What actually happened to Hoffman on April 16th?

The Germans and the Swiss are very precise chemists, and pharmacologists, and scientists. There wouldn’t have been any question about this being somehow mis-analyzed the first time.

This is another interesting point. Why the 25th? We know that only the 25th in the series was active. Any other compound that he made – and I’ve made many of them, we’ve tested many of them – none of the others approach LSD, either in its sophistication or in its potency. Only the 25th. And this is unusual. In pharmacology often you have a regular series. If we think of things like DOB, and DOI, there’s a kind of regular progression. They all fit into a kind of subgenus. And LSD doesn’t. We don’t call the other members of the series Albert made as LSD something or other, but if we had LSD-23, 24 and 26, they would all be one-tenth the activity of LSD-25. Peculiar presentiment indeed! 

As I’ve said, Swiss and German chemists have a reputation – today and back then – for being absolutely meticulous. If we had gone into Albert’s lab at Sandoz in 1943, we would probably have found everything in its place, organized in an obsessively neat manner. No dirty glassware, no trash on the floor, meticulous. How in the world did a meticulous Swiss chemist get 50 to 75 micrograms or more of LSD into his body? We don’t know. 

Another fact: I’ve made LSD in my lab on many occasions for research purposes, possibly in not so meticulous a manner as Albert Hofmann. Nothing ever happened. I had several graduate students who made LSD as an intermediate for projects. No accidental ingestion of LSD ever occurred. A technician in my lab makes it routinely because we use it as a drug to train our rats. He’s learned by experience that he never gets high, nothing ever happens. And yesterday I was talking to Nick Sand, and Nick said, “I made a solution of LSD in DMSO…” – DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) is a chemical that greatly enhances absorption of other chemicals through the skin – he says, “…I painted it on my skin. Nothing happened.” A concentrated solution and nothing happened! How did this very meticulous Swiss chemist get the LSD into his body? I don’t know. 

The other fact we need to think about is when Albert was a child, he had a spontaneous mystical experience. Now depending on whether you’re a psychologist or a psychiatrist or whatever, we could say that Albert had a predisposition to altered states of consciousness. 

So what facts do we know? I’m going to formulate a hypothesis. He took a dose that by your consensus should have lasted certainly more than two hours, but it only lasted two hours. He was a meticulous chemist – a Swiss chemist. Anyone I know who’s worked with LSD – and Nick Sand painted a solution of it on his arm – didn’t get high. This doesn’t make sense. And what is this peculiar presentiment? Why the 25th in the series? Inexplicable! And, he was predisposed to altered states of consciousness.

The only hypothesis I can come up with that’s consistent with all of these facts is that on April 16, 1943, Albert Hofmann did not get LSD in his body at all. He had a spontaneous mystical experience!