Great post. Unlike many of the lengthy stranger blog posts, this one I read in its entirety (sans coffee or other drugs). To respond, however, i may need a little thinking-cap help...
Drugs kick ass.
Not sure we value the mind or body differently, but the body-enhancing drugs seem to all carry some substantial negative risk - which, at first blush, the mind-enhancing drugs do not have.
@3. I considered that point as well; I'm just not sure it's true.
More is known about the long-term safety of taking testosterone than many of the mind-enhancing drugs. The risks with steroids mostly have to do with their illegality.
For all we know, decades of modafinil use might totally fry the brain.
In The Best American Non-Required Reading there was a story defending Barry Bonds's use of performance-enhancing drugs, and it was probably the only sports-related thing I've ever found interesting all the way through. The basic premise is that he spent years and years working harder than most people can imagine, then as age started taking its toll on his body, and as other players used drugs for an edge, he took the drugs to remain competitive, to keep using all the skill and talent he'd been building for years. It was a fairly compelling argument.
I don't believe in performance-enhancing drugs in any arena, sports or intellectual; I'm more impressed by what we can achieve by force of will and magnitude of talent. I would not take either, but consider myself to be in the minority when it comes to avoidance of mind/body-altering substances. You raise excellent questions that more people will need to consider, and soon.
I take 30-60mg of Inderal daily, prescribed by my doctor for hypertension. As an added bonus I find myself more focused at work and much less likely to be stressed out by small annoyances, like asshats jaywalking.
Several of my friends know Paul Phillips personally. The use of cognitive enhancements for competitive gaming has been discussed in our communities over the past decade.
I would take vinpocetine.
I would never walk. I would take a car.
I will stick to my caffeine for work-performance-enhancing, ibuprofen for non-headache-having-enhancing, and alcohol for sexual-desire-enhancing-and-performance-dis-enhancing.
Body enhancing drugs (mostly) only benefit the user, where as mind enhancing drugs have more potential to enhance society.
One important thing is that mind-enhancing drugs aren't used in a competition. With athletics, allowing drugs would result in more of a scientific or research competition: Win the race by inventing the best drug cocktail.
Also to my understanding, as was said, steroids really fuck you up.
John: I would beg to differ. There are many professional careers which require fiercely competitive examinations (or series thereof). Those in such careers are--or going to in the foreseeable future--going to be feeling the pressure from their drug-fueled competitors.
Similarly, there's competition in offices. Who hasn't heard of young lawyers pounding out work virtually 24/7 to get ahead, mainly fueled by some form of ADHD drug?
Now ... if only I could get a doc to prescribe 'em to me.
What would happen if bonds used mind enhancing drugs in addition to steroids...it is well documented that ballplayers use/used amphetamines to enhance game-time concentration/ reacations...Combining the mental ability to super-concentrate with the ability to physically perform at higher levels would be...good?
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