Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Will the huge oversupply of people with college degrees force you to take mind-enhancing drugs in order to compete?

In professional sports, one of the reasons for banning steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs is to prevent those drugs from becoming de facto necessities.  In other words, if a large percentage of the players you are competing against for roster spots on professional teams are taking performance enhancing drugs, then you, too, will be forced to take steroids in order to compete.  Honest, ethical people thus have a competitive disadvantage.

According to a report on Sunday's episode of 60 Minutes, college students and professionals in the workplace are now taking prescription drugs (often the ones prescribed for ADD) to enhance focus and mental awareness in the hopes of earning higher grades or being able to produce faster and better work product.  Many of these people do not have prescriptions and are purchasing these drugs in a second-hand manner, presumably illegally.  One of the interviewees mentioned that lawyers have used these drugs (big surprise):

Adams says other drugs are also being used as neuroenhancers. One he has tried is Provigil, first developed to treat the symptoms of the rare sleep disorder narcolepsy.

"People found that it was helpful as a stimulant for, you know, working in law offices and in academics and stuff like this. So I would say it's in the past five to ten years that it's become popular as a performance enhancer," Adams said.  (60 Minutes report: Boosting Brain Power.)
The state of our nation's economy, the Education Arms Race, and the tremendous amount of competition for knowledge-based and professional jobs is one of the primary motivators for this kind of drug abuse.  Otherwise honest, hard-working, presumably ethical people are being driven, perhaps subconsciously, to take prescription mind-enhancing drugs so that they can boost their performance and outdo the competition.  The pressure to use mind enhancing drugs is just one more symptom of Education Overproduction, the Education Arms Race, and our nation's hyper-competitive job market for knowledge-based, college-education-requiring white collar jobs.

Perhaps these neuroenhancers will prove beneficial to society by allowing people to improve their cognitive ability and focus.  I don't have a position on whether or not they are good or bad or beneficial, but until they are completely legal and available over-the-counter, people might still feel compelled to purchase them illegally in order to compete.


Demosthenes said...

Damn! I was going to do a post on this but you beat me to it sir! Good post.

Demosthenes said...

The one thing I would add to this is the irony of the increasing practice. I'm someone who has legal access to drugs like Adderall and Ritalin, but these stimulants are really just a very refined & concentrated type of speed (like No-Doze). You could get the exact same effect by drinking enough espresso.

The way some people's ADD manifests makes them easily distracted because, as one of the many theories to explain ADD goes, our brain is deprived of certain chemicals and so it's sending signals to our body to fix it (the resulting telltale behaviors like constantly moving, blurting things out, etc. are just our body's natural way of coping and creating more of those needed chemicals). The drugs help curb those behaviors so that it's less disruptive according to our culture's standards (its been well documented amongst modern day nomadic and hunter/gatherer peoples, like the aborigines of Australia, that a vast majority would be considered ADD by Western standards).

The morons who think it helps them study are totally wrong. Just because you have more energy doesn't equate to you learning material better or in any greater amount by taking the drugs.

It's just augmenting your energy level, Red Bull will do the same thing so basically you choosing ADD drugs is like having a preference for Marlboros over Camels, and there are some studies that show it actually interferes with your memory banks (meaning you remember a lot less than you would without the drug sponsored cramming session you lazy, attempting to cheat fucks). At best, you're getting a very weak placebo effect by genuinely misbelieving that it is helping you learn.

But by all means continue to take them if you want, as there are a lot of negative side effects associated with continued and long term use, which are just being understood and studied (like early onset Alzheimer's & other degenerative brain diseases). Hope you enjoy screwing up your body's systems like blood pressure thus in turn your kidneys and your dick getting hard for a couple of points on a test!

middle class con said...

psshhh...there are drugs for blood pressure & droopy dick syndrome too.

Anonymous said...

No need for Adderall, just get some piracetam or pramiracetam. It increase the blood flow between the two hemispheres. I always used when I had a BigLaw job. No need anymore, I got laid off and now work for $29,000 as a state inspector; ain't life grand.

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