Taking Drugs to Enhance Performance

If I cared a whit about baseball, this post might be about baseball and PED (performance enhancing drugs). But I don’t, so it’s not. Instead, here’s a link to a far more provocative idea, that of using drugs to enhance intelligence.

This sentence from the post nicely captures the issue:

So if modern biology is correct, in some ways differences in our ability to learn and think are determined by our genetic inheritance. Now, this is not the whole story of course. Brains do what they do if they are challenged, that is, used, in the process of growing up and developing. Genes do not control everything, but everything involves genes, so the end result is that in a competitive process like education, those who do the same work will not all be equal.

Boy, do I know about not equal. I proved it to my calculus professor this past semester. And, I think, there were a few people in my classes that match this description:

I once knew a fellow who was amazing in his ability to learn and assimilate knowledge. He spoke or read around 20 languages, and when he got bored, as he did one summer, he;d learn a new one (Akkadian in this instance). I’d have hated him, but he was too nice a guy (hi, Jeff, if you’re reading this). Was this just the result of his Calvinist work ethic? Not really. For him, this took little effort. He’d read, revise and then know. I tried to learn Greek (Koine), Hebrew, and Latin and failed miserably at all three. I barely passed German (don’t ask me to speak it now, for pity’s sake). But I worked harder than he did at it. He just had the cognitive skills, and I didn’t.

Prior to the start of this journey, I thought that my intelligence, nestled nicely in the area near the second standard deviation of the bell curve, and some hard work on my part would result in a series of 4.0 semesters. Boy did I get that wrong.

I can still work harder (and smarter?) than other students, but it may not show up in the final score.

Is that enough?


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“Life’s hard, son. It’s harder when you’re stupid.” — The Duke.

Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate,no despotism can enslave. At home, a friend, abroad, an introduction, in solitude a solace and in society an ornament.It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage. - Joseph Addison
The term informavore (also spelled informivore) characterizes an organism that consumes information. It is meant to be a description of human behavior in modern information society, in comparison to omnivore, as a description of humans consuming food. George A. Miller [1] coined the term in 1983 as an analogy to how organisms survive by consuming negative entropy (as suggested by Erwin Schrödinger [2]). Miller states, "Just as the body survives by ingesting negative entropy, so the mind survives by ingesting information. In a very general sense, all higher organisms are informavores." - Wikipedia

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