“You will not read about him in the history books. He left no diary, nor chatty relatives to memorialize him in print. And if a cadre of associates had not recently agreed to open its files, Captain Alfred M. Hubbard might exist in death as he did in life–a man of mirrors and shadows, revealing himself to even his closest friends only on a need-to-know basis. They called him “the Johnny Appleseed of LSD.” He was to the psychedelic movement nothing less than the membrane through which all passed to enter into the Mysteries. Beverly Hills psychiatrist Oscar Janiger once said of Hubbard, “We waited for him like a little old lady for the Sears-Roebuck catalog.” Waited for him to unlock his ever-present leather satchel loaded with pharmaceutically-pure psilocybin, mescaline or his personal favorite, Sandoz LSD-25. Those who will talk about Al Hubbard are few. Oscar Janiger told this writer that “nothing of substance has been written about Al Hubbard, and probably nothing ever should.”
The first visage of Hubbard was beheld by Dr. Humphry Osmond, now senior psychiatrist at Alabama’s Bryce Hospital. He and Dr. John Smythies were researching the correlation between schizophrenia and the hallucinogens mescaline and adrenochrome at Weyburn Hospital in Saskatchewan, Canada, when an A.M. Hubbard requested the pleasure of Osmond’s company for lunch at the swank Vancouver Yacht Club. Dr. Osmond later recalled, “It was a very dignified place, and I was rather awed by it. [Hubbard] was a powerfully-built man…with a broad face and a firm hand-grip. He was also very genial, an excellent host.” Captain Hubbard was interested in obtaining some mescaline, and, as it was still legal, Dr. Osmond supplied him with some. “He was interested in all sorts of odd things,” Osmond laughs. Among Hubbard’s passions was motion. His identity as “captain” came from his master of sea vessels certification and a stint in the US Merchant Marine.
At the time of their meeting in 1953, Al Hubbard owned secluded Dayman Island off the coast of Vancouver–a former Indian colony surrounded by a huge wall of oyster shells. To access his 24-acre estate, Hubbard built a hangar for his aircraft and a slip for his yacht from a fallen redwood. But it was the inner voyage that drove the Captain until his death in 1982. Fueled by psychedelics, he set sail and rode the great wave as a neuronaut, with only the white noise in his ears and a fever in his brain. His head shorn to a crew and wearing a paramilitary uniform with a holstered long-barrel Colt .45, Captain Al Hubbard showed up one day in ’63 on the doorstep of a young Harvard psychologist named Timothy Leary. “He blew in with that uniform…laying down the most incredible atmosphere of mystery and flamboyance, and really impressive bullshit!” Leary recalls. “He was pissed off. His Rolls Royce had broken down on the freeway, so he went to a pay phone and called the company in London. That’s what kind of guy he was. He started name-dropping like you wouldn’t believe… claimed he was friends with the Pope.”
Did Leary believe him? “Well, yeah, no question.” The captain had come bearing gifts of LSD, which he wanted to swap for psilocybin, the synthetic magic mushroom produced by Switzerland’s Sandoz Laboratories. “The thing that impressed me,” Leary remembers, “is on one hand he looked like a carpetbagger con man, and on the other he had these most-impressive people in the world on his lap, basically backing him.” Among Hubbard’s heavyweight cheerleaders was Aldous Huxley, author of the sardonic novel Brave New World. Huxley had been turned on to mescaline by Osmond in ’53, an experience that spawned the seminal psychedelic handbook The Doors of Perception. Huxley became an unabashed sponsor for the chemicals then known as “psychotomimetic”–literally, “madness mimicking.” But neither Huxley nor Hubbard nor Osmond experienced madness, and Dr. Osmond wrote a rhyme to Huxley one day in the early 1950s, coining a new word for the English language, and a credo for the next generation: To fathom hell or soar angelic, Just take a pinch of psychedelic.
Those who knew Al Hubbard would describe him as just a “barefoot boy from Kentucky,” who never got past third grade. But as a young man, the shoeless hillbilly was purportedly visited by a pair of angels, who told him to build something. He had absolutely no training, “but he had these visions, and he learned to trust them early on,” says Willis Harman, director of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Sausalito, CA. In 1919, guided by other-worldly forces, Hubbard invented the Hubbard Energy Transformer, a radioactive battery that could not be explained by the technology of the day. The Seattle Post- Intelligencer reported that Hubbard’s invention, hidden in an 11″ x 14″ box, had powered a ferry-sized vessel around Seattle’s Portico Bay nonstop for three days. Fifty percent rights to the patent were eventually bought by the Radium Corporation of Pittsburgh for $75,000, and nothing more was heard of the Hubbard Energy Transformer.
Hubbard stifled his talents briefly as an engineer in the early 1920s, but an unquenchable streak of mischief burned in the boy inventor. Vancouver magazine’s Ben Metcalfe reports that Hubbard soon took a job as a Seattle taxi driver during Prohibition. With a sophisticated ship-to-shore communications system hidden in the trunk of his cab, Hubbard helped rum-runners to successfully ferry booze past the US and Canadian Coast Guards. He was, however, caught by the FBI and went to prison for 18 months. After his release, Hubbard’s natural talent for electronic communications attracted scouts from Allen Dulles‘s Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Also according to Metcalfe, Hubbard was at least peripherally involved in the Manhattan Project. The captain was pardoned of any and all wrongdoing by Harry S. Truman under Presidential Pardon #2676, and subsequently became agent Captain Al Hubbard of the OSS. As a maritime specialist, Hubbard was enjoined to ship heavy armaments from San Diego to Canada at night, without lights, in the waning hours of World War II–an operations of dubious legality, which had him facing a Congressional investigation. To escape federal indictment, Hubbard moved to Vancouver and became a Canadian citizen.
Parlaying connections and cash, Hubbard founded Marine Manufacturing, a Vancouver charter-boat concern, and in his early 40s realized his lifelong ambition of becoming a millionaire. By 1950 he was scientific director of the Uranium Corporation of Vancouver, owned his own fleet of aircraft, a 100-foot yacht, and a Canadian island. And he was miserable. “Al was desperately searching for meaning in his life,” says Willis Harman. Seeking enlightenment, Hubbard returned to an area near Spokane, WA, where he’d spent summers during his youth. He hiked into the woods and an angel purportedly appeared to him in a clearing. “She told Al that something tremendously important to the future of mankind would be coming soon, and that he could play a role in it if he wanted to,” says Harman. “But he hadn’t the faintest clue what he was supposed to be looking for.”
In 1951, reading The Hibberd Journal, a scientific paper of the time, Hubbard stumbled across an article about the behavior of rats given LSD. “He knew that was it,” says Harman. Hubbard went and found the person conducting the experiment and came back with some LSD for himself. After this first acid experience, he had become a True Believer. “Hubbard discovered psychedelics as a boon and a sacrament,” recalls Leary. A 1968 resume states that Hubbard was at various times employed by the Canadian Special Services, the US Justice Department and, ironically, what is now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Whether he was part of the CIA mind-control project known as MK-ULTRA, might never be known: all paperwork generated in connection with that diabolical experiment was destroyed in ’73 by MK-ULTRA chief Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, on orders from then-CIA Director Richard Helms, citing a “paper crisis.”
