IS IT CHEATING TO USE NOOTROPICS?
July 12, 2020
We believe that if you’re on our website already, there is no need to explain what are the nootropics. But some of you can ask yourself a lot of questions about using them, such as “Am I cheating when using nootropics?”, “Is it dangerous?”, “Is it ethical?”, “Is it right?”, etc. A very interesting article we’ve found at Psychology Today recently, that is devoted to attempts to answer some of such kind of questions.
IS IT CHEATING?
First of all, it should be noted that it’s very hard to define what is cheating and what is not. All of us have some advantages and disadvantages depending on different reasons and circumstances. Some of them depend on our DNA, some of them depend on how our lives go and what affects them. Our today’s state of mind is built not by only the DNA-depending factors but also by outer reasons, such as family circumstances, social environment, early life development, and nutrition. Thus, all of us have different initial data and knowledge on how to work with it.
So, is using nootropics an unfair advantage to some over others? Let’s have a look at the different examples of unfair advantages in general. First of all, not only cognitive skills play a role in academic performance, but also how they arise, it’s said in the article. For example, how much iron both mothers and infants have in their diets may influence cognitive processing. Moreover, there is such thing as “language nutrition” that depends on how much income a family has: while babies from lower-income families reportedly tend to hear just 600 words per hour during their crucial developmental years, those from higher-income families tend to hear around 2,000 words per hour. This results in quite significant differences in vocabulary. One more interesting thing about family income dependence:
Regarding genetic factors, a study from 2003 suggested that among children from impoverished families, 60% of the variance in IQ is likely accounted for by their shared environment. The study also noted that the genetic contribution to IQ differences among those children may be close to zero. Meanwhile, the opposite was found for children from more affluent families.
Thus, as the playing field for academic performance is already uneven, some argue that it is logically inconsistent to say that the use of nootropics is unfair. The author of the article also notes that it’s arguably more ethical to provide nootropics to lower-performing individuals to make up for their deficits. This comes especially as some studies have found that low performers may be the only ones to truly benefit from the drugs.
PROCESS-ORIENTED AND GOAL-ORIENTED HUMAN ACTIVITIES
Another way to tackle this ethical dilemma is by considering different types of human activity.
- A process-oriented activity is about how something happens. In such a case, it’s important not to beg for extra help from outside, because it makes it harder to understand what the person is capable of based only on his efforts, and it also causes problems in comparison when it comes to contests. A good example is given in the article: an athlete should run a race and win by being the fastest runner, rather than just being the fastest (something they could do by driving a monster truck across the finish line or by taking performance-enhancing drugs). The same with the students: it could mean acing their exams thanks to their own efforts only.
- A goal-oriented activity focuses more on the output than the process. Sometimes, the result is above all, and it becomes not so important whether a person succeeded on his own or with help from outside.
But what if it’s not so clear whether the activity is process-oriented or goal-oriented? Should we make nootropics available or banned to everyone?
MAKE NOOTROPICS AVAILABLE OR BANNED TO EVERYONE?
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) uses one principle criterion for drug prohibition: whether it poses an actual or potential threat to the athlete’s health. With nootropics, it’s not so easy to understand if the preparation should be restricted or not. First, most nootropics are extremely understudied, meaning we are not really sure which are harmless to whom and in which circumstances. Second, nootropics benefit different people in different ways. So how should we know what is acceptable and what is not? Some organizations came up with their own rules. For example, at Duke University, the use of prescription drugs without a prescription is banned because of their negative side effects. Otherwise, natural nootropics (such as caffeine) or other less harmful preparations are allowed for everyone. Seems legit! But it’s also not so clear sometimes. In the case of students, even if they’re “clear” at the exam, one can never know if they used some stimulants for a long time before in order to study more effectively.
Howbeit, we totally agree with the author of the article: if taken correctly, they may just deepen the human experience, both in sentience and in what we’re able to bring into reality. So if you want to use nootropics most effectively, with fewer side effects, please, always consult a specialist first!
Source: Psychology Today