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Smart Drugs--Like In "limitless"

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#1 SaxonViolence



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Posted 10 January 2012 - 03:50 PM

Has anyone seen the Movie "Limitless"?

In short there is a pill that taken once daily, will turn anyone into a Super Genius.

I was watching a Show on Television, and some Prominent Brain Researcher predicted that we'd have "Genius" Drugs soon--as well as a second type Drug that would allow you to download tremendous amounts of Data with total recall.....

But only the stuff that you saw, heard etc., while under the influence of the drug.

He also had one more thought provoking comment--When such Drugs become available, will the Government allow them to be utilized extensively?

Right then, I had a brilliant Vision of Chemically enhanced Narcs pursuing all sorts of Chemically Enhanced Dopers.

(I do some SF Writing occasionally.)

Well anyway, that's been twenty-five years ago, and the Drugs haven't Materialized--don't know why the Scientist was so far off his mark--be interesting to hear his take now--if I only remembered his name.

Whoever wrote the screenplay for "Unlimited" came very close to what I'd imagined.....

Except he had a very small cadre of people using the Drug, and stabbing each other in the back--where I had tried to picture tens of thousands of people using.....

And while I'd envisioned a "Rebound" when coming off the Drug--I imagined that long term use would gradually raise one's natural intelligence.

At any rate--

Do we have any idea which Brain Functions would need to be altered to give someone noticeably more "Brain-Power"? (Never mind "How" for the moment.)

I mean, cranking up the Mitochondria--just for instance--might accomplish nothing helpful, and only cause the Brain to use more Oxygen and Glucose.

Or change something so that new Neural Pathways could be established much faster.....

But that might lead to all sorts of apparent "OCD" Behavior, as it becomes far easier to unintentionally establish new "Habits"--often based on sheer happenstance.

Second, exactly how do you all think this would effect Day-to-Day life, if a Million Americans were taking the New Drug?

It seems like a Super Genius Programmer could write some Brilliant new programs, that would nonetheless run on existing Computers.

An Electronic Engineer who envisions a vastly improved Computer Chip, even with the best of support and backing--may take five or ten years to get his stuff into production

A Doctor with Super Genius may be turning out massive amounts of new Chemicals with all sorts of Exciting Potential--and it may take twenty years to get some of his products on the shelf.

Seems to me that every time some new Esoteric Mathematics is invented, some group of Physicists, Engineers, Biologists--even Weather Forecasters and Economists rush forward and say, "This is exactly what I've been needing".

Think of Some of the Greatest Mathematicians of all time: Gauss, Riemann, The Indian Dude--his name escapes me at the moment, Erdos, Newton--Now imagine about five Hundred of each--no, five hundred much more talented than any of these folks--All spatting Formulas , Theorems and Hypothesis back and forth at each other on the Internet.....

Anyway, the Topic fascinates me, be thrilled to hear other viewpoints.

Saxon Violence

#2 CraigD



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Posted 11 January 2012 - 12:59 PM

Has anyone seen the Movie "Unlimited"?

In short there is a pill that taken once daily, will turn anyone into a Super Genius.

I’ve not seen it, but from your description, would like to, and/or read its script. I couldn’t find an entry for it at IMBD or other movie sites, though, only the annoying (a 56 sec video consisting of lots of lightbulbs, no links or text) unlimitedthemovie.com webpage, which announces it as “coming soon”.

:QuestionM Has it been released yet? Have you seen it, SV? Can you post links to something better than what I found?

I was watching a Show on Television, and some Prominent Brain Researcher predicted that we'd have "Genius" Drugs soon ...
Well anyway, that's been twenty-five years ago, and the Drugs haven't Materialized ...

Enthusiasm for and discussion of Nootropic drugs was, I think, more widespread from the mid 1980s to 1990s than today, in large part because, despite optimistic predictions, no clearly cognition or memory-enhancing drug has been found. I know some “cult followings” for some non-stimulant drugs, most in the SSRI class (eg: Prozac), but to the best of my knowledge, none of these drugs show a significant effect on performance in any properly conducted cognition or memory test, only in anecdotal, self-performed, non-blind ones by enthusiastic proponents – hence their cult status. Folk who feign depression to have a psychiatrist prescribe and an insurer pay for an SSRI, while generally smart to begin with, don’t appear to me to be made into anything like “super geniuses”, though they don’t seem to suffer any ill effects, either.