Under the auspices of MK-ULTRA the CIA regularly dosed its agents and associates with powerful hallucinogens as a preemptive measure against the Soviets’ own alleged chemical technology, often with disastrous results. The secret project would see at least two deaths: tennis pro Harold Blauer died after a massive injection of MDA; and the army’s own Frank Olson, a biological-warfare specialist, crashed through a closed window in the 12th floor of New York’s Statler Hotel, after drinking cognac laced with LSD during a CIA symposium. Dr. Osmond doubts that Hubbard would have been associated with such a project, “not particularly on humanitarian grounds, but on the grounds that it was bad technique.”
[Note: Recently, a researcher and author of a forthcoming book based on the Frank Olson “murder,” revealed to this writer that he has received, via a FOIA request of CIA declassified materials, documents which indicate that Al Hubbard was, indeed, in contact with Dr. Sidney Gottlieb and George Hunter White–an FBI narcotics official who managed Operation Midnight Climax, a joint CIA/FBI blackmail project in which unwitting “johns” were given drinks spiked with LSD by CIA-managed prostitutes, and whose exploits were videotaped from behind two-way mirrors at posh hotels in both New York and San Francisco. The researcher would reveal only that Al Hubbard’s name “appeared in connection with Gottlieb and White, but the material is heavily redacted.”]
Hubbard’s secret connections allowed him to expose over 6,000 people to LSD before it was effectively banned in ’66. He shared the sacrament with a prominent Monsignor of the Catholic Church in North America, explored the roots of alcoholism with AA founder Bill Wilson, and stormed the pearly gates with Aldous Huxley (in a session that resulted in the psychedelic tome Heaven and Hell), as well as supplying most of the Beverly Hills psychiatrists, who, in turn, turned on actors Cary Grant, James Coburn, Jack Nicholson, novelist Anais Nin, and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Laura Huxley met Captain Hubbard for the first time at her and her husband’s Hollywood Hills home in the early 1960s. “He showed up for lunch one afternoon, and he brought with him a portable tank filled with a gas of some kind. He offered some to us,” she recalls, “but we said we didn’t care for any, so he put it down and we all had lunch. He went into the bathroom with the tank after lunch, and breathed into it for about ten seconds. It must have been very concentrated, because he came out revitalized and very jubilant, talking about a vision he had seen of the Virgin Mary.”
“I was convinced that he was the man to bring LSD to planet Earth,” remarks, Myron Stolaroff, who was assistant to the president of long-range planning at Ampex Corporation when he met the captain. Stolaroff learned of Hubbard through philosopher Gerald Heard, a friend and spiritual mentor to Huxley. “Gerald had reached tremendous levels of contemplative prayer, and I didn’t know what in the world he was doing fooling around with drugs.” Heard had written a letter to Stolaroff, describing the beauty of his psychedelic experience with Al Hubbard. “That letter would be priceless–but Hubbard, I’m sure, arranged to have it stolen…. He was a sonofabitch: God and the Devil, both there in full force.” Stolaroff was so moved by Heard’s letter that, in ’56, he agreed to take LSD with Hubbard in Vancouver. “After that first LSD experience, I said ‘this is the greatest discovery man has ever made.'”
He was not alone. Through his interest in aircraft, Hubbard had become friends with a prominent Canadian businessman. The businessman eventually found himself taking LSD with Hubbard and, after coming down, told Hubbard never to worry about money again: He had seen the future, and Al Hubbard was its Acid Messiah. Hubbard abandoned his uranium empire and, for the next decade, traveled the globe as a psychedelic missionary. “Al’s dream was to open up a worldwide chain of clinics as training grounds for other LSD researchers,” says Stolaroff. His first pilgrimage was to Switzerland, home of Sandoz Laboratories, producers of both Delysid (trade name for LSD) and psilocybin. He procured a gram of LSD (roughly 10,000 doses) and set up shop in a safe-deposit vault in the Zurich airport’s duty-free section. From there he was able to ship quantities of his booty without a tariff to a waiting world.
Swiss officials quickly detained Hubbard for violating the nation’s drug laws, which provided no exemption from the duty-free provision. Myron Stolaroff petitioned Washington for the Captain’s release, but the State Department wanted nothing to do with Al Hubbard. Oddly, when a hearing was held, blue-suited officials from the department were in attendance. The Swiss tribunal declared Hubbard’s passport invalid for five years, and he was deported. Undeterred, Hubbard traveled to Czechoslovakia, where he had another gram of LSD put into tablet form by Chemapol–a division of the pharmaceutical giant Spofa–and then flew west.
Procuring a Ph.D. in biopsychology from a less-than-esteemed academic outlet called Taylor University, the captain became Dr. Alfred M. Hubbard, clinical therapist. In ’57, he met Ross MacLean, medical superintendent of the Hollywood Hospital in New Westminster, Canada. MacLean was so impressed with Hubbard’s knowledge of the human condition that he devoted an entire wing of the hospital to the study of psychedelic therapy for chronic alcoholics. According to Metcalfe, MacLean was also attracted to the fact that Hubbard was Canada’s sole licensed importer of Sandoz LSD. “I remember seeing Al on the phone in his living room one day. He was elated because the FDA had just given him IND#1,” says one Hubbard confidante upon condition of anonymity.
His Investigational New Drug permit also allowed Hubbard to experiment with LSD in the USA. For the next few years, Hubbard–together with Canadian psychiatrist Abram Hoffer and Dr. Humphry Osmond–pioneered a psychedelic regimen with a recovery rate of between 60% and 70%–far above that of AA or Schick Hospital’s so-called “aversion therapy.” Hubbard would lift mentally-disturbed lifelong alcoholics out of psychosis with a mammoth dose of liquid LSD, letting them view their destructive habits from a completely new vantage point. “As a therapist, he was one of the best,” says Stolaroff, who worked with Hubbard until 1965 at the International Federation for Advanced Study in Menlo Park, California, which he founded after leaving Ampex. Whereas many LSD practitioners were content to strap their patients onto a 3′ x 6′ cot and have them attempt to perform a battery of mathematical formulae with a head full of LSD, Hubbard believed in a comfortable couch and throw pillows. He also employed icons and symbols to send the experience into a variety of different directions: someone uptight may be asked to look at a photo of a glacier, which would soon melt into blissful relaxation; a person seeking the spiritual would be directed to a picture of Jesus, and enter into a one-on-one relationship with the Savior.
But Hubbard’s days at Hollywood Hospital ended in 1957, not long after they had begun, after a philosophical dispute with Ross MacLean. The suave hospital administrator was getting fat from the $1,000/dose fees charged to Hollywood’s elite patients, who included members of the Canadian Parliament and the American film community. Hubbard, who believed in freely distributing LSD for the world good, felt pressured by MacLean to share in the profits, and ultimately resigned rather than accept an honorarium for his services. His departure came as the Canadian Medical Association was becoming increasingly suspicious of Hollywood Hospital in the wake of publicity surrounding MK-ULTRA. The Canadian Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights had already discovered one Dr. Harold Abramson, a CIA contract psychiatrist, on the board of MacLean’s International Association for Psychedelic Therapy, and external pressure was weighing on MacLean to release Al Hubbard, the former OSS officer with suspected CIA links. Compounding Hubbard’s plight was the death of his Canadian benefactor, leaving Hubbard with neither an income nor the financial cushion upon which he had become dependent.
His services were eventually recruited by Willis Harman, then-Director of the Educational Policy Research Center within the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) of Stanford University. Harman employed Hubbard as a security guard for SRI, “although,” Harman admits, “Al never did anything resembling security work.” Hubbard was specifically assigned to the Alternative Futures Project, which performed future-oriented strategic planning for corporations and government agencies. Harman and Hubbard shared a goal “to provide the [LSD] experience to political and intellectual leaders around the world.” Harman acknowledges that “Al’s job was to run the special [LSD] sessions for us.”
