The Corbett Report: Interview 672 – Jan Irvin on the CIA, MK-ULTRA, and the Creation of the Drug Culture (updated w/video)


Recorded June 3 from Japan, June 2 from the USA:

Today we’re joined by author and research Jan Irvin of to discuss his groundbreaking new article, co-authored with Joe Atwill, “Manufacturing the Deadhead: A product of social engineering…” Piecing together the CIA, Skull and Bones, the Esalin Institute, Gordon Wasson, Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary, Marshal McLuhan, MK-ULTRA and much more, this fascinating tale of the real roots of the 60s counterculture is backed up by primary source documents and original research.


  30 comments for “The Corbett Report: Interview 672 – Jan Irvin on the CIA, MK-ULTRA, and the Creation of the Drug Culture (updated w/video)

  1. RealEyes°°
    June 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Once again, Jan, you’ve served some really nourishing food for thought. Raw organic information that can actually be traced back to its source through the sharing of the Brain is in my eyes the new standard of honest, transparent research. You mention that you piss lots of people off with this topic which I personally think is a sign you’re on the right track.
    Keep it up.

  2. Richard Barrett
    June 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I’ve heard you mention the council of nine before but I can’t seem to find any information about them. Is there any chance you could supply some links, Jan?

    • Jan Irvin
      June 4, 2013 at 8:21 am

      Check the brain database… they’re out of Esalen, headed by Andrija Puharich… the guy from Bell Helicopters is there, the one who influenced the film Thrive… There’s a lot out there on it. Just google it for a good start.

  3. RealEyes°°
    June 3, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    The book by Terence McKenna referred to is “True Hallucinations”.

    • Jan Irvin
      June 4, 2013 at 8:29 am

      Thanks, it was just a momentary brain fart.

  4. James Ledogar
    June 3, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Food for thought for sure. Jan mentions, “Pillow sitting.” For a few years I did a half hour commute to a Zendo and sat zazen a few days a week for 40 minutes in the early morning. I enjoyed the practice and met a lot of interesting people, a few of whom became very good friends but overall, the commute and the politics at the Zendo turned me away — that being the inside politics and the very left-wing paradigm that framed the consensus of the outside politic/culture. It was also getting a bit dogmatic as I, “Progressed,” even though theirs no place to go (sorry, a little zen humor). I later learned that the man who ran it, a well known author and naturalist, was involved with the CIA. He was into literary magazine publishing in the 50’s, and prior to that he was tapped for Skull and Bones at Yale. He refused. Now, I like and respect this man and will always be grateful for his hospitality at the Zendo but his Zen teacher gives me the creeps-sends the red flags a-flying — was a “Time’s” top 100 so and so’s a few years back — had been a brain-boy in the defense industry before getting “Enlightened” — now is big in a Sanga that includes many celebs and trust funders, all safe and quiet on their f*’n zafoos. They are politically active, but in benign directions, for example, this Roche lead street retreats where small groups would become homeless for a week, at the end of the week many returned to their beach houses in a luxury coach bus. He’d also lead small groups on trips to Auschwitz, and Vietnam, I think they were called, “Peace Retreats.” Bernard Glassman, AKA Tetsugen Roshi is his name. I’m not smashing Zen or meditation, really I think it’s a great, calming and clearing practice. Having a mass of folks obtaining clarity may be considered dangerous to some, necessitating the employ of a few skilled pied-pipers to lead the masses astray. I guess this sort of thing is done across all spectrums of our culture. What brilliant, evil bastards.

    • Steve Gill
      June 14, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Wow, you guys are bringing me down…I was in such a comfortable warm and fuzzy love bubble! ;*p Very interesting insights….I was never one that believed, as many did in the 60’s, that “all u had to do was dose’em, and it’ll all be groovy!” As a medicinal chemist I look at these substances as tools for research….and indeed look where it’s lead: Psilocybin to Imitrex, a wonderful cure for migraine headaches, and all the 5-HT2a receptor agonists leading to SSRI’s and other new antidepressants (new SOMA? Maybe perhaps)…..eventually normalization of entheogenic experience will come as ayahuasca is accepted, and look at how even ketamine analogs might be prescribed for intractable depression soon……..MDMA for PTSD? Do we have to have these horrible war casualties to finally open the doors to the compassionate use of these materials? We’ve all experienced the dark side of world politics…….I’m hoping websites like yours will refresh the world’s memory of the nature of entheogenic experience and how important it will be as we become even more technologically proficient. Personal example: When I sit in my garden in an altered state (no matter how I got there) there’s that connection to all life that is felt deeply, and one realizes “Wow, it’s ALL ALIVE!” And then to be able to communicate that to others so decision making is affected…..So precious….All my relations! (except that darned 3rd cousin – he’s an awful bore ;*P)

