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Monday July 12 2021, 6pm

Michael Pollan: This Is Your Mind on Plants (Online)

Science &

When you start your day with a cup of tea or coffee you are ingesting a consciousness-altering drug, which you are quite likely to be addicted to. That drug of course is caffeine, the stimulant used by 90 per cent of people on earth, and it is one of three mind-altering molecules that bestselling author Michael Pollan has been investigating for his new book This Is Your Mind on Plants, alongside morphine, produced by the opium poppy, and mescaline, found in certain cacti. And on July 12 he comes to Intelligence Squared to examine our complex attitude towards these substances and to invite us to rethink our entire relationship with them. 

In conversation with the medical doctor and broadcaster Guddi Singh, Pollan will explore humanity’s longstanding and powerful attraction to psychoactive plants. Why do we go to such lengths to seek these shifts in consciousness, and why do we then hedge this desire with laws, customs and fraught feelings? And why do we categorise these compounds so reductively – calling them either a licit or an illicit drug? For, as Pollan will argue, when we take these psychoactive plants into our bodies and let them change our minds, we are engaging with nature in one of the most profound ways possible. 

At a time of renewed interest in the therapeutic and social benefits of these plants, with the opioid crisis under the spotlight in America, and the increasing decriminalisation of certain drugs in parts of the US, there has never been a more timely moment to reflect on our complicated relationship with the psychoactive substances of the natural world. Join us for what promises to be a mind-opening event. 

Book Bundles (UK ONLY)

Book bundles include one ticket for the online debate, plus a copy of Michael Pollan’s book This Is Your Mind On Plants with free UK P&P. Books will be posted within 1-2 weeks of the event finishing. Click here to purchase a book bundle.

This Is Your Mind On Plants by Michael Pollan is available to buy from Primrose Hill Books, for £16.50 (RRP £20) including free UK P&P. Intelligence Squared+ subscribers receive further discounts on other books featured in our events. Click here for more information and to subscribe. 

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Event Name

Michael Pollan: This Is Your Mind on Plants (Online)

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  • Michael Pollan

    Award-winning author, activist and journalist

  • Guddi Singh

    Paediatric doctor and TV presenter


Speakers subject to change.

  • Online event
  • Monday 12 July 2021
  • 6pm to 7pm



Michael Pollan

Award-winning author, activist and journalist

Award-winning author, activist and journalist. His international bestselling books about the way we live today – including How to Change Your Mind, In Defence of Food and Food Rules – combine meticulous reporting with anthropology, philosophy, culture, health and natural history. TIME magazine has named him one of the hundred most influential people in the world.

Guddi Singh

Paediatric doctor and TV presenter

Paediatric doctor and television presenter. She has worked around the world, including with the World Health Organisation (WHO), and is the current Advocacy lead for the British Association for Child and Adolescent Health and helps to manage the health think-tank, the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI).  Guddi is a presenter on BBC Two’s Trust Me I’m A Doctor. In 2020/22  she co-hosted two BBC Two Horizon coronavirus specials, as well as Channel 4’s How to Avoid a Second Wave, followed by Why is Covid Killing People of Colour? on BBC One. In 2022 she hosted BBC Two’s Your Body Uncovered, a six-part series which saw her using the latest technology to help patients understand their everyday medical conditions.  


Speakers subject to change.