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June 29, 2014 9:46 PM   Subscribe

Lovatt reasoned that if she could live with a dolphin around the clock, nurturing its interest in making human-like sounds, like a mother teaching a child to speak, they'd have more success. - stories from the NASA- funded project to teach Dolphins to talk using LSD (among other methods. )
posted by The Whelk (37 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
And yet they throw a guy like me out of Sea World for trying the exact same thing. What a world.
posted by item at 10:00 PM on June 29 [32 favorites]


Lilly was also a big advocate of ketamine and sensory deprivation tanks.
posted by empath at 10:08 PM on June 29


Oh, Walter
posted by The Whelk at 10:11 PM on June 29 [9 favorites]


Fa love Pa!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:23 PM on June 29 [8 favorites]


So, basically someone at NASA read Startide Rising?
posted by absalom at 10:26 PM on June 29 [6 favorites]


The Whelk, you should come over to the Fringe rewatch.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:42 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Except for the part where this happened twenty years before startide rising was written.
posted by empath at 11:04 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Love the dolphins, write by W.A.S.T.E.
posted by chavenet at 11:17 PM on June 29 [5 favorites]


The BBC recently made a programme about this. Here is a clip of her talking to the dolphins and then describing her chats.
posted by rongorongo at 11:19 PM on June 29


STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING and listen to this podcast. It is honestly one of the funniest things I've ever listened to and it is entirely about the researcher behind the LSD/Dolphin/alien experiments. It is extremely NSFW and probably very offensive to more sensitive people.

I was building an FPP on this exact subject. Boo.....
posted by lattiboy at 11:33 PM on June 29 [8 favorites]


I bet dolphins would love podcasting.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:36 PM on June 29 [19 favorites]


from Lattiboy's podcast: John Lilly was also the guy who invented the isolation tank as a means of fixing his migraines. also needed some ketamine
posted by rongorongo at 11:49 PM on June 29


I have an odd respect for John Lilly without necessarily buying into all his woo. But then, I'm a hippie.
posted by hippybear at 11:53 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


If you are doing research on animals and you end up having sex, manual or otherwise, with your animals you might want to rethink your life. I would, anyway.
posted by Justinian at 12:46 AM on June 30 [4 favorites]


What I found amazing about the wikipedia entry for John C. Lilly is the trajectory of his biography - the conventional fate of somebody with so much craziness in their life is that they end up in prison, in psychiatric hospital, overdosed, in an explosion of their own making or - or, at least, in politics. But Lilly's account goes all quiet from the 70s until his quiet, ordinary death in 2001 at 86.

How did that happen?

The guys behind the Dollop podcast traced him to This Interview from Omni Magazine in 1983 - at which point he was still not only at liberty but apparently getting paid by MarineWorld to get Apple II computers to talk with dolphins on a project called JANUS (Joint Analog Numerical Understanding System). The big stumbling block appears to be keyboards - they are just not convenient for the dolphins. But the whole human dolphin communication problem should be solved within 5 years, he estimates.

Then he plies the reporter with Ketamine and sticks her in his isolation tank. One could not make it up.
posted by rongorongo at 1:33 AM on June 30 [17 favorites]


I find it amazing that they published a futuristic Man And Dolphin screed so soon after discovering the mimicking behavior. The step between "wuh... wuh... wuh..." and "The chair recognizes the Cetacean delegate" turns out to be a lot wider than they believed.
posted by Spatch at 3:02 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


I find it amazing that they published a futuristic Man And Dolphin screed so soon after discovering the mimicking behavior.

If you've ever talked to someone on LSD, you wouldn't be.
posted by empath at 3:32 AM on June 30 [4 favorites]


teach Dolphins to talk using LSD (among other methods. )

Makes sense. Take enough LSD and you'll hear the Dolphins talking to you alright.
posted by yoink at 6:42 AM on June 30


Thanks for posting this! This topic came up in conversation just the other day. I live on St. John, & some of the people I was talking to have been here in the Virgin Islands many years & remember hanging out at the "Dolphin House."
posted by Bohemian Sailor at 6:43 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, Lily's father, Richard Lily, a wealthy alcoholic, was one of the founders and the first president of the Hazelden Foundation.

