Forum — From the August 2013 issue

Gaboxadol

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In 1755 the naturalist Stepan Krasheninnikov observed the Amanita muscaria mushroom’s effects on Russian soldiers in Siberia ingesting it for the first time. Claiming to have been seized by an invisible power, the men submitted to the mushroom’s strange and often violent commands. A servant strangled his master. A soldier found himself ordered to his knees and confessed his sins before God. Krasheninnikov’s interpreter drank some mushroom liquor and “went into such a frenzy that he slashed open his abdomen, on the command . . . of mukhomor, the mushroom.” One soldier who ate this mukhomor found a certain dose reduced his fatigue while marching, but after eating more of the mushroom he “gripped his testicles and died.”

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’s last article for Harper’s Magazine, “Blood Spore,” appeared in the July issue. He is writing a book on clandestine chemistry.

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  • lilyionamackenzie

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