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Nikolas Badminton visits the people behind Halo, a headset that helps train the brain with electrical stimulation. // Fathom Film Group

Review: Ann Shin’s Smart Drugs

Smart Drugs
Directed by Ann Shin; CBC’s documentary channel; Tue., May 14 (5 – 6:30 a.m.; 9 – 10:30 a.m.; 1 – 2:30 p.m.; 5 – 6:30 p.m.)
Our Score
Smart Drugs

Nikolas Badminton is a futurist—whatever that means—from Vancouver who travels around the world delivering speaking engagements and who, like so many, is fighting against the constant threat of burnout. As a possible solution to these woes, he decides to try bio-hacking via smart drugs—though over the course of his journey he also tries a number of other bio-hacking-associated activities like fasting and meditation. Whatever the method used, bio-hacking is essentially just trying to optimize your body’s performance by treating it almost like a computer.

When he isn’t jetting from one speaking engagement to the next, Badminton spends a lot of time in Silicon Valley, which he describes as “the heart of the bio-hacking scene.” He talks to a number of people who are leading the bio-hacking movement and tries a ridiculous number of supplements and techniques—many of which seem a little sketch. With director Ann Shin filming him, Badminton reflects on how the treatments are working—or not working—and whether or not what he’s doing is worth the risk, given that the supplements he’s taking are completely unregulated.

Smart Drugs is interesting for those who know nothing about this movement, though it may not be as informative for the initiated. What it does offer for the latter group is one man’s experience taking smart drugs and trying these techniques, but for those willing to look there are probably ample YouTube videos delivering the same thing. But if you’ve heard of smart drugs and have been wanting to learn more, this doc seems like a great starting point.

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