According to Dr. Abram Hoffer, “Al had a grandiose idea that if he could give the psychedelic experience to the major executives of the Fortune 500 companies, he would change the whole of society.” Hubbard’s tenure at SRI was uneasy. The political bent of the Stanford think-tank was decidedly left-wing, clashing sharply with Hubbard’s own world-perspective. “Al was really an arch-conservative,” says the confidential source. “He really didn’t like what the hippies were doing with LSD, and he held Timothy Leary in great contempt.” Humphry Osmond recalls a particular psilocybin session in which “Al got greatly preoccupied with the idea that he ought to shoot Timothy, and when I began to reason with him that this would be a very bad idea…I became much concerned that he might shoot me…”
“To Al,” says Myron Stolaroff, “LSD enabled man to see his true self, his true nature and the true order of things.” But, to Hubbard, the true order of things had little to do with the antics of the American Left. Recognizing its potential psychic hazards, Hubbard believed that LSD should be administered and monitored by trained professionals. He claimed that he had stockpiled more LSD than anyone on the planet besides Sandoz–including the US government–and he clearly wanted a firm hand in influencing the way it was used. However, Hubbard refused all opportunities to become the LSD Philosopher-King. Whereas Leary would naturally gravitate toward any microphone available, Hubbard preferred the role of the silent curandero, providing the means for the experience, and letting voyagers decipher its meaning for themselves. When cornered by a video camera shortly before this death, and asked to say something to the future, Hubbard replied simply, “You’re the future.”
In March of 1966, the cold winds of Congress blew out all hope for Al Hubbard’s enlightened Mother Earth. Facing a storm of protest brought on by Leary’s reckless antics and the “LSD-related suicide” of Diane Linkletter, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Drug Abuse Control Amendment, which declared lysergic acid diethylamide a Schedule I substance; simple possession was deemed a felony, punishable by 15 years in prison. According to Humphry Osmond, Hubbard lobbied Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, who reportedly took the cause of LSD into the Senate chambers, and emerged un-victorious. “[The government] had a deep fear of having their picture of reality challenged,” mourns Harman. “It had nothing to do with people harming their lives with chemicals–because if you took all the people who had ever had any harmful effects from psychedelics, it’s minuscule compared to those associated with alcohol and tobacco.”
FDA chief James L. Goddard ordered agents to seize all remaining psychedelics not accounted for by Sandoz. “It was scary,” recalls Dr. Oscar Janiger, whose Beverly Hills office was raided and years’ worth of clinical research confiscated. Hubbard begged Abram Hoffer to let him hide his supply in Hoffer’s Canadian Psychiatric Facility. But the doctor refused, and it is believed that Hubbard buried most of his LSD in a sacred parcel in Death Valley, California, claiming that it had been used, rather than risk prosecution. When the panic subsided, only five government-approved scientists were allowed to continue LSD research–none using humans, and none of them associated with Al Hubbard. In 1968, his finances in ruins, Hubbard was forced to sell his private island sanctuary for what one close friend termed “a pittance.” He filled a number of boats with the antiquated electronics used in his eccentric nuclear experiments, and left Dayman Island for California. Hubbard’s efforts in his last decade were effectively wasted, according to most of his friends. Lack of both finances and government permit to resume research crippled all remaining projects he may have had in the hopper.
After SRI canceled his contract in 1974 Hubbard went into semiretirement, splitting his time between a 5-acre ranch in Vancouver and an apartment in Menlo Park. But in 1978, battling an enlarged heart and never far away from a bottle of pure oxygen, Hubbard make one last run at the FDA. He applied for an IND to use LSD-25 on terminal cancer patients, furnishing the FDA with two decades of clinical documentation. The FDA set the application aside, pending the addition to Hubbard’s team of a medical doctor, a supervised medical regimen, and an AMA-accredited hospital. Hubbard secured the help of Oscar Janiger, but the two could not agree on methodology, and Janiger bowed out, leaving Al Hubbard, in his late 70s, without the strength to carry on alone. Says Willis Harman: “He knew that his work was done.”
The Captain lived out his last days nearly broke, having exhausted his resources trying to harness a dream. Like in the final fleeting hour of an acid trip–when the edge softens and a man realizes that he will not solve the secrets of the Universe, despite what the mind had said earlier–Hubbard smiled gracefully, laid down his six-shooter, and retired to a mobile home in Casa Grande, Arizona. On August 31, 1982, at the age of 81, Al Hubbard was called home, having ridden the dream like a rodeo cowboy. On very quiet nights, with the right kind of ears, you can hear him giving God hell.”
from Chapter 2 of Acid Dreams, The Complete Social History of LSD
by Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain / 1985
“The stout crew-cut figure riding in the Rolls-Royce was a mystery to those who knew him. A spy by profession, he lived a life of intrigue and adventure befitting his chosen career. Born dirt poor in Kentucky, he served with the OSS during the Second World War and went on to make a fortune as a uranium entrepreneur. His prestigious government and business connections read like a Who’s Who of the power elite in North America. His name was Captain Alfred M. Hubbard. His friends called him “Cappy,” and he was known as the “Johnny Appleseed of LSD.” The blustery, rum-drinking Hubbard is widely credited with being the first person to emphasize LSD’s potential as a visionary or transcendental drug. His faith in the LSD revelation was such that he made it his life’s mission to turn on as many men and women as possible. “Most people are walking in their sleep,” he said. “Turn them around, start them in the opposite direction and they wouldn’t even know the difference.” But there was a quick way to remedy that—give them a good dose of LSD and “let them see themselves for what they are.”
That Hubbard, of all people, should have emerged as the first genuine LSD apostle is all the more curious in light of his long-standing affiliation with the cloak-and-dagger trade. Indeed, he was no run-of-the-mill spook. As a high-level OSS officer, the Captain directed an extremely sensitive covert operation that involved smuggling weapons and war material to Great Britain prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. In pitch darkness he sailed ships without lights up the coast to Vancouver, where they were refitted and used as destroyers by the British navy. He also flew planes to the border, took them apart, towed the pieces into Canada, and sent them to England. These activities began with the quiet approval of President Roosevelt nearly a year and a half before the US officially entered the war. To get around the neutrality snag, Hubbard became a Canadian citizen in a mock procedure. While based in Vancouver Where he later settled he personally handled several million dollars filtered by the OSS through the American consulate to finance a multitude of covert operations in Europe. All this, of course, was highly illegal, and President Truman later issued a special pardon with kudos to the Captain and his men.
Dr Ronald Sandison pioneered the use of LSD to treat British psychiatric patients.
Not long after receiving this presidential commendation, Hubbard was introduced to LSD by Dr. Ronald Sandison of Great Britain. During his first acid trip in I95 I, he claimed to have witnessed his own conception. “It was the deepest mystical thing I’ve ever seen,” the Captain recounted. “I saw myself as a tiny mite in a big swamp with a spark of intelligence. I saw my mother and father having intercourse. It was all clear.” Hubbard, then forty-nine years old, eagerly sought out others familiar with hallucinogenic drugs. He contacted Dr. Humphry Osmond, a young British psychiatrist who was working with LSD and mescaline at Weyburn Hospital in Saskatchewan, Canada. Like most other researchers in the field, Osmond was primarily interested in psychosis and mental illness. In 1952 he shocked the medical world by drawing attention to the structural similarity between the mescaline and adrenaline molecules, implying that schizophrenia might be a form of self-intoxication caused by the body mistakenly producing its own hallucinogenic compounds. Osmond noted that mescaline enabled a normal person to see the world through the eyes of a schizophrenic, and he suggested that the drug be used as a tool for training doctors, nurses, and other hospital personnel to understand their patients from a more intimate perspective.
