Rahul K. Parikh at Salon’s blog PopRx (orly?) asks if we should take the Limitless pill. He dredges up two crappy arguments that are made over and over. 1) It might make some people better than others! 2) There might be side-effects!
These are not arguments. They can be applied to literally any technology one can conceive. There are people who cannot afford to purchase airplane tickets or a cellphone or an air conditioner, but that doesn’t mean that those technologies aggravate class divides. In fact, the more plausible scenario is that cognitive enhancing drugs, if they become widely available, will level the playing field by enabling those who aren’t born with the genetic gifts of intelligence and determination to maximize the mind they’ve been given. What one often forgets is that movies like Limitless are delivering the message: you should not go above your station, any pill that promises you more than you were born with will destroy you. As for the side-effects argument: if the benefits outweigh the costs and no one is coerced then side-effects are an acceptable risk.
The real reason I posted this is that Parikh, despite his hesitations, questions his own assumptions with a great thought experiment:
Of course, it’s easy to make these judgments in the abstract. But what if, for example, your child needs a lifesaving but risky and complex 15-hour surgery? Wouldn’t you want that doctor to be as alert as possible throughout the procedure, even if that meant using Provigil or another cognitive-enhancer? Or what if your son is on the ground in Afghanistan? Wouldn’t you want him to be able to take a dose of Ritalin before going on patrol, so he’s sharp and ready to defend himself?
Ah, yes. A mind opens. Kudos, Dr. Parikh.
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