Legal or Not, Bottled Smarts Are Here to Stay

Safer, cheaper drugs will quell dissidents, scientists argue
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Jan 7, 2009 6:52 AM CST
Fighter pilots already take stimulants to increase their alertness for critical missions.   (AP Photo/Ognjan Stefanov)
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(Newser) – The case is stacking up in favor of "smart pills," memory- and alertness-boosting prescription drugs already used by fighter pilots, corporate execs, and students for a cognitive edge, writes Maia Szalavitz in Time. Proponents say legalization debates are moot at this point—"the genie is already out of the bottle," says one neuroscientist—and attention should shift instead to addressing opponents' main concerns: health risks, accessibility, and cost.

"It would be hard to argue against promoting the use of an intelligence-enhancer, if it were risk-free and available to everyone." But access, writes Szalavitz, "is neither fair nor free." One doctor who prescribes such pills echoes concerns about creating an uneven playing field. "Society pushes so much to maximize production and performance that enhancement becomes normal."