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Reviews by David Bey
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Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work
by Steven Kotler & Jamie Wheal
Publisher:
Dey Street Books 
Year:
2017 
Reviewed by David Bey
1/27/2020

Seen in a more charitable light, Stealing Fire serves as an important reminder that, like any technology, the techniques of ecstasy are neither good nor bad in of themselves. What matters are the choices we make about how we use them. [ read more ]

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High Weirdness: Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies
by Erik Davis
Publisher:
Strange Attractor / MIT Press 
Year:
2019 
Reviewed by David Bey
12/10/2019

It’s hard to overstate what an accomplishment High Weirdness is. Davis has done painstaking work whose formal sobriety and methodological rigor serve to unimpeachably register the works of a rogues’ gallery of extraordinary psychonauts within the academic discourse. The result is likely to significantly change how future scholarship on its featured authors is conducted. [ read more ]

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Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addiction, PTSD, and Anxiety
by Rachel Harris
Publisher:
New World Library 
Year:
2017 
Reviewed by David Bey
2/27/2018

Listening to Ayahuasca: New Hope for Depression, Addiction, PTSD, and Anxiety offers something immeasurably valuable in the field of psychedelic discourse: a sane, responsible, well-informed voice in a chorus replete with fevered egos and third-hand hearsay. [ read more ]

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Sapo in My Soul: The Matsés Frog Medicine
by Peter Gorman
Publisher:
Gorman Bench Press 
Year:
2015 
Reviewed by David Bey
10/18/2017

To be clear, I am casting no aspersions as to the extent of Gorman’s genuine expertise with the technique. I respect that he learned it straight from the source, and have no reason to doubt his ability to administer sapo skillfully to himself or others. What I do feel compelled to question is his ability to make meaningful statements about why or how the relevant phenomena function the way they do. This review may seem surprisingly harsh so far, but I’m going to argue such harshness is fair. [ read more ]

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Xenolinguistics: Psychedelics, Language, and the Evolution of Consciousness
by Diana Reed Slattery
Publisher:
North Atlantic Books 
Year:
2015 
Reviewed by David Bey
3/16/2016

The book is both a consideration of general topics in psychedelic-influenced language studies, as well as an account of the author’s own “outrageous twelve year adventure” of largely solitary psychedelic exploration, inspired in large part by her experiments with Glide, a visual language system she developed in the course of her researches. Slattery’s personal journey is both remarkable and inspirational. [ read more ]

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Novel Psychoactive Substances: Classification, Pharmacology and Toxicology
by Paul Dargan & David Wood (Eds.)
Publisher:
Academic Press 
Year:
2013 
Reviewed by David Bey
2/19/2016

What stands out in the pharmacology and toxicology studies presented in Novel Psychoactive Substances is more the negative space of what isn’t there than the positive space of what is. [ read more ]

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The Manual of Psychedelic Support
by Multiple Authors
Publisher:
Psychedelic Care Publications 
Year:
2015 
Reviewed by David Bey
11/19/2015

The Manual of Psychedelic Support includes everything one would need to start a new psychedelic care organization from the ground up, or to fine-tune and improve the practices of an established group. [ read more ]

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Psychedelic Explorer's Guide
by James Fadiman, PhD
Publisher:
Park Street Press 
Year:
2011 
Reviewed by David Bey
6/30/2014

Fadiman and his collaborators are to be congratulated for having put together such a handsome, helpful and comprehensive collection of important information. It’s hard to imagine a better introduction to responsible psychedelic use, or a better signpost pointing towards its future horizons. The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide is an indispensable resource that surely belongs on every tripper’s shelf. [ read more ]

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Body World
by Dash Shaw
Publisher:
Pantheon 
Year:
2010 
Reviewed by David Bey
5/28/2014

BodyWorld, written and illustrated by Dash Shaw, is a remarkable graphic novel and one of the best works of drug fiction in recent years. The comic is set in a mildly dystopian sci-fi future. It’s 2060 and there’s been a second American civil war. The surviving large cities are polluted hives, but out in the “experimental” woodland town of Boney Borough things seem peaceful, if insipid. Peaceful that is until the arrival of protagonist Paul Panther, a hardboiled “outsider” ethno-botanist posing as a visiting professor at the local high school while investigating reports of a hitherto unknown plant with psychedelic properties. [ read more ]

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Hallucinations
by Oliver Sacks
Publisher:
Knopf 
Year:
2012 
Reviewed by David Bey
3/30/2014

Hearing voices. Seeing fantastic plays of light and color. Feeling the body transformed in impossible ways. Encounters with phantom entities. Temporary relocations of self and subjectivity. For some, experiences such as these are to be found at the bottom of a shaman’s gourd or within the crystalline lattices of the latest research chemical. For others, however, experiences like the ones above are not the result of any deliberate intervention but instead are a spontaneous consequence of the simple fact that our experience of reality is the product of our brains, and our brains are capable of being disturbed or disrupted in any number of ways. [ read more ]