  5. Andrew
    June 3, 2013 at 11:07 pm


    I have a thought regarding this quote, which you’ve been bringing up a lot in your interviews:

    October 13, 1970:

    Dear Mr. Wolfe: […] Do you remember your last letter to me? I was asking you where Tolstoy had said the printing press was a mighty engine for disseminating ignorance. This Mazatec affair is a case in point.[35] [emphasis – mine]

    ~ R. Gordon Wasson

    You seem to be putting it forth as one of the most damning pieces of text that Wasson had written and that it is essentially an admittance of guilt. The first time I heard you mention it was on your Red Ice interview and I’ve heard it now three or four times. But I believe it could have a different context than that.

    I don’t know the context Tolstoy used it in and a quick ‘Startpage’ search only brings up your usage of it. The first thing I thought when I heard you say it though, using the, ‘arguing with myself’ technique that Gatto describes, was, Wasson could have actually had remorse for turning Huatla into a hippie destination. I don’t really want to put feelings into Wasson that aren’t there so, what I’m really saying is that the quote could mean that, if one prints false or harmful information (on a printing press, in this case) and a million people read it, then take it in and internalize it, that is creating ignorance – but not necessarily intentionally.

    I realize that your conclusion is that Wasson, et al. did all this intentionally (and I think you’ve made a very strong case that Wasson was, at least highly connected to the CIA) but that quote from his letter doesn’t prove it. He could have actually regretted ruining the town by causing the influx of travellers, which he did not foresee. Therefor, using the mighty engine to disseminate his own ignorance.

    Well, I don’t believe I’ve made myself very clear. I just don’t feel that the quote is the slam dunk that you do, that is all. I think it’s open to enough interpretation to be less emphasized.

    Any rate, I’ve been enjoying the effort that’s gone into the research and have been enjoying hearing about it.

    • oats tao
      June 4, 2013 at 2:58 am

      Have you not been following ANYTHING else about Wasson? Just his history previously known in the mainstream should raise the red flag! This quote is just a bit of icing. The cake is so much more! You don’t have to read between any lines with this subject. At least I don’t! If you decided to go on a trip to look at rare plants, would you get a write up in the biggest magazines in America? Would you be funded by Morgan money? LOL

    • Jan Irvin
      June 4, 2013 at 8:28 am

      No, it’s very much not a different context. See the other article on Wasson: The Man, the Legend, The Myth. Speaking purely from the overall documents we have, as well as his work with Bernays, and the initial letter Wolfe wrote, and that it was found at the Hoover instutute, all of Obviously he’s attacking the very people he created who went down there. The entire thing is social engineering, and hence why he worked with Edward Bernays… but you don’t go on rambling about such a thing in the New York Times, crying about promoting it while you’re promoting it… in the largest paper in the country. These things were already addressed. Please read the full work in context, and you may also track down the documents we’ve cited to the major university archives so that you get the full picture.

      Obviously that letter isn’t intended to “prove” it by itself and must be taken in context with the rest of the paper and work… so please don’t go building up some straw man argument. Read the 3 papers, read my Holy Mushroom book, and then, after you’ve studied the evidence and citations, work from there. But let’s not create a straw man of the arguments, or what was even said in this interview.

      The quote is one of many “slam dunks” – but this only shows his active participation on PR, which is also shown in other areas in the paper from last year. I expect you’ve read all 3 papers?

      The case of Wasson’s “remorse”

      On September 26, 1970, Wasson published an article in the New York Times wherein he’s supposedly distraught and expresses remorse regarding the then recent reports of “hippies, psychopaths and adventurers and pseudo-research workers” descending on Huautla de Jimenez in Oaxaca, Mexico:

      Huautla, when I first knew it as a humble out-of-the-way Indian village, has become a true mecca for hippies, psychopaths, adventurers, pseudo-research workers, the miscellaneous crew of our society’s drop-outs. The old ways are dead and I fear that my responsibility is heavy, mine and Maria Sabina’s. […]

      As for me, what have I done? I made a cultural discovery of importance. Should I have suppressed it? It has led to further discoveries the reach of which remains to be seen. Should these further discoveries have remained stultified by my unwillingness to reveal the secret of the Indians’ hallucinogens?

