It turns out that many of the world’s scientists, particularly those in the United States, are flying high on drugs.
According to a recent survey in Nature, Britain’s top science journal, 20 percent of scientists have admitted to using performance-enhancing prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.
A huge majority of these pill-popping Einsteins said they take drugs to “improve concentration,” and that they did so on a daily or weekly basis.
Now I may start to doubt scientists who could see things we ordinary mortals could not even imagine. For all we know, with all the drugs they’re taking, they could just be hallucinating.
Oh, but then some of their findings could prove to be significant and contribute to scientific advancement for the betterment of mankind.
Ok then, pop more Ritalin, Mr. Modern-Day Einsteins.
The survey was conducted on 1,427 scientists, mostly those residing in the United States, reports said.
It focused on three drugs widely available by prescription or via the Internet – Ritalin, Modafinil, which is also called Provigil, and beta blockers.
Ritalin, a trade name for methylphenidate, is a stimulant normally used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, especially in children. Modafinil – sold as Provigil — is prescribed to treat sleep disorders, but is also effective against general fatigue and jet lag.
Both medications are commonly used by students as “study aids” to sharpen performance and wakefulness.
“It doesn’t seem to be causing too much trouble since most [students] use the drugs not to get high but to function better,” said Brian Doyle, a clinical pyschiatrist at Georgetown University Medical Centre. “When exams are over, they go back to normal and stop abusing the drugs.”
Other experts expressed more concern about what the survey revealed. “It alerted us to the fact that scientists, like others, are looking for short cuts,” said Wilson Compton, director of epidemiology and prevention research at the US National Institute for Drug Abuse.
Ritalin, he said, can become addictive, even if it has proven safe and effective when taken as prescribed.
The third class of drugs included in the survey was beta blockers, prescribed for cardiac arrhythmia and popular among performers due to its anti-anxiety effect.
Of the 288 scientists who said they had taken one or more of these drugs outside of a medical context, three-fifths had used Ritalin, and nearly half Provigil. Only 15 percent were taking beta blockers.
Aside from enhancing their mental performance, the surveyed scientists said the pills enabled them to focus their mind to a specific task. Others said they simply want to get rid of jet lag.
Almost 70 percent of 1,258 of the scientists said they would be willing to risk mild side effects in order to boost their brain power by taking cognitive-enhancing drugs.
Half of the respondents reported such effects, including headaches, jitteriness, anxiety and sleeplessness.
In the survey, 80 percent of all the scientists — even those who did not use these drugs — defended the right of “healthy humans” to take them as work boosters, and more than half said their use should not be restricted, even for university entrance exams.
More than 57 percent of the respondents were 35 years old or younger.
I don’t exactly know what to make of this. All I know is that prohibited drugs, such as those being used by these science brainiacs, are considered prohibited because they are harmful to one’s health. And this is scientific fact which they themselves established.
If they say that prohibited drugs are dangerous, why are they taking them? Have they all gone mad or suicidal? Or are they keeping something from ordinary Earthlings like us?
This riddle is giving me a headache. I better pop in a pill – no, not Ritalin, just Paracetamol.