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Kary Mullis at TED

Kary Mullis: DNA, LSD and Alien Abductions

In 1993, biochemist Kary Mullis won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his development of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), a process that allows the amplification of specific DNA sequences. Since then, though, he has often played the enfant terrible to his once-adoring scientific ‘parent’. In the year following his Nobel Prize, he revealed that during his 20s he taken “plenty of LSD”, and considered it “much more important than any courses I ever took”. In fact, in a curious echo of another DNA pioneer – Francis Crick – Mullis is said to have told Dr Albert Hofmann that “LSD had helped him develop the polymerase chain reaction that helps amplify specific DNA sequences.”

Mullis has sparked further controversy with his questioning of the ‘conventional wisdom’ concerning HIV-AIDS and Anthropogenic Global Warming. To be sure, Mullis has a dislike of paradigm enforcement in the halls of science, and in particular the current system of grants-based science. In his words, “Science is being practiced by people who are dependent on being paid for what they are going to find out,” and not for what they have actually discovered.

So, you just know that a TED Talk by Kary Mullis is going to be an entertaining affair. For the most part, he holds forth with a fascinating history of the beginnings of modern science (via stoner-speak) through the Royal Society, and his own boyhood beginnings in science. The audience loves it, with plenty of laughs. And then the Global Warming discussion comes…and things get a little quieter in the room. Here’s the whole talk (about 30 minutes in length):

Now, if all that wasn’t enough, here’s one more fascinating thing about Mullis. He’s had an alien abduction experience. Well, a glowing raccoon experience, but pretty much the same thing, as you’ll see. In his autobiography Dancing Naked in the Mind Field (Amazon US and UK), Mullis relates how he drove from Berkeley out to his cabin late one night:

…I got there just around midnight. I had driven up alone, and I had passed the functional sobriety test – I had made it through the mountains.

I turned on the kitchen lights, put my bags of groceries on the floor, and grabbed a heavy, black flashlight. I was headed to the john, which was about fifty feet west of the cabin, down a hill. Some people thought it was a little eerie at night, but I didn’t – I liked the night. I liked sitting in the dark on the custom carved redwood seat. I liked the sound of owls in the valley. But that night, I never made it to the seat.

The path down to the john heads west and then takes a sharp turn to the north after a few earthen steps. Then it runs level for about twenty feet. I walked down the steps, turned right, and then at the far end of the path, under a fir tree, there was something glowing. I pointed my flashlight at it anyhow. It only made it whiter where the beam landed. It seemed to be a raccoon. I wasn’t frightened. Later, I wondered if it could have been a hologram, projected from God knows where.

The raccoon spoke. “Good evening, doctor,” it said. I said something back, I don’t remember what, probably, “Hello.”

The next thing I remember, it was early morning. I was walking along a road uphill from my house. What went through my head as I walked down toward my house was, “What the hell am I doing here?” I had no memory of the night before.”

Bill Chalker has talked to Mullis about this experience, and other strange things that happened at his cabin (and based on which, I have decided that I really need to get myself to a Nobel Prize after-party…). Mullis also mentions in his autobiography that his daughter later told him that she had almost the exact experience at the cabin (she walked down the hill, and basically disappeared for 3 hours). Synchronistically, both were also attracted to Whitley Strieber’s classic ‘alien abduction’ book Communion, and amazed to see their experiences mirrored in Strieber’s account.

Whitley Strieber’s narrative is very similar to Mullis: he’s in a remote cabin, and he sees a strange animal preceding the experience – in his case, an owl. John Mack has written that this is a common theme in ‘alien abduction’ tales – three of the most common animals seen immediately before the loss of memory are deer, owls, and…raccoons. Another thing that Mack reveals is that these experiences are often shared within families, just as in the case of Kary Mullis and his daughter.

When it comes to his ‘alien abduction’ experience (and I apply the term as a label, rather than an explanation), Mullis knows exactly how it fits into the criteria for scientific acceptance. I found his words rather poignant:

I wouldn’t try to publish a scientific paper about these things, because I can’t do any experiments. I can’t make glowing raccoons appear. I can’t buy them from a scientific supply house to study. I can’t cause myself to be lost again for several hours. But I don’t deny what happened. It’s what science calls anecdotal, because it only happened in a way that you can’t reproduce. But it happened.

Perhaps Kary Mullis should be a member of the Grail?

  1. Springing to mind…
    One thing I didn’t mention, that at least made my eyebrows raise a few millimetres, is that Mullis notes (off-hand) that his cabin is located near a spring/underground water. ‘Entity’ appearances often seem linked to springs (see the manifestations of the ‘Virgin Mary’ for instance, such as at Lourdes).

