Are we asking the right questions about smart drugs? Marek Kohn looks at what they can do for us – and what they can’t.
“You know how they say that we can only access 20 per cent of our brain?” says the man who offers stressed-out, blank-screened ‘writer’ Eddie Morra a fateful pill in the 2011 film Limitless. “Well, what this does, it lets you access all of it.” Morra, played by Bradley Cooper, is instantly transformed into a superhuman by the fictitious drug NZT-48. Granted access to all cognitive areas, he learns to play the piano in three days, finishes writing his book in four, and swiftly makes himself a millionaire.
Limitless is what you get when you flatter yourself that your head houses the most complex known object in the universe, and run away with the notion that it must have powers to match. More down to earth is the idea that we always have untapped cognitive potential, but that life gets between us and the best we could possibly manage.… Read the rest