May 1 • 1HR 11M

S2E13: Interview with Mike Jay, Historian of Medicine and Author

Exploring the Psychedelic Past: A Deep Dive with Historian Mike Jay

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scott cunningham
The Mixtape with Scott is a podcast in which economist and professor, Scott Cunningham, interviews economists, scientists and authors about their lives and careers, as well as the some of their work. He tries to travel back in time with his guests to listen and hear their stories before then talking with them about topics they care about now.
Episode details

In this week's episode of the Mixtape with Scott, I’m taking a break from interviewing economists to post a podcast interview with a non-economist, the historian Mike Jay. Mike Jay is a historian of medicine and I interviewed him last year as part of a now somewhat defunct project on the emerging medical reforms in the US and around the world related to "psychedelic medications". I felt that as these were happening fast, it would be good for those health economists and policy advocates to learn more about it, and sometimes that means talking to the non-scientists who have written about it as well as the scientists.

I found Mike because he wrote a fascinating book on the global history of mescaline published through Yale Press who also published my book. I devoured that book during Covid. I spent Covid lock down studying everything I could about contemporary but also historical psychedelic medicine which included the MAPS trials on MDMA, the studies by Roland Griffiths and his colleagues on psychedelics, and others. But I was also interested in the lost work of scientists from the 50s and 60s and the psychotherapies that grew out of it. Mike'ss book on the history of mescaline was absolutely riveting. He’s a great writer and I highly recommend him.

But I also recommend him because he wasn't always a writer (who was?). He aspired to something else and more or less transitioned into it as his career evolved. I thought hearing that type of story might be interesting to others curious about their talents as a writer to hear what it was like for someone else. Mike also has a new book out you may want to check out. I haven’t read it but it’s a continuation of this work he’s been doing on the history of psychedelics. So, again, thanks for tuning it to the Mixtape with Scott. Please like, follow and share! And if you want to support this work, please go over to my substack ( and hit subscribe!

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