Michael Pollan On Mind-Altering Plants, A Second Pandemic Winter. December 10, 2021, Part 1

Michael Pollan On Mind-Altering Plants, A Second Pandemic Winter. December 10, 2021, Part 1

By Science Friday and WNYC Studios

Science Friday

Friday, 10 December

How America Is Preparing For Another Pandemic Winter

The weather is getting colder, the days are getting shorter, and the world is approaching the two year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like last year, experts are wary that a winter surge in cases could happen again this year, even with the protection of vaccinations.

The Biden administration is trying to get ahead of this possibility, especially as the Omicron variant looms. A new plan prioritizing booster shots and testing has been released to get the country through another pandemic winter.

Joining Ira to break down this and other science news of the week is Umair Irfan, staff writer for Vox based in Washington, D.C. They also discuss the latest information on the Omicron variant’s virulence and genetic sequencing, and take a look at the complicated world of conserving the rarest marine mammal, the vaquita.

 

Three Plant-Based Chemicals That Can Change Your Brain

If you’ve enjoyed a cup of coffee, tea, or certain soft drinks today, you’ve been making use of the mind-altering properties of the chemical caffeine, which bestows an alert buzz. And we probably all know a coffee addict, who becomes cranky and irritable without their morning mug.

But there are also other plant-based compounds that affect the mind’s consciousness, including opium and mescaline—and the use of those compounds isn’t seen as acceptable in modern society.

In his book This Is Your Mind On Plants, author Michael Pollan looks at the way these three compounds have been adopted or shunned by various cultures, and why. He joins Ira to talk about the science behind their action, the history of their use around the world, and the societal and cultural factors that go into deciding which drugs are seen as acceptable by a community.

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