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Do Recreational Drugs Help Programmers? 878

Posted by timothy
from the help-them-what? dept.
jfruh writes "Among the winners of last night's election: marijuana users. Voters in both Washington and Colorado approved referenda that legalized marijuana for recreational use, though the drug remains illegal under federal law. There's been a long-standing debate among programmers as to whether recreational drugs, including pot and hallucinagens like LSD, can actually help programmers code. Don't forget, there was a substantial overlap between the wave of computer professionals who came of age in the '60s and that era's counterculture." (There's even a good book on that topic.)
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Do Recreational Drugs Help Programmers?

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  • Woot (Score:3, Informative)

    by davidwr (791652) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:27PM (#41920379) Homepage Journal

    First cup of coffee gets first post!

  • by pavon (30274) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:32PM (#41920483)

    In case you were tempted to RTFA, don't. You have to click through two ad-laden pages, and there really isn't any more information than in the summary.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:33PM (#41920489)

    THC... sometimes for certain people. It helps me focus, and some of the best code I've done has been while stoned.

    LSD on the other hand... I can't even read the text on the screen and find it difficult just to play music on my computer. I think that after the fact it leaves one with a more holistic and empathic perspective on life, but it sure as hell can't help you at the time of being high - similarly with pretty much any other psychedelic drug (I have the term hallucinogen, because they don't really make you hallucinate, strictly speaking).

  • Re:Caffine (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:39PM (#41920625)
    Perhaps you need another cup; it's "caffeine".
  • by Triv (181010) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:41PM (#41920651) Journal

    Your friend was doing it wrong. The intoxicant helps draw connections between things you wouldn't've necessarily thought to connect beforehand, gives you ideas, sends you off in an unexpected direction.

    The work that derives from that initial idea, the actual making stuff of it, should be done sober.

  • Re:What? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jest3r (458429) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:42PM (#41920675)

    Creative programming and creative problem solving.

    Musicians and artists for example do benefit from recreational marijuana use. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys was quoted in Rolling Stone magazine as saying that marijuana helped him write Pet Sounds. Shakespeare, Carl Sagan, Paul McCartney .. the list goes on and on .. have all said that the use of cannabis had a profound positive experience on their creative process.

    So it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that cannabis could also provide a mental "boost" to a programmers mindset as well. In terms of problem solving or inspiring creativity.

  • Re:LSD and Unix (Score:3, Informative)

    by NettiWelho (1147351) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:44PM (#41920709)
    I didnt know Berkley was in Switzerland.
  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:46PM (#41920741) Homepage

    I have seen code produced by a drunk person before, it is ridiculous,
    You might think you can, but you cannot code drunk.

  • Re:Caffine (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:52PM (#41920869)

    Only if you use it rarely. If you use it regularly, your body will get used to it and usage will only get you to the same level as those who don't use it. And not using it will drop you below their level. But I think you can recover within a week or two if you stop using it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @01:04PM (#41921099)

    I played the best game of Q*bert in my life while on THC. Coding, not so much. It *destroyed* my ability to think about the assembly code I was working on.

    LSD is an awesome experience, but I could barely take a phone call. Coding would be out of the question. If the high didn't last so long, I might be open to taking it in order to allow me to think outside the box for awhile.

  • Re:maybe (Score:5, Informative)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @01:05PM (#41921123)

    I don't think the idea is you code while high. I think the idea is that getting high last night affects the way your brain works today. Either because of simple stress relief or something more complicated. LSD in particular is known to have serious and long lasting effects on brain function, and not all of them negative. For example, a single dose of LSD can increase the chances of an alcoholic staying sober by a significant margin, significant enough that if it weren't for the stigma associated with it it would probably be part of standard rehab.

  • Amphetamines. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @01:09PM (#41921231)

    Adderall/dex/meth/speed is used for recreational and also prescribed for the very purpose of helping cognitive performance. The answer to the question depends on many factors, and it simply doesn't make any sense at all to lump all "recreational drugs" in the same box.

    They're not all the same at all.

