Nootropics/"smart drugs". Thoughts and opinions.

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by FAST6191, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. FAST6191
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    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    For whatever reason (possibly the media equivalent of a tent pole -- http://gbatemp.net/threads/limitless-tv.388750/ ) there were a bunch of articles on the matter and I read them, nothing I especially feel like linking. A discussion on the concept is a different matter entirely though.

    Anyway nootropics is a term used to describe drugs that enhance your mind in some way (it will probably align well with the types of intelligence http://skyview.vansd.org/lschmidt/Projects/The Nine Types of Intelligence.htm though most will focus on Logical-Mathematical Intelligence and aspects of recall), there is some debate as to what counts as what, what they have to do, whether they can be chemically addictive and still count (most would opt for no chemical addiction but it does not seem to be universal) but for the purposes of this topic we will go with "substances that enhance neural function". All things are chemicals but I want some real stuff for this -- no placebos, no glorified sugar water, no hippy bullshit (it might have started life as a plant and that is very possible), proper double blind stuff that looks cool under a MRI (or whatever can see the actual function) and all that jazz.

    Though neurochemistry is fascinating for me the more interesting discussion comes from the ethics side of things.
    I found it quite shocking that some universities were contemplating drug testing of students ( http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/hea...curb-students-Ritalin-use-academics-says.html ).
    For some the obvious parallel would be sports and doping there. I am not sure it tracks myself. Though to go too much further into that you would have to consider why testing might be done in sports -- high level sports have long since evolved into a genetic lottery but the side effects of drugs was rather distressing and that formed the basis for a lot of it, logical dissonance of concussion syndromes not withstanding. Though long term studies are rather thin on the ground the short term and what few long term things there are do not point to overwhelming negatives, though the lack of long term studies and studies varying with ages (neurological development carries on well into your 20s -- see also why car crashes drop after 25 or so as most stop thinking they are immortal and in many ways never stops, teenage years is even worse on the potential changes/harms front) does leave me hesitant to make any real calls there.
    Back on topic the principle difference for me is academia is a rather more open ended affair (best* academic** is a rather less useful distinction than fastest runner of a given type of race). Years ago there was discussion of what might happen should in utero screening for various types of learning disorders come to pass -- many noting the high incidence rates of such people within certain fields, if the screenings led to terminations then there might be fewer people for that. that is a somewhat different topic though.
    Some have argued that using them is not inherently unethical but you should state that you are using them to your work colleagues. I disagree, quite strongly in fact, but it is something that has been said.
    I would not fire an otherwise non impaired enhancement drug user, and probably the same for a not so enhancement drug user if they did not show up impaired (give or take health insurance implications). Whether I would "mandate"*** the taking of such things would require further consideration, mainly on the health side of things.

    *"but but my grade curve"... fight me now. Alternatively cook up a means to test people better.

    **I should also say something about tests that you can pass and forget everything 5 minutes later/after that part of the exam is done.

    ***laws tend to frown upon mandating things like this, however this is why we find creative HR people (and perhaps feed them creative enhancement drugs).

    Legally speaking it varies with substance. UK laws are odd and tend to be something like import for personal use is fine, selling is less fine and a lot of things are prescription drugs elsewhere in the world. Probably the most well known would be ritalin (a drug most commonly prescribed for add/adhd, whatever that might be as the definition seems to get wider by the year), adderall (similar story) and modafinil (traditionally treats narcolepsy, the one where you fall asleep randomly). Some go further and go in for drugs aimed at people with very serious degenerative conditions like Alzheimer's and other similarly serious conditions. If we could spare a general debate on drugs for this thread that would be nice. What might be interesting though is a debate as to what the law might think about it -- drug laws are an odd mix of some science (arguably not enough), some scary stuff and some legacy puritanical nonsense stuff. Recently the UK saw an odd twist where "legal highs" got blanket banned which raised serious concerns among those in the medical, legal and ethics fields (previously only specific substances could be banned, as I can tweak a non functional group, or even a functional group, and get ahead of the legal curve it was seen as a never ending race, however functionally most that know the science would have argued that is the only way it could be, sucks to be the law maker) -- with the chemical specific stuff they at least had the tissue thin veneer of banning harmful substances, now it is pretty much "we do not like you having fun, or, to utilise the parlance of the kids, getting fucked up". Being a rather different result does this change where nootropics/smart drugs come in?

