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Surprising Science

Taking Pills to Make You Smarter

We are working longer hours and retiring later so why shouldn’t we compensate by taking a pill to stimulate our brain—what’s the objection to staying awake and concentrating better?

What’s the Most Recent Development?

How many of us ever know what it is to become the perfect version of ourselves? The new film Limitless, directed by Neil Burger, asks this very question. In the film, a down-and-out writer comes to live the high life by taking a drug that optimizes his brain’s output. The plot is an extension of real life where everyone from fighter pilots to university students use prescription stimulants to boost alertness and deepen concentration—pills that helps us realize our personal ambitions. But where is the line between acceptable medical use and dangerous abuse?

What’s the Big Idea?

What is it we cherish about the unaltered state of man? Is it cheating at life to take drugs that boost our intellectual performance—a pill that allows us to concentrate deeper and for longer amounts of time? What standard of fairness do we have that prevents people from realizing their potential through drugs that stimulate the brain? Individuals from wealthy families can afford private tuition. Drug testing in athletics makes headlines and dinner table discussions, but why is the rest of life not held to the same egalitarian standards? 


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