Because alertness usually improves performance in cognition and memory tests, stimulant drugs, from coffee-delivered caffeine to dangerously addictive prescription meds like Dexedrine can, obviously, be classed as “mental performance enhancers”. Despite users’ feelings that they are, this sort of “boost” seems minor, far short of what I’d call “genius-making”.

Because anxiety can reduce test performance, moderate doses of sedative drugs from beverage-delivered alcohol to addictive prescription meds like diazepam (Valium) can, in some cases, improve performance, but again, not to dramatic, “genius” levels.

Many psychedelic drugs (eg: the tryptamines, such as LSD and DMT) can produce a feeling in their use of being a tremendous genius, but at typical dosages, decrease cognitive and test performance.

To the best of my knowledge, the only reliable memory enhancing drug is epinephrine. As epinephrine is effectively produced endogenously (within your body), it’s not necessary to necessary to get this drug from an external source, which is fortunate, as its bioavailability in oral for (pills, etc) is very poor, requiring it to be injected, and injection is inconvenient and risky in many ways. You can use epinephrine to improve memory by getting scared, which accounts for why we often remember frightening event in great detail and clarity for a long time.

In short, I think it’s unlikely a drug can make a person significantly smarter. My impression is that simple psychopharmacology can, at best, slightly “amplify” someone’s ordinary cognitive ability – that is, make a “faster, sharper dummy”.

What’s been demonstrated to make geniuses is determination and hard, disciplined study. “the Indian Dude” who’s name you couldn’t recall, Srinivasa Ramanujan, for instance, studied intensely (unlike many of the other famous mathematicians you mentioned, largely on his own, using an odd, haphazard collection of essentially every textbook he could lay his hands on) to become the intuitive mathematical genius he was.

In short, I think, as the saying goes, genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. I don’t think “medication” will ever deserve more than a percentage point or two in that equation.

You raise a lot of interesting questions in the rest of your post, SV, but I’m overlength and time already, so will return to them later.

#3 SaxonViolence



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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:47 PM

Misrembered the Title.

Its "Limitless".


Based on this book:


Sorry for the confusion.

Saxon Violence

#4 SaxonViolence



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Posted 04 February 2012 - 03:00 PM

Is this a Spam?

The trouble with the Extant "Over-The-Counter" "Smart Drugs" is, if they work at all-- they work very subtly, subtly enough that while their effects May be quite real, they are mild enough to bring up questions of "Placebo Effect"; and they're fairly Expensive.

The same applies to any Prescription Smart Drugs too.

Some folks claimed dramatic effects from LSD-25.

I am not sure how well this worked; but I'd love to take part in a Legal Scientific Experiment.

{Afraid of getting stuck with Strychnine and/or busted out on the streets.....}

Back in '75--'78 I was a Miserable Chess Player--though I devoted hours to the Game every day.

Then one day, I abruptly gave up and stopped playing.

I didn't play in enough tournaments to get a rating--especially since I lost all my games to fairly strong (by my standards) Competitors.....

But my provisional Rating was somewhere below 1000.

I haven't devoted a full twenty-four hours to the game since 1978.

Find me a Smart Drug that will make me a Master (not a Grandmaster--just a Master) in Six months.....

Without even Seriously Obsessing.....

And I'll agree that you have a Smart Drug.

That is intended as a Very Reasonable Test. Being a Master-Level Player with some hope of achieving Grandmaster someday--would be great, but like I say, I'm not even into Chess that much anymore.

P.S.--This is Without any Expert Coaching, it is unlikely, but conceivable, that I already had Untapped Talent, that Expert Coaching might have revealed back in the '70s.

Point #2} if I learn Differential Calculus, and learn to speak Hindi and Japanese fluently as well as Become A Chess Master--all in six months--I expect to have Permanent Possession of those things.

If all the Abilities Disappear when I cut the the Drug out, then it really isn't any use to me.

{The LSD-25 Experiments were more on the order of facilitating Powerful "Eureka Moments". It isn't something you take daily, for the long haul.} :blink:

Anyway, Miss Spammer, your Product isn't a Smart Pill--just a Crack-Brained Diet Placebo.....

HMMMmmnn.....Wouldn't that make a great Science Fiction Plot? A Quack Diet Pill that turns out to be one Hell of a Smart Pill?

Back in a Moment--Want to go research something.

