work.

  2. Actually, whoever digitized this originally and made it available should get the credit, but I don’t know who that was. It’s been copied so many times I can’t figure out who did the initial work.

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