BB pal Vann Hall surprised me with news that in 1976, pioneering Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes wrote a Golden Guide. Appropriately, the subject of Schultes' Golden Guide was Hallucinogenic Plants. For those who don't know, the original Golden Guides were a fantastic series of profusely-illustrated educational books for elementary and high-school age students. Usually about nature or science, the books were most popular in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s and are now collectables, depending on the title. Copies of Hallucinogenic Plants are available on AbeBooks from around $50 for a paperback in fair condition to $500 for a scarce hardcover. Fortunately, Erowid has a scan of the entire book online. From Schultes's introduction:
Hallucinogenic plants have been used by man for thousands of years, probably since he began gathering plants for food. The hallucinogens have continued to receive the attention of civilized man through the ages. Recently, we have gone through a period during which sophisticated Western society has "discovered" hallucinogens, and some sectors of that society have taken up, for one reason or another, the use of such plants. This trend may be destined to continue.Link
It is, therefore, important for us to learn as much as we can about hallucinogenic plants. A great body of scientific literature has been published about their uses and their effects, but the information is often locked away in technical journals. The interested layman has a right to sound information on which to base his opinions. This book has been written partly to provide that kind of information.
No matter whether we believe that men's intake of hallucinogens in primitive or sophisticated societies constitutes use, misuse, or abuse, hallucinogenic plants have undeniably played an extensive role in human culture and probably shall continue to do so. It follows that a clear understanding of these physically and socially potent agents should be a part of man's general education.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.