Michael Carmichael is a historian and author.
He studied history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. After taking his degree, he began multidisciplinary research in intellectual history and the history and philosophy of science. He has studied mathematics, theoretical physics and psychoanalysis.
After extensive research into the shamanistic practice of altered states of consciousness, he studied anthropology with Weston La Barre of Duke and ethno-botany with R. Gordon Wasson of the Harvard Botanical Museum.
In 1985, working in collaboration with Wasson and La Barre on a project to investigate the origin of science, Carmichael moved to England to gain access to manuscript archives in London, Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, Florence, Milan and Venice. In 1986, Joseph Needham invited him to Cambridge, where he discussed Chinese alchemy with the great Sinologist and his collaborator, Lu Gwei Djen.
Since 1985, he has lived in Oxford, where he conducts multidisciplinary research in: the Bodleian Library; the Ashmolean Museum; the Taylorian Library; the Griffith Institute; the Museum of the History of Science and the Pitt-Rivers Museum.
In 1995, he published a short biographical essay, Wonderland Revisited, on the extensive use of pshchoactive drugs by Charles Dodgson, aka, Lewis Carroll, which was republished by Antonio Melechi in Psychedelia Britannica.
In 1997, he delivered a lecture entitled, "Ripley's Vision Revisited: A Chemical Interpretation for Esoteric Alchemy," to the conference, Contrasting Interpretations of Alchemy, organised by the Society for the History of Alchemy & Chemistry at Imperial College.
Along with Andrew Sherratt, Carmichael appeared in the Channel 4 television series, Sacred Weeds, which explored the role of psychoactive drugs in prehistoric and ancient cultures.
He lives in Oxford.
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