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Is Non-Prescription ADHD Medication Use Ever Ethical?

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the there-go-your-tour-de-college-titles dept.

Science 487

derekmead writes "College students' voracious appetite for study drugs like Adderall is widespread enough that it was one of the main topics of a marquee lecture on neuroethics at Society for Neuroscience's 2012 conference called 'The Impact of Neuroscience on Society: The Neuroethics of "Smart Drugs."' It was excellent stuff by Barbara Sahakian, faculty at Department of Psychicatry at the University of Cambridge. Her focus is on prescription drugs for diseases and conditions like Alzheimer's, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and depression, with the fundamental goal of understanding the neural basis of dysfunction to develop better drugs. Specifically, she wants to create drugs with no risk for substance abuse which means drugs that have no effect on dopamine. The true goal then of her research, fundamentally and briefly, is to repair the impaired. But doing so brings us to the discussion of how much repair is ethical when the repair can be disseminated to people who don't actually need it. Divisions abound on what is to be done. Some experts say that if people can boost their abilities to make up for what mother nature didn't give them, what's wrong with that? Others say that people shouldn't be using these drugs because they're designed for people with serious problems who really need help. So another question for the ethicists is whether cognitive enhancers will ultimately level the playing field or juice the opposing team."

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Is this different from sport? (3, Insightful)

styrotech (136124) | about 2 years ago | (#41737321)

Some experts say that if people can boost their abilities to make up for what mother nature didn't give them, what's wrong with that?

Just like steroids in sports right?

Re:Is this different from sport? (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#41737657)

No, it's not nearly the same thing as steroids in sports today. Steroids are used to gain an advantage in an playing field kept as level as possible through external rules and a large suite of referees watching every move, in order to maximize the entertainment value. But this is about life, where the playing field is never level, the rules are far more vague, and enforcement all but non-existent.

In school, the idea is that these drugs improve your grades. But that might mean you remember "more", or somehow end up "smarter" than you would have otherwise. You might go be a more productive member of society. What if these drugs make the difference, enhancing someone enough to recognize a novel cure for some horrible disease, or design a new class of CPUs, or a new energy source?

Many of us spend our livelihoods trying to enhance human knowledge and experience and abilities through improved software. Hell, half of us would sign up today for an internet implant chip. What's wrong with improving the wetware directly?

Re:Is this different from sport? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737685)

I'd be probably be flipping burgers if it weren't for unpresecribed Adderall.

Re:Is this different from sport? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737953)

Now you are assistant manager?

Re:Is this different from sport? (1, Troll)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41737963)

I'd be probably be flipping burgers if it weren't for unpresecribed Adderall.

Instead, you're posting on Slashdot.

I submit that this indeed is the crux of the issue. One road leads to productive citizenship, the other to a wasted, debauched life. You are the poster child for the evils of drug use.

Re:Is this different from sport? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41738073)

It is the same. Those people use drugs to improve their grades over their competitors grades. They hope to get into better graduate school because of that and into better jobs too.

Re:Is this different from sport? (2)

TBBle (72184) | about 2 years ago | (#41737669)

The difference presumably being that in sport, you're playing within a specific and arbitrary set of limitations, one of which is currently held to be a limitation on artificial enhancement. Same as you're not allowed to to trip your competitors up in a foot-race.

If you're actually doing stuff where you're not being measured in some sort of specific playing field or situation, why not be able to do what its necessary (and non-harmful) to do that as well as possible.

I'm not required to listen to the same music as my colleagues, or drink coffee when I work, after all. We're not trying to level the playing field, we're all trying to individually excel so that our group as a whole excels.

This is the strawman in the final comment: "So another question for the ethicists is whether cognitive enhancers will ultimately level the playing field or juice the opposing team". Who's my opposing team? Am I required to only work as well as... who? And if so, then... why? Why would I only be allowed to do my job as well as someone else could?

The implicit idea seems to be that there's those who're sub-normal, for whom it's alright to make them normal (be fixed), and then those who're super-normal, who're just lucky and aren't allowed to be made any better (be enhanced).

I haven't read the article yet, so these questions may already have been answered.

Re:Is this different from sport? (1)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#41737857)

Why add the "non-harmful" qualifier to your list? Does it really devalue society as a whole if you voluntarily undergo a "Flowers for Algernon" enhancement like Charlie?

If someone could take a pill that they knew would enable them to develop the cure for breast cancer, but also knew it would kill them in a month, don't you think we'd have had thousands of volunteers already?

Or what if I cut off my perfectly good left arm and had a titanium cyber-arm implanted instead? Is that harmful or non-harmful?

Re:Is this different from sport? (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 2 years ago | (#41738031)

I just assumed he meant not harming 3rd parties.

That said, it does get tricky with self-harmful things that could potentially become so prevalent that they are essentially required. That sort of situation is what sparked the early labour movements.

Re:Is this different from sport? (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 2 years ago | (#41737771)

Sport are pretty much competitive by definition. There are personal goals and improvements, but the core concern is whether one person or group is better or worse than another person or group. Wins and Losses are zero sum. Having more or more capable doctors, engineers, and scientists doesn't entail a loss, so the concerns are very different. If those same people will have shorter lifetimes or careers because of these drugs or other adverse effects, then there is a need for a balancing act. However, the balance would be the positive effects versus the negative effects, both for the individual and society. These concerns apply regardless of what is considered normal. People with ADHD severe enough to harm their functional abilities may have negative effects from Aderall that outweigh their costs. However, people that are already above average on productivity may get a net benefit from Aderall.

Perhaps a better analogy would be vitamins. Someone in good health without any nutritional deficiencies might benefit from vitamins, and we wouldn't see a problem with that.

Re:Is this different from sport? (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about 2 years ago | (#41738087)

The zero sum vrs positive sum outcome certainly makes a difference ethically. I'd add a few other differences between sports and 'real life' to the list.
1. It is possible to enforce a rule such as no doping in sports - organizations exist which have legal power to compel testing. What's the organization that could compel testing in all colleges worldwide, or similarly level the playing field? For example, if some organization were created in the US with the goal of testing all college students, is there any real chance they could get legal authority to test all private colleges? Would the US government revise H1B visa status so legal aliens only held employable status if the schools in their country of origin had let the organization test them too?.
2. In sports, there is a consensus that is, if not universal, at least pretty widely held, about just what is ethical. Not only are the people doing this speculation right that there isn't a similar consensus in the wider world (which they seem to admit), but look at the areas of lack of consensus. In particular, what about war? If we could get an actual consensus about what was ethical in the way of enhancing combat troops, why have we been unable to get everyone to sign onto a Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty, or the Geneva convention, and then abide by such rules? If we could get a consensus about medical ethics, why doesn't every nation in the world adopt the same rules about expiramental drug treatments or hospice care or assisted suicide? If we could get a consensus about economic ethics, why did practically the whole world have to fight a 60 year long cold war to a rather ambiguous conclusion (yeah, yeah, the ruskies gave up. And I suppose Vietnam was a US victory that helped that process along, the PRC is solidly capitalist now, and there's no problem (as the US usually sees it) with Chile, Cuba, or half of south and central America, and we can all be confident that the US economy will weather continued cold war spending practices, in the new perpetual war which isn't happening because once the Commies couldn't dominate the middle east, the whole ME turned solidly capitalist). People are going to apply drugs that may or may not enhance their abilties to war, health, and money if there aren't tremendous reasons not to.
          Speculating about applying any sort of standard ethical code to this delemma is like speculating what would happen if about 8,000 years of human history didn't all seem to disagree with your basic premises and pigs came with built in turboprops. Unless you've invented a way to get the alerons to stick to the pig tail, no one should believe you can tackle giving the pig enough depth perception to use them, and the speculators are talking like the remaining obstacles are down to seat pricing algorythms and picking a nice color for the carpet in the pig's cabin.

Re:Is this different from sport? (1)

mdfst13 (664665) | about 2 years ago | (#41738101)

There's also the problem that we may not know all the side effects. For example, amphetamines in general cause an increase in heart rate. For that reason, Adderall is not recommended for someone who has cardiac issues. Could long term use of Adderall (past high school and college) cause cardiac issues? We simply don't know. If you take Adderall for twenty years and then have to stop, is your mental acuity going to be degraded relative to what it would have been if you had never taken Adderall? Again, we don't know.

Another question is if Adderall actually helps people who do not have ADHD. This would require a real double blind study to be reasonably sure. Has anyone done one? Or are doctors simply prescribing in the hope that this will work? Anecdotally observed beneficial effects could be caused by a placebo effect or by selective memory (improvements are ascribed to the drug while those who stay the same or get worse are just viewed as bad candidates).

drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Rings (5, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41737323)

in the short term, it gives you superpowers. in the long term, it turns you into a soulless ghoul

that's right, i just said the lord of the rings is a parable about drug addiction

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737517)

The White Witch's turkish delight

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (3, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 2 years ago | (#41737529)

Except when they are not. Responsible use of psychotropic is not unheard of. See coffee and see alcohol. Two abusable substances but that can be used responsibly.

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#41737633)

Long term studies of children perscribed stimulant medication shows two things
1. Through their teens, they're less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol compared to their peers
2. As adults, their rates of drug/alcohol abuse are neither higher nor lower than is normal for their age group.

/Caffeine might as well be apple juice compared to amphetamines

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737829)

There are always exceptions. A very good friend discovered he could get high by hoarding ADHD med and then taking more than one at a time. The last instance, he took a whole months worth at a time and collapsed. Three days in the hospital and then rehab, which is when we found out about it.

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737731)

Except the way students are abusing Adderall (and other ADHD drugs) is not the normally prescribed dosage nor method of use. They open the capsule and snort what is inside, to get the most immediate and sharpest impact. The problem is, they develop a tollerance using the drug this way, and require more and more.

The LA times had a great article about this back in the spring, unfortunately I can't find a link to it. :/

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737831)

And enhancers like nutrition, exercise and study, education and experience.

Is it ethical to educate the normal?

Is it ethical for the normal and super-normal to do anything other than sit on the sofa, eat KFC or McWhatever and sop up big media TV?

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737617)

That's why I fear hard-core drugs like coke, crack, meth, heroin, etc. I don't trust myself. I've never had an addiction before, but I'm not about to find out how strong of a will I have either.