Osmond’s research attracted widespread attention within scientific circles. The CIA, ever intent on knowing the latest facts as early as possible, quickly sent informants to find out what was happening at Weyburn Hospital. Unbeknownst to Osmond and his cohorts, throughout the next decade they were contacted on repeated occasions by Agency personnel. Indeed, it was impossible for an LSD researcher not to rub shoulders with the espionage establishment, for the CIA was monitoring the entire scene. 
Osmond’s reports also caught the eye of Aldous Huxley, the eminent British novelist who for years had been preoccupied with the specter of drug-induced thought control. In 1931 Huxley wrote Brave New World, a futuristic vision of a totalitarian society in which the World Controllers chemically coerced the population into loving its servitude. While Huxley grappled with the question of human freedom under pharmacological attack, he also recognized that certain drugs, particularly the hallucinogens, produced radical changes in consciousness that could have a profound and beneficial effect. Upon learning of Osmond’s work, he decided to offer himself as a guinea pig. Huxley seemed like the perfect subject. A learned man steeped in many disciplines, he was also gifted with a writer’s eloquence. Even if the drug confounded him, it would not tongue-tie him, for he was a glorious talker. But Osmond was still a bit apprehensive. “I did not relish the possibility, however remote, of being the man who drove Aldous Huxley mad,” he explained. His worries proved to be unfounded.
In May 1953, less than a month after the CIA initiated Operation MK-ULTRA, Huxley tried mescaline for the first time at his home in Hollywood Hills, California, under Osmond’s supervision. “It was,” according to Huxley, “without question the most extraordinary and significant experience this side of the Beatific Vision.” Moreover, “it opens up a host of philosophical problems, throws intense light and raises all manner of questions in the field of aesthetics, religion, theory of knowledge.” Huxley described his mescaline adventure in his famous essay The Doors of Perception (which took its title from the works of William Blake, the eighteenth-century British poet and visionary artist). With this book Huxley unabashedly declared himself a propagandist for hallucinogenic drugs, and for the first time a large segment of the educated public became aware of the existence of these substances. Not surprisingly, the treatise created a storm in literary circles. Some hailed it as a major intellectual statement, others dismissed it as pure quackery. Few critics realized that the book would have such an enormous impact in years to come.
In The Doors of Perception Huxley elaborated on Henri Bergson’s theory that the brain and the nervous system are not the source of the cognitive process but rather a screening mechanism or “reducing valve” that transmits but a tiny fraction of “the Mind-at-Large,” yielding only the kind of information necessary for everyday matters of survival. If this screening mechanism was temporarily suspended, if the doors of perception were suddenly thrust open by a chemical such as mescaline or LSD, then the world would appear in an entirely new light. When he looked at a small vase of flowers, the mescalinized Huxley saw “what Adam had seen on the morning of creation—the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence…flowers shining with their own inner light and all but quivering under the pressure of the significance with which they were charged…. Words like ‘grace’ and ‘transfiguration’ came to my mind.” Huxley obviously was not undergoing an “imitation psychosis.”
On the contrary, he contended that the chemical mind-changers, when administered in the right kind of situation, could lead to a full-blown mystical experience. He went so far as to predict that a religious revival would “come about as the result of biochemical discoveries that will make it possible for large numbers of men and women to achieve a radical self-transcendence and a deeper understanding of the nature of things.” Huxley recognized that the perceptions afforded by hallucinogens bore a striking similarity to experiences achieved without the use of drugs, either spontaneously or through various spiritual exercises.
His writings reflected more than a passing interest in nonchemical methods of altering consciousness, such as hypnosis, sensory deprivation, prolonged sleeplessness, fasting—techniques closely scrutinized by the CIA as well, but for vastly different reasons. Whereas the CIA sought to impose an altered state on its victims in order to control them, Huxley’s explorations were self-directed and designed to expand consciousness. He was well aware of the potential dangers of behavior modification techniques and constantly warned of their abuse. Thus it is ironic that he unknowingly consorted with a number of scientists who were engaged in mind control research for the CIA and the US military. 
While writing Heaven and Hell (the sequel to The Doors of Perception) in 1955, Huxley had his second mescaline experience, this time in the company of Captain Al Hubbard. They were joined by philosopher Gerald Heard, a close friend of Huxley’s. “Your nice Captain tried a new experiment—group mescalinization,” Huxley wrote to Osmond. “Since I was in a group, the experience had a human content, which the earlier, solitary experience, with its Other Worldly quality and its intensification of aesthetic experience, did not possess…. it was a transcendental experience within this world and with human references.” Later that same year, with the Captain again acting as a guide, Huxley took his first dose of LSD. Although he consumed only a tiny amount, the experience was highly significant. “What came through the closed door,” he stated, “was the realization—not the knowledge, for this wasn’t verbal or abstract—but the direct, total awareness, from the inside, so to say, of Love as the primary and fundamental cosmic fact. These words, of course, have a kind of indecency and must necessarily ring false, seem like twaddle. But the fact remains…I was this fact; or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that this fact occupied the place where I had been.”
Huxley and his LSD mentor were a most improbable duo. The coarse, uneducated Captain lacked elegance and restraint (”I’m just a born son of a bitch!” he bellowed), while the tall, slender novelist epitomized the genteel qualities of the British intellectual. Yet the two men were evidently quite taken by each other. Huxley spoke admiringly of “the good Captain” whose uranium exploits served “as a passport into the most exalted spheres of government, business, and ecclesiastical polity.” In a letter to Osmond he commented, “What Babes in the Wood we literary gents and professional men are! The great World occasionally requires your services, is mildly amused by mine; but its full attention and deference are paid to Uranium and Big Business. So what extraordinary luck that this representative of both these Higher Powers should (a) have become so passionately interested in mescalin and (b) be such a very nice man. ”
Despite their markedly different styles Huxley and Hubbard shared a unique appreciation of the revelatory aspect of hallucinogenic drugs. It was Hubbard who originally suggested that an LSD-induced mystical experience might harbor unexplored therapeutic potential. He administered large doses of acid to gravely ill alcoholics with the hope that the ensuing experience would lead to a drastic and permanent change in the way they viewed themselves and the world. (According to Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, the most important factor in recovery for alcoholics is “a deep and genuine religious experience.”) Once the individual’s rigidified notion of himself had been shattered, “extensive emotional reeducation” was much more likely. At this point the Captain took over. By using religious symbols to trigger psychic responses, he attempted to assist the patient in forming a new and healthier frame of reference that would carry over after the drug wore off. Hubbard found that everyone who went through this process seemed to benefit from it. A number of former alcoholics described their recovery as nothing short of “miraculous.” Buoyed by these results, the Captain proceeded to establish LSD treatment centers at three major hospitals in Canada, most notably Hollywood Hospital in Vancouver, where he resided.
Dr. Humphry Osmond was also working with alcoholics in Saskatchewan, but initially he approached the problem from a different vantage point. Osmond noted that some alcoholics decided to give up the bottle only after they “hit bottom” and suffered the withdrawal symptoms of delirium tremens. Could a large dose of LSD or mescaline simulate a controlled attack of the DTs? A “model delirium tremens,” so to speak, would be considerably less dangerous than the real thing, which normally occurs after years of heavy drinking and often results in death. Osmond’s hypothesis was still rooted in the psychotomimetic tradition. But then Hubbard came along and turned the young psychiatrist on to the religious meaning of his “madness mimicking” drug. The Captain showed Osmond how to harness LSD’s transcendent potential. Nearly a thousand hard-core alcoholics received high-dose LSD treatment at Weyburn Hospital, and the rate of recovery was significantly higher than for other forms of therapy—an astounding 50%.
