Limitless to think


| 4 Comments
I recently saw a movie a couple weeks ago called Limitless. It's about a man named Eddie Morra who is a writer in New York City and struggling to make some money. He randomly runs into his ex wife's brother and he introduces him to a drug called NZT-48 claiming that it lets you access 100% of your brain. Realizing that he can retain information easier and never wants to stop working he ups his dosage of NZT. It causes side effects of lost time, frenetic activity, and heart palpitations. He has an awful hangover from the drug and decides to withdraw from the drug. He learns through others that have used this drug that the withdrawal causes major health and mental problems possibly resulting in death.

Here is a scene from the movie when he realizes the amazing effects of NZT-48






I saw that on the topics page for the class Professor Read posted an article about Popping Smart Pills also known as Adderall, a prescription amphetamine ordinarily used to treat ADHD. It gave he user "clarity of thinking and focus" He said it improved his career and personal relationships. This sounds a lot like the drug in Limitless except it has no side effects, and isn't as extreme..
The benefits of enhancements include increased alertness and focus and improvement in some types of memory. Research shows that in normal people, stimulants consistently and significantly improve learning of material that must be recalled days later.
The biggest bioethicist's greatest concern is that cognitive enhancement may be wrong not because it is physically risky or because it creates an unlevel playing field but because it redefines the nature of human achievement itself.

Comparing the effects of NZT and Adderall the obvious result is that both drugs gives someone clarity and the retention of long lasting memory to help one succeed in a career and a social life.Obviously, NZT does not exist but if it did, like in the movie, one can improve the drug to take out the side effects and the body learns to not rely on the drug and the brain enhances permanently. But, in real life, without adderall there is a terrible crash and withdrawal is evident.

In the movie, everyone wanted NZT and some killed others for it. Here in Penn State, we all know someone that has used aderall before or even is prescribed to it. It does give one a better attention span to write a paper or study but is it fair? Bradley Cooper in the movie becomes a stock market genius through the drug and makes millions of money. But I think the ethical difference is the same with NZT and Aderall. Aderall and NZT doesn't make you a genius over night, you already have to be smart for the drug to work well. Just because a drug helps you retain information in your brain and be more focused doesn't mean that you would be able to win a debate with someone that has devoted most of his/her time to the issue that is being argued. You already have to have the prior knowledge and thinking process to obtain what you are aiming for.

It would be interesting if NZT was real. I wonder what it'd be like to access 100% of my brain. What chemical exactly does this and has a drug been made like this before?

4 Comments

Yeah I don't think its ethical or right to use Adderall if its not prescribed to you. Reason is that if you cant do something under your own power you shouldn't do it. That being said I'm a hypocrite cause if NZT existed I would probably use it just cause I believe life is completely unfair and it would allow me to "stick it to the world" as they say. I agree with what you said about the standards of everything changing. You wouldn't be able to properly distinguish if people where doing what they were doing under their own power or through the aid of the drug. All in all it is a pretty interesting concept to think about.

An interesting article. My question is this: is using something that increases your focus and alertness (e.g. something as simple as coffee) wrong? As a college student, I would KILL for something that would allow me to just sit, study for several hours and retain all of the information and I find it VERY hard to believe that a professor would have issue with this, as it is not affecting something like an exam directly (you aren't getting answer from someone else or from a cheat sheet, you're getting them from yourself). I have not taken Adderall but my question is, would it be unethical if I did?

In my opinion it would not be unethical because, like you mentioned you are not technically cheating. The only reason I think people have for thinking it is unethical is because the drug is illegal without a prescription and not everyone has access to it. However, I think it can be looked at the same way as a private tutor. A tutor is an extra expense that not everyone can afford, but enhances academic performance, I really dont think there is much an a difference ethically.

personally i think a lot of it has to do with the plecebo effect, you think this drug will help you learn more and take in more info when your cramming. it may help a little but its by no means gonna guarantee you learn it all and do great.

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