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Don Lattin: The Harvard Psychedelic Club

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Date and time
Thursday, January 14, 2010

Journalist and religion writer Don Lattin gives an inside look into *The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America*. The Harvard Psychedelic Club is the story of how three brilliant scholars and one ambitious freshman crossed paths in Cambridge in the winter of 1960-61, and how their experiences in a psychedelic drug research project transformed their lives and much of American culture in the 1960s and 1970s. They came together in a time of upheaval and experimentation, and they set the stage for the social, spiritual, sexual, and psychological revolution of the 1960s. Huston Smith would be the teacher, practicing every world religion and educating three generations of Americans to adopt a more tolerant, inclusive attitude toward other culture's religions. Richard Alpert would be the seeker, traveling to India, returning to America as "Ram Dass" and reborn as a spiritual leader with his "Be Here Now" mantra, inspiring a restless army of spiritual pilgrims. Andrew Weil would be the healer, becoming the undisputed leader of alternative medicine, devoting his life to the holistic reformation of the American health care system. And Timothy Leary would play the rebellious trickster, the premier proponent of the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of LSD, advising a generation to "turn on, tune in, and drop out."

Don Lattin is a freelance jounalist and a religion writer who seems to be hopelessly stuck in the sixties. He is one of the nation's leading reporters covering alternative religious movements and figures in America. Over the past three decades he has covered Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones, Branch Davidian prophet David Koresh, and Heaven's Gate founder Marshall Herff Applewhite. He has also written extensively about the rise of the Christian right in the United States and the emergence of radical Islamists around the world.