Sage advice: Don't think about experimenting. Just walk away if presented with the stuff.

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (1)

jersacct (1261566) | about 2 years ago | (#41737833)

Sage advice: Don't think about experimenting. Just walk away if presented with the stuff.

That begs the question - what does one do when everyone else around them is using a drug that, while maybe negligibly harmful, gives them the upper hand at doing your job? Do you relegate yourself to taking out the trash for the drug-enhanced super-performers, or do you bend to the pressure?

It's an interesting topic, to be sure. I am of the same opinion that I am not about to try some random drug, but I am not so sure that I would be able to resist the temptation of a "Limitless" type substance.

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (4, Funny)

proca (2678743) | about 2 years ago | (#41737739)

Me take adderall long time. I not soulless ghoul

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (1)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | about 2 years ago | (#41737883)

in the short term, it gives you superpowers. in the long term, it turns you into a soulless ghoul

that's right, i just said the lord of the rings is a parable about drug addiction

So then you are saying that the drugs will lead to a life in politics?

Re:drug use is like the ring in the Lord of the Ri (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about 2 years ago | (#41738033)

in the short term, it gives you superpowers. in the long term, it turns you into a soulless ghoul

that's right, i just said the lord of the rings is a parable about drug addiction

So then you are saying that the drugs will lead to a life in politics?

So then you are saying that the drugs will lead to a life in politics?

Only if you don't inhale!

Video games cause violence! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737331)

How Violent Movies and Video Games Cause Violent Behavior
  To Believe Otherwise Means You Are Insane

  First we will dispel the pithy, nonsense arguments that are so often repeated in these debates. "Well, I play video games and I'm not violent!" So long as someone tells me this without following with "and if you don't believe me, I'll kick your ass," I can take them at their word. Now, of course, your anecdotal story about how you played "Grand Theft Auto" since you were in diapers and are now a pacifist does not constitute solid, scientific evidence. Just because you enjoy violent movies or games and are not violent does not mean that violent media never causes violence in anyone else. The next response, while it should be obviously fallacious to everyone, is that "millions and millions of people watch violent movies and they aren't violent!" Yes, that is true. It is also true that millions of people drink liquor and do not get liver cirrhosis. Does this mean drinking does not cause liver cirrhosis? Deniers also say that "violent video game sales have gone up while violent crime has gone down!" Again, liquor sales have drifted upwards since 1990 while deaths by liver cirrhosis have plummeted ( -- ). Obviously, other factors are at play in these data. No rational person could deny that alcohol does not cause liver cirrhosis based on this logic, nor does anyone claim that 100 percent of people who play violent video games will become violent. There are many factors contributing to violence, and violent films, games and other media are some of those factors. They may not have a huge effect on violent behavior compared to other causes, but there is an irrefutable effect and it has certainly cost lives. The evidence shows that drinking while playing violent video games will increase your risk of becoming a violent drunk with a bad liver.

  Furthermore, consider this statement by communications professor Henry Jenkins:

  "According to federal crime statistics, the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. Researchers find that people serving time for violent crimes typically consume less media before committing their crimes than the average person in the general population. It's true that young offenders who have committed school shootings in America have also been game players. But young people in general are more likely to be gamers — 90 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls play. The overwhelming majority of kids who play do NOT commit antisocial acts. According to a 2001 U.S. Surgeon General's report, the strongest risk factors for school shootings centered on mental stability and the quality of home life, not media exposure."

  Now consider the same rhetoric shifted to a different topic. All of these data are factual according to the provided sources:

  "According to [CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians] statistics, the rate of [lung cancer diagnosis] in the United States is at a [14]-year low [(from 1990 to end of data)]. Researchers find that people [diagnosed] for [lung cancer] typically consume less [tobacco] before [being diagnosed] than the average [smoker] in the general population. It's true that [people] who have [been diagnosed with lung cancer] in America have also been [smokers]. ...[21.5] percent of [males] and [17.3] percent of [females smoke]. The overwhelming majority of [people] who [smoke] do NOT [get lung cancer]. According to a [2012 World Health Organization] report, [one of] the strongest risk factors for [cancer] centered on [diesel fumes] not [smoking]. ( -- -- -- )"

  What would you say to someone who said the above to you in order to argue that cigarettes don't cause lung cancer? What would you think of that person's mind?

  Now for some words on science. Science benefits from skepticism. A critical thinker can move closer towards the truth if they are made aware of their opponent's criticisms and are led to question their own beliefs. Creationists make a sound argument against biology when they point out that life could not have formed in the oceans because seawater has the wrong potassium-sodium ratio to form cells. It would be a practice of the grossest arrogance and ignorance to deny this scientific fact. One must have an open mind for evidence, even if that evidence is unpleasant and debunks your view of the world. Rationally minded scientists have been forced to accept the naked fact that the potassium-sodium ratio of the ocean is not conducive to life, but this admission of fact has only strengthened the science of life. Questioning their own beliefs has led scientists to realize that life likely did not originate in the oceans. The first cells likely formed in ponds of volcanic condensate, where the potassium-sodium ratio is much more permissive for cellular development ( ).

  Despite that the science of abiogenesis just become stronger, many will continue to deny it. The most important factor that determines what most people believe is not the evidence behind the belief, but whether or not they desire the belief to be true. Although deniers of science, even those who earned science degrees, may benefit science with their criticisms, they refuse to ever change their minds in the face of evidence and reason. The denial of evolution is one of the most blatant denials of obvious science in today's society. Another denial of obvious science is the topic of this essay. Although there is an overwhelming body of evidence supporting evolution, abiogenesis, the big bang, etc., these theories will continue to be denied because many find them unpleasant. Like biology and cosmology, the field of psychology also offers unpleasant theories. One theory which has caused a great deal of contention is the belief that that violent media (such as movies, television, video games, etc.) will cause violent behavior in those who view them. This theory, despite what many people and a few unscrupulous scientists claim, is supported by overwhelming evidence and is not seriously debated in mainstream academia. The evidence is such that no rational person can deny this truth, and I can prove it.

  Before we examine the science, we will first examine some cases where violent media has been linked to real world crimes:

  In 1997, fourteen year old Michael Carneal walked into his high school, pulled out a .22 pistol, and murdered three students who were praying before class. After his arrest, police investigated his possessions and found a copy of Stephen King's "Rage" and the film "Basketball Diaries". Both the film and the book contain scenes of a student committing murder in school. The belief that these works of fiction fed Carneal's desire to murder sparked an outrage against violent media.

  Deniers of science contend that there is no proof that Carneal was compelled to murder from these media. They claim that it is illogical to believe that Carneal was not just a sick boy who, if anything, would have been drawn to such violent imagery simply because he was sick to begin with. However, as any rational person will tell you, these criticisms are completely valid.


  It would be insane to conclude that violent media caused these murders. There is no logic in such a belief. Just because a murderer owned books and movies where similar crimes took place proves nothing. The outrage from this case was voiced by those who speak the loudest against violent media, namely conservative prudes. These prudes are the sort of square-toed, bluenosed puritans who raise a fuss every generation when they see short skirts or Elvis rotating his hips. These priggish killjoys make the most noise, but are the easiest to ignore. They are also completely incompetent when it comes to using reason or science. Deniers of the effects of violent media should be careful, however, before they dismiss these people's opinions out of hand. Just as deniers should be careful before they believe, as they are often told, that cases like Carneal's murders are the only evidence that their opposition has. The conservative prudes are right on this one. They may be right by virtue of dumb luck, believing what they do based on bigotry rather than reason, but on this issue they are right.

  Consider the case where a group of children raped a young girl with a soda bottle shortly after viewing a similar rape with a broom handle in the film "Born Innocent" ( ). This is poor evidence taken by itself, but it does lead us to think about causality is such cases. It is possible that the children who committed this cruelty were already disposed to violence. It is possible that the rape was a coincidence and would have happened had the children seen the film or not. It is also possible that that the film did inspire the children, whether they were predisposed to violence or not, to commit the act—It is possible that the film caused the violence. Bear in mind that when I say a violent medium "caused the violence" I mean "the violence would not have happened had the violent medium not been seen." The children may have been predisposed to violence and may have committed a completely different crime had they not seen the film, and even if the film did "cause" the crime (remembering our definition) it would not necessarily make the children innocent or make the film makers guilty. Determining guilt is a moral question that the scientist does not ask.

  The scientist in this debate wants to determine if the film altered the children's behavior. Were someone to say "Guns hurt people!" half of the room would proclaim "That's true! Ban guns!" while the other half would say "That's not true! Bad people hurt people with guns! Imprison bad people!" This is a moral and philosophical debate worth having. A similar debate may be had with violent media, but the purpose of this essay is not to argue morality or philosophy. This essay addresses deniers of science who cannot yet have the above debate with violent media. When someone shouts "Guns hurt people!" the scientist in the room says "Of course guns hurt people. Guns cause an ignition in the solid propellant within the cartridge causing it to expand into gas which causes the projectile to be forced out of the barrel and towards the target. This has been known to cause physical harm in people." It is the position of many deniers of science that "movies and video games cannot hurt people." They literally mean this in the same way someone may say "guns cannot hurt people." Guns do hurt people. We may blame the gun distributor and reduce the amount of guns with weapon laws. We may blame the person holding the gun while doing nothing to reduce the availability of weapons. We may also blame both. Whatever we decide to do, we can all agree that parents should be concerned if their children have access to guns. Parents should also be concerned if their children have access to violent movies and games. And I'm just getting started with this argument.

  Consider a case in Tennessee where two teenage boys began shooting at passing cars with shotguns, killing one woman and injuring another. The boys claimed they were emulating activities in "Grand Theft Auto" ( ). Is this compelling evidence? This is not the Michael Carneal case, where the only link to violent media was circumstantial. The murderers explicitly identified the inspiration for their behavior. This is direct evidence. Whether the teens were predisposed to violence is irrelevant. They have cited their inspiration. It is not absurd to believe that the victim would be alive today if those teens had never been exposed to "Grand Theft Auto."

  "Perhaps," you say, "these teens may be lying?" "Yes! Yes! That's the ticket!" Another one of you chimes in. "They are merely making excuses for their behavior! This is the fault of psychopathic children or bad parenting! The fact that they play violent games is just an excuse for their actions!"

