Did cannabis make The Beatles' 'Rubber Soul' worse?
The first study on cannabis and creativity has found that smoking dope hinders creative thought
By Sarah Knapton,
08 Oct 2014
The Beatles ‘Rubber Soul’ album is regarded by fans and music critics as one greatest albums in pop music history.
But a new study suggests it could have been even better if the band had not written it while high on cannabis.
Dutch scientists have discovered that smoking pot does not make people more creative. In fact, it has the opposite effect.
Smokers who inhaled the most amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – did less well on cognitive and free thinking tests, the University of Leiden found.
Many 60s bands dabbled with narcotics in an attempt keep their creative juices flowing.
The Beatles in 1963, shortly after Please Please Me went to number one in the album chart Photo: PA
’Rubber Soul’ was the pot album and Revolver was the acid, John Lennon explained in 1972.
Although he added: “The drugs are to prevent the rest of the world from crowding in on you. They don’t make you write any better.”
And Dutch scientists agreed, finding that increased creativity is simply an illusion created by being high.
“The research findings contradict the claims of people who say that their thinking changes and becomes more original after smoking a joint,” said Dr Lorenza Colzato.
“There’s no sign of any increased creativity in their actual performance. The improved creativity that they believe they experience is an illusion."
And they found that too much dope is actually counterproductive.
“If you want to overcome writer’s block or any other creative gap, lighting up a joint isn’t the best solution," added Dr Colzato.
"Smoking several joints one after the other can even be counterproductive to creative thinking.”
Dr Colzato and her PhD candidate Mikael Kowal are the first researchers to study the effects of cannabis use on creative thinking.
For ethical reasons, only cannabis users were selected for the study.
Dozens of test candidates were divided into three groups of 18. One group was given cannabis with a high THC content (22 mg), the second group was given a low dose (5.5 mg) and the third group was given a placebo.
The high dose was equivalent to three joints and the low dose was equal to a single joint. Obviously, none of the test candidates knew what they were being given; the cannabis was administered via a vaporizer. The test candidates then had to carry out cognitive tasks that were testing for Divergent thinking and convergent thinking
They were asked to think of how many uses they could put a pen to and also to find the link between words.
Those with the highest concentrations of THC did least well in both tests.
In anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis intoxication enhances human creativity.
Even Steve Jobs,once stated: “The best way I could describethe effectofthe marijuana and hashishis thatit would make me relaxed and creative."
The research was published in the journal Psychopharmacology.