Doping For A Cause
Professor Henry T. "Hank" Greely is quoted in The Daily Pennsylvanian discussing the use of brain-enhancing substances for academics:
Stanford law professor Henry Greely points out, sports are a zero-sum game - when someone gets better, someone else gets worse - and players who have enhanced themselves with the use of drugs tip that balance in their favor.
Academia, however, doesn't work that way. One researcher's success is not hampered by another's performance. Greely added that "it's rare to have head-to-head competition" among academics - so the sports analogy doesn't hold up.
There are legitimate concerns, of course. Greely noted that the most pressing issues are safety, fairness and coercion. If the drugs have negative health effects, it's a bad thing. If they harm hiring practices or foster competition and inequality between universities, it's a bad thing. If an employee is forced to take them to work better, it's a bad thing.
And if academic research gets better, there's a social benefit attached to it. "The idea of doing things that lead to better research and the production of knowledge is a good thing, with all other things being equal," Greely told me.