  • Re:maybe (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheLink (130905) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @01:16PM (#41921389) Journal

    http://www.trinity.edu/jdunn/spiderdrugs.htm [trinity.edu]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect_of_psychoactive_drugs_on_animals [wikipedia.org] [

    There's some evidence that humans shouldn't use marijuana if they are young and their brains are still developing: http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/11417/20120809/marijuana-brain-damage-memory-learning-drug-habit-addiction.htm [medicaldaily.com]

  • Re:Caffine (Score:3, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:12PM (#41922391) Homepage

    was anybody talking to you, faggot? if you value your health, you better shut the fuck up too.

    Whatever it is that you are taking, you should probably back off of it a bit.

  • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jest3r (458429) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:15PM (#41922477)

    Well ... it's a bit of a stretch ... but quoted from Scientific American and BBC news ...

    In the current issue of the South African Journal of Science, Francis Thackeray of the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria and his colleagues document the presence of cocaine and myristic acid (a plant-derived hallucinogen) in clay-pipe fragments retrieved from the beloved bard's Stratford-Upon-Avon home. Their analysis also hints at the presence of marijuana residues.

    Though the pipe cannot be definitively linked to Shakespeare himself, it is certain that it dates to the 17th century. This fact came as a surprise to the scientists; previously, the earliest known record of cocaine in Europe dated to only 200 years ago.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=shakespeare-on-drugs

  • Re:maybe (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@cGINSBERGarpanet.net minus poet> on Thursday November 08, 2012 @03:18PM (#41923449) Homepage

    > Don't believe the hype, and stop spreading misinformation.
    > If you want to join the party come informed.

    Um... you are falling into the same trap. Not all drugs are the same, they don't affect the same systems within the body/brain, they don't metabolize the same ways, they are not the same.

    Alcohol hangovers are pretty complex and are due to various issues from dehydration to the effects of various metabolites of alcohol and what they do in your system (or what alcohols even, its long been noted that some distilled liquors have a tendancy to create worst hangovers... as they have concentrated levels of all manner of chemical)

    Pot has virtually no hangover. LSD will tire you out and could be said to have a hangover, of sorts.

    Now as for coding.... I don't really recomend being high while coding anything serious. Maybe a little alcohol, a little pot or something, wont hinder you too much but.... I smoke a good amount of pot and have a very high tolerance.... I still can't get much done after 3 or so bong rips.

    As for LSD, I wouldn't discount it. The experience is very intense but also very cerebral. I still wouldn't expect to get much done coding on it, however, for higher level brainstorming and gaining perspective, I definitely think it has some value..... once in a while.... (you can't do it every day anyway.... tolerance builds very fast... most suggest no less than a week in between uses, or else it will just stop "working", and since there is no withdrawl or dependance its not like its an addictive substance... in fact, after an acid trip, the vast majority of people have NO desire to do it again right away... its a rather emotionally draining experience)

    Though back when i was younger and did it more than once in a blue moon, I stuck to friday and saturday evenings so I had a whole day to recover and reflect on anything difficult that I ran into.

    Once you have done it a few times, and get your "sea legs", its definitely less intimidating and easier to handle different situations. I have tripped in various situations with lots of people around and never had a real issue, and the worst thing that happened was, while going from one party to another at a convention, I got stuck in a hallway listening to RMS debate a local book shop owner on copyright (Didn't even realize who it was at first, just thought he was some FSF hardliner until someone called him "Richard") .... and no, nobody should take this as an endorsement of tripping in public for newbs, I was quite experienced before I ever did anything like that.

    Sadly though, I haven't seen LSD for years. Supply dried up at least 5 years ago.

  • Re:Contradictory ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by spazdor (902907) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @05:15PM (#41925055)

    Today I learned that no one who experiences stress of any kind is happy, ever.
    Thank god Slashdot has such good psychology credentials.

  • Re:Contradictory ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeng (926980) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @05:30PM (#41925249)

    The weed relieves the stress and makes him happy.

    It really isn't that difficult to understand.

    I have depression issues, I take anti-depressants, it is not contradictory that the end result is that I am not depressed.

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