Thursday, April 10, 2008

Scientists on drugs

Nature published today the results from a poll about cognitive-enhancing drug use amongst scientists. The results are shocking. 20% of responders have admitted to using drugs for non-medical reasons in order to boost concentration and work. Top amongst these are Ritalin and beta-blockers. I knew kids nowadays used Ritalin to study for tests but I had no idea PI used it too. The scientists who didn't get prescriptions, got their drugs on the internet not surprisingly. I guess coffee is just not enough when it comes to grant deadlines. Is this a reasonable use of drugs? Should we be scared of this. I know I could use beta-blockers when giving talks to large audiences, and I wonder how many do...


6 comments:

Razib said...

why should we be scared? people eat steak which could give them heart attacks to improve their qualia. if there are negative cognitive results later in life, at least they'll have made a positive heightened impact early on....

JSinger said...

A fundamental rule of the Internet: online surveys are completely worthless. The amount of attention that this tiny set of self-selected, unknown particpants has generated is absurd.

Anonymous Coward said...

In other news, a recent study suggests that Nature readers who take amphetamines are more likely to fill online surveys...

Anonymous Coward said...

If some scientists are using drugs to get an edge, say for their grant application, it becomes a zero-sum game, and if you want to compete you may find yourself more inclined to take those drugs. However I agree that these scientists are probably well aware of what they are doing and the associated risks. It just makes me uneasy. We're already sacrificing a lot for this career, should we be putting our mental health on the line?

Bayman said...

Well you're already putting your mental health online in this career. But true, you shouldn't have to inflict any more damage than necessary...

kamel said...

These drugs improve focus, but that's just one aspect of functioning as a scientist. This post talks about the tradeoffs of these drugs: focus may come at the cost of creativity.