Performance-Enhanced Punditry
January 14, 2011, 02:43 PM
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This isn't the biggest issue in the world, but it's one I think about now and then: The opinion journalism business isn't a terribly hard field by most standards, but it does requires unnatural amounts of self-confidence to think that you have anything worth saying on a ridiculous number of random topics.

Now, most people in the business, I presume, drink coffee or colas for the caffeine for energy.

What about attention deficit disorder drugs like Ritalin or Adderall? I haven't seen many references to these by pundits, but I was struck by a footnote or two in ESPN columnist Bill Simmons' big Book Of Basketballabout all the ADD medication he took to pound out his huge book.

Finally, Andrew Sullivan wrote an NYT article eleven years ago about how he saved his career with a testosterone prescription. "My wit is quicker, my mind faster, but my judgment is more impulsive," which is something of an understatement.

I would draw the line between Simmons and Sullivan in that while Simmons can apparently outwork his competitors who aren't on ADD pills, the medication doesn't seem to warp his judgment. His big Book Of Basketball is terrific and very sensible.

In contrast, although I haven't read Sullivan much since he was pounding the Iraq war drums back in 2003, it was pretty obvious at the time that his hormone therapy was playing hob with his judgment. The Atlantic should put a warning label on his blog, one that gets update round the clock to show you where in Sullivan's artificial hormone cycle he is, so readers can make their own informed judgments about, say, last Tuesday's pronouncement:

Very very very few people have contributed more poison and hatred and extremism to the culture than Rush Limbaugh.
In which he sounds like Lindsay Lohan on steroids.

Rush, of course, has his own very personal aids to enhanced performance.