    Kind regards,
    You monkeys only think you’re running things

  2. abduction experiences

    A diminutive female friend of mine, Hayley, who’s always been into (as she puts it) “diddymen”, i.e., guys who aren’t that tall, nevertheless ended up with (and having two kids to) a guy 6 foot 6 tall, (and this in spite of always expressing anxiety about excessively tall blokes ever since I’ve known her, [since 1990]).

    From the moment she first told me about Neil (2003) I was instantly (but privately) convinced she’d somehow end up with him, even though everything about him screamed he was ‘wrong’, (in spite of which, from even before we finally met, I somehow conceived a peculiar fondness for him as if he was some unseen ‘cousin’ I’d long heard other members of the ‘family’ referring too, though Hayley herself’d only ever given me the briefest of dismissive details concerning him).

    Anyway, right upto the present day, she still periodically asks me, “how come I ended up with him?” which is probably why she’s aborted several attempts by Neil to get her to the altar.

    Recently, however, she overheard him recollecting to his brother about a certain night when, as teenagers, they’d both spotted a strange light hovering out beyond their bedroom window only for the pair of them the next day to suddenly realise they’d both inexplicably lost several hours for which they couldn’t provide any account.

    The electrifying thing about all this was Hayley’d long ago told me a number of peculiar details about herself, (how for instance, as a five year old she’d watched a strange “ball of fiery light” descend from the sky in the middle of a horrendous thunder storm and bounce after her down the street!), amongst which was an account of being drawn to and captivated by the sight of a strange light hovering beyond her bedroom window only for her to suddenly find herself going into work the next afternoon without being able to account for how she got there or, indeed, any of the time that’d elapsed since she’d first noticed the light.

    I can only add to this, I myself’ve been prone to exceedingly odd occurrences since birth, (though unlike the majority of people I seem to remember most of mine, possibly thanks to having a ‘videographic’ as opposed to a ‘photographic’ memory), and find myself wondering if the explanation for the travails of Hayley and Neil was the pair of them’ve been unwittingly sharing an alternative ‘existence’.

    1. Wow!
      What a great story. Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Yeah, some abductees feel that their respective spouses have somehow been ‘selected’ for them. Or maybe subconsciously people of peculiar viewpoints & experiences tend to find each other.

      I have a cousin who is 6′-11″, who managed to marry a nice medium-height girl (lucky SOB). So it is not that unheard of, though 😉

      It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
      It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

      Red Pill Junkie

  3. Synchronicity?
    Err, just noticed that Regan Lee wrote about Kary Mullis and raccoons last week at the Orange Orb. How odd.

    Kind regards,
    You monkeys only think you’re running things

    1. You call that synchronicity?
      This is synchronicity. This week, for no apparent reason, I decided to reread Graham Hancock’s Supernatural. I skipped most of the rock art chapters and guess what chapter I read last night? Alien abductions and shamanic encounters involving animal forms — deer, owls, and raccoons.

  4. I think I’m in love . . .
    I’ve been suspicious about global warming being more of a political/economic issue than a scientific one for awhile now. It often seems more hype and folklore than actual scientific fact. God bless Kelly Mullis for actually saying this in public, and admitting that much of today’s science is about producing the exact results that funders are paying richly to get in order to further their own agendas. I think its imperative that ethical scientists, such as Kelly, keep bringing this to the public’s attention. We put too much faith in scientific pronouncements when we don’t know or understand the sometimes questionable methods underlying them.

    1. It’s not Valentine’s Day just yet
      Big Industry (oil etc) are shamelessly funding “scientific” studies debunking man-caused global warming, so I wouldn’t count on science too much. There’s disinfo, exaggeration of the “facts”, and outright lies on both sides.

      So my opinion is to trust no one, but we should clean up our act no matter what the truth is about GW. Clean air, water and earth can’t be a bad thing. 😉

      1. Theory vs practice
        [quote=Rick MG]So my opinion is to trust no one, but we should clean up our act no matter what the truth is about GW. Clean air, water and earth can’t be a bad thing. ;-)[/quote]

        That’s easily said, but once it comes down to details things get a little thorny. Some of the legislation being enforced on farmers in Queensland is just plain ridiculous. So, the trouble lies in finding the middle ground.

        Kind regards,
        You monkeys only think you’re running things

        1. Stuck in the middle
          That’s why I have a problem with both sides, Greg — we lack a middle-ground of finding a balance between development and environment. It is possible, but the people paid to achieve this are constantly polarised Left vs Right. Which is why I sat up and paid attention when Obama mentioned seeking balance between development and environment in his inauguration speech. Time will tell if he backs up his words with actions. It’s just depressing we have no balanced leaders here in Australia — it’s either extreme environmental destruction in favour of Big Industry Profit, or stupid legislation that bankrupts the honest farmer and doesn’t even help the environment anyway.

          Jokers to the left of us and jokers to the right, Greg.

          1. The right man for the job:
            Greg Taylor.

            Think about it, amigo. You have more knowledge about Climate change and Science background than most ranchers (or most Australians, for that matter); and you understand the ranchers’ troubles and life style.

