Tracking an Author

How many more of these do I have???

This time, I looked at one of Margaret Talbot’s work on a different platform, the New Yorker. In 2009, she did a long article called “Brain Gain” which follows the use of neuroenhancers in academic and professional environments. Like many of her stories, she starts out by following Alex, a Harvard student who uses Adderall to complete work. Talbot details the obligations that Alex has each day, from running a student organization, to work, to studying. Alex describes the rationale to Adderall; people use it not to be the top student, but to be in upper levels of student achievement, or even just to do better than what they normally would have. These students are not delusional–they know that a paper written late at night on Adderall will not be as good as one written a week before the deadline with editing; they are just trying to get the job done.

She then discusses findings by a U of M researcher: users are more likely white male undergraduates at a competitive university, they are more likely to be in the Northeast, likely to belong to a sorority or fraternity, and have a GPA of 3.0 or lower. They also are ten times more likely to have smoked marijuana in the last year and twenty times as likely to say that they have used cocaine. She also discusses how common use is on campus, stating that college chat rooms used concurrently with studying are flooded with advice and offers about securing neuroenhancers. People develop strategies for how to take the pills for maximum efficiency and share them with others.

Overall, this article aligns with the content of her later work, but is different from what I normally read on the New Yorker. In general, the New Yorker tends to be verbose and targeted at a highly-educated elite class. However, this article pretty accessible and more like her New York Times work. I am interested why the New Yorker deviated from their standard content form.

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