    I will out myself as a completely boring bastard at this point and note that I have never done anything like this and don't even do caffeine (seriously, it keeps me awake for ages and largely non functional within that and I open my eyes and find myself ready to go). Boredom aside (and I cast it aside to do interesting things) I never really have a problem with focus or calmness so I tend not even to go the other way.
    With that said when I can have robot arms that work better than my meat ones then I am having them and by similar token then when I can have cool drugs that work on the computer that powers it all (at least before I become an/some facet of an AI) then I am not seeing the difference.

    That is some background and my thoughts though. What are the thoughts of others?
     
  2. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    Ehhhhh... People can do whatever they want in their private life, but when it comes to making it or breaking it in either a college or work situation I would say I'm wholeheartedly against it (unless, of course, there were a practical medical application, then I could see myself being ok with it), because there are so many people who work to achieve the same IQ through studying/experience rather then trying to make their brain fire off at a faster rate. I also can't help but think as though there will probably be some wild and major side effect that will come to be discovered in the next few years. So in other words, yes, I support testing for and subsequently being kicked out of a school/workplace if undeniably tested positive
     
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  3. Zetta_x

    Zetta_x The Insane Statistician

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    I've actually got so many thoughts on this topic that the short 15 minute break I have won't even scratch the surface to what I can write about. I agree with many of your points, I'd like to add some new ones.

    It's becoming rarer and rarer to find people who are good logical and rational thinkers. For example, my city recently approved something called the world logistic center (WLC). I'll be honest, I didn't much about it a year ago, but every day on facebook I saw people posting things such as, "Say no to WLC, it will pollute our city". These particular posts were getting dozens and dozens of likes and relative to other topics being posted there, it was apparent this was getting a lot of attention. In the comments section, you had just tons of people where it seemed like "Say no to WLC, it will pollute our city" actually had convinced them to be against the project.

    Once again, I didn't know much about the project, but I don't allow such vague statements to influence my decision. It was the same people, week after week, posting the same exact things influencing more and more people on vague statements. I got fed up about it and posted the question:

    "How much pollution are we talking about exactly, what's the estimated percentage increase".

    Not a single person could answer that question. I had to explain why relative percentage increase was vital at making a fair judgement. The only legitimate response I had gotten in many hours was, "Look at the final environment impact report, it has all the details". I spent an hour thumbing through a 500 page report looking for air quality. This report was probably the most brilliant thing I have read. Not only did it break down the different types of pollution, it gave full estimates of what the impact was supposed to be. The report specified the main pollutant was nitrous oxide, this is because it affects lung growth in children by up to 13% in concentrated matters.

    Guess what, the report said that all the trucks that pass by will be fitted with 2010+ model standards which are fit with catalytic converters that reduce this specific type of pollutant by up to 98% than the 2007 model trucks. That this was not a significant concern. As part of mitigation efforts, every house neighboring would be supplied with an air filter for extra caution.

    So I spent that hour and I replied, "well actually, the report contradicts everything you are saying" and I mentioned exact page numbers and references. Do you know what the response I got? I will not risk the lives of many for a few jobs. Are you fucking kidding me... are you fucking kidding me... are you fucking kidding me... Then they went on a tangent of many other things why we shouldn't have the project (they thought because I questioned the pollution, I was trying to support the argument which is one of the thousands of logical fallacies I saw that day)

    So I was trying to explain that no matter what was built there, houses, businesses, etc... all of it was going to bring pollution, no matter what. Like rational adults, you need to fully understand the cons and benefits before you can make a decision whether or not to support. I can go on, but this is the main point.