            A person like you could be the bridge that helps reach that common ground.

            It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
            It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

            Red Pill Junkie

      2. Remember one thing
        Mr. Mullis much awarded and celebrated discovery of polymerase chain reactions were made when he was working for a private corporation.

        And I even remember an OMNI article in which there was stated a bit of a controversy regarding the authorship of the discovery. Some scientists that were part of universities seemed to claim that Mullis took advantage of their research.

        Read this (from Wikipedia):

        [quote]Mullis was not the first to propose the ideas behind PCR. The main principles were described in 1971 by 1968 Nobel Prize laureate H. Gobind Khorana and Kjell Kleppe, a Norwegian scientist. Kleppe and Khorana released a 20-page research paper on PCR in the 1971 Journal of Molecular Biology. As early as June 18, 1969, Kleppe had presented his work at the Gordon Conference in New Hampshire. Using repair replication (the principle of PCR), he duplicated and then quadrupled a small synthetic molecule with the help of two primers and DNA-polymerase. Among the attendees[8] was Stuart Linn, who then used Kleppe’s material in his own teachings to his students, including Mullis.

        The suggestion that Mullis was solely responsible for the idea of using Taq polymerase in the PCR process has been refuted by his co-workers at the time,[citation needed] who were embittered by his abrupt departure from Cetus.[3] However, other scientists have said that “the full potential [of PCR] was not realized” until Mullis’ work in 1983,[9] and at least one book has reported that Mullis’ colleagues failed to see the potential of the technique when he presented it to them.[6] As a result, some controversy surrounds the balance of credit that should be given to Mullis versus the team at Cetus.[4] In practice, credit has accrued to both the inventor and the company (although not its individual workers) in the form of a Nobel Prize and a $10,000 Cetus bonus for Mullis and $300 million for Cetus when the company sold the patent to Roche Molecular Systems. After DuPont lost out to La Roche on that sale, the company unsuccessfully disputed Mullis’s patent on the alleged grounds that PCR had been previously described in 1971.[3] Mullis took Cetus’ side in the case, and Khorana refused to testify for DuPont; the jury upheld Mullis’s patent in 1991.[3]

        The anthropologist Paul Rabinow wrote a book on the history of the PCR method in 1996 (entitled Making PCR) in which he questioned whether or not Mullis “invented” PCR or “merely” came up with the concept of it. Rabinow, a Foucault scholar interested in issues of the production of knowledge, used the topic to argue against the idea that scientific discovery is the product of individual work, writing, “Committees and science journalists like the idea of associating a unique idea with a unique person, the lone genius. PCR is, in fact, one of the classic examples of teamwork.”[10][/quote]

        So let’s not erect an altar for the man just yet 😉

        It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
        It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

        Red Pill Junkie

      3. Global Warming
        There’s nothing bad or wrong about being environmentally conscious in our activities (I’m pretty obsessive compulsive about recycling and take public transportaion more than I drive my car, etc.), but I think the global warming mechanism is something we don’t understand. This planet has gone through wild climate swings over the past few billion years, long before Homo Sapiens ever appeared on the scene and started driving big rigs with dual 60 gallon tanks. We don’t understand those past changes so why are we so sure we understand any changes happening today? The earth is a dynamic system influenced not only by what happens on its surface, but also by forces under that surface and outside of it (e.g., rising magama levels, changes in solar output). Global warming has become a major marketing concept. That alone should make us a little suspicious.

        1. Marketing concept
          Sure Global Warming has been used to profit from it by some people, like Al Gore—throwing a green ball for the President during inauguration day? Wouldn’t it have been more green NOT throwing another needless party??

          But, the concept of Global Warming was something of an underdog for several decades. It is like Evolution: it polarizes people into two sides; Albert was a lucky son of a gun because the moment his theory was confirmed he became a rock star 😉

          It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
          It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

          Red Pill Junkie

  5. Nitrous
    Even more interesting to me is his bizarre near-death experience with nitrous oxide. I’m paraphrasing here, from memory, so I encourage people to seek this incident out in the book for the full description.

    He had a bad reaction after combining nitrous and antihistamines, and woke up across the room from where he passed out. He had no idea who had removed the nitrous hook-up from his face and how he had gotten all the way across the room.

    A few years later, he met a woman and had amazing sex with her. Afterward, without any mention of the nitrous incident, she said she had been traveling the astral plane and had seen him dying. She claimed she removed the mask from his face and saved his life.

    I wish I had the book handy, but that’s the gist of the very strange and intriguing story.

  6. State of Fear
    I read the novel “State of Fear’ a few years back. While it is a novel, the author used factual information within the novel. The concept was that human caused global was not caused by humans.

    Maybe the reality is somewhere in between – humans have had some influence in adding to or accelerating a process that would have happened anyway.


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