Saxon Violence

#5 SaxonViolence



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Posted 04 February 2012 - 04:12 PM


This is one of my favorite themes, I wanted to make sure that I hadn't already talked it up Here.

"Carbine Williams' Magic Mental Hole"

How many of you have seen the movie about the Life of "Carbine Williams"?

Jimmy Steward played Williams.

I don't know how true to life the movie was.

"Carbine Williams" was a real person. He was a Moonshiner doing life for Killing a Revenuer. Many folks say that he was unjustly convicted, and there was politics involved.

At any rate, while in prison, Williams Conceived and built a Demonstration model, and was awarded the Patent to the Short-Stroke Carbine, Which became the M-1 .30 Carbine used extensively in WWII and Korea.

The Movie seems to suggest that the whole thing happened kind of as a "Miracle".

In real life, Williams had worked as both a Gunsmith and a General Mechanic before going in.

He was a Trustee, and in a different place and time than today, he worked as a Gunsmith in the Prison Armory, and finished his Prototype there.

Williams was eventually Pardoned.

Here is the Point:

There is a scene in the Movie, where Williams gets into a Hissing Contest with the Warden. (Never try to outhiss a Snake-in-The-Grass, or a Viper...)

Anyway, they stuck Williams in "The Hole" with an open-ended sentence. He could only come out, if he was willing to concede that he was in the wrong.

"The Hole" was literally a Hole in the Ground. It was about the same size you'd get, if you dig about a five-by-five pit about four foot deep, centered an ordinary Stainless Steel Trash-Can--reinforced it somehow--and poured concrete all around.

There wasn't anywhere near room to stand in the hole--Like I say, it was Trash-Can Sized; nor was their room to sit. It was totally Dark.

They come by once or twice a day to Feed and Water Williams, and ask him if he Gave Up. The Rest of the time, Williams was Squatting, alone in the Darkness.

After over sixty days in "The Hole"; the Prison Doctor realized that he could put a stop to the whole affair, by Declaring Williams--Who was at the Point of Death--was unfit to continue.

How Come he hadn't long since suffocated from the Ammonia Fumes?

Presumably, there was a Drain in the bottom of the Hole, and they hosed him down at least once every day or so.....


Williams said that while in The Hole, after a few days, he lost all sense of self.....and all he saw were giant 3-D Figures of all the Components to all the Multiple Firearms Designs he'd worked on--all in Full Color.....

And they endlessly "Square-Danced" {my term} their way into different Configurations, until he was satisfied.

Now I don't know if this part is true. It might be some Movie Producer's Crack-Minded Hallucination.

Friends,I don't want to squat in a Trash-Can for over sixty days--not even overnight. Fact is, I might very well not fit into a Standard Trash-Can.

Assuming that I could fit, I'd be dead of Suffocation and/or Heart Failure within Moments. No need to worry about what to feed me, come mealtime.

But I've been searching for a way to get into that state of Mind, every since I saw that Movie.

Medications seems ineffective--well, opiates seem to work to a degree--better than anything else I've tried. Well, but the trick is procuring a reliable and affordable--and legal--source. Most meditation Schemes also seem ineffective, and there is always the risk of falling under the influence of Demonic Spirits.....

Many Drugs are a Risk that way too.....

Yes, LSD-25 has a very bad Rap for Summoning Unclean Spirits.....

But the Scientists and Engineers who took part in the Early LSD-25 Experiments didn't seem to suffer from this effect.

I'm persuaded that someone who is simply looking for more Scientific or Engineering "Eureka! Moments" is neither summoning Unclean Spirits, nor Leaving himself wide-open for them when they arrive.....

Unlike the Mystic seeking contact with "The Spirit Realm" or whatever.....

Both Bio-Feedback and Lucid Dreaming seem to offer some possibilities.....

But Biofeedback is kinda seriously retro at this precise juncture of time.....

And my abilities as a Lucid Dreamer are about as developed as my Chess-Playing Skills.

So, does anyone know a less strenuous way to get into "Williams' Mental Hole"?

Saxon Violence

#6 JMJones0424


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Posted 04 February 2012 - 07:27 PM

Though not quite as extreme, I have unintentionally experienced this mental state numerous times, all after extended periods of sleep deprivation and limited caloric intake coupled with heavy physical exertion. For obvious reasons, do not attempt to do this on your own. Also, never restrict water intake.