      Yet what I have done gives me nightmares: I have unleashed on lovely Huautla a torrent of commercial exploitation of the vilest kind. Now the mushrooms are exposed for sale everywhere—in every market-place, in every village doorway. Everyone offers his services as a “priest” of the rite, even the politicos. […] The whole of the countryside is agog with the furtive movements of hippies, the comings and goings of the “federalistas,” the Dogberries with their blundering efforts to root them out.[33]
      ~ R. Gordon Wasson

      Here’s a very startling conversation between Wasson and Bertram Wolfe that I found in the Bertram Wolfe papers at The Hoover Institute at Stanford, which puts Wasson’s New York Times article in a whole new light:

      October 8, 1970:

      Dear Mr. Wasson:

      I was greatly interested in your article in the New York Times on “The Sacred Mushroom.” […] I marked your note of sadness near the end and wish to tell you that you have nothing to reproach yourself for. Knowledge will out. If one man doesn’t spread it another will. The hippies, peddlers, and Dogberries will in, for nature abhors a vacuum. You may have hastened it a little by publishing in Life, rather than in a magazine of anthropologists, but the process was inevitable […][34]
      ~ Bertram Wolfe

      October 13, 1970:

      Dear Mr. Wolfe: […] Do you remember your last letter to me? I was asking you where Tolstoy had said the printing press was a mighty engine for disseminating ignorance. This Mazatec affair is a case in point.[35] [emphasis – mine]

      ~ R. Gordon Wasson

      In other words, what we’re dealing with in this essay is this very group of propagandists: “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …men we have never heard of.” In fact, many of them we have heard of, two of them being Edward Bernays and R. Gordon Wasson.

      The ramifications of Wasson’s above statement affect so many things on so many levels that it’s disturbing to contemplate: First, in the New York Times article, Wasson sheds crocodile tears over his so-called dilemma of releasing the information about the mushrooms, while at the same time disparaging entire groups of people with sweeping generalizations and ad hominem remarks, and relishing his power to create commerce and distraction among the people he despises. Then he casts half the blame on Maria Sabina. He never once addresses his intelligence agendas: that he worked with the CFR and CIA (more on this in a moment). As Maria Sabina relates, had Wasson not gone to the town mayor’s office and spoken to Cayetano García Mendoza, who was acting as mayor, Sabina would not have given him the mushrooms. She thought the mayor’s visit to her home was official business, so she felt obligated to serve Wasson:

      Cayetano then explained to Doña María that he had told the visitors, “I know a true wise woman.” Cayetano asked Doña María if he could bring the strangers to her home so that she might teach them the true knowledge of the mushrooms. Doña María replied, “If you want to, I can’t say no.”

      Years later, María Sabina stated that she felt compelled to accept Wasson’s request because of Cayetano’s official position, and she assumed Cayetano’s visit to her humble dwelling that hot summer day was official business. […] In 1971, Wasson read an interview with María Sabina which appeared in the European magazine L’Europe, published in Milan. It reported that when Cayetano had requested her aid in helping the foreigners, she did so because she felt she had no choice. But she also declared that when she was asked to meet them [Wasson and Richardson] that she “should have said no.”[36]
      ~ John W. Allen

      But even more disturbing is what Wasson wrote to Bertram Wolfe: “Tolstoy had said the printing press was a mighty engine for disseminating ignorance. This Mazatec affair is a case in point.” Here it’s clear that Wasson is a disciple of Edward Bernays and is using PR, or propaganda, to manipulate the public’s opinion. He is making himself out to appear remorseful while at the same time furthering his campaign against Huaulta de Jimenez by publishing the article in the New York Times. And Wolfe appears gratifyingly dazzled by Wasson’s intellect, so Wasson lets him in on the secret of the hidden agenda, while sharing his contempt of the common people at the same time.

      Whatever secret consequences Wasson and his friends expected from their exploitation of mushrooms, it had severe and direct consequences for the people who passed on their knowledge to him:

      From the moment when the strangers arrived the ‘Holy Children’ lost their purity. They lost their strength. They were profaned. From now on they will serve no purpose. There is no help for it. Before Wasson I felt that the Holy Children elevated me. I no longer feel so. [37]
      ~ Maria Sabina

      [T]he divine mushroom no longer belongs to us [the Indians of Mesoamerica]. Its sacred language has been profaned. The language has been spoiled and it is indecipherable for us…Now the mushrooms speak NQUI LE [English]. Yes, it’s the tongue that the foreigners speak…The mushrooms have a divine spirit. They always had it for us, but the foreigners arrived and frightened it away…[38]
      ~ Apolonio Teran

      In response to Maria Sabina’s words, above, Wasson stated:

      These words make me wince, but I was merely the precursor of the New Day. I arrived in the same decade with the highway, the airplane, the alphabet. The Old Order was in danger of passing with no one to record its passing. The Wisdom of the Sabia, genuine though it was, has nothing to give to the world of tomorrow.[39]
      ~ R. Gordon Wasson

      I couldn’t disagree more that the wisdom of the Sabia (wise one or wise woman) has nothing for the world of tomorrow – as the last three decades of hindsight have shown us since Wasson wrote that in 1980. And maybe someone without an agenda would have made a more accurate recording. And there is a big difference between being the precursor for the New Day, and being a tool for the elite, and using Sabina and the mushrooms for PR and secret intelligence purposes.