Osmond and his coworkers considered LSD the most remarkable drug they had ever come across. They saw no reason to restrict their studies to alcoholics. If LSD changed the way sick people looked at the world, would it not have as powerful an effect on others as well? With this in mind Osmond and Hubbard came up with the idea that LSD could be used to transform the belief systems of world leaders and thereby further the cause of world peace. Although few are willing to disclose the details of these sessions, a close associate of Hubbard’s insisted that they “affected the thinking of the political leadership of North America.” Those said to have participated in the LSD sessions include a prime minister, assistants to heads of state, UN representatives, and members of the British parliament. “My job,” said Hubbard, “was to sit on the couch next to the psychiatrist and put the people through it, which I did.”
Hubbard’s influence on the above-ground research scene went far beyond the numerous innovations he introduced: high-dose therapy, group sessions, enhancing the drug effect with strobe lights, and ESP experiments while under the influence of LSD. His impressive standing among business and political leaders in the United States and Canada enabled him to command large supplies of the hallucinogen, which he distributed freely to friends and researchers at considerable personal expense. “Cost me a couple of hundred thousand dollars,” he boasted. “I had six thousand bottles of it to begin with.” When Dr. Ross MacLean, the medical director at Hollywood Hospital in Vancouver, suggested that they form a partnership and set a price for administering LSD, Hubbard would hear nothing of it. For the Captain had “a mission,” as he put it, and making money never entered the picture.
Hubbard promoted his cause with indefatigable zeal, crisscrossing North America and Europe, giving LSD to anyone who would stand still. “People heard about it, and they wanted to try it,” he explained. During the 1950s and early 1960S he turned on thousands of people from all walks of life—policemen, statesmen, captains of industry, church figures, scientists. “They all thought it was the most marvelous thing,” he stated. “And I never saw a psychosis in any one of these cases.” When certain US medical officials complained that Hubbard was not a licensed physician and therefore should not be permitted to administer drugs, the Captain just laughed and bought a doctors degree from a diploma mill in Kentucky. “Dr.” Hubbard had such remarkable credentials that he received special permission from Rome to administer LSD within the context of the Catholic faith. “He had kind of an incredible way of getting that sort of thing, ” said a close associate who claimed to have seen the papers from the Vatican.
Hubbard’s converts included the Reverend J. E. Brown, a Catholic priest at the Cathedral of the Holy Rosary in Vancouver. After his initiation into the psychedelic mysteries, Reverend Brown recommended the experience to members of his parish. In a letter to the faithful dated December 8, 1957, he wrote, “We humbly ask Our Heavenly Mother the Virgin Mary, help of all who call upon Her to aid us to know and understand the true qualities of these psychedelics, the full capacities of man’s noblest faculties and according to God’s laws to use them for the benefit of mankind here and in eternity.” Like a molecule at full boil, the Captain moved about at high speeds in all directions. He traveled around the world in his own plane (he was a registered pilot and master of sea vessels), buying up LSD and stashing it, swapping different drugs, and building an underground supply. “I scattered it as I went along,” he recalled. With his leather pouch full of “wampum” he rode the circuit, and those on the receiving end were always grateful. “We waited for him like the little old lady on the prairie waiting for a copy of the Sears Roebuck catalogue,” said Dr. Oscar Janiger, a Los Angeles psychiatrist.
Dr. Janiger was part of a small circle of scientists and literary figures in the Los Angeles area who began to use psychedelics at social gatherings in the mid-1950s. In addition to Huxley and Gerald Heard, those who participated in these drug-inspired intellectual discussions included philosopher Alan Watts, deep-sea diver Perry Bivens, and researchers Sidney Cohen, Keith Ditman, and Arthur Chandler. This informal group was the first to use LSD socially rather than clinically. Captain Al Hubbard, the wandering shaman who visited southern California on a regular basis, supplied the group with various chemicals. “Something had to be done and I tried to do it, ” Hubbard explained. He was, in his own words, “a catalytic agent” who had a “special, chosen role.” While this is certainly an accurate appraisal, he was also another kind of agent—an intelligence agent—which raises some intriguing questions about what he was really up to.
After his legendary exploits with the OSS, the Captain continued to serve as an undercover operative for various agencies within the US government. He had many contacts with the FBI, for example, and he claimed to be a close friend of J. Edgar Hoover’s. “That old bugger was tough, really tough, ” Hubbard said with admiration. But when he tried to turn on the FBI chief, Hoover stubbornly declined. However, the Captain did manage to give the drug to “some top intelligence men in Washington, always with good results.” During the early 1950s Hubbard was asked to join the CIA, but he refused. “They lied so much, cheated so much. I don’t like ’em,” he snarled. “They’re lousy deceivers, sons of the devils themselves.” The Captain’s beef with the Agency stemmed in part from his unsuccessful attempt to secure back pay owed to him from his OSS days. “They crooked me,” he complained bitterly.
Hubbard was unkindly disposed toward the CIA for other reasons as well. Most important, he didn’t approve of what the Agency was doing with his beloved LSD. “The CIA work stinks, ” he said. “They were misusing it. I tried to tell them how to use it, but even when they were killing people, you couldn’t tell them a goddamned thing. ” (Hubbard was certain that Frank Olson was not the only person who died as a result of the CIA’s surprise acid tests.) “I don’t know how Al’s Washington affairs were done,” Dr. Osmond admitted. “He was one of those naturally brilliant wheeler-dealers.” Indeed, Hubbard seemed to have a knack for popping up in the most unpredictable places. He worked for the Treasury Department as a young man during the Capone days, busting moonshiners and gangsters who were smuggling liquor into the US from Canada.
Apparently he was able to ingratiate himself with both sides during Prohibition, as he subsequently became deputy chief of security for the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. “Those Mafia men were always interesting to talk to,” Hubbard remarked, “but they never smiled.” The Captain also engaged in undercover work for a number of other government agencies, including the Federal Narcotics Bureau and the Food and Drug Administration tat a time when both organizations were assisting the CIA’s drug testing programs). During the mid-1960s he was employed by Teledyne, a major defense subcontractor, as “director of human factors research.” In this capacity Hubbard served as adviser and consultant to a combined navy and NASA project that involved testing the effects of psychochemical agents on a newly designed “helicopter avionics system.” Teledyne worked closely with various government organizations, including the CIA, to apply these techniques to additional areas of military interest.
While Hubbard was not a CIA operative per se, his particular area of expertise—hallucinogenic drugs—brought him into close contact with elements of the espionage community. The CIA must have known what he was up to, since Sandoz and the FDA kept the Agency informed whenever anyone received shipments of LSD. The Captain, of course, was one of their best customers, having purchased large amounts of the drug on different occasions. In a sense “the mysterious Al” embodies the irony and ambiguity of the LSD story as a whole. As one of his friends put it, “Cappy was sort of a double agent. He worked for the government, but in his own way he was a rebel.” Some call him a “witch doctor,” others describe him as “an incurable scoundrel.” A most unlikely combination of mystic and redneck, Hubbard above all remains an enigma. “Al Hubbard was a very strange man,” confided a fellow drug researcher, “but he probably knew more about LSD than anyone else in the world.” And while his tale has many gaps and fuzzy edges, this much can be established beyond a shadow of a doubt: his enthusiasm for LSD never waned. “Anyone who’ll try to tell me that this has all been a big hallucination has got to be out of their mind. . . . What I’ve seen with it has been the truth and nothing but the truth.” And as a parting shot he added, “If you don’t think it’s amazing, all I’ve got to say is just go ahead and try it.”