  Really now? Perhaps we shall consider the case of a 1974 Salt Lake City robbery. At least two men stormed into a small store, forced the attendants into the basement, and proceeded to torture, rape, and murder them before making off with their money. One of the torments was to force the victims to drink corrosive drain cleaner, causing agonizing burning of the mouth and throat. After their capture, one of the torturers said he got the idea of pouring drain cleaner down his victims' throats from a Clint Eastwood movie ( ). These men were obviously predisposed to violence. The robbery, rape, and murder would have certainly still occurred had they never seen the Clint Eastwood movie, only a different torment would have been used. Surely these vicious criminals, who are so obviously guilty, are not lying in an attempt to shift the blame from their own actions. They were inspired to perform one form of torture from a film and inflicted it on their victims.

  Now take the case of Colleen Stan. In 1977, Colleen was kidnapped by Cameron Hooker and kept as a sex slave. Under Hooker's control, Colleen would spend years locked in a box for 23 hours a day, only to be taken out in the evenings to be raped, beaten, and tortured. Hooker was a sexual sadist and a fan of sadomasochistic culture. He was inspired to dominate and inflict suffering on women by sadomasochistic pornography. He even gave Colleen the slave name "K," the obvious inspiration being one of his favorite pornographies, "The Story of O", about a slave girl named "O." ( -- -- )

  Do you still deny that violent media causes violent behavior? Cameron Hooker may have been an inherently immoral person. He may have been born with a psychopathic brain and may have been a threat to society even if he had never been exposed to sadomasochistic pornography. This is all possible, so do you still deny that violent media is a danger to society? How sure are you? If you are a denier, imagine you are Colleen Stan. Imagine that you are lying in a dark box. Imagine you have been lying there every day for years. Imagine the horror you must face as you wait, alone, for the box to open, knowing that when it opens you will be made to suffer. If you deny that violent media had anything to do with you being in this situation, what if you were offered to have another go at fate? Imagine if you were offered to be given your life as it would have been, at that moment, if things had been different. Imagine if one thing in the past could be changed, so that you had the chance to roll the die again to see if things would have improved for you. Imagine if the one thing you could change in the past was that Cameron Hooker would have never been exposed to sadomasochistic pornography.

  If you are a true denier, you cannot be excited over this offer. If you are a true denier, you must say "No, thank you. I'm quite sure that even if Mr. Hooker had never seen a violent pornography, I would still be in this box. It will make no difference." Surely no one would turn down this offer, even if it came at great cost. I would give both my legs to take this chance.

  This may strike you as a simplistic argument. You may think I have proven little here. The deniers that are still among you may believe that, sure, in some cases the criminally insane may be inspired to do horrible things because of something they saw on television, but you may stick to your guns and say "So there are very rare cases where psychopaths acted out the violence they've seen. That's unfortunate, but that doesn't mean violent movies and games are a serious threat. Society does not need to blame violent television just because, in incredibly rare instances, some wacko hurts someone. There is no need to start fear mongering and telling parents to take away their kid's video games. More people probably die in industrial accidents producing the DVDs of violent movies than are killed by any psycho who watches them."

  This is a valid criticism. These anecdotal instances do little to help us get a sense of whether or not there is an appreciable danger. They do, however, illustrate how violent media can be a threat. Despite this, no one could expect a denier to make serious movement on this issue with mere anecdotal evidence. That is why I stress that deniers of this danger are deniers of obvious science. You may comfortably dismiss everything I have said up to this point, if you like, but you will have a harder time dismissing hard science.

  The question as to whether violent media causes violent behavior is an old one. The first serious, scholarly survey on the issue was published by the Surgeon General in 1972 as it related to television violence, particularly in children ( ). In it, the question of whether television causes violence in children is considered pointless and misleading. The evidence and psychological understanding of human behavior made the answer to this question an obvious and forgone conclusion. "We know that children imitate and learn from everything they see—parents, fellow children, schools, the media; it would be extraordinary, indeed, if they did not imitate and learn from what they see on television." The only question asked was how bad the effect was. "...the real issue is once again quantitative: how much contribution to the violence of our society is made by extensive violent television viewing by our youth?" The study stresses, as I have stressed, that violent media is only one factor of many leading to violent behavior, but it does cause an increase in violent behavior. This conclusion came when the science was in its infancy. The follow-up report, published ten years later, states the conclusion as it relates to young people, "After 10 more years of research, the consensus among most of the research community is that violence on television does lead to aggressive behavior by children and teenagers who watch the programs" ( ). The science has only gotten stronger since.

  (All studies in the following section, unless otherwise cited, are featured either in "The Cambridge Handbook of Violent Behavior and Aggression", or in the paper "The Influence of Media Violence on Youth". The particular chapter cited in the Cambridge handbook, "Why Observing Violence Increases the Risk of Violent Behavior by the Observer", was written by L. Rowell Huesmann and Lucyna Kirwil. Huesmann is the Director of the Aggression Research Program in the Research Center for Group Dynamics at University of Michigan. He is also the editor of the journal "Aggressive Behavior" by Wiley Interscience. The chapter with the following studies is available for free here, along with citations ( ) The other paper was written by an expert panel assembled in 2000 by the National Institute of Mental Health to address these issues and is available here ( ). One of the authors is Craig A. Anderson, Director of the Center for the Study of Violence. The names Huesmann and Anderson are used in my citations. Page numbers are given along with references. Please use my citation to locate the correct document and to find third party sources in the respective bibliographies. You should also consider reading these professional documents yourself.)

  The scientific evidence supporting this issue is so complete, so overwhelming, and so utterly obvious that no rational person can be exposed to it and believe that violent media does not cause violent behavior. That this is an issue that so many otherwise intelligent, scientifically minded people raise exception to shows either massive ignorance of the evidence, deliberate misrepresentation of evidence by public figures, or genuine denial of science. There can be no question that the effects of violent media is a genuine public-health issue, just as there can be no question that man evolved from apes and that the Earth orbits the Sun. The following is just a sample of the evidence, greater collections may be found in other sources (Huesmann, Page 555—Anderson et al., 2003; Anderson & Bushman, 2001; Huesmann, Moise, & Podolski, 1997; Paik & Comstock, 1994; Savage, 2004).

  I repeat again that violent media is only one of many contributing factors to violence in our culture. It should also be noted that the pervasive effects of violent media transcends the question of why we have so many criminals. Crime rates should be addressed by this science, as 25 to 33 percent of criminals say they have "tried the same crime they saw in the media", "gone out looking to get into a fight" after watching a particular program, or "wanted a gun after seeing a gun used" in a show (Huesmann, Page 556—Surette 2002). We must consider how the media affects crime, but it would be a waste of this science to consider only how violent media contributes to the prisoner population. Violent behavior affects society as a whole. The effects may lead to violent crime and criminal arrest, and it may lead to violence in the home, violence against animals, belligerence, lack of empathy for the suffering of others, and general anti-social behavior. It may even affect our politics, our view of social welfare, of foreign policy, of who we vote for. It has been shown that there is a "Marilyn Monroe effect", whereby suicides increase after a highly publicized suicide (Huesmann, Page 556—Phillips 1979), and the phenomenon of "copycat murders" is well understood. These psychological phenomena also have good effects. We should hope that the combat footage and virtual reality simulations that our soldiers are exposed to will make them aggressive and desensitized to suffering and death on the battlefield, but we should also hope they are being vigorously trained to respect innocent life, to follow orders, and to control their ability to inflict violence so only the enemy is the recipient.

  The main psychological phenomena we will consider is known as "observational learning", which may be defined as a type of learning in which a person learns new information and behaviors by observing the behaviors of others. This has been observed in many non-human animals, such as octopuses ( ). This phenomenon gained considerable attention with Albert Bandura's classic experiment where children were exposed to video of an adults being rewarded for beating a clown doll with a hammer while the control group, which was not shown the video, showed dramatically reduced aggression against the doll. This study gained immense criticism, one criticism being that the effect was uninspiring because the doll was an inanimate object which was designed for rough play. However, this experiment was repeated with a real clown to the same effect (

  Bandura's experiment illustrates the principle. There have been innumerable other controlled experiments showing causality of violent media and violent behavior. One double-blind study assigned 396 children to watch either a violent or nonviolent film before a game of hockey. Physical assault and verbal insults were measured. The groups shown the violent film had more violent incidents than the other group. In some trails, referees carried a visual cue that was shown in the film, a walkie-talkie. Trials with the visual cue present had significantly higher incidents of violence (Huesmann, Page 557—Josephson 1987). Another study showed increases in hostility and other negative factors in adult subjects who played both mildly aggressive and highly aggressive video games ( ). Another study of hostility between billiards and Mortal Kombat players yielded predictable results ( ). In a double-blind study, Finish scientists exposed young children to either violent or nonviolent films. Children who watched the violent film rated much higher in physical assault (Anderson, Page 18—Bjorkqvist 1985). In another experiment, physical aggression was observed more in boys who played violent games compared to non-violent games (Anderson, Page 34—Irwin and Gross 1995). Another study with college students showed increased willingness to administer electric shocks to others by players of violent games compared to nonviolent games (Anderson, Page 34—Bartholow and Anderson 2002). An important series of experiments by Anderson first measured physiological and emotive responses to various video games, then chose two games, one violent and one non-violent, that scored equally in arousal. The group that played the violent game displayed a significant increase in aggressive behavior than the opposing group. This suggests that the effects of games on aggression are independent of arousal (Anderson, Page 35).