    ---

    I've come to realize that in this digital age, information is very easy to be spread over social media. Unfortunately there isn't an automatic system to verify whether or not it is accurate or not misleading. I've come to realize that many problems are from people who are not experts in their fields trying to participate in discussions they should absolutely not be involved in. When you connection millions of non experts, they are often louder than the few actual experts.

    We absolutely need a big push towards a more rational and logical thinking society, I feel nutrients may not be the best way, but it is at least a good start.
     
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  4. FAST6191
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    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Interesting.
    On "practical medical applications" I will bring up the sports stuff as the parallel becomes quite useful there. Most people think steroids and variations on that theme. One of the bigger areas was/is blood transfusions* (more blood, more oxygen, more muscle power/less fatigue) and you also have things like hypobaric chambers, though what goes here as far as cheating can vary. Both of those have very very valid medical applications though. I hinted at it above but the US has a rather worrying habit of (over?)diagnosing various conditions that might be treated by some of the drugs mentioned.

    *originally it was blood from others, though blood transfusions for no reason pose some risk and overdoing it on blood is not the best idea either. Today an athlete might draw some blood, freeze it and inject it (or at least the red cells) back a few months later after their blood volume has been restored thus boosting volumes.

    Despite my "no hippy bullshit" line above I will also possibly contemplate things like diet -- eating meat is quite effective at various things, or at least makes life easier (and possibly cheaper) to have proper nutrition (there is a reason meat and cooking meat lines up pretty well with evolutionary milestones of humans). Would compelling some vegetarianism be in order for fairness?

    The side effects thing. Would there be acceptable side effects? Though I said no great side effects in the few long term stuff above some have pondered whether short term memory (useful for various tasks) and so called neuro plasticity, the ability of the brain to adapt to new tasks, might be impaired. At the same time schools already do massive damage to the thought patterns/logical reasoning of students -- for myself I can not begin to estimate the time taken to have to either undo the damage schools did to people (ask those in any field you like whether schools leave people prepared to do and fully capable of doing some damage in the real world, when they have stopped laughing you will have your answer) or to allow people to get through school (to pick an example I do not think I know a single mathematician that truly knows their times tables, and I already mentioned the nature of some tests to be able to be forgotten 5 minutes later or be glorified memory tests)

    On the "so many people who work to achieve the same IQ through studying/experience" I think we are going to have to disagree. I do not mind rewarding hard work, I do like results more though.
     
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  5. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    Yeah, I suppose I can understand that. I'm just not a huge fan of PEDs in general just being used willy-nilly with no reason other than self-gain at other's expense
     
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  6. soulx

    soulx GBAtemp Legend

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    Talk about a coincidence. Was just on the reddit r/nootropics and was looking into this

    I don't see anything wrong with people using this to get a leg up. College isn't a competition (at least for most programs lol). If this helps someone who otherwise wouldn't be able to focus as well on an assignment or perform as good on a test, then I'm all for it.
     
  7. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord

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    That's INCREDIBLY debatable. I actually just heard about various incidents where people are getting pissed that they couldn't get into a college for various reasons. The specific thing I'm thinking about is a Texas college girl that couldn't get into the college she wanted because they only automatically admit the top 10% of a class and she was in the top 11%. Everything under the top 10% goes through a rigorous application process to ensure diversity. In this case if someone who doesn't have ADD/a derivative of distraction disorder and are taking nootropics, they are ruining a fine balance that really shouldn't exist in the first place
     
  8. soulx

    soulx GBAtemp Legend

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    Can't speak too much on this because the system is different in Canada where there is no standardized test (like the SAT/ACT) with admission being simply based on your senior year high-school grade average for better or for worse. Now even then, when talking about applying for colleges in America, I doubt that the majority of people who are still in high-school are the ones who will be keen to use these "smart drugs", at that point, most of the work is still very doable without putting in too much effort and using something like Adderall or these so-called nootropics won't give you that much of a leg up.