DOORS of PERCEPTION
by Shaun Mullen / October 27, 2009
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern. -Aldous Huxley
Alfred “Captain Al” Hubbard led a life that didn’t just border on the surreal, it was surreal. He was a onetime shyster inventor and brilliant if uneducated scientist. He was considered a demigod by some and a lunatic by others, and had innumerable brushes with the law. He was virtually unknown in his lifetime and remains so today although he was one of the most influential individuals in determining the course of American culture and innovation in the second half of the 20th century. This is because it was Hubbard and not author Ken Kesey and psychologist Timothy Leary who first introduced LSD to America.
The up-and-coming hackers in the computer world of the late 1950s believed that computers had enormous potential beyond processing bank checks and other mundane tasks, but they were divided into two camps. The mechanists were engineers interested in artificial intelligence; that is, building computers that could mimic the human mind, while the holy grail of the engineers who were humanists was developing small computers that would expand the mind. Among Hubbard’s adherents were key members of the latter group, and they succeeded in their goal through the sheer force of their personalities, brilliance and ingenuity, as well as the insights they gleaned from using LSD.
Scan of ARPANET logic map, circa 1969
In fact, these men, numbering about 30 in all, were to invent virtually all of the key components of the personal computer or laptop on which you are reading this post, from microswitches to microprocessors to multimedia, as well as the mouse you probably are using, and even ARPAnet, the precursor to the World Wide Web that has brought you and I together for these few minutes.
Ironically, the humanists who rode the first wave of the psychedelic movement received much of their funding from the Pentagon and NASA, branches of a federal government that in a few short years would attempt to crush that movement. It also is ironic that most of the innovations in computing that we take for granted today came not from the then dominant players like IBM, Burroughs, Electronic Data and Texas Instruments, where engineers were discouraged from thinking big about going small, but from start-ups in what would become known as Silicon Valley. These included Adobe, Cisco, Intel, and of course Apple, fledgling companies where engineers believed that not even the sky was the limit.
The story of Al Hubbard’s life is full of holes, contradictions and cul de sacs, as well as unverifiable claims that he worked with the Manhattan Project as a black-market uranium supplier and in a CIA mind-control program called MK-ULTRA as a psychotherapist. This short, stocky man with buzz-cut hair, a warm smile and twinkling eyes was known as “Cappy” by his friends and lived much of his life in the shadows by choice. One would never guess from what is known about his early years that he would become known as the “Johnny Appleseed of LSD.” Hubbard was born in 1901 in Kentucky, but little is known about his childhood. Although he had no scientific training, at age 18 he invented the Hubbard Energy Transformer. This radioactive battery-powered device could not be explained by the technology of the day. This is because it was not the perpetual motion machine that he claimed it to be and hadn’t actually propelled a ship around Portico Bay in Seattle nonstop for three days, as press accounts claimed. A Pittsburgh company bought 50 percent rights to the patent for $75,000, but nothing more was heard of the device.
Hubbard’s next job was as a taxi driver in Seattle during Prohibition. The pay was lousy, but he made a bundle off of an ingenious sideline — a sophisticated ship-to-shore communications system hidden in the trunk of his cab that he used to steer rum runners past the U.S. and Canadian coast guards. He was eventually arrested by the FBI and went to prison for 18 months.What Hubbard did during the 1930s remains a mystery, but during World War II scouts for Allen Dulles, director of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, were attracted to him because of his knowledge of electronic communications. As an OSS captain, Hubbard became involved in a scheme to ship heavy armaments from San Diego to Canada for transhipment to England, but when the possibly illegal operation became the subject of a Congressional investigation, he moved to Vancouver in British Columbia and became a Canadian citizen to escape indictment.
It was there that Hubbard founded a charter boat company, later became scientific director of a uranium mining company and later still owner of several uranium businesses. By age 50, he had realized his dream of becoming a millionaire, owned a fleet of aircraft, a 100-foot yacht and an island off of Vancouver. But he was miserable. “Al was desperately searching for meaning in his life,” according to a friend quoted by Todd Brendan Fahey in an essay on Hubbard. The friend claimed that an angel appeared to Hubbard during a hike and “told Al that something tremendously important to the future of mankind would be coming soon, and that he could play a role in it if he wanted to. “But he hadn’t the faintest clue what he was supposed to be looking for.”
That important something became evident in 1951 when Hubbard stumbled across an article in a scientific quarterly about the behavior of rats who were given LSD. Hubbard tracked down the person who had done the experiment, obtained some LSD from him and became a true believer after his first trip. It is claimed that Hubbard gave LSD to 6,000 people beginning in the early 1950s until it was outlawed in 1967. That too is unverifiable, but it is known that among the people who tripped on his acid were Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who experimented with the drug as a way to cure alcoholism, Aldous Huxley, the celebrated writer, parapsychologist and advocate of psychedelics, and actors Cary Grant, James Coburn and Jack Nicholson, novelist Anaïs Nin and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, among other celebrities who were turned on by Beverly Hills psychiatrists supplied by Hubbard.
But it is Hubbard’s connection to those Silicon Valley whiz kids that we are focusing on here, and that brings us to Myron Stolaroff. Stolaroff was an assistant to the president for long-range planning at Ampex Corporation, which was a leading maker of magnetic reel-to-reel tape recorders and an incubator for pioneering engineers. Like Hubbard a few years earlier, Stolaroff felt that there was no spiritual center to his life. It was through an acquaintance that Stolaroff learned of a new drug called LSD and an unusual man from Canada who was administering the substance to Huxley and others. Stolaroff was skeptical, but then one day in 1956 he looked up from his desk at Ampex to see Hubbard standing in the doorway. Several weeks later, Stolaroff took 66 micrograms (a moderately heavy dose) of LSD-25 in Hubbard’s Vancouver apartment that had been manufactured by Sandoz, the Swiss firm where Albert Hoffman had stumbled upon the drug’s psychoactive properties in 1943. Stolaroff found his first trip to be a deeply religious event that took him far into his own unconscious mind and he returned to California an LSD zealot. Among the first people he turned on were engineers from Ampex and Hewlitt-Packard, and in the next few years the circle widened to include those 30 or so engineers, who included Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Jobs has been circumspect about his use of LSD. But John Markoff, author of the fascinating What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry, recalls interviewing the notoriously prickly engineer-executive back in 2001 on the day that Apple had introduced its now ubiquitous iTunes media player. Jobs was in an especially bad mood, Markoff writes, but at the end of the interview he turned to a Mac and brought up onto the screen what is now known as the Classic iTunes view, a visualization feature that conjures up dancing color patterns that pulse in concert with the beats of the music. “It reminds me of my youth,” Jobs said with a slight smile.