  Another interesting study exposed male adults to films portraying sex and violence, nonviolent sex, or a film with neither sex nor violence. When given the opportunity to inflict electric shocks to a woman, the subjects who watched the film with sex and violence punished the woman substantially more than the other two groups (Anderson, Page 20—Donnerstein and Berkowitz 1981). In a study with females, an experimental group was exposed to nonviolent rap music videos with sexually subordinate images of women. Subjects were then questioned on their attitudes of teen dating violence. The women who had watched the music videos showed a higher tolerance of this violence than the control group (Anderson, Page 31—J.D. Johnson, Adams, Ashburn, and Reed 1995). In a similar experiment with males, violent rap videos were found to increase endorsement of violent behavior in response to hypothetical conflict situations (Anderson, Page 31—J.D. Johnson, Jackson, and Gatto 1995). Another experiment showed rock music videos with antisocial themes lead to greater acceptance of antisocial behavior in the experimental group (Anderson, Page 31—Hansen and Hansen, 1990). Also, stereotyped sex roles showed greater acceptance in experimental groups exposed to music videos displaying such stereotypes (Anderson, Page 32—Hansen and Hansen, 1988; Hansen, 1989)

  That said, it is possible to find some studies that show psychological benefits to violent media, such as stress relief, while showing no indication of increased violent or aggressive behavior. Deniers of science like to tout the few studies that support their worldview while criticizing those that do not. They accuse psychologists of cherry-picking studies that show the harm violent media causes while claiming the overriding body of evidence is either inconclusive or shows that violent media are harmless. This is deliberate deception. However, it is true that the press often cherry-picks sensational studies to report while ignoring studies that contradict them. As famed cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson says:

  "If you are trying to measure a phenomenon that does not exist, the variation in your measurement will occasionally give you a positive signal, as well as a negative signal. If that positive signal is that A causes B ... a paper gets written about that result, and then people get concerned that cell phones might cause cancer or power lines might cause cancer.... In fact, if you look at the full spate of these studies ... there are some cases where, in fact, there is less cancer; and so these are the phenomenon of no result. When you actually have A causing B, the signal is huge. It is huge, and it's repeatable in time and place. ( )"

  The effect of violent media is not a phenomenon of no result. Scientists are not cherry-picking results that affirm the theory. If you look at the full spate of these studies, you will see that those indicating a negative result are few. In fact, to use Tyson's words, the "signal" we get from the entire body of work is huge. It is repeatable in time place. The only cherry-picking of studies comes from the deniers of science. This is why Anderson and the other authors on the NIMH expert panel affirm that "research on violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts" with an effect size of ".13 to .32" (Anderson, Page 8). This is a moderate number by correlational standards, but considering what is at stake, the implications are staggering. As Huesmann and his co-author have said in citing another author, "In fact, as Rosenthal (1986) has pointed out, a correlation of 0.3 with aggression translates into a change in the odds of aggression from 50/50 to 65/35—not a trivial change when one is dealing with life-threatening behavior" (Page 111. )

  "...the scientific debate over whether media violence increases aggression and violence is essentially over..." (Anderson, Page 9).

  There have also been many correlational surveys showing the link between violence, aggression, and the amount of television and film violence regularly viewed (Huesmann, Page 558—Chaffee, 1972; Comstock, 1980; Eysenck and Nias, 1978; and Huesmann and Miller, 1994). A meta-analysis of 410 correlational studies showed a correlational coefficient of .19 (Huesmann, Page 558—Paik and Comstock 1994). Many surveys also show the long-term effects, such as a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies which showed a statistically significant average effect size of .17 across 42 independent tests involving almost 5,000 participants (Huesmann, Page 559—Anderson and Bushman, 2001). In a longitudinal study on video games, Japanese scientists found overall exposure to video games was significantly correlated with violent physical behavior after controlling for earlier behavior (Ihori, Sakamoto, Kobayashi, and Kimura 2003). An early but significant longitudinal study showed that early childhood viewing of violent television was statistically related to their aggressive and antisocial behavior 10 years later. This finding was controlled for initial aggressiveness, social class, education, and other relevant variables. Most notable, however, was that aggressive behavior in middle childhood did not predict higher subsequent viewing of violence, making it impossible that the correlation was due to already aggressive children being drawn to violent television (Huesmann, Page 559—Lefkowitz, Eron, Walder, and Huesmann, 1977). Although there are obvious problems with correlational studies compared to experimentation, Huesmann points out, "These cross-sectional surveys provide convincing evidence that frequent viewing of violence in the media is associated with comparatively high levels of aggressive behavior. The data from these surveys are consistent with the causal conclusions of experiments...." (Huesmann, Page 558).

  A common criticism against these laboratory studies is that laboratory violence and aggression does not generalize to real-world violence and aggression. The scientists, in a show of their utterly aloof mentality, arbitrarily define what is violent for the purposes of the experiment. Their definition of "violence" may be something as irrelevant as the willingness to administer blasts of noise or electric shocks, or the subject may be presented with the opportunity to assault another in some manner which simply does not exist outside the laboratory. These sterile observations of so called "violence" cannot be easily generalized outside the staid and stodgy ivory tower of academia. Scientists fluster at this criticism because they must admit that it is valid.

  That said, scientists also fluster when the opposite criticism is made. Violent media causing violent behavior has been observed outside the laboratory in naturalistic settings. Take the 1975 case where scientists observed children in a home for delinquent boys. Boys were separated into two cottages and shown violent and non-violent movies every night, respectively. Scientists then observed the frequency of hitting and fighting. The children who watched violent movies were significantly more violent (Huesmann, Page 557—Leyens, Camino, Parke, and Berkowitz 1975). In another naturalistic observation in 1992, scientists observed an inpatient ward before and after the patients lost access to MTV, which at that time mostly showed music videos with sometimes violent content. They found a significant drop in aggressive behavior (Anderson, Page 31—Waite, Hillbrand, and Foster 1992).

  What criticisms can we use against cases of naturalistic observation like these? Because these observations were made outside the laboratory, because they lack the ordered rigidity of laboratory experimentation—because they are not truly controlled experiments it is impossible for us to conclusively establish that the exposure to violent media caused the change in behavior. This is a valid criticism. Observing subjects in uncontrolled environments means you cannot say with the same certainty that the independent variable caused the change in the dependent variable.

  You can see where I am going with this. Scientists may observe a new species of microorganism evolve in the laboratory under controlled, experimental conditions. The creationist will scoff and say "Ha! This proves nothing! Just because you contrived what you call evolution in the forced confines of a laboratory does not mean such phenomena take place in nature!" This is a valid criticism. Just because it happened in the lab does not mean it happens in nature. The map is not the territory. However, when scientists discover new forms of microscopic life in nature, new forms that coincide precisely as Darwinian evolution would predict, the creationist shouts "This proves nothing! Unless you observe the creation of new species in a controlled laboratory setting there is no reason to believe that this new species had not been around the whole time! You only just discovered it!" This, again, is a valid criticism.

  These criticisms are not against one branch of scientific inquiry, they are against science itself. There is virtually no scientific question which is immune to both criticisms. These are problems inherent to the scientific method, and they shall be with science forever; but to reject both laboratory experiments and naturalistic observation because of these problems is to reject science. In practice, both forms of investigation, along with correlational data, complement one another. It is the strength of laboratory experimentation that it is rigid and controlled, just as it is the strength of naturalistic observation that it is open to real-world impressions of the science. One must either embrace that science—the objective, empirical observation of the world—is the best way to arrive at conclusions of reality, or you may deny all science and empiricism in favor of perpetual ignorance. There is a difference between being a denier of a particular science and being a denier of the scientific method itself. If you deny all science, then there is no evidence that can change your mind. There is no hope for you. However, if you only deny one branch of science due to being uninformed, then I hope these data will have given you cause to reconsider.

  Yet there is more science to review. Exposing people to violent imagery has been known to desensitize them to violence. If you display a picture of a mutilated corpse, it will have less of an effect on someone who enjoys gory movies than it would on someone who has never seen blood outside the doctor's office. Those who are desensitized will show less emotional reaction to the suffering and death of others. This phenomenon likely contributed to the rise of animal-rights activism, because people are not exposed to the suffering of animals as they were in the past. Before the industrial revolution, most people were exposed to animals being treated cruelly in their largely rural farm-lives. With so many modern people living in cities and buying their meat prepackaged without any resemblance to an animal, seeing a PETA video of farm cows being beaten has a much greater effect on them. The fact that a person raised in a farm environment, where animals are exposed to cruelties, is much more comfortable and inclined to repeat those actions as a farmer than someone who has never been exposed to it is compelling evidence for desensitization (these issues are explored in the book "Meat: A Natural Symbol" by Nick Fiddes). It is believed that desensitization to violence will lead to violent acts against other people, or it may cause inaction when another suffers preventable violence.

  Consider a study where children who were exposed to a violent film were slower to call for help from an adult when they saw other children fighting compared to the control group (Huesmann, Page 558—Drabman and Thomas, 1974 1975; Thomas and Drabman, 1975). Another experiment with adults found increased acceptance of violence towards women after watching violent sex scenes (Anderson, Page 21—Malamuth and Check 1981). An important experiment studied desensitization with the effect of violent and non-violent video games and other imagery. As we may predict, those exposed to violent video games showed more aggression. What makes this study interesting, however, is that scientists also used an EEG to measure the neurological reaction to violence and thus indicate desensitization. Scientists could predict which subjects would display the most aggression based totally on scans of their brains. Most worrisome, however, was that the scientists could also tell whether or not the subject had been heavily exposed to media violence in their past. By looking at your brain, scientists can now tell how much violence you have been exposed to and predict how violent a person you are. Think about that. The revelation that what is seen on television will physically change human brains and numb them to the suffering of others does not just encourage us to keep violence away from our impressionable children, it makes even the most sober of us to think twice about what we expose ourselves to ( ).

  The final study I shall cite is a 2006 meta-analysis. The meta-analysis surveyed 431 studies involving 68,463 subjects and included such media as television, movies, video games, music, and comic-books. The whole of this body of evidence affirmed the scientific consensus that exposure to violent media causes an increase in both short-term and long-term violent and aggressive behavior ( ). This is not the first study of this type. Many have been performed to the same conclusion. It is no wonder that the American Psychological Association, in reviewing the evidence back in 1993, said:

  There is absolutely no doubt that higher levels of viewing violence on television are correlated with increased acceptance of aggressive attitudes and increased aggressive behavior. Three major national studies ... reviewed hundreds of studies to arrive at the irrefutable conclusion that viewing violence increases violence. In addition, prolonged viewing of media violence can lead to emotional desensitization toward violence. (Page 33. )

  In his essay, "Nailing the Coffin Shut on Doubts that Violent Video Games Stimulate Aggression" ( ), Huesmann writes:

  "It requires a tortuous logic to believe that children and adolescents are affected by what they observe in their living room, through the front window of their house, in their classroom, in their neighborhood, and among their peers, but not affected by what they observe in movies, on television, or in the video games they play. Yet many have argued just such a view in opposition to researchers who conclude that media violence stimulates aggression.

