Re: Nootropics and Algernon's Law

Michael Lorrey (
Thu, 08 May 1997 19:34:47 -0400

Dan Hook wrote:
> Recent reading of The Blind Watchmaker have caused me to question
> Algernon's Law. I'll start with an example from nature:
> The eye develops first from a sheet of photo sensitive cells, then into a
> shallow cup (to better tell which direction the light is coming from). It
> can then become something like a pinhole camera although a balance has to
> be struck between focus and the amount of light that comes through (the
> smaller the pinhole, the greater the focus but the less the light). This
> remains the case until a lens is added. Almost any slightly curved
> translucent material will do. The problem comes when we look at the
> nautilus. All studies point to the fact that it could benefit from a lens
> on its eye but it does not have one. The conclusion is that the
> embryological development of the nautilus does not allow this simply change
> that would be an evolutionary enhancement.

Much like we humans have reached the limit of the brain case size which
can safely be passed through the birth canal. I think that we may need
to induce a mutant gene which turns the hip bone to cartelage during
late pregnancy in order to jump start evolution in this area at least.
Possibly a gene for a larger birth canal and bigger hips.

> In human beings there could be a similar developmental barrier to
> developing some nootropic chemicals. Remember, everything has to evolve by
> step by step improvements.

The important development I think though is not in intelligence, but in
longevity of that intelligence. With senility/alzheimers being
relatively guarranteed for all senior citizens at one level or another,
and considering that we are seeing that the body's own production of
nutrients like DHEA, seratonin, melatonin, etc. all fall off with age, I
think that developing a mutation that can be spliced into living beings
via viruses that will prevent this fall off phenomenon will be the
biggest enhