April 09, 2008

Enhancement: Yes, People Like It

Enhance yesA survey done by Aftonbladet in regards to my article showed 62.5% of the respondents thought we had a right to change our bodies.

Nature did an informal survey of reader's views on cognition enhancing drugs. About 80% thought enhancement of healthy people is OK and 69% thought mild side effects were acceptable. About 20% of the respondents had used metylphenidate, modafinil or beta blockers. No real age effect (which is odd or show that enhancement use is completely uncorrelated with stimulant use, which I doubt). About half experienced unpleasant side effects (and stopped using them for this reason), but there was no correlation with frequency of use. About a third were bought from the Internet, 52% was prescription drugs (and this demonstrates that as long as there are valid therapeutic uses there will be ways of getting them for people with social capital - banning overt enhancement will not affect this group much). People were understandbly less eager to allow children to use them, but thought there may be a pressure on parents to do so anyway.

Neither survey is very scientific, and we can expect hefty biases - especially the Nature result is biased towards international academics who have thought about cognition enhancement (for example because they use it). But I think they show that we are seeing a normalisation of it.

Nature also had a nice editorial Defining 'natural' about the ethical irrelevance of yuck reactions to the male pregnancy story (and the enhancers). It concludes:

"Ultimately, our visceral concept of what is 'natural' depends on what we are used to, and will continue to evolve as technology does."

So there you have it, morphological freedom is on the move in both Nature and Aftonbladet.

Posted by Anders3 at April 9, 2008 08:51 PM