#7 CraigD



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Posted 04 February 2012 - 10:04 PM

... So, does anyone know a less strenuous way to get into "Williams' Mental Hole"?

It sound from your description of the movie that Williams’s mental state may have been due in large part to sensory deprivation. Systems used to isolate the subject from external stimuli can be as complicated as water-filled tanks in which the subject floats, to a comfortable bed in a warm, dark, sound-proofed room, so ear and eye covers.

The usual period for a sensory deprivation, or as it’s know now, Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), is 24 hours. Drinking, eating, and toileting are usually allowed.

Sensory depravation subjects report experiences ranging from deep sleep-like relaxation to vivid hallucination to enhanced problem-solving ability to, rarely, confusion, anxiety, or more severe mental disorders.

I expect you could put together an effective “sensory dep chamber” without much difficulty, and would be more comfortable in it than in ordinary life. The above wikipedia link should be able to point you to what you need to get started.

#8 lawcat



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Posted 05 February 2012 - 03:55 AM

i like this video testimonial, starts at 2:20

#9 SaxonViolence



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Posted 05 February 2012 - 02:09 PM

CraigD--Did you ever get around to seeing the Movie?

Once again, anyone who has seen the Movie, or thinks they grasp the concept, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on what living in an America with a Couple Million or More popping those Pills regularly, would be like.

The Girl's Rave was interesting.

They are hard-pressed to keep my Blood Pressure even partly Controlled with four and five medications.

Stimulants--with an exception for heavy Caffeine use, are a No-Go.

When I was young, I ate Amphetamine and Phentermine Tablets like M&Ms. I had my own Current PDR, that travelled with me, and I could quote large parts of it Verbatim.

Amphetamines hit Ectomorphic Skinny Individuals much harder than they do Endomorphs and Mesomorphs.

I'm not talking about how a 250 Pound Construction Worker will need a Bigger Dose than a 140 Pound Shoe Salesman.

I mean when either Maxes out, the Ectomorph will be more likely to suffer Insomnia, Anorexia and Debilitating "Crashes".

I'm a very Heavy Boned Meso/Endomorph.

I have went three and four days without sleep--but I could generally get 4 1/2 to 5 hours sleep a night, if I just didn't forget to go to bed.

It wouldn't bother me to miss a meal or two, and I ate somewhat more modestly.....

But I can also remember going into a Pizza-Hut with a Friend, when I was doing Heavy Manual Labor for ten to twelve hours per day--occasionally even more, in the Hot Summer Sun.....

I ordered a Large Deluxe Pizza--I thought my Friend was going to share--and a Pitcher of Coke.

Meanwhile, my Speeding Friend only wants a pot of Black Coffee.

He got impatient, and started wanting to leave.....

And I finished the Large Pizza and Two Pitchers of Coke, in about five minutes.

It must have been a Bizarre Sight.

Why do you think they call it "Speed"?

My crashes, well I needed to stop and rest up every so often, but I didn't suffer too greatly, just slept and ate more for a few days.

About Prozac--been on 80Mg/Day of Prozac for about Seven years. I decided, largely on an Intuitive Whim, to stop Cold-Turkey. Haven't used it since 4 January. See some differences--but they are suble.....

I am writing on the Forums a lot more.....

Of course, I was Eating fairly large dosages of Vicoden during weeks 2&3--for a ruptured Rotator Cuff.

Wish that I had some more.....


I used Ritalin a good bit, back in my Drug Days.

The first time I Tried it, It was very much like doing a Big Shot of Cocaine--not quite as intense, but far longer lasting.

I only got a couple of mildly enjoyable experiences after that--Still, when the Ritalin was free, I'd try it one more time, in hopes.....

And got a bad infection--and almost lost my left arm Streptococcus A.....

No More I.V. for me--Never, no how, no way....!!!

I don't even want to be in the same room as a Ritalin Tablet.....

Not because I have any fear of being Tempted.....

But because Me and Ritalin are Sworn Enemies.


Saxon Violence

#10 CraigD



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Posted 07 February 2012 - 10:15 AM

CraigD--Did you ever get around to seeing the Movie?

Spoiler Warning!