  "... I expect that it will not change the expressed views of the many purveyors of violent video games or their ad hominem attacks on researchers ... will not change the minds of the many psychologically unsophisticated journalists who write glibly in the popular press about this topic; will not change the minds of the many psychologically unsophisticated popular culture scholars who write about this topic; and, most disturbingly, will not change the minds of the few psychologically sophisticated researchers who deny that media violence can have any important psychological effect on the risk for aggressive behavior ...

  "Generally, I would argue that they eliminate entire segments of research on false grounds (e.g., experiments are artificial and can never study "real aggression"); selectively examine the remaining literature; identify correctly small flaws in studies; magnify those flaws with false logic into indictments of most of the research; uncritically accept the few flawed studies or meta-analyses that show no effects as true indicators of the population; and cite other flawed reviews as facts. Most importantly they mostly ignore observational learning theory and the general research on imitation. ...

  "Rather than engage in another round of similar debates, let me suggest that some important individual difference variables may explain a lot of the variance in the debaters' positions. Among those psychologists who have actually done empirical research on the topic of media violence or video game violence and who understand the theory of observational learning, there is great consensus ... that media violence increases the risk for aggressive behavior. Among those scholars with a vested interest in video games, either because playing them is an important part of their identity (e.g., Ferguson; Jenkins) or because they have been funded by the media industry (e.g., Freedman), there is a lasting expressed disbelief that media violence can cause aggressive behavior. Their disbelief seems to be compounded by their failure to grasp observational learning theory. Of course, such disbelief may also be indirectly fueled in all of us by our American distaste for anyone telling us what we should look at or play. Freedom of speech and publication is an essential element of our free society and any discussion of 'inappropriate content' in the mass media inevitably primes our negative reactions to censorship or control on free speech."

  Huesman and another author offer a wider rebuttal of deniers in the piece "The Case against the Case against Media Violence", cited previously and again here ( ).

  Who can still deny this science? Who can still claim that violent media simply cannot cause harm? Is it your opinion that, in surveying the evidence, all this science is fabricated bunk? Or perhaps you believe, as some do, that there is evidence on both sides—that the jury is still out on this question. There are two options here, either violent media can cause harm or it cannot. Just as a gun can cause harm or it cannot. In light of all the evidence, it is impossible to be agnostic about the answer. For the true denier to say "violent media doesn't cause harm" is to make an utterly extraordinary and unbelievable claim, and here is why:

  Imagine a world where there is no violent imagery in the media. Imagine a world where all of the imagery ever produced by mankind, since the dawn of civilization, had been devoid of violence. Imagine if Homer's works were G-rated. Imagine if the Vikings had no warrior poets. Imagine if there was no murder or killing in all of Shakespeare, no acts of slavery and genocide in holy books. Imagine if the artists of the Renaissance never glorified war in their art. Imagine if every novel you read, every film you watched, and every game you played contained no violence. Imagine even that the news did not report violent actions. Imagine even that the words "war," "murder," and "torture," had never entered the dictionary. Imagine a world where every child is raised without the concept of violence entering into their experience from any medium other than fist-hand experience. All violence is gone from the media and for all time. What the true denier has to believe is that nothing would change in this world. People would still go out and kill each other exactly as they do now, no difference at all—not even a small difference. Human history would have an equal amount of blood, no difference of a drop, than it does today. The true denier must believe that in this world not a single life, in the whole of human history, would have escaped cruelty or death from the hands of another. You don't need to be a psychologist to see that this is an utterly extraordinary claim which demands extraordinary evidence. The scientist sees, however, that this imaginary world would be STAGGERINGLY different to our own, and those differences would be in the form of human lives saved and suffering averted. This imaginary world would be a better world to live in. We don't know how many lives would be saved, but can you say how many lives would be an acceptable sacrifice to keep our violence? It would be a shame to give up so much human culture—the Iliad would be pretty boring if no one got killed in it—but can you argue for a moment that these changes to our culture would not be worth the saved lives? You may try to argue that our enjoyment of violence would be worth it, but what you cannot do is claim that no human being has ever suffered or died because of violent media.

  The moral debate is the question of those two worlds. To support violent media you must support our world over this imaginary one. You must not only declare that you would prefer to live in our world of violence and raise your children in it, you must not only convince me to do the same, but you must also be morally comfortable inflicting that world on every human being who has ever lived and ever will live.

  That said, whether you want us all to live in a world of violent media is not the question this essay has addressed. The purpose of this essay was to dispel those who deny science. To believe that violent media is not responsible for human suffering and death is not a tenable position. You have been shown more than enough for any rational person to change their minds on this issue.

  To still believe that violent media is harmless is to suffer from a literally psychotic denial of reality. The kind of mind you need to believe this is a twisted mind indeed. You can imagine yourself sitting in the living room of a particular home in Dallas, May of 1999. Professional wresting is on the television. You see one wrestler clothesline another. The 7 year old child in the room sees it too. Then you see that child approach his 3 year old brother and clothesline him in the same way. The 3 year old dies ( ).

  Imagine the kind of mind you need to see this happen, then to cross your arms and say the wrestling show did not cause the death. Imagine the kind of mind it would take to deny that nothing would have been different if wrestling had never been shown in that house. Imagine the twisted, perverse mentality that would declare "This was a coincidence! The boy would have died no matter what!" or to say that the 7 year old who says his favorite wrestlers are "'Stone Cold' Steve Austin" and "The Undertaker" was just predisposed to violence, perhaps a born psychotic; or that he was planning to kill his brother all along but only waited until wrestling was on the television so that he would have a scapegoat. You can say it is the 7 year old's fault, you can say it is the parents' fault, or you can say it is the WWF's fault. What you cannot say, however, is that this innocent child would still be dead today if his brother had not watched wrestling. To deny that violent media changes our behavior, to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence, to ignore decades of research and the consensus of psychologists—to look at the evidence and to believe otherwise does not mean you just have a different opinion, or are misinformed, or are ignorant...

  To believe otherwise means you are insane.

Leveling the playing field? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737337)

Reminds me of Vonnegut's story:

We don't need a prohibition on drugs. We need better drugs. When fully-informed people choose to take drugs, we should let them.

or, (5, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 2 years ago | (#41737349)

it's just another way for the pharmaceutical industry to remove money from your wallet. Perhaps ADHD is just a reasonable and rational response to a completely insane world of hyper-focus. Perhaps we should all be chasing buffalo and living in tipis because, it's better. Maybe depression is a correct response to a world gone mad - a civilisation hell bent of murdering the biosphere. Maybe mental health, isn't.

Re:or, (1)

cplusplus (782679) | about 2 years ago | (#41737607)

Your comment is quite interesting to think about.

Re:or, (5, Insightful)

Dasuraga (1147871) | about 2 years ago | (#41737839)

As someone who has had to deal with ADD for his entire life , I can assure you that it is not just a pharmaceutical ploy. I can barely write this sentence , and I have already been distracted three times. When I was in middle school, I was prescribed Adderall to deal with my ADD, and my concentration capabilities shot up immensely (going from 90 minutes to do math homework to 10). In high school I stopped taking it, and forgot mainly about it ( I moved to a different country at the time, and was having problems with the language and culture).

Now in the "real" world, I realise how handicapping this affliction is, where I'll take an hour to write a 2-sentence e-mail, and where I can't read through a research paper without taking a break every 2 minutes. Unfourtunately I now live in a country where Adderall is illegal, and the country I lived in before doesn't recognize ADD/ADHD in adults. There are people with worse problems, but it's still extremely frustrating to have the attention span of a goldfish.

As an aside, the best way I've found to deal with the problem is to say things out loud as I do them, I think that somehow the speech centers of the brain help with concentration (though I still tune out quite frequently in conversations). I'm less than comfortable about doing that with my coworkers though.

I know a simple solution: (1)

WilyCoder (736280) | about 2 years ago | (#41737353)

Mandatory drug tests for every single college student in America!

Re:I know a simple solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737411)

Mandatory drug tests for every single college student in America! /sarcasm

Even simpler still -- add it to the drinking water like flouride.

Re:I know a simple solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41738041)

I knew it, Adderal is part of the Communist Conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids

Re:I know a simple solution: (4, Interesting)

Zuriel (1760072) | about 2 years ago | (#41737443)

We employ people for industry. Welders, electricians, mechanics, etc. to build or repair mining machinery, among other things. Some work sites do mandatory drug testing.

You wouldn't believe the number of people who back right off when they hear about that. "Would you pass a drug test?" "Oh... I think I'll give that job a miss."

Or, "I don't know, maybe." "Well, are you a regular user?" "Is two or three times a day regular?"

We once had an employee get drug tested and the testers called the test machine's manufacturer because they thought it was broken.

He returned positive results to everything.

Meandering back towards the actual topic: screw smart drugs, it's 2012, where's my neural implants?

Re:I know a simple solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737885)

... employee get drug tested ...

I've done my mining induction, which requires a drug test. We hear stories of how prospective employees fail, because they thought the machine wouldn't detect a 'little bit' of cannabis. Cannabis lasts in the body longer than alcohol.

Re:I know a simple solution: (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41738103)

"We employ people for industry. Welders, electricians, mechanics, etc. to build or repair mining machinery, among other things. Some work sites do mandatory drug testing."

I can understand it if you are operating heavy or otherwise dangerous machinery, or you're a bus driver or something. But other jobs? I mean, you have companies out there insisting on pre-employment testing for grocery store boxboys and people who wash and stock produce, or do laundry! And in the computer business? Forget it.

I vowed long ago that I would never take again take a pre-employment drug screening, or agree to random testing. I am sick and tired of this "guilty until proven innocent" bullshit. If I worked for a company and they had GOOD REASON to suspect that I was taking illegal drugs on the job, that would be one thing. But treat me like I'm guilty without any reason or evidence? Hell, no!

And yes, I have passed up several jobs because of this.

I have made one exception since then, but only because the employer convinced me that the parent corporation left them no choice in the matter. Even then I was reluctant.

There is one other exception I am willing to consider. In an office setting, if ANYBODY is going to screw things up by making a drug-addled decision, it's far more likely to be a manager or corporate officer than some clerk or programmer. So my policy is: if the managers will piss in a cup and show me the results (or show me recent past results), I will do the same.

I think that's very fair.

