A look back at the Lettvin-Leary debate

It’s always fun, in a peculiar way, to look at video of the debate between Jerry Lettvin and Timothy Leary, held in 1967 at MIT, and broadcast on public television station WGBH. This was about whether it was a bad idea or a good idea to use psychedelic drugs to “drop out” of mainstream society. Jerry Lettvin was recruited for this at the last moment. History has more or less neglected that Jerry and Tim were good friends, as well as public figures who each loved to perform for any audience. In the video, Tim talks for the first 30 minutes, then Jerry has his say. The debate’s most famous moment happens around the 41-minute mark:


Jerry Lettvin: 1 and 2

Tim Leary: 1 and 2