Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, March 10, 2021

A couple of observations on the ethical debate over performance-enhancement drugs, as applied to aiding in mental aptitude:

- There’s a markedly different consideration given to efforts to boost your brain versus your other muscles, i.e. it’s seen as more worthwhile:

“I think the analogy with sports doping is really misleading, because in sports it’s all about competition, only about who’s the best runner or home run hitter,” said Martha Farah, director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. “In academics, whether you’re a student or a researcher, there is an element of competition, but it’s secondary. The main purpose is to try to learn things, to get experience, to write papers, to do experiments. So in that case if you can do it better because you’ve got some drug on board, that would on the face of things seem like a plus.”

So as long as you’re not engaging in anything as base as naked competition, it’s okay to pill-pop away. It strikes me as hypocritical, if not downright snobby.

- The long-term implications are being misread by academia:

The public backlash against brain-enhancement, if it comes, may hit home only after the practice becomes mainstream, [University of Pennsylvania neurology professor Anjan] Chatterjee suggested. “You can imagine a scenario in the future, when you’re applying for a job, and the employer says, ‘Sure, you’ve got the talent for this, but we require you to take Adderall.’ Now, maybe you do start to care about the ethical implications.”

I doubt the societal impact would come down this way at all. Rather, it would be more along the lines of the class action lawsuit against Major League Baseball being contemplated by ex-minor leaguer Rich Hartmann, which contends that an unsafe environment was created via the rewarding of steroid-takers with promotion to the big leagues. The harm doesn’t come from an explicit order from a prospective employer to start drugging up — it comes from a broader peer-pressure environment where everyone is juiced up, and you’re at a competitive disadvantage by staying all-natural.

So, correcting Dr. Chatterjee’s hypothetical from above: It’s not going to be a prospective employer saying, “we require you to take Adderall”; instead, it’ll be “you’ve got the talent for this, but not as much as this other guy — who already takes Adderall”. Holding out will mean missing out in this brave new job market.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/10/2021 10:45:06 PM
Category: Sports, Society, Science
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I give you the last mortal words of Pancho Villa:

“Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something.”

While making note of Villa’s penchant for Hollywood-quality self-promotion, I’ll let the statement stand.

I came across this quip over the weekend, before the prostitution scandal surrounding New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer hit the fan today. I may be the only one in the world drawing a connection between these two figures; but somehow, Villa’s coda seems well-tailored to Spitzer’s prospective hubris-filled fall from grace.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/10/2021 09:14:07 PM
Category: Politics, History, True Crime
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