Hubbard left behind his uranium empire and for the next decade traveled the world as a sort of psychedelic missionary. “Al’s dream was to open up a worldwide chain of clinics as training grounds for other LSD researchers,” recalls Stolaroff. His first stop was at Sandoz where he purchased a gram (roughly 10,000 doses) of Delysid, the company’s brand name for LSD-25, and began shipping it around the world. In 1957, Captain Hubbard became Doctor Hubbard after he procured a PhD in biopsychology from a diploma mill. He set up a wing at Hollywood Hospital in New Westminster, British Columbia for the study of psychedelic therapy for alcoholics, and obtained the first Investigational New Drug permit from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Hubbard left Hollywood after a dispute with the hospital director but landed on his feet when he was hired by the Stanford Research Institute of Stanford University, where has was assigned to the Alternative Futures Project, and later with the International Foundation for Advanced Study, Stolaroff’s project for research into the uses of LSD.
Beginning in 1961, four years or so before LSD would percolate up the peninsula to San Francisco, the foundation supervised about 350 trips. Among the travelers were Stewart Brand, the author and founder of the influential countercultural Whole Earth Catalog. Some of Hubbard’s ideas were far out, and included the grandiose idea that if he could provide a psychedelic experience to the executives of Fortune 500 companies, he would change the whole of society. In one such effort, he persuaded a ranking Ampex executive to make his the first psychedelic corporation.But as Jay Stevens writes in the edifying Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream, that things did not go well: “Although Myron Stolaroff had laid the groundwork perfectly, persuading Ampex’s new general manager to overlook Al’s flaws and give LSD a chance, the result was disastrous. The general manager was Jewish. The last thing he wanted to do was to look at pictures of Jesus Christ, but that’s what Hubbard kept waving at him.” Captain Al nevertheless recognized the potential psychic dangers of LSD as well as its benefits and he believed that acid should be administered and monitored by trained professionals.
Despite the amazing story of the Silicon Valley whiz kids, there is some question about whether LSD indeed enhances creativity. That was the case even before its widespread use and one reason that Hubbard was seen as a charlatan by some of the people he encountered. Indeed, the debate continues today over whether any chemical substances can do that. John Markoff writes in What the Dormouse Said that Kary Mullis, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the polymerase chain reaction, which he said came to him on one of his numerous LSD trips, is one of the few scientists to have explored the effect of psychedelic drug use. “Possibly the question is so cloudy because the psychic costs are potentially high,” writes Markoff. “Despite intriguing evidence of positive effects in the first years of LSD experimentation, there were also incidents of psychotic outcomes as well.” Hubbard refused the temptation to become a psychedelic philosopher king like Timothy Leary, who along with the possibly LSD-related suicide of Diane Linkletter, the daughter of media celebrity Art Linkletter, probably did more to prompt the feds to outlaw LSD than anyone else.
A Drug Control Amendment signed by President Johnson in 1967 declared LSD a Schedule I substance and even possession was a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. The FDA ordered the confiscation of all psychedelic stocks at laboratories and institutions, including Stolaroff’s foundation, and legend has it that Hubbard buried most of his own stash in Death Valley, California. Only five researchers eventually were permitted to continue their research, none of them associated with Hubbard and none using human subjects. In 1968, his finances in ruin, Hubbard was forced to sell his island for a pittance and in 1974 the Stanford Research Institute canceled his contract. Hubbard’s later efforts to get another Investigational New Drug Contract from the FDA failed although he had two decades of clinical documentation. His own health failing because of an enlarged heart, he went into semiretirement. “He knew his work was done,” said a friend. On August 31, 1982, Al Hubbard took his last trip, departing this mortal coil from the trailer park where he lived in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Alfred M. Hubbard, Seattle boy inventor of a device which for want of a better name he terms an atmospheric power generator, yesterday made good his prediction that he would drive a motorboat with the apparatus as a source of power. An eighteen foot boat, propelled by a thirty-five-horse power electric motor, which obtained its current from the Hubbard coil, was driven about Portage Bay on Lake Union. Among those who witnessed the demonstration was a well-known local capitalist, the inventor’s father,William H. Hubbard, and a Post Intelligencer reporter. The boat traveled at a speed of between eight and ten knots–silently, except for the whirring of a chain belt which connected the motor with the propeller shaft. When the chain belt was removed, the motor ran free at a speed estimated at 3,500 revolutions [the rest of this line is unreadable]
No Hidden Wires Found
To guard against the possibility of ordinary storage batteries concealed about the boat as a power source, instead of the Hubbard coil, both electric motor and coil were lifted free from their blocks, but no hidden wiring was revealed. The coil used as a power unit was eleven inches in diameter and fourteen inches in length. According to Hubbard, tests of the coil show a current of 280 amperes and 125 volts, which, he pointed out was equivalent to approximately forty-five horse power, or sufficient to drive an automobile. The current is pulsating. The electric motor was approximately twelve inches in diameter eighteen inches in length. It had been reconstructed in order to be used with the Hubbard coil. After his ride in the strange powered craft the capitalist declared that he was frankly puzzled, but that he desired an electrical engineer in his employ to make an examination of the coil before he felt free to discuss it. Since last December, when the Post-Intelligencer first made public the claims of the youthful inventor, he has been more or less in retirement, perfecting his coil. He took up his residence in Everett where, with the assistance of Everett backers he worked on his device.
A local capitalist agreed to witness a demonstration of the coil to determine its practicability as a power source. The motorboat was fitted with blocks on which to rest the motor and the propeller shaft geared for a chained belt. When the motor was first tried out after its installation in the boat it ran backwards. So involved are the connections between the motor and the coil that fully a half-hour’s experimentation was necessary before the motor shaft revolved in the right direction. That the capitalist was frankly skeptical of the device was plain when he,with two other passengers, boarded the boat at the Seattle Yacht Club wharf. All the machinery that was visible was the coil and the motor, the latter plainly geared to the propeller shaft. The boat shoved off, Hubbard threw the switch, and instantly the boat began to pick up speed. It circled about the bay and returned to the wharf, with never a slackening of speed. The wires connecting coil and motor had begun to heat under the excessive current, and, fearing that some part of the coil might give way under the extra heavy strain put on it, Hubbard declined to permit the motor to be run continuously for any length of time. It was tried out later several times, after brief periods which allowed the wires to cool, and its power apparently showed no diminution. No instruments were used to test its wattage.
The capitalist admitted that the demonstration intrigued his interest, but that he would wait for his expert’s opinion before discussing it. Following the demonstration, the young inventor declared that within a few days he expected to drive an automobile with the coil as a power unit. The Coil used yesterday had been built especially for the demonstration, and is nearly twice the size of the coil Hubbard used in his demonstration last winter. The large coil cost approximately $90 to construct. The inventor says that so far as he has been able to learn its life as a power unit is indefinite. He declared that a coil large enough to drive an airplane would be no more than three times the size of the coil used yesterday, and that a machine thus equipped could fly around the world without stopping, so far as the power supply is concerned. While the device has been patented, the claims for it are so broad that Hubbard says he does not feel safe in making public his secret.
In general, he says, it is made up of a group of eight electro-magnets, each with primary and secondary windings of copper wire, which are arranged around a large steel core. The core likewise has a single winding. A coil thus constructed, he says, is lifeless until given an initial impulse. This is done by connecting the ends of its windings for a fraction of a second to an ordinary [two words unreadable R.L.R.] -ing circuit, he says. The manner of this momentary charging, however, constitutes the principal secret of the device, according to the inventor, who says that while machinists have built a number of coils for him under his direction, they have been unable to “start” them. In the event the power of the coil should diminish, it can be rejuvenated in less than a second, Hubbard says.
from the Seattle Post Intelligencer / February 26, 1928
Hubbard Believes Mystery Motor Based On His Own Invention
Ex-Dry Agent says he worked out secret of utilizing radium power in 1919
Alfred M. Hubbard, the youthful stormy petrel of the Seattle branch of the federal prohibition office, may possibly be the discoverer of at least the basic principle behind the [Hendershot] “fuelless motor” which was demonstrated for the first time in Detroit last week, and which is attracting the attention of such aeronautical experts as Col. Charles A. Lindbergh and Maj. Thomas G. Lanphier. This was claimed by Hubbard himself yesterday. While he said that he has been able to learn none of the details in connection with the Detroit demonstration, he declared that he was inclined to suspect very strongly that the motor was simply a development of the apparatus which e himself demonstrated in Seattle as early as 1919.