Re:I know a simple solution: (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about 2 years ago | (#41737709)

Mandatory drug tests for every single college student in America! /sarcasm

What about the ones who are married or dating?

Highly unethical. (5, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 2 years ago | (#41737365)

I can't imagine a world where perfectly healthy people feel the need to take addictive stimulants just to help them focus throughout the day.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Starbucks.

Re:Highly unethical. (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about 2 years ago | (#41737783)

This discussion and your post make me think back to my teen years in the mid-90's. More specifically my memories of talking to sysadmins and developers who were working back then and the levels of stress and pressure they had compared to what these jobs are like today.

Now, I don't doubt there were plenty of stressful sysadmin jobs back in 1996 or that there weren't a lot of employers keeping track of when their sysadmins arrived for work in the morning back then but it definitely seems to me that back then there was a lot more leeway for sysadmins, developers and others in IT-related jobs. I knew a guy who was just another IT consultant back then, he worked for a company in the same town as the one I lived in and while their office hours were officially 09:00 to 17:00 in practice it wasn't unusual for most of the lights in their offices to still be out by 09:30 simply because people hadn't shown up yet. Missing your regular bus and showing up for work 15 minutes late didn't even seem to register for a lot of these people I knew back then.

By comparison, my first job after college was one where if you knew you'd be ten minutes late to work you were expected to phone ahead to let your boss know or you'd be in for a reprimand (you might still get a reprimand if this happened twice in a week or three or four times over the course of a month). Leaving early wasn't just frowned upon, it was completely out of the question, it was the sort of thing that was considered completely unacceptable.

And looking around at people I know in the industry today it seems this wasn't isolated, these days adherence to schedule and being just another cog in the machine is more important than it used to be.

Did I mention I'd love to have one of those mid-90's jobs where you could show up 20 minutes late and no one would really care because they would just assume you'd make up for it (or that it didn't matter since after all, how important could those 20 minutes in the morning possibly be and we all oversleep from time to time)? Those jobs didn't seem particularly relaxing but at least they were a little less stressful than what we've got now. Oh well, time for some more caffeine and work...

Re:Highly unethical. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41738013)

Energy drinks are good, when they don't kill you.

Need to seperate off-label from non-prescribed use (1, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#41737367)

If an ADHD drug is used to enhance studying abilities, but is managed by a competent physician, then that can be acceptable. On the other hand, if someone is purchasing it off the street - possibly depriving someone of their needed prescription or purchasing a questionable product - then the danger is significant.

Re:Need to seperate off-label from non-prescribed (1)

slew (2918) | about 2 years ago | (#41737785)

So, according to you somehow purchasing adderall off the street is "possibly depriving someone of their needed prescription"...
Q: When has purchasing prescription drugs off the street ever made this statement true?

Also, your plan seems to only make it available for people rich enough to afford to buy off a physician to manage it. Basically if you are too poor to afford it, you get left in the dust. A modern day quaint extension of the idea that only rich kids get to go to college...

Re:Need to seperate off-label from non-prescribed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737869)

If testosterone and steroids are used to enhance athletic ability, but are managed by a competent physician, then that can be acceptable.

Does the argument still work? The sports world would publicly argue that it does not... meanwhile "everyone is doing it".

I personally am not interested in taking any sort of controlled performance enhancement, whether it's Adderall, steroids or viagra... it's a matter of principal, if I can't hack it, I can't hack it.

BTW, I certainly do not feel that coffee and any other freely available products count in this regard... if society decided that Adderall should be sold at the supermarket for a few cents per pill, then I'd probably start to treat it like I treat coffee... something that I will occasionally ingest in moderation.

Re:Need to seperate off-label from non-prescribed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737961)

Same goes for oranges - get them off the street.
And milk - particularly if it has added vitamine D - get it off the street.
Air, particularly if one is depriving someone else of their needed air or if the air is of questionable quality - then the danger is significant.

Drugs are chemicals.
Vitamines are chemicals.
Nutrients in general are chemicals.
Poisons are chemicals.
Many chemicals are beneficial in some quantities and combinations and harmful in others. Even water and oxygen are deadly in excess.
The distinctions are laregely semantic and a fabrication of culture.

People should only be breathing clean air and eating nutritious food under the supervision of a physician and they should only be available by prescription.

Pepsi Mae West? Coke and chips? - no problem. Vegetables? Pushers should be in prison. Unlicensed suppliers should be in prison. Only pharmacies should be supplying vegetables, and only to patients with prescriptions from their physicians.

If we don't bring everything under control of the physicians, people may harm themselves or others.

In what context? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737375)

Anything you do to your own body is always ethical, other considerations aside. If you've signed up to an agreement involving a "level" playing field (such as sports or something) and you violate that agreement, that's unethical because you've broken your word.

Life is like a horserace (1)

doesnothingwell (945891) | about 2 years ago | (#41737381)

The race is faster when you hop up all the ponies on speed. But its still the same field of ponies, the only winners are the ones running the race.

I have ADHD (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737395)

I have ADHD and posting AC because I know people at work frequent here.

Long story short, these kinds of drugs literally saved my life. Imagine waking up from a coma, yeah, that potent.

For everyone? Nope, but if it was truly able to keep people more focused the general population would eventually accept it.

We have soldiers taking stimulants to keep them up for 36 hours at a time, we have people who try hypnosis to stop smoking, we have "energy" drinks which are legal, but probably more harmful.

Make no mistake, greed will destroy the good. It will become another form of drug abuse which students will eventually use to get their marks changed because they're "addicted" and governments will intervene, and pass laws.

Bah, you can't stop people from being greedy and dicks. But at least you can help those who need it.

Re:I have ADHD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737537)

I have ADHD

If you're American I'd be far more surprised if you hadn't been diagnosed with something that requires a lifelong drug regime.

Re:I have ADHD (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | about 2 years ago | (#41737599)


I've been on Methamphetamine trial since the beginning of this month...after 8 moths of trying to get an psychiatric...3 of which was wasted on a psychologist on a wild goose chase to see if i were an aspie.

Now, I weren't the best in following prescriptinon...after several years without checkups it sorta happened...I blame myself but there it is.

I tried to do something about it, called my doctor, tried to get the wheel in motion in lieu of my internship.

Now...spring...has been fucking fantastic...did shitload of work, promoted my self personally in the field... and worked in the office 24 to 30 hours.
It was stupid todo so, routine would be great, but bottom line Im on Metamina with an excruciating slow trial period.

I've not touched Ritalin for 2 months...

Its...Going from reflective, curious, open, calm and anxious, jittery and fogged up.

Its the worst HELL I've been through, I feel all my ambition are just slipping through my fingers, my own identity being denied to me, my own mind.

emo/slitwrists and all that.

But natural or no, it works for Paul Erdos it worked for me.

It wasnt a Silver Bullet, but at least i had a loaded gun to use.

Re:I have ADHD (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | about 2 years ago | (#41737639)


Dextroamphetamine! Dexamphetamine! Not Meth!

Re:I have ADHD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737691)


Dextroamphetamine! Dexamphetamine! Not Meth!

I hate to break it to you, man, but whatever you're doing isn't working—and that part *wasn't* the tip off.

The Measure of a Man (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737401)

Lt. Commander Data: Sir, Lieutenant La Forge's eyes are far superior to human biological eyes, true?
Capt. Picard: M-hm.
Lt. Commander Data: Then why are not all human officers required to have their eyes replaced with cybernetic implants?

Re:The Measure of a Man (2)

longhairedgnome (610579) | about 2 years ago | (#41737715)

What was the response?

News For Ethicists? (0)

luckymutt (996573) | about 2 years ago | (#41737407)

Interesting article, I suppose, but is this really /. stuff?

Re:News For Ethicists? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737551)

It's tangential to science, and to people who study.

I'm looking forward to the comments populating some more.

Re:News For Ethicists? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41738119)

"Interesting article, I suppose, but is this really /. stuff?"

I don't understand why you seem to think it should not be Slashdot stuff. Care to explain?

Livestrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737419)

But doing so brings us to the discussion of how much repair is ethical when the repair can be disseminated to people who don't actually need it.

Or, how much illegal drug use is ethical if the user also started a popular cancer charity?

Re:Livestrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737999)

Or how much exercise is ethical if people who don't actually need it can exercise.

Dexedrine and the Air Force (1)

relikx (1266746) | about 2 years ago | (#41737427)

For what it's worth we've decided it's ethical for our military to use (dextro)-amphetamines in long flights, even bombing runs I recall. In the case of long-term studying, the ethical boundaries will be defined by the success of its use as a legitimate "tool" not unlike a 5 Hour Energy.

Obviously the effects aren't comparable but Americans love to take a pill to cure or enhance something, anything, everything. This seems to be the logical conclusion of this thinking continued. If it's any consolation, perhaps amphetamine salts are the most benign uppers physiologically.

Would it ever be ethical to ween a meth user off through the use of non-methyl amphetamines?

Substance Abuse (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about 2 years ago | (#41737475)

Addictive and dangerous substances such as those found in more powerful ADHD medicines should not be ethically given out to those who do not require it. It is dangerous and may contribute to widespread misuse and abuse.

Safer forms of mind-enhancing chemicals, like caffeine, may be ethically used. Additional therapies like electrostimulation may also be used to increase brain performance. Learning to make our minds work better is not a bad thing, but creating a society where one is forced to play with a dangerous substance to get an edge is ethically questionable at best.

Re:Substance Abuse (1)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | about 2 years ago | (#41737651)

They're only addictive when injected/smoked in large doses. And "abuse" is a value judgement.

Of course (2, Interesting)

guises (2423402) | about 2 years ago | (#41737487)

The only way you could see these drugs as unethical is if you look at life and learning as a game - if someone learns more than you on the down-low that's cheating, life should be a struggle, etc. Obviously people with rich parents should be banned from the competition.

For those who haven't tried it: adderall is a much smoother stimulant than caffeine. The effect is similar, but without the crash. Hands down better for productivity, just more expensive thanks to prohibition.

Re:Of course (2)

slew (2918) | about 2 years ago | (#41737859)

Hopefully, for you and many other folks, we won't discover some day that Adderall has an unforseen side effect (say like that miracle diet drug Fen-Phen)... As I understand it, Adderall basically a stimulant that works similarly to meth and coke in the body and (like Fen-Phen) has a potential for causing cardiac problems.

