Tag Archives: amphetamines

Illegitamacy of nootropic supported research?

More moral absolutes by “Scientific” Blogging. On the potential for drug screening of academic students, with comparison to the anti-doping rules in sports:

It could happen, says an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics. And maybe it should. Everyone recognizes the illegitimacy of chemically enhanced academic performance but these drugs will be near impossible to ban.

Illegitimacy? If someone contributes to a field of science and advances our understanding, but all of a sudden we realise they were taking a nootropic substance, does that make their research invalid? Unlike most sport, science and technology isn’t a game (… even if it sometimes feels like it for me!), so throwing in these assertions is really just sloppy reporting and showing how deeply the ingrained “drugs are bad” mantra as penetrated many facets of our society.

In fact, why not look at one the most prolific mathematicians of all time: Paul Erdős. Erdős was known to take amphetamines, and once his friend Ron Graham expressed concerned and bet him $500 that he could not stop taking the drug for a month.

Erdős won the bet, but complained during his abstinence that mathematics had been set back by a month: “Before, when I looked at a piece of blank paper my mind was filled with ideas. Now all I see is a blank piece of paper.” After he won the bet, he promptly resumed his amphetamine habit. (Book reference, via Wikipedia)

Does this long-term habit of taking a stimulant mean that a large portion of mathematical theory is now invalid? No, no it doesn’t.