Driven By Radium
In 1919 Hubbard represented the apparatus as being capable of extracting electrical energy directly from the air, but he admitted yesterday that this had been merely a subterfuge to protect his patent rights, and that, as a matter of fact, it had been a device for extracting electrical energy from radium, by means of a series of transformers which stepped up the rays. He declined to go into detail in regard to the exact manner in which he managed to extract power from radium — but said that, so far as he had been able to determine, there was no great difference between the Detroit machine and his. “I never heard of this Lester J. Hendershot, the Pittsburgh electrical engineer who is demonstrating the motor”, Hubbard said, “but it must be remembered that I worked on the invention for two years in Pittsburgh — in 1921 and 1922. It was a Dr. Greenslade who represented the people who were financing me at the time — but, of course, if the people who bought out most of my interest in the invention were to bring it out as their own machinery, they would probably do it through a man with whom I had never worked. I was employed by the Radium Chemical Company at the time I was working in Pittsburgh”.
While Hubbard declined to disclose the exact amount that he had received for his invention, he made it clear that he had sold out a 75% interest in what may prove to be the greatest scientific revelation of the ages for little more than a mess of potage. “When I made my discovery”, he said, “I was only 16 years old and, until that time, I’d never even had an ice cream soda. So you can imagine that a couple of thousand dollars looked mighty big to me. I never hesitated for an instant when the people who were financing me insisted on taking a [missing text] kept demanding more and more of my rights.
Just Quit Cold
“But, at last, along in 1922, I suddenly came to the realization that if I acceded to their latest demand I’d have only 20% interest left, so I just quit them cold”. Hubbard asserted that he has no intention of bringing any legal action against Hendershot or his associates for the present, at least. “If he really is using my idea”, Hubbard said, “and if it proves practical, it’s so big that 25% — or 2% — will bring in more money than I can ever possibly use. So I am not worried … [missing text] when he went to work for the Pittsburgh people. Hubbard went into retirement along with his motor for some time, but he made a dramatic return to Seattle and public attention a few years ago, when he was indicted for liquor conspiracy with Roy Olmstead, then acclaimed as the bootleg king of the Northwest. Hubbard was duly arrested but, on the eve of his trial, the indictment against him was dismissed and it later came out that, while associated with Olmstead, he had turned government informer. Some time after this he came out in the open as a frankly avowed prohibition agent.
CHANGING IMAGES of MAN
The Changing Images of Man (PDF)
Changing Images 2000 by Thomas J. Hurley (PDF)
Sometimes it can take months for the meaning of a sentence to really sink in. It’s been months since we got a PDF copy of the legendary “Changing Images of Man” document from Stanford Research Institute, and having read it through several times I feel safe saying the book exceeded my expectations. However, unpacking all the information — especially in terms of it’s connections with contemporary events, then and now — has proven to be a much larger, longer task. Consider the “alternative methodology” behind the project itself:
First, we attempted to identify and assess the plausibility of a truly vast number of future possibilities for society. We next followed a method of analysis that determined which sequences of possible futures (that is, which “alternate future histories”) appeared to be the most plausible in light of human history and to most usefully serve the needs of policy research and development. Lastly, we derived a variety of policy implications, some of which dealt with how best to continue this type of inquiry.
Without the context, without knowing these people and how they work and what they talked about, it’s difficult to really decipher a paragraph as apparently clear as that one. What was the “method of analysis” in the second step? They never say, but take note of the term they use in quotes: “alternate future histories.”
Let me quote from Jim Keith’s excellent book Mind Control, World Control, from Chapter 12, which discusses the spread of LSD and the role of OSS/CIA agent Al Hubbard:
One associate of Hubbard’s was Willis Harman at the Stanford Research Institute. SRI had earlier received grants from the US Army to research chemical incapacitants. When visited by a representative of the underground press at SRI, Harman told the man, “There’s a war going on between your side and mine. And my side is not going to lose.”
For the record, that “representative of the underground press” was Michael Rossman of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. Anyways, according to Keith, Willis Harman hired Al Hubbard in 1968 as a “Special Investigative Agent.”
It’s worth noting that according to Todd Brendan Fahey’s classic article on Hubbard, The Original Captain Trips, Hubbard was (at least officially) hired as a security guard. It was Fahey’s article that abruptly came back to me today, especially the following lines:
Hubbard was specifically assigned to the Alternative Futures Project, which performed future-oriented strategic planning for corporations and government agencies. Harman and Hubbard shared a goal “to provide the [LSD] experience to political and intellectual leaders around the world.” Harman acknowledges that “Al’s job was to run the special sessions for us.”
Of course, this is decades ago, and juxtaposed quotes are proof of nothing. But there’s that weird term again, this time slightly different: “the Alternative Futures Project.”
When you look for a formal program by that name, you’re led not to the Stanford Research Institute, but the University of Illinois, where Charles Osgood and Stuart Umpleby wrote a report entitled “A Computer-based Exploration of Alternative Futures for Mankind 2000.” The report was included in the book Mankind 2000, which is full of rather disturbing quotes like this one:
“In the organization of a civilization of the future we anticipate that the individualistically-oriented man will become an anachronism. Indeed, he will be viewed as a threat to the group organization as well as to his fellow man. Hence, as stated, he in all likelihood will have few individual expectations. While such a picture may not be pleasant to comtemplate, when viewed with our present orientation and value judgement, we would be amiss to deal with unrealistic imagries that would blind us to future reality.”
This kind of stuff could almost be comic relief. After all, a computer program about the future had a lot of time and money invested in it, and when they ran the program, it said the future would be a lot like a computer program. If you’re not familiar with the phrase garbage in, garbage out, now is a good time to get familiar. What keeps this material from being funny is the line that comes right after the quote above, which sounds more or less exactly like the conclusion of Changing Images of Man:
The new world of the closed, automatic system will necessitate a radical change in the political, technologic, and social thinking. All too often, however, we remain bound by the conventional tenets and wisdom of past generations. The cyber-cultural revolution is changing all this.
The Alternative Futures project at the University of Illinois was funded by the same people who paid for SRI’s work: the Charles F. Kettering Foundation. Kettering was big on “the vision thing” during the 60s and 70s — they were looking everywhere to get an edge on futurism, putting a lot of money in very “out there” places.
…and for what it’s worth, the folks at SRI were very much out there. “Changing Images” co-author O.W. Markley left behind a very curious paper entitled “Visionary Futures”that outlines some other SRI “alternative methodologies” — including “channeled material in the book Seth Speaks, by Jane Roberts (1972).” This is the same SRI who employed top Scientologists, Hal Puthoff and Ingo Swann, to develop their Remote Viewing program. That doesn’t mean they’re jackasses or something — it means that SRI gets paid, very well, for being very much out there. It’s what people depend on them for, then and now. Anyone exploring Changing Images of Man should bear Willis Harman’s words in mind: “There’s a war going on between your side and mine. And my side is not going to lose.“