#19: Christof Koch on Incandescent Intellectualism
This is Cognitive Revolution, my show about the personal side of the intellectual journey. Each week, I interview an eminent scientist, writer, or academic about the experiences that shaped their ideas. The show is available wherever you listen to podcasts.
Christof Koch is a one man symphony of passion. The only thing he has to offer is an unrelenting, indissoluble, incandescent fascination with the subjects that he's drawn to and develop a profound expertise on their every aspect. And oh my, what a thing it is to behold. The primary objects of his interest are consciousness and the brain -- what is the physical basis of existence and our experience of it? Christof is the director of the Paul Allen Brain Institute -- which, to give you an idea of what that means, billionaire Paul Allen was hanging out in his office one day, and asked himself, "If I could have one neuroscientist in the world run my institute, who would I choose?" Christof was the obvious answer. He was mentored by Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. I can only imagine what it was like to be in a room with those two, in a swirling discussion of the physical basis of consciousness that would have surely convinced you of the truth of determinism because once it got started there was no stopping it. In this conversation we talk about many things, but probably none of them are as eminently worth mentioning as our discussion of Christof's experience of 5 MeO DMT -- which is a psychedelic compound secreted on the back of a species of toad inhabiting the Colorado Road that, so I hear, makes psilocybin seem like an aspirin. Christof's new book is "The Feeling of Life Itself."
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