Stephen Colbert’s ‘Meducation’ – ADHD ‘smart drugs’ dumb down kids

Stephen Colbert’s ‘Meducation’ plan for America’s third rate public schools – Don’t laugh too hard it is already happening!

A video and transcript of Colbert’s ‘Meducation’ rant is available at

On October 10 2012 American comedian Stephen Colbert coined the term “meducation” to describe the growing practice of drugging with ADHD amphetamines, American children with mediocre school grades, who do not have a diagnosis of ADHD.The catalyst for the mock right wing political commentator’s endorsement of ADHD drugs as smart pills was a front page article in the New York Times in which peadiatrician Dr Michael Anderson advocated their widespread use to compensate for America’s third rate public education system. Doctor Anderson said “we’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.” Unlike Colbert, Dr Anderson is not a comedian but unfortunately for some of the children of Ganton Georgia he is their doctor.

In his comedic monologue Colbert argues the child drugging program should be extended beyond amphetamines. “Folks, I believe this is a great fiscally responsible answer, but we can do more.  I mean, we might be cutting arts programs, but one tab of acid, and your kid will be seeing colours you can’t find in a Crayola box.” Colbert’s mock rant concludes with a serious warning; “Now, of course, eventually it may turn out that drugging poor students creates more problems than it solves.  In which case, we’ll have to stop trying to change our children, and think about changing ourselves.”

Despite Dr Anderson’s claims and Colbert’s mock endorsement, ADHD amphetamines are anything but ‘smart drugs’. Unique long term (8 year) Australian research shows that children diagnosed ADHD and ‘ever medicated’ with amphetamines were a staggering 950% more likely to be rated by their teacher as “performing below age-level” than children diagnosed with ADHD and ‘never medicated’. (see ) And as pointed out by Colbert the USA, the home of ADHD child drugging, lags most comparable developed nations (and a few second world nations) in terms of academic achievement.

The message is pretty clear – if you want to dumb down – speed up!

Excerpt  from ‘Attention Disorder or Not, Pills to Help in School’

by Alan Schwarz New York Times, page 1, October 9, 2012

full text available at

When (American paediatrician) Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall (a mixture of four amphetamine salts[1. See ])…

Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools. “I don’t have a whole lot of choice…We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”…

Dr. Anderson’s instinct, he said, is that of a “social justice thinker” who is “evening the scales a little bit.” He said that the children he sees with academic problems are essentially “mismatched with their environment” — square pegs chafing the round holes of public education…

About 9.5 percent of Americans ages 4 to 17 were judged to have it (ADHD) in 2007, or about 5.4 million children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[2. See]…

According to guidelines published last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics, physicians should use one of several behavior rating scales, some of which feature dozens of categories, to make sure that a child not only fits criteria for A.D.H.D., but also has no related condition like dyslexia or oppositional defiant disorder, in which intense anger is directed toward authority figures. However, a 2010 study in the Journal of Attention Disorders suggested that at least 20 percent of doctors said they did not follow this protocol when making their A.D.H.D. diagnoses, with many of them following personal instinct…

Dr. Anderson said (ADHD diagnostic criteria)…were codified only to “make something completely subjective look objective.”…

“This is my whole angst about the thing,” Dr. Anderson said. “We put a label on something that isn’t binary — you have it or you don’t. We won’t just say that there is a student who has problems in school, problems at home, and probably, according to the doctor with agreement of the parents, will try medical treatment.”

He added, “We might not know the long-term effects, but we do know the short-term costs of school failure, which are real. I am looking to the individual person and where they are right now. I am the doctor for the patient, not for society.”

Martin Whitely’s Comment – I am torn between loathing Doctor Anderson for his blatant disregard for the long term welfare of the children he is supposed to be helping; and respecting him for his honest assessment of the unscientific nature of an ADHD diagnosis and the American public education system. However, his justification for using Adderall on children with mediocre or worse grades is built on a very flawed premise; that is the belief that amphetamines are an academic performance enhancer.



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  1. Pete82’s avatar

    Haha, very funny but not really! You have to applaud dr Anderson for his theory of round pegs in square holes. Meaning some children don’t fit into the standard education system. Especially in the US where public education is ranked 14th in OECDs report and sliding. But to drug kids because it suits everyone else and it’s the only option? More like the easy option. Sounds like a case if ” when good men do nothing bad shit happens”.


  2. Tyler Ochs’s avatar

    Academic difficulties are also frequent. The symptoms are especially difficult to define because it is hard to draw a line at where normal levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity end and clinically significant levels requiring intervention begin. To be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms must be observed in two different settings for six months or more and to a degree that is greater than other children of the same age.



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