"Dad's drunk and Johnny's talking to dolphins. Oh, it's a banner fucking Christmas at the Lily house."

I'm struck by Lily's belief in his "cosmic entities." His Earth Coincidence Control Office sounds a lot like Phil Dick's Valis and, if the Wiki entry is to be believed, they both came to a similar belief in the same year (1974). Was it the drugs or the tenor of the times? (Or could it have been ... Satan aliens?)

I'd like to read a history/extended profile of Omni magazine. A particular kind of techno boosterism, almost the culture of the internet itself, seems to have crystallized around their hippie meets sci fi meets Cal hot tub meets New York hustler vibe.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:05 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


We sometimes chide each other on MeFi for including "noisy" points in our comments that are so distracting they make our main point nearly impossible to focus on.

"Dolphin hand jobs" might be the most distracting point ever included in anything EVER.

Pretty sure that's a band name waiting to happen, too.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:08 AM on June 30


Lilly on the Thinking Allowed tv show. He looks pretty high if you ask me. Not ketamine though. Everybody I ever saw high on ketamine was either incoherent or silent.
posted by bukvich at 7:23 AM on June 30


This Interview from Omni Magazine in 1983

The blazing yellow background is part of the trip, right?
posted by Panjandrum at 7:47 AM on June 30


I wouldn't have expected this:

H: The Ken Russell/Paddy Chayefsky film Altered States closely resembles your life. What did you think of it?

L: I think they did a good job.


(Also, I almost certainly read that interview as a pre-teen with an OMNI subscription from a well-meaning aunt. Wow.)
posted by mubba at 8:25 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


The conversation that starts the BBC retrospective clip was fucking absurd.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:30 AM on June 30


"His blowhole and my mouth were trying to do the same thing."

This is nuts!
posted by KokuRyu at 8:33 AM on June 30


Do dolphins have nuts?
posted by iotic at 8:37 AM on June 30


I'm struck by Lily's belief in his "cosmic entities." His Earth Coincidence Control Office sounds a lot like Phil Dick's Valis and, if the Wiki entry is to be believed, they both came to a similar belief in the same year (1974).

Timothy Leary, Terrance McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, etc, etc. If we're voting, I vote "heroic dosages of LSD."
posted by empath at 9:37 AM on June 30


Dick on acid:

VERTEX: How much acid did you take anyway?

DICK: Not that much. I wan’t getting up in the morning and dropping acid. I’m amazed when I read the things I used to say about it on the blurbs of my books. I wrote this myself: “He has been experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs to find the unchanging reality beneath our delusions.” And now I say, “Good Christ!” All I ever found out about acid was that I was where I wanted to get out of fast. It didn’t seem more real than anything else; it just seemed more awful.

posted by bukvich at 9:50 AM on June 30


Weirdly, this story has happy endings, but not a happy ending.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:59 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


What's that Flipper? You say you can hear colors?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:13 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's a kinda sad tail. At least she lived to tell it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:43 AM on June 30


I'm kind of amused by the New Age fasCination with dolphins, given what they are in real life. I remember one expert on them offhandedly referring to them as "the rapists of the sea." Giving dolphins a means to communicate, our even worse, hands, is pretty much the worst idea ever.

But they probably did figure out some sort of computer-mediated means of communication with dolphins sometime in the early 2000s, and that's where our worst internet trolls come from. That guy on Reddit arguing for rape camps and government sponsored cannibalism? Probably a dolphin. Seriously, has anyone checked to see if Vox Day has hands, and not flippers?
posted by happyroach at 10:53 AM on June 30 [4 favorites]


That's really tragic, what happened to Peter after the experiment ended.

.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:22 AM on June 30


Reminds me of an aquatic version of Project Nim, in which a chimpanzee lived with humans in the name of science. That did not end well, either. Fascinating movie, though.
posted by Man-Thing at 11:28 AM on June 30


The idea of having to choose every breath seems exhausting...but also, how do they sleep?
posted by SassHat at 1:33 PM on July 8


Mostly one half of the brain at a time, but there are details.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:45 AM on July 9


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