Was Aldous Huxley a CIA agent?

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Aldous Huxley is world famous for his dystopia “Brave New World”, which is often read in schools here in Germany. The book, already published in 1932, is not his only work. “TheDoors of Perception” from 1954, in which he describes his mescaline (a psychoactive substance) self-experiments, was a cult book of the counterculture, which has its origins in the 1950’s. The famous band “The Doors” is named after the book.

It is now known that many of the early protagonists of the counterculture participated in LSD experiments as part of the MKULTRA program of the CIA. So, for example, Ken Kesey 1, author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and founder of the “Merry Pranksters” who popularized LSD in the US with their parties, the so-called Acid Tests. Or Robert Hunter2, an American lyricist, and singer-songwriter, translator, best known for his work with Grateful Dead. No prominent figure of the counterculture was Ted Kaczynski, who also participated in the LSD experiments 3 and later became notorious as the Una Bomber –  In the good old days of homegrown terrorism.

In the following video LSD Guru Timothy Leary credits the CIA for LSD and the Counterculture:


But what is the evidence that Aldous Huxley was involved in the CIA’s MK ULTRA program?

Here just one example: In the reunion video “A Conversation on LSD” we find Dr. Humphry Osmond and Tim Leary discussing Leary’s hiring. According to this conversation, Timothy Leary was hired by Osmond and Huxley on the night of the Kennedy election to popularize the new “psychedelic drugs.. “Osmond was at the cutting edge of psychiatric research in the 1950s. He believed that hallucinogenic drugs might be useful in treating mental illness and he studied the effects of LSD on people with alcohol dependency….. The “book Acid Dreams revealed Osmond’s CIA and MI6 connections.”4

So Leary was not by chance a LSD propagandist, but he was recruited. Namely, by men of whom at least one was a CIA asset. Draw your own conclusions…

Here the mentioned video:

Excerpt (from 6:55):

Humphry Osmond: Remember the first time we met, which was in Cambridge? On the night of the Kennedy election.

Tim Leary: 1960.

Humphry Osmond: 1960. We went out to this place. And Timothy then was wearing his gray flannel suite and his crew cut. And we had this very interesting discussion with him. And when we went.. . and I don’t think I told you this, Timothy. But the night we went we both said “what a nice fellow he is”. He says “he’s a very nice man”, and Aldous said “it’s very very nice to think that this is what’s going to be done at Harvard”. He said “it would be so good for it”. And then I said to him, “I think he’s a nice fellow too. But don’t you think he’s just a little bit square?” [laughter] Aldous said “you may be right”, he said “but after all isn’t that what we want?” [laughter]

Timothy, when I’m discussing the need for understanding human temperament this is the story I tell. Because I said, yeah Aldous and I were deeply interested in the nature of human temperament and we meet someone who I think that was probably the least satisfactory description of you ever made, Timothy. I think even your greatest enemies would never make that description. And we made it. We were very very concerned because we held that perhaps you were a bit too unadventurous. You see what insights we had.

Al Hubbard: Well, you sure as heck contributed your part, but uh

Tim Leary: I’ve always considered myself very square.

Humphry Osmond: So we were right in a way!

Tim Leary: I always try to hang around the hippest person in the area and I continue to do that. […]


By the way: Aldous Huxley was from a very respectable British family with the best contacts in the leading circles of society. His grandfather has helped Darwin’s theory of evolution become popular and scientifically accepted. Because of his efforts, he was called Darwin’s Bulldog.

Thomas Henry Huxley, Darwin’s Bulldog, was also one of the professors of H. G. Wells in Oxford5 – who wrote the book “The New World Order” – and introduced him to the notorious Fabian Society. His grandson (Julian Huxley, the brother of Aldous), in turn, wrote a book with H. G. Wells, “The Science of Life”, “the first modern textbook of biology”.6

Julian Huxley7 also had a very eventful life and we owe him many ideas and concepts that continue to dominate our minds until this day. Here some interesting facts about Julian Huxley, brother of Aldous Huxley (Brave New World):

  • Evolutionary Biologist, Eugenicist, and Internationalist
  • President of the British Eugenics Society
  • First Director-General of the UNESCO
  • Inventor of the Word “Transhumanism”
  • Inventor of concept of the Tin Foil Hat8
  • Humanist of the Year
  • Advocate of sterilization and the “the virtual elimination of the few lowest and most degenerate types”
  • One of the first Apologists of Natural Selection as the Primary Agent in Evolution
  • Predicted that the world’s population will rise to 6 billion by 2000 (The United Nations Population Fund marked 12 October 1999 as The Day of Six Billion)

If you want to dig deeper in the topic and get first hand information, watch the following video. It was sent to me by Robert Forte, who knew Tim Leary and edited – for example – his Festschrift. Also check https://burners.me/tag/robert-forte/ for a short background information on this video.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Kesey
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Hunter_(lyricist)
  3. https://www.counterpunch.org/1999/07/15/ted-k-the-cia-lsd/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC381240
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Science_of_Life
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Huxley
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tin_foil_hat
  • Kasia
    Januar 16, 2018

    Dear Author of this article,

    I dig quite deep into MK ULTRA stuff and just discovered your article. Mostly, because some of my friends are big fans of Huxley. I’ve already come across information debunking Huxley as visionaire and genius and unmasking him as CIA asset and cold methodic co-designer of human experiments, if I may put it this way. I was looking for such compact and eye opening material, as yours. My point is this. I come from Poland and have troubles understanding the context of the conversation from the second movie. What exactly does Osmond mean calling “this fellow” “a little bit square”? Why does he refer to the description of Leary as the “last satisfactory ever” and that “even the greatest enemies would never make that description”? Why is it so bad description and what is in this context the meaning of the word “square”? Is it old-fashioned, or honest, or direct? I can’t get it. Would appreciate your answer :). Greetings from Poland!

    • DialecticReborn
      Februar 7, 2018

      Sorry for the late answer. I’m from Germany, so my english is also not that good. Short: In my opinion, in this by Osmond told story, it should seem direct, with a bit of upper-class irony and nonconformity. What Osmond maybe is trying to convey by his story, that at the time of recruitment Timothy Leary seemed to be a little too normal and boring to him – with his “gray flannel suite and his crew cut” – to promote such a very extraordinary thing like the taking of LSD. Timothy Leary was also not – like Huxley – a world-famous author from a family of the British upper class with a long line of ancestors – but a simple university lecturer – typical American middle class – nothing special. At the time the posted video was filmed, he was in contrast seen as one of the leading intellectuals of the counter culture (LSD, Hippies & Co.) with it’s big effects on society – anything but a “square” middle-class lecturer. For some, he may have been the herald of the new age, for others a mad professor and public enemy number 1 (as promoter of drugs /LSD). That’s the punchline. Therefore – “the least satisfactory description of you ever made”. It may even be more a compliment what Osmond says in restropective about Leary’s recruitment in this video – even if it masquerades as the opposite. Because it indirectly emphasizes that Leary was a very normal and therefore serious scientist.

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