File this one under “if only.”
Some time ago, German scientist, Hans-Hilger Ropers, announced he was testing a pill that reduces the hyperactivity of certain brain cells, which in turn stabilizes short term memory and improves attentiveness. The researcher claims to have used it successfully with fruit flies and mice; a German newspaper dubbed it an “anti-stupidity pill.”
Before I get into the applications of such a drug, I’d like to know one thing — exactly how does one tell when a fruit fly’s memory has improved? Do you ask it for its phone number? Do you move the bowl of grapes and see whether it acts bemused? Perhaps — and this would definitely be an improvement — if you tried to swat it away from your face it would remember this and stay away, rather than trying to get up your nose again five seconds later.
But I digress. It’s probably rather optimistic of the newspaper to dub this an anti-stupidity pill, as there’s a lot more to being smart than just being attentive. However, I’m encouraged by the fact that researchers are looking into this problem. It has been said that the two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity, and eliminating one of those would go a long way to improving the human condition.
For example, consider what driving would be like if we were to eradicate stupidity. No one would be tempted to pull out of a parking lot and attempt to cross six lanes of traffic in a single move. Everyone would recognize that it’s a bad idea to leave just six inches of space between cars when there is both fog and freezing rain. And no one would ever think that buying a Hummer was a good idea.
On the downside, politics would be a lot less interesting. These days, people watch political debates for the same reason they watch NASCAR — they want to see a crash. If politicians were to take anti-stupidity pills before a debate, you’d end up seeing a reasoned, thoughtful discussion on important issues, with both sides coming up with potential solutions to big problems. And what good would that be?
On the other hand, Internet forums and chat rooms would be vastly improved. Consider a typical Internet conversation:
DeerHunter874: So four killed in Beirut this afternoon, according to CNN…
MakTheKnife: What are you saying DH? Exactly what are you saying u commie Zionist b*stard?!
PowerRanger: I heard the Porto Reekans are planning on injecting everyone their with an aides virus made by their goverment.
BIGSAL: Omigod! Did anyone like, totally see that outfit that Britney was so not wearing at MTV awards tonite?
It could only get better from there, right?
Retailers would probably suffer if anti-stupidity pill use were widespread. Just think of all those impulse buys you’ve made over the years. That slinky red dress that looked great on the six foot tall model, but which made you look like Mrs. Claus? The Stephen Harper dartboard? The Star Trek red alert doorbell? Okay, so maybe these are just my dumb impulse buys…
Long running television shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos would have to be cancelled, since half their content depends on people attempting stupid things. Police officers would either have a harder time or an easier time of it. They’d have an easier time because there would be fewer stupid criminals on the street, doing things that are more of a nuisance than a crime. They’d have a harder time because the remaining criminals would be craftier and tougher to catch.
But overall, I’d say anti-stupidity pills would be a boon to society. But if we aren’t likely to get any for humans in the near future, I’d settle for pills for my computer. It’s forever doing “illegal operations,” running out of memory, or thanks to some nasty computer virus, attempting to make purchases on my behalf.
On the other hand, perhaps I should keep my computer stupid. Then I could blame *it* for buying that Star Trek doorbell.