      • Andrew
        June 4, 2013 at 10:45 pm

        “But let’s not create a straw man of the arguments, or what was even said in this interview.”

        Do you know the definition of a ‘straw man’?

        From “The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position.”

        So, where did this occur in my post? Where exactly did I ignore your position and attack a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of your position? Offering an alternative idea to your conclusion regarding the printing press quote (which is all it is, your conclusion. It’s not a fact simply by your decree) is not a straw man. If I were to deny your overall conclusion because there’s no way Wasson could control the whole world, that would be a strawman.

        Assuming my alternative view is true, it doesn’t even negate your over-all point. I believe you really run the risk of turning people away from the trivium with your rhetorical style.

        Interestingly, you’re actually much closer to setting up a straw man by throwing all this other information into your response to prove the quote means what you’ve decreed it means, when it doesn’t. Some of it’s interesting, some not so much. But none of it proves the quote means what you say it means which, if we’re not already clear, is all my initial post is about.

        I find your inability to empathize with a different viewpoint fascinating. All the other added circumstantial evidence you’ve included in your response here (again, regarding only the quote from my initial post), which is what it is, circumstantial, does not make the quote mean what you’ve decreed it means. For instance, how does finding it at the Hoover Institute prove anything. Ever heard of Antony Sutton (that’s rhetorical), he was at Hoover for five years. What does that mean regarding his rhetoric?

        Do you have the rest of the letter the quote came from. It would seem to be a lot more useful to rea it, in it’s entire context.

        You’ve done deep, solid research (I’ve read the three articles, listened to the relevant interviews, have not read the book or followed most of the citations. Further, the Maria Sabina, Teran quotes are new and interesting to me, thanks.) which all but proves many of your assertions. In my opinion, many of your discoveries are worthy of repetition and reiteration. But the printing press quote and probably several others, though somewhat interesting and yes, POSSIBLY damning, has been way overemphasized – to me – and I think harping on such assertions detracts from the more concrete evidence of your conclusion.

  6. RealEyes°°
    June 4, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    There’s a brilliant observation I recently read somewhere that shines a spotlight on an all-too-familiar lyric that couldn’t be more relevant than now, having read your “Manufacturing the DeadHead”:
    “I’m Uncle Sam
    That’s who I am
    Been hiding out
    In a rock and roll band”.
    I guess it was inevitable that the day would come when “his” cover would be blown and true identity finally exposed.

    • JB Bastogne
      June 5, 2013 at 8:06 am

      Shake the hand
      That Shook the hand
      of PT Barnum
      and Charlie Chan….

  7. Stephen Heggen
    June 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    “but I was merely the precursor of the New Day”

    Wow, the more I read of GW’s comments the more I am creeped out. I remember watching some show on TV a few years ago, about advertising people in the 60’s, or something, and it’s like I picture Wasson as the guy from that show who gets to the top by generally lying, dominating and being a scumbag. I don’t know, it seems like some of these things that are being discovered by real investigators are being mirrored in the mainstream, and stupified.

    The thing is, in the show there’s no agenda. It’s just greedy, selfish, stupid people. Of course they were also glamorous and so they titillate the public and lull them, all the while conveying a message.

    I don’t know how anybody could read anything else into what GW is conveying in his writings and actions. But that last quote in your post, Jan, is telling enough, “The Wisdom of the Sabia, genuine though it was, has nothing to give to the world of tomorrow.”

    I wonder, what is this “world of tomorrow” that lies beyond the coming of the “New Day”.

    Actually, I think I could probably guess…

    Thanks Jan,

  8. JB Bastogne
    June 5, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Great stuff. Thanks. As a huge Dead fan it’s not difficult for me to believe that my misspent youth was part of an experiment gone awry. I think you nail it with the quote from the September 1980 Playboy interview:” Everything is the opposite of what it is, isn’t it, Harry? So get out the bottle, boy… and relax. They invented LSD to control people and what they did was give us freedom. “.

    I have often wondered why music is in the deplorable state it is now in. Obviously, there is the whole download issue. However, I believe the Elites will never let there be another Beatles or John Lennon or Jim Morrison for the new generation. Kurt Cobain was close. I felt like the Grunge scene was on the verge of defining a new generation. Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform wrote a great piece about Green Day’s “American Idiot”.