Well can ADHD use ritalin to boost their abilitie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737491)

As someone who has ADHD I used ritalin to boost my abilities and collage and in the work place. I have used it to stay awake all night, in fact I didn't really discover caffeine until midway though collage because I was already using a much more powerful stimulant. When I got a new doctor I just told him I had ADHD and what dose and drug and needed and he gave them to me no questions asked, so if you decide you have ADHD you too can talke ritalin.

Re:Well can ADHD use ritalin to boost their abilit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737943)

I question whether you've really used Ritalin to stay awake for extended periods of time. Why? Because I've taken stim meds since preschool, and I can tell you that using methylphenidate to stay awake doesn't work. At least, not for more than about a day. You can use it to live "tomorrow" tonight, or maybe even pull off a 42-hour marathon if you were totally well-rested to begin with... but eventually, you'll end up "dazed and wired", and be intellectually useless until you get about 12 hours of sleep. You'll feel kind of awake, but everything will go straight over your head.

Americans and Pharma??! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737509)

I don't think there's anything left that can be defined as unethical when it comes to Pharma, in the eyes of the pill popping, therapy seeking nut-jobs that have taken over America.

War on drugs? Stop popping fucking morphine and amphetamines would be a good start. Last time I was in the US visiting a friend, the amount of pharmaceuticals in his medicine cabinet was fucking staggering - and from what I could see (I then took an interest in peeking in everybody's cabinet) his was quite normal.

Wake the fuck up (preferrably without the aid of speed) and smell the coffee, you retards

Re:Americans and Pharma??! (1)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#41737797)

I have no way of knowing if your friends are typical or atypical. But my American medicine cabinet contains an expired bottle of generic aspirin, an expired bottle of brand name ibuprofen, an unexpired bottle of generic acetaminophen, a few bandaids, some Vitamin D, and an expired tube of goo to spread on cuts to help reduce infections. Oh, and some anti-diarrhea pills. It would be a starvation zone for junkies. It certainly isn't big business for big pharma.

My refrigerator, on the other hand, has about 20 grams of caffeine left in it. Tomorrow, it will have 19. I keep a much closer eye on that stock.

Re:Americans and Pharma??! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737849)

AC here. I have no way of knowing either, it was just a purely anecdotal observation. I did get a chance to peek inside a good cross section of types of people though, none of whom I think you'd class as unusual.

Ethics is about suffering (0)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 2 years ago | (#41737511)

Ethics is about reducing suffering, not fairness or propriety.

Medical ethics deals with procedures which reduce suffering when the choice is not black-and-white, nuanced, or could possibly be abused. Medical ethics involves things like when to do organ harvesting, informed consent, DNR [] , and the like.

Whether drugs should be taken when not needed - that's not an issue of ethics. It's possibly an issue of honor (broken promises, such as in sports), definitely an issue of law, and most certainly a perceived issue of fairness and political correctness.

The principle layer which cuts through most of the bullshit is the "Doctrine of Individual Dissent", which states that people have the right to choose for themselves. We sometimes violate this fundamental right by forcing people to do things for their own good; nonetheless, it should trump all the other rights.

It's the layer that would keep someone from forcing a smoker to quit, or an obese person to exercise, or a driver to wear seat belts. When Asimov failed to make a robotics law about it, drama ensued.

The best we can hope for is to warn people of the dangers. Beyond that, self determination is a fundamental right.

rarely ethical, (1)

andrew2325 (2647845) | about 2 years ago | (#41737535)

There may be a circumstance where it might be deemed ethical, but don't lie to yourself. Most amphetamine addicts die young, and that's usually why they got hooked in the first places. There's fifty shades of gray, and it's best you don't step into the first one.

Re:rarely ethical, (1)

andrew2325 (2647845) | about 2 years ago | (#41737547)

I know there's a typo, but I made less of those before I did amphetamines.

You mean, besides coffee? (1)

BrendaEM (871664) | about 2 years ago | (#41737541)

Although, it is a roundabout thing, I use coffee to focus.

We make machines more efficient, why not people? (1)

acidradio (659704) | about 2 years ago | (#41737549)

If we are truly capable of "better" or "super" abilities but with the aid of some kind of drug, stimulant or other substance... basically aren't we just harnessing something we already "have" but is not finely tuned or inaccessible? In the mechanical world this is done all the time - engineers scour all the possible ways to make a race car, an airplane, a piece of factory machinery more efficient. Humanity is looking for solutions to LOTS of complicated things. Why can't we make OURSELVES more efficient?

The bigger question to me is why aren't we naturally that well tuned, why do we have to take a drug to make ourselves more focused, better working, harder working? Were we generally more tuned in the past? What has this modern environment of cubicles, GMO food, blinding fluorescent light, lack of healthy and walkable environs, what has that done to the human animal and our ability to think and work?

Re:We make machines more efficient, why not people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41738059)

Why do your legs bow if you don't get enough vitamine D?

It isn't surprising that we are still finding some of the vitamines we need for optimum performance or that some vitamines are so rare in the natural environment that our lifespan, health and performance are sub-optimal if we don't get them from artificial sources.

Remember: vitamines are just chemicals that we need in small quantities and without which our lifespan, health or performance are sub-optimal. Drugs are just chemicals produced by for-profit industry or found in nature but discouraged by society. It is not surprising that some drugs are also vitamines.

Is it ethical to withold vitamines from the normal and super-normal just because they don't have a disease or disadvantage?

Re:We make machines more efficient, why not people (2)

kryzx (178628) | about 2 years ago | (#41738067)

Exactly. We try to improve ourselves in countless other ways. Diet, exercise, sunscreen, makeup, plastic surgery, moisturizer, viagra, propecia, yoga, and on and on. To me that's not even a question. We can and should improve ourselves.

Now the questions that remain are
What are the benefits? What are the side effects, short and long term? What is the tradeoff?
Are there broad public health concerns, like addiction?
What is the cost - and is this going to deepen class inequality?

From my perspective, the government should have *very* *very* good reasons before they consider taking away my right to weigh my options and decide what substances I will put in my body.

And for what it's worth, when there are drugs that make us smarter, with minimal side effects, I'm all for taking them and getting them to as many people as possible. We need more smarts around here. Meaning everywhere on the planet.

Re:We make machines more efficient, why not people (1)

Meeni (1815694) | about 2 years ago | (#41738107)

You are posing half the questions, so you get the wrong conclusion. I'm not going to propose a conclusion, as there are none that fit all cases.

Should we do anything to get better ? If it has no adverse consequence, why not? The problem is that it has, more than often, consequences. Those athletes on steroid die young for a reason. L. Armstrong got a specific kind of cancer when he was still very young, he was lucky to survive it, but it is typical of a substance abuse induced cancer. Assuming that he did take pills to improve his performance (although proofs are becoming difficult to refute, it is still debated, but lets just assume for the sake of the argument that he did), was it ethical for Armstrong to sacrifice his health to improve his performance? Maybe it was free choice, so we should not interfere.

But then, what about the other competitors? If they don't take performance pills, they cannot compete, it is as simple as that. So now, just to be level, even if you don't want to, you have to take dangerous substance to stay level in the field.

Now we are talking about sports, an activity that can be mostly seen as an entertainment (even if big money can be entitled). But if we were to extend performance pill usage to all activities, then where is your choice ? You have the choice between being an unproductive, unfit and impoverished sorry food bond subside, and being a successful but short lived professional who made the "choice" of dying from performance enhancement ?

As for productivity, it has never been so high. Maybe so high that we are actually already starting to kill ourselves "thinking and working", as the stress has also never been so high. Past difficult works tended to be straining and physically dangerous. But they were also repetitive and less involving. Today's works are less physically dangerous (even in fields which are still dangerous or physical, machines and better practice have improved the situation), but they appeal to more creativity, involvement and are deadline oriented. To meet productivity milestone, it often takes more work that is normally possible, leading to stress from under-achievement (systematic as goals are unrealistic) and overwork. Should we make the picture even darker by adding the threat of chemical poisoning to meet ever increasing performance goals? Maybe not.

meme time (2)

greywire (78262) | about 2 years ago | (#41737641)

I, for one, welcome our Non-Prescription ADHD Medication User overlords.

But seriously. If I can ingest something that's going to improve my mind in some way without side effects, or with known side that I can manage, I'm sure as hell going to do it.

Almost all of us already do it and have been doing it for a very long time. Coffee. Aspirin (its much easier to think without a headache..). Ginseng. And probably a hundred other naturally occurring things. Even vitamins count. I personally feel I've even gotten benefits from LSD and Marijuana. If some current or future compound can improve my memory, my thinking speed, or reduce the amount of sleep I need, I'm all over it.

Now pardon me while I suck down a still legal monster energy drink and work all night long..

I get adderall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737643)

I get prescribed adderall and i dont technically need it. But then i go through a months supply in a weekend.

Could be awesome.... (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | about 2 years ago | (#41737649)

If you think Lance Armstrong, Keith Richards and Ben Johnson are forming a super team to take on the alien Chitauri and all they need is a super intellect to round out the team, I can't see it as unethical.

Uplift (2)

MnemonicMan (2596371) | about 2 years ago | (#41737667)

See: The Uplift Series [] .

If drugs and/or surgical modification was both safe and effective? Sign me up. I'd love to sit down with a C++11 book, flip through the pages fast in half an hour and then be an expert programmer. Spare me the - admit it - religiously inspired dogma. I want to be better, stronger, faster, and while I'm at it please remove that bummer of a failure condition called "death" too.

I've been there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737677)

I've gone through psychological testing (counselling and IQ testing, tests for learning disabilities), and I've also tried various ADHD prescriptions. To be honest, performance increases are over-hyped. I don't think any of the ADHD prescriptions artificially increase intelligence or effectiveness other than becoming more efficient. What I mean by that is it might help bring one's mental processes up to a focused task, but it doesn't magically create will power, or an ability to grasp concepts that are beyond your non-drugged brain.

Nothing to see here folks, it's "just" placebo and people who are too enthusiastic about drugs.