I did. My wife Kate and I watched Limitless online on 13 Jan 2012, and enjoyed it well – science fiction angles aside, it’s a well-made movie, worthy I think of more promotion and popularity than it got. My guess is that, due to the US’s “cold war against drugs”, movies with any sort of “a psychotropic drugs can be good for you” theme are confined to a cult or semi-cult status. 2006’s software-based rotoscope animated vary faithful adaptation the same-titled P. K. Dick novel, A Scanner Darkly, which we saw in a small theatre, was similarly little promoted, despite it’s very downbeat, “this drug will damage your brain” message, perhaps because of it’s “drug law enforcement is sleazy” theme.

Limitless’s depiction of the feel of the fictional drug NZT was very well done, I thought, giving the impression of a really good day when your mind is in a powerful creative fugue. It came across as believable to me for that reason – because, like many math/science fans, I’ve experienced states like that under the influence of no or no more medication than half a pot of coffee. Since I’ve long concluded, with some pretty good evidence from reading various sorts of my fugue state creative output, from natural language to math notes to computer programs, that such “I know everything!” states of mind are due more to a heightened sense of confidence and optimism than to actually being much better at remembering and calculating, I wondered if NZT is primarily a nootropic, as its promotional literature and most commentary proposes, or primary a mood elevator.

Practically, it’s difficult to cleanly distinguish between the happy-depressed and smart-stupid mental characteristic axes: depression produces listless, low mental performance effectively like stupidity. I’m familiar with a loose “cult” of “brain workers” (academics, computer programmers, etc.) who take antidepressants prescribed by their psychiatrists, all paid for mostly by employer health insurance, not because they feel themselves to be truly suffering from depression, but because they believe it makes them smarter and more professionally effective.

None of these folk, however, are poised to take over the world, or capable of amazing feats such as predicting a seemingly random car accident 10 seconds in advance, as Limitless’s protagonists Eddie does in the near final scene of the movie, to impress on his former partner, powerful businessman Carl that he’s practically unbeatable in any contest of wits.

Along with a scene where Eddie, in a desperate life-or-death strait, gets an effective dose of NZT by licking up a puddle of the spilled blood of someone who’s injected it – a simple dilution calculation shows the wrongness of this – this final scene strained my suspension of disbelief most, and were thus my least favorite in the movie.

Once again, anyone who has seen the Movie, or thinks they grasp the concept, I'm curious to hear your thoughts on what living in an America with a Couple Million or More popping those Pills regularly, would be like.

:thumbs_up A good SF “what if” question, which I wished the movie had explored more!

My guess would be we’d be a dramatically more productive society, writing novels, designing gadgets and software and doing basic science at an accelerated rate – assuming, of course, that NZT truly makes its user more intelligent in general, not just better at writing, politics, and predicting car crashes, as it does for the movie’s Eddie.

A possible dark side is that, as depicted in the movie, even for super-geniuse Eddie, taking the latest, side-effect free version of it, NZT is difficult to make, its making and distribution easy for him to completely control. So an America (or, I’d imagine, given how vague and porous national boundaries are to most brain workers, a whole world) dependent on NZT would be terribly dependent on a reliable supply of it, and at the mercy of whoever could control its production, a recipe for potential slavery.

Perhaps this “supply problem” is just a imaginative writing failure by on the part of the movie’s or the novel on which it’s based’s writers. Early into watching Limitless, my wife and are were both struck with the same thought: “you’ve just found a drug that makes you a super-genius, able to master specialized disciplines overnight. Rather than learning and going into stock-trading so you could afford to hire a pharmacologist to analyze and make more of the drug, wouldn’t you learn pharmacology and do it yourself?”

It’s certainly an imaginative failure to assume a super-genius wouldn’t consider finding a way of inserting genes into their cells to produce the drug endogenously, rather than manufacturing it, as I’m far short of even an ordinary genius with only peripheral familiarity with pharmacology and gene therapy, and this though came quickly to mind while watching the movie.

#11 Super Polymath

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Posted 22 October 2017 - 01:46 PM

Getting high will alter your brain chemistry at the expense of brain cells. It's a white matter vs gray matter thing.

I don't know what I'd be like without the drugs I've abused. OTC, MJ, prescription. I stuck to the drugs that had psychoactive effects, so the way I think is probably radically different as a result. A few of the prescription I refered to were stimulants/nootropics, one of them was provigil, which limitless was based off of. I found the long term effects DXM & CBD highs had a far more profound impact on how I perceived the world, but the nootropics & my unique might have had a hand in how those drugs effected my thinking.

Edited by Super Polymath, 22 October 2017 - 01:49 PM.