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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Future of the Law: Cognitive-Enhancing Nootropic Drugs

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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An online poll of the British science magazine, Nature, asked its subscribers about the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Nature’s presumably geek-tilting audience was not interested in enhancing athletic performance, however, but mental performance. Of the 1,400 scientists who responded, 20% reported using performance-enhancing drugs. Of these, 62% used Ritalin, 44% used Provigil, and 15% used beta-blockers like Inderal. Even among non-users, the notion of drug-enhanced cognitive performance has wide acceptance; nearly 80% of respondents said it should be allowed.

In December commentary in Nature, a number of noted scientists published a defense of cognitive-enhancing drugs: Towards responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy. They begin by noting that the use of cognitive enhancing drugs is already here, among academics, and inevitably among hyper-competitive students looking for an edge in increasingly competitive admissions processes for undergraduate and graduate schools.

Today, on university campuses around the world, students are striking deals to buy and sell prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin — not to get high, but to get higher grades, to provide an edge over their fellow students or to increase in some measurable way their capacity for learning. These transactions are crimes in the United States, punishable by prison.

Are graduate schools headed toward a MLB-style arms-race for competitive advantage?

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  1. [...] few months ago I posted Future of the Law: Cognitive-Enhancing Nootropic Drugs with the quaint notion that someday law students would have to worry about the effects of [...]

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