I've been abusing them responsibly for years (1)

DSS11Q13 (1853164) | about 2 years ago | (#41737697)

I don't do any illegal drugs, I've never smoked marijuana or cigarettes, but I do use Ritalin both for stress and when I need to be productive. There aren't any side effects unless you abuse it. Frankly, it's a drug I'd like to see "abused" more, considering it's effects are essentially the opposite of marijuana's, it makes you productive and want to work!!!

Re:I've been abusing them responsibly for years (1)

proca (2678743) | about 2 years ago | (#41737767)

I've been taking Adderall for a long time, and there are definitely side effects even if you don't abuse it. Also, you are using illegal drugs if you don't have a prescription.

For the Greater Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737699)

The main difference between "Mental" doping and "Physical" doping may be that enhancing mental abilities can be used to help a large number of people, whereas athletes that dope do so for purely personal gain.

I've been taking Adderall for almost 13 years (5, Insightful)

proca (2678743) | about 2 years ago | (#41737717)

In high school, I had my own web development company and was an accomplished, award-winning saxophone player but I struggled getting the grades I should have been able to get for a reason that I couldn't understand. I was diagnosed with ADHD in 10th grade and set upon a journey involving virtually every drug recommended for the disorder. I settled upon Adderall and have been taking it ever since. Reading through the comments on this page, I find it amusing that everyone seems to have such a black and white opinion on the subject. I, on the other hand, really don't know what to think.

Studies show that nothing is more effective at treating ADHD than stimulants and cognitive therapy does virtually nothing without drugs. Furthermore, people who control their ADHD with medication are FAR more likely to avoid substance abuse than if they leave their condition untreated. I'm sure everyone knows a really smart kid in high school who smoked their life away on weed and never made anything of themselves. I know that I personally would have probably gone this route, as I was already heading in that direction. Finally, stimulants like Adderall haven't been shown to have any real long term health consequences and (contrary to popular belief) are not particularly addictive if taken as directed.

Anyone who has been to college in the past decade can tell you that Adderall can certainly help you cram for tests. Does that mean it gives them an advantage? I really don't think so. I've crammed for a lot of tests, and unless you're a business or mass communication major, you are not going to get an A by cramming. Try cramming a month's worth of organic chemistry in one night with some Adderall. You'll probably pass, but you definitely aren't getting an A. People get A's on tests by keeping up with the work. Not to mention the horrific day you have after cramming all night on speed. The biggest advantage I saw with Adderall was playing Quake 3, and even then there were people a lot better than me that used nothing but Mountain Dew.

I guess what I'm saying is that I think that people are overestimating the power of stimulants. Their biggest advantage is that you can stay up later, but if you don't take the drug regularly, you will also not be able to get to sleep. You'll also not eat enough and will probably have issues with sexual dysfunction. If that sounds like an unfair advantage to you, I don't know what to tell you.

The issue with (1)

Ghjnut (1843450) | about 2 years ago | (#41737727)

these medications is they provide an escape for learning things when someone doesn't have the self-motivation to propel themselves through the task. As you continue to use the substance, it becomes the primary means for information uptake. "I don't feel like studying right now, I'll just take a little dose of this to enhance my motivation/interest" becomes the de facto fallback. A hefty majority of life is learning to spark your own interest; when you're constantly doing it through rose-colored glasses, it becomes much more difficult to achieve on an even keel. At least, this has been my experience with the situation.

Re:The issue with (1)

proca (2678743) | about 2 years ago | (#41737779)

I disagree entirely with your statement. You are making generalizations about a topic you obviously don't know anything about. While there are certainly people who fit your description, there are many who do not.

Re:The issue with (1)

Ghjnut (1843450) | about 2 years ago | (#41737861)

I'm not speaking on behalf of people who have legitimately been prescribed medications and need them for legitimate medical reasons. I'm speaking simply as someone who has in the past used these types of drugs specifically for they benefits they offer in the context of academics and cognitive enhancements in general. Maybe it's a more stereotypical case of abuse but I think there's a lot to be said for that spectrum of the argument.

Whether or not ethical depends on access (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737743)

Is it ethical that, based on either upbringing or genetics, some people have advantages over others, with regards to sports, or sociability, or intellectual pursuits? If you are not on the right side of the bell curve in these abilities, why not attempt to improve using chemicals? I believe that it is only unethical if there is unequal access, so that say in a college class, only the students with access to an unscrupulous doctor can receive drugs like Adderall. Life is about choices that may risk one's health to succeed. When a student signs on as an athlete to get a scholarship, they are risking their long-term health to receive a free education; why should cognitive ability be any different?

What are ethics for? (2)

Kohath (38547) | about 2 years ago | (#41737753)

Was anyone harmed or endangered? Assuming the answer is no, then the question is: if self-improvement is unethical, then what are ethics good for?

If ethics are good, then harmless self-improvement can't be unethical. If ethics are neither good nor bad, but just a set of valueless rules or tenets, then the question can only answered by the ethical standard's author. And there's no evident reason anyone else should care one way or the other.

Re:What are ethics for? (3, Funny)

kryzx (178628) | about 2 years ago | (#41738085)

If only we were a little smarter we would be able to work out the ethics of this once and for all. Here, take this.

A different ethical question (1)

proca (2678743) | about 2 years ago | (#41737803)

Is it ethical to take away stimulant medication from a person who has been thriving due to their ADHD being successfully managed? How does a doctor adhere to the Hippocratic Oath of "Do no harm" and deny the patient access to a medication that has changed their life?

Personal responsibility and ethics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737835)

If you're a regular person (i.e. not diagnosed with ADHD), and taking Adderall helps you to remain mentally sharp / focused for a period of time, is that unethical? No... at least no more so than the person taking it "legitimately"

The fact that it is or is not prescribed means nothing. Prescriptions are written out by doctors, despite what the industry would like you to think, they are not completely objective. Just look at the number of prescriptions issued to celebrities and the wealthy, they essentially can write their own... heck I'd guess that even the average person out there can do something similar by just knowing the correct responses to the prompts the doctor gives. So does the fact that they obtained a "permission slip" to take the drug suddenly make it any different from a person who did not go through that process? I argue it does not.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737875)

But sometimes yes.


LSD & heroin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41737911)

Originally LSD was a medicinal drug. It was, supposedly quite effective, for re-programming a patient's personality.

Heroin was originally a medicine to replace morphine.

What's the definition of "impaired"? (3, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 2 years ago | (#41737937)

What's the definition of "impaired"? I have always had a terrible memory. In college, I would study the material when it was taught. When the tests came around, I had to basically re-learn the material from scratch. And re-learn it again for the final exam. While I was a top student, I looked on with amazement when other students could retain stuff after learning it the first time. Is a lousy memory an impairment? I don't know, but I would certainly have been ecstatic to be able to swallow a safe, non-addictive pill and get a decent memory.

Let's set any PC idiocy aside. If one can avoid addiction and side-effects, there is absolutely nothing wrong with enhancing people's cognitive abilities. Why should there be?

hmm (1)

drolli (522659) | about 2 years ago | (#41737965)

career and success are about etics? Sounds funny, given the amount of books out there which advise you how to do things close to lying and selling youself as somebody who you arent, books how manipulate your co-workers, etc.

No career and success are always about what you are willing to do, and what personal consequences you are willing to accept

Re:hmm (1)

drolli (522659) | about 2 years ago | (#41738009)

side remark: the consqequences of taking ADHD medicine can be severe.

Those are some shoddy ethicists! (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 2 years ago | (#41737975)

Hey, sometimes I'm asked to teach ethics at a largish public university. I wouldn't call myself an ethicist, but can smell the bullshit on this from a mile away. First of all, every ethicist, along with every moderately educated person, should be aware of the genetic fallacy - which is that the origin or original purpose of something is irrelevant to what ought to be done with it. So what if these drugs were made to treat impairments? What relevance does that have to what should be done with them? Second, they act like pharmaceuticals should only be given to people "in need" - but what does this mean? Just in what sense do men "need" Viagra and women need birth control? I strongly support giving access to everyone who wants these drugs, but let's not pretend that they're being distributed on the basis of need. Their role is to enable lifestyle choices, not to remedy a need. And that's what makes them good things. We on Slashdot know very well that you don't need to fuck, ever.

I definitely have an ethical problem with sports doping, but that's because it's an unsafe practice that should be contained for the sake of the health of the athletes. If Adderall turns out to be similarly dangerous, I say that the ethical argument is over. But the interesting case would be if it (or its better successors) turn out to be acceptably safe - like caffeine is - and also measurably effective. Then the question of fairness comes up: Undrugged people will be at a disadvantage. Then again, uneducated people are very much at a disadvantage. Education is the most important personal enhancement you can obtain, and it's not cheap, nor accessible to all. Yet this would be a strange reason to ban it. Some people might complain that they are in an unfair competition because their competitors have Ph.D's in science - a sort of juicing. But that would be very silly. I certainly think that the Adderall gap is much easier and cheaper to close than the education gap, so this "unfair advantage" argument also smells like crap to me. If I had a worry about this drug scenario, it would be that unscrupulous companies would demand that their employees are doped up with enhancers when they're on the clock. That would be unfortunate. But then again, I don't think that many people would take such a job, and those that do would be entitled to a higher compensation. We already have the concept of hazard pay, and this kind of an office job would still be less dangerous than, say, underwater welding. In general, it seems like these so-called ethicists are just fishing for reasons to be luddites, and their fishing skills are are rather poor.

Show me a Smart Drug... (3, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | about 2 years ago | (#41738017)

... and I'll show you a misleading marketing campaign worthy of a Presidential election.

Ain't no such thing yet. Possibly never will be. Prescribing neuroactive drugs now is like playing darts blindfolded.

Meaningless title (1)

sgunhouse (1050564) | about 2 years ago | (#41738025)

Of course non-prescription use is ethical - if it is used for its intended purpose. Just because a drug doesn't require a prescription doesn't make it ineffective. And abuse is abuse, whether or not the drug requires a prescription. The summary (and presumably the article) isn't really about whether a drug happens to require a prescription or whether a drug is actually prescribed (I suppose physicians can still subscribe drugs that don't require a prescription), but whether use of a drug outside of its specific intent is ethical.

I mean, I can easily imagine that parents of a child with ADHD might hear of some non-prescription alternative, do suitable research to determine if it is likely to be effective, what an appropriate dosage for their child would be, and of course compare costs - and decide to switch to the non-prescription alternative. What, exactly, would be unethical in that?

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