    On the case of the Texas college girl you brought up, while admittedly I don't have much knowledge about the American college system, the reason these top schools have such rigorous standards is simply because they only accept the best of the best. If a few people rely on "smart drugs" in addition to studying (this isn't an instant get smart quick thing, simply a way to improve studying/thinking), then so be it. Not everyone will get into MIT or Harvard and there are plenty of other colleges in the US that are just as fine (and arguably getting into some of these Ivy League schools are about connections than anything else). Her life isn't ruined because she didn't get into her #1 desired school.

    Who judges what is "rational and logical thinking"? You? Are you the only one in this echo-chamber of idiocy thinking critically? Is everyone but you forever doomed to being prone to fallacies and errors in their logic? That's how pretentious you come across in this post even if you didn't intend to.

    I don't think nootropics are the solution to "dumb people". Better education is all that's necessary. Given how many people drop out high-school, simply ensuring that people get a high school education will go a long way to having smarter and more informed citizens. When so many people drop out before they even encounter pre-calculus or learn how to think critically, it's clear we have an education problem. I don't think it has anything to do with people being 'inherently dumb' but rather just people who simply haven't been educated properly.
     
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  9. vayanui8

    vayanui8 GBAtemp Maniac

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    I don't think theres any easy way to fix this issue. Many of these drop outs don't drop out because they can't perform in the current school environment, they drop out because they aren't willing to perform whatsoever. I see it in my classes every day. The classes filled with these people have teachers who try to get them to work every day, they try every option possible to get them to work, but they just refuse. If there was a way to ensure people finished high school it would be great, but I don't think its possible when they flat out refuse to do any of the assignments required to lay foundation to move forward.
     
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  10. FAST6191
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    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    Interesting that some are assuming such drugs need to be a continuous thing. What about a one time thing, one you can take and for the next 12 hours you will imprint on your brain as well as anything else you have ever learned and still have after it wears off.

    With all that said, and probably surprising nobody, I have very little love for the current educational system -- it has its origins in various military academies well over 100 years ago where rote learning and such like made sense. The not being prepared for the real world thing is one aspect but people not willing to engage, or engaging beyond just getting through it, is another of the big ones.
     
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  11. Zetta_x

    Zetta_x The Insane Statistician

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    This is actually a very easy question. I'm currently writing my dissertation to finish a statistics Ph.D. I'm semi involved in a lot of scientific research on campus because I've helped a number of people with their quantitative methodologies.

    Have you ever heard of peer review research? Have you ever read a science journal? It's very clear that when you understand how to properly support arguments.

    The problem is not that people make errors, the problem is that when there are actual expert telling them they have made errors they aren't capable of understanding why and they default to, "I'm right and they are wrong". If you have ever read any science journals, you'd realize there isn't a vague sense of right and wrong, it's whether or not you properly supported your arguments and if not, it will not be published.

    Have you ever taken a symbolic logic class? Theoretically there exists a proper way to support an argument. And that logic system is both sound and complete; I can't even tell you how many people believe in this:

    If A, then B :: Implies :: If not A, then not B

    This is not logically true, but almost all of these "experts" who spend days participating in discussions they have absolutely no experience in would make that mistake.

    ---

    As someone who has been a tutor for 5 years and an educator for 4+ years, we need to overhaul the entire education system (at least in America). I can go on forever about this, but the gist is education has become a business. An extremely large percentage of people can graduate and not have the capability of performing well in their field.

    ---

    After re-reading what I had written, I realize I had come off as rude. I apologize for that. I've had a couple of sleepless nights and I have projected my bad mood into this post.
     
    Last edited by Zetta_x, Oct 8, 2015
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  12. soulx

    soulx GBAtemp Legend

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    I actually did take a symbolic logic course so actually thinking about it, yeah I might have been wrong with at least the first question in my post. I mean, there actually is a pretty clear-cut way to define "logical arguments". In my defence, it was pretty late at night when I wrote it and I was tired. :lol:
     
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