    Music for young people now is consumerism at it’s finest. The modern day concert scene is one gigantic Advertisement. I won’t be surprised to see Pharmaceutical Rep’s handing out Adderall at the next show I take my son and daughter to IF (and a major if at that) the music is actually worth listening to.


  9. John Cokos
    June 7, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    To turn a phrase, I’m “On The bus ” with this senario, to a point, I think that the “insertion point” of the intro to the Drug Culture was the “Acid Test’s” of the San Fransico pre-Concert Era with the likes of Ken Kesey,The Beat Poets and Garcia of the pre-Dead scene. I was at “ground zero” back then,and the drug culture exploded on the Concert scene after that. It’s been a “long strange trip” to say the least…..

  10. Gary Gray
    June 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm


    Too bad you didn’t get James Corbett to express. Why he thinks a plane hit the pentagon on 9/11.

    This interview is very worthwhile.

    Allan Weisbecker
    The alternative media

    • Jan Irvin
      June 9, 2013 at 12:50 am

      Why would I? The interview was not about 911.

  11. Dylan Shelton
    June 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I don’t know if this pun was intentional but….
    “You can know if the thing you from Uranus you are channeling is real or a bunch of gas”
    that was fuckin’ funny. Nice interview Jan it’s cool that your article is getting around.

  12. andy
    June 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Great work, and a great last few months. Thanks!.

    During the introduction you two were off topic talking about the male birthrate with a veiled reference to the population control agendas. Any links or information on this?

  13. June 14, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    When I found Dave McGowan’s work on the LC and Jan’s on Wasson & McKenna, it struck me that all, or at least much, of modernism, the so-called shock of the new, looked like an exercise in cultural debasement. Just before the middle of the 20th century, novelty per se became a cultural value. So any crazy shit could become imbued with merit for being “avant garde.” Senseless splashing and thrashing can always be packaged as journeying off in a bold new direction.

    Anyway, my hunch now has some factual backing. Check out the report on modern art as a CIA culture-jamming initiative at

    The report tries to smooth it over by saying that avant-gardism was a cold-war tactic to distinguish Western freedoms from the strictures of Soviet life. If cornered, they might justify engineering the counterculture the same way.

  14. true gnostic
    June 15, 2013 at 12:27 am

    I know you hate if people dont do there own homework but, just a little help please.
    I cant find what im looking for on “Dale Carnegie” i know he was up to something,, but?
    like his plays how was he able to rent and sellout”Carnegie Hall”i think he would also get nude in them. And his friends/network? point me in the right direction please sir. You can even tell me off first if you want. You and the guys all do great work…

  15. Kenuvis Romero
    June 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    There’s a war going on for your mind
    Media mavens mount surgical strikes from trapper keeper collages and online magazine racks
    Cover girl cutouts throw up pop-up ads
    Infecting victims with silicone shrapnel
    Worldwide passenger pigeons deploy paratroopers
    Now it’s raining pornography
    Lovers take shelter
    Post-production debutantes pursue you in nascar chariots
    They construct ransom letters from biblical passages and bleed mascara into holy water supplies

    There’s a war going on for your mind
    Industry insiders slang test tube babies to corporate crackheads
    They flash logos and blast ghettos
    Their embroidered neckties say “stop snitchin'”
    Conscious rappers and whistleblowers get stitches made of acupuncture needles and marionette strings

    There is a war going on for your mind
    Professional wrestlers and vice presidents want you to believe them
    The desert sky is their bluescreen
    They superimpose explosions
    They shout at you
    “pay no attention to the men behind the barbed curtain
    Nor the craters beneath the draped flags
    Those hoods are there for your protection
    And meteors these days are the size of corpses

    There’s a war going on for your mind
    We are the insurgents

  16. June 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Jan, a tip on rhetoric: Learn how to pronounce people’s names before you reference them. I noticed a number of mispronunciations of names in this interview. Keynes is a familiar name to most people who pay attention to what’s going on. To pronounce it, “Key-ness” hurts your credibility. It’s pronounced, “Cains”. One syllable.

    Grammar: Tight. Logic: Solid. Rhetoric: A little flabby.

  17. Teus tK
    July 5, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Only considering how the 60’s ended it’s obvious they found something they couldn’t use to control your mind and they ended it with the usual suspect; Shock the nation with a hypnotic cult leader into another direction. They tried and failed and took it away.

    • Jan Irvin
      July 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      You obviously haven’t studied any of the work and missed the entire point – it did NOT fail.

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