Unconventional Science/ The Grateful Dead

Unconventional Science/ The Grateful Dead


HostGeorge Knapp

GuestsZoe Cormier, David Browne

Freelance journalist Zoe Cormier, a science writer and photographer with a background in biology, joined George Knapp in the first half to discuss her new book Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n’ Roll: The Science of Hedonism. On the subject of monogamy she found contentiousness in scientific studies, and concluded that there is a lot of diversity in this matter- i.e. some people are well suited to staying with just one partner, while others are not, and culturally, a number of different approaches are validated. Interestingly, DNA studies have shown that "more than 3% of children-- one in thirty people-- are being raised by men who are not actually their fathers, but think they are," she reported.

She talked about the importance of scent in sexual attraction. A person's immune system contributes to how they smell, and people tend to be attracted to those who smell differently than themselves, she explained. Regarding drug use, Cormier connected it to an "age old battle between plants and animals" in that many of the substances come from the part of leaves that the plant developed to ward off insect predators by bitter taste. She also detailed how the chemist Albert Hoffman, who lived to the age of 102, accidentally created LSD, and became an advocate for its psychotherapeutic effects.


In the later half, David Browne, longtime music journalist and contributing editor at Rolling Stone, delved into the Grateful Dead, the band that became a musical and cultural phenomenon that has spanned generations. The Dead rank as one of the all time greatest American rock 'n' roll bands, he remarked, as they pushed the boundaries of music, incorporating so many different elements into their live shows including blues, folk, rock, country, experimental, R&B, jazz, and acoustic. One reason their fans, known as "Deadheads," were so devoted to seeing their concerts was that no two shows were ever like, and each had unique jam sessions.

Browne also talked about friction between band members when they shared a house in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco in the 1960s, their drug usage which reflected what was going in the culture at the time, and their enormous popularity-- the band even played such established venues as Radio City Music Hall, and was one of the first rock acts to tour Las Vegas.



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