“Scientists… Just like us!”

April 14, 2008 at 6:25 am 1 comment

Brain on drugsFrom a recent survey published by the journal Nature:

Twenty percent of scientists admit to using performance-enhancing prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. The overwhelming majority of these med-taking brainiacs said they indulged in order to “improve concentration,” and 60 percent said they did so on a daily or weekly basis.

It’s a funny story, kind of. And a sad story, definitely. It’s certainly a concerning story that illustrates a tragic symptom — and cause — of our me-first-gotta-get-ahead-now culture.

The survey reveals that of the 1,400+ scientists who participated in the survey (most of whom live in the United States), “more than a third [!] said that they would feel pressure to give their children such drugs if they knew other kids at school were also taking them.”

Almost 70 percent “said they would be willing to risk mild side effects in order to ‘boost your brain power’ by taking cognitive-enhancing drugs.”

As the boundary between treating illness and enhancing wellbeing continues to blur, taking performance-boosting products continues to gain in cultural acceptance.

“Like the rise in cosmetic surgery, use of cognitive enhancers is likely to increase as bioethical and psychological concerns are overcome,” opined Nature in a commentary.

In the survey, 80 percent of all the scientists — even those who did not use these drugs — defended the right of “healthy humans” to take them as work boosters, and more than half said their use should not be restricted, even for university entrance exams.

More than 57 percent of the respondents were 35 years old or younger.


Was it utterly naive of me to expect that professional academics and researchers would think differently, and act differently, than professional athletes when presented with the opportunity to cut-corners by engaging in substance abuse?

Play, think..
J.R. Atwood



Entry filed under: etc, play, think. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. nathan harris  |  April 15, 2008 at 2:17 am

    This trend is gross. Neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and scientists are pushing this concept. At the same time there is an epidemic of kids and prescription drug abuse. Even President Bush thinks there is a problem. Ritalin and Adderall are the new drugs of choice for many high school students. I wonder why these “captains of industry” what to lead the charge for more drug use and potential abuse.


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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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