Re: Random tampering by prescription, was Re: Fast-acting 5-HTP supplementation for accute despair

From: Paul Hughes (
Date: Tue Jul 18 2000 - 00:33:26 MDT

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:

> Who is this "you" you're talking about? Does it have a referent
> distinct from "IQ points"?

I'm not falling for this trap, since I can never fully describe who I am, neither
can you. The second question opens up an entire cannery of worms. Am I the parts,
or am I the whole, or both? Are there many I's or only one? Etc., etc., ad nauseum.

> > After all what exactly are we referring to as
> > intelligence - raw logical reasoning abilities and nothing more?
> No. We're talking about wisdom and self-awareness. (Not that quote raw
> logical reasoning abilities unquote wouldn't be reason enough to stay
> off Prozac.)

Ah yes, is it wise to remain so depressed that all one can think about is how
horrible things are, how one wants to kill oneself at any time, and how it's
pointless to do anything, since everything will end in abject failure and misery?
Self-awareness that is as ultimately arbitrary as the neurochemical soup that
composes it?

> I know a few people who are extremely intelligent and have spent the
> > majority of their adult lives laying on their beds depressed with absolutely
> > no ambition to do anything. What have they accomplished?
> I should think I have accomplished a great deal.

Perhaps, but many depressed people accomplish very little. We could sight Van Gogh,
but alas he cut of his ear.

> Maybe he had a curable problem that was solved with no drawbacks. Or
> maybe he sacrificed everything that made him unique so he could be
> happy. I can't tell from the information provided.

In my friends case this so called uniqueness of his has kept him from holding a
steady job, thereby stranding him below the poverty line. He only accessed the
internet earlier this year. His view of the world was so darkly colored, that he
saw little hope of doing anything. He saw all of my transhumanist aspirations in
extremely jaded ways. If there was a negative way to view the world, he was the
first one to proclaim it.

In the worse case scenario, taking St. John's Wort may have limited his
intelligence in finding increasingly clever ways to maintain his dark view of the
world. If there was a way for him to see the downside of something no matter how
positively presented he could do it. Now for the first time, he is actually trying
to do something with his life.

So I will re-iterate, that it's all a matter of balance. That being happy has its
own merits, and is in a very significant way a measure of intelligence as much as
the ability to ace IQ tests or philosophize about existence. If as you say our
current primitive state of neuropsychopharmacology can either increase our happiness
or our intellects, then each person will have to strike a balance between their
emotional needs and intellectual ones.

Paul Hughes

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