Nicotine as a smart drug (was: Re: MED: Smoking writer needs hel

Nick Bostrom (
Sun, 21 Mar 1999 13:26:07 +0000

proclus <> wrote:

> My mother, once prolific, has not written a word since she quit
> smoking. It is a well know anecdote among writers, that if you quit
> smoking, you are out of work. Sadly, it appears to be some kind of
> mental block, probably based on brain recptors. Similarly, I believe
> that there were some jazz players who couldn't improvise without a
> cigarette in the mouth.

I would recommend that your mother tries nicotine chewing gum. In contrast to the "suicide pins", chewing gum is extremely safe while having a similar neurological effect.

There is some evidence that nicotine improves performance on complex cognitive tasks (also in non-smokers). I decided to give the chewing gum a try a few months back. Judging from the pharmacist's reaction it is somewhat unusual that people who have never smoked a cigarette buy this product. I use 2mg gums, seldom more than two per day, and I have not noticed any addiction. I think it has some nootropic effects: it seems to make it somewhat easier to concentrate and to get into "the flow". The first few times, the actual chewing created a distraction that approximately cancelled this effect, but as the chewing becomes habitual this distraction disappears.

Anybody else who has experimented with nicotine as a smart drug?

Nick Bostrom Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method London School of Economics