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Performance Enhanced Academics

As I sit here coughing, sneezing and sniffling in a most underperforming kind of way, I'm reading: "Brain Enhancement is Wrong, Right?" in the NY Times. The article discusses the (apparent?) rise in use of cognitive performance enhancers by students and faculty but seems to rely, as has every discussion I've ever seen on this issue, on anecdotal evidence. (Benedict Carey, the article author, also references the debate in the Chronicle of Higher Ed forum. Some CHE forumites are wondering though, where exactly is the debate?

What was most interesting about this to me was how the article almost made me think I ought to be upping my caffeine intake and including off-label Adderrall to my daily regimen (rather than sticking with my performance enhancers of choice: daily trips to the gym or yoga studio, whole foods, a full nights of sleep more often than not, interdisciplinarity). Last spring when my "Writing about Issues in Science and Technology" students and I were reading Joel Garreau's Radical Evolution we had similar discussions about how the discourse of performance enhancement itself seemed to lead to perceptions that "everyone's doing it" thus, so must I do it just to keep up with the rest... Of course, neither Garreau nor Carey talk much about the tolls of these various drugs (which my students seemed to be quite aware of. Are high school anti-drug ed. programs working?) Interestingly, I had 3 students write their final papers on (that is, against) performance enhancers in sports.