Doping for brain power

The headline in slashdot.com was kind of shocking: “Many Scientists Using Performance Enhancing Drugs” They’re not talking about steroids or human growth hormone. They’re talking about Ritalin, beta blockers, and Provigil; they’re not necessarily being used for their original purposes or, perhaps, by prescription.

Slashdot leads to these sources:
Poll: Scientists Use Brain-Boosting Drugs
Poll results: look who’s doping” (This one is the original article in Nature.)

Wow, my paradigm just got a little bit of a nudge there. Is it OK to use performance-enhancing drugs when the result is more important than a home-run record? It’s hard to say no, but it is the same thing, really.

Edited to add (4:30-ish on April 10): What I left out was, there was a bit of an April Fools’ Day angle to the story, when the World Anti-Brain Doping Agency issued the “press release” NIH Announces New Initiatives to Fight the Use of Brain Enhancing Drugs by Scientists. At first I wasn’t going to mention this, because the original sounded parody-like enough even in truth. But the WABDA just makes it more fun.

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About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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3 Responses to Doping for brain power

  1. Anonymous says:

    I believe yes, it is (or should be) okay. Don’t forget the other performance enhancing drugs — coffee, viagra, etc. Let MLB decide what they want as rules of the game. Leave Congress out of that (and Shiavo, too). But you know me… your friendly libertarian lo these past 28 years.

    • songdogmi says:

      My only problem with steroids and sports performance enhancing drugs is that young people start taking them before they even have a pro career (or a collegiate career), before they learn the downsides. That and some of those drugs are demonstrably dangerous–again, if you know the risks and are an adult, it’s less of an issue, but when 16-year-olds start… I guess we could make sure they have knowledge they need, but I don’t know if that helps enough.

      But obviously we like when baseballs fly out of the park. The next guy is going to have to have steroids or something to hit 75 homers in a year, even if Bonds didn’t to hit 72.

      And for “brain doping”… I think the effects of those drugs aren’t as dangerous, but I’m not a doctor so ( don’t know (guess I could do a little research and find out; the Web is a wonderful thing). Maybe years of Ritalin are as bad as years of steroids. But a cure for cancer outranks a home-run record any day. I don’t think anyone is going to complain because a scientific breakthrough happened in part due to the scientist involved had “cheated” somehow.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow, that’s triggering memories for me too. My dad used to work for the Diesel division of General Motors, later Detroit Diesel-Allison, that was located on Outer Drive. I always loved driving along the stretch of the drive between Dearborn Heights and his office because it was such a beautiful parkway. The trees and parks would help me to imagine I was not in the middle of a densely populated metropolis, but much farther out. Something like Oakland County north of Pontiac, where my grandparents lived. That was really “out in the country” to me then, though these days I guess it’s probably as built up as the rest of the area.

    I seem lately to be struck by a lot of realizations of just how many years have passed. My memories of Outer Drive are from the late 60s and earlier, so 40 years or more ago. I probably wouldn’t recognize anything now.

    I hope your mom is doing better.

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