Meet Paul Stamets, an internationally-renowned mycologist. He discovered four Mushroom strains and, believe it or not, gave his name and likeness to a protagonist in Star Trek: Discovery! Find out more about his life and accomplishments in this article.
First, there was a book burning
Stamets grew up in a small, conservative town in Ohio. He first became interested in Mushrooms after reading an article in Life Magazine on Psilocybin ceremonies in Mexico.
His interest sparked after loaning the edition to a friend, whose father burned the copy, deciding that the contents were not to his liking.
Out of stubbornness, Stamets started researching the knowledge that was denied him. To this day, he thanks the Dad for steering him in the ‘right’ direction.
The Stoned Ape
Paul Stamets became fascinated with the so-called Stoned Ape theory, popularized by famous ethnomycologist Terence Kemp McKenna. The theory suggests that Homo Sapiens evolved from Homo Erectus because of Psilocybin in their diet.
Even though this theory is a controversial one, Stamets is a supporter because Homo Sapiens are only one of 22 primates that include mushrooms of various kinds in their diet.
Monsanto and the Pentagon
Besides being credited with discovering multiple new Mushrooms strains and writing many books, he also holds numerous patents. One of these patents is for a Mushroom-based pesticide, that could disrupt the business model of pesticide-giant, Monsanto.
He has also worked with the Pentagon, researching the effects of Mushrooms on tuberculosis. Stamets also spotted a copy of his book The Mushroom Cultivator on the bookshelf of one of the directors of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The Mushroom man
In 2008 Stamets held a highly successful TED-talk, which was viewed more than 5 million times! Afterwards, he was invited to numerous think-tanks by Google and was contacted by the producers of Star Trek. He helped them with his expertise and ideas and ultimately had a lead protagonist named after him.
He has an Instagram account with almost 400.000 followers and regularly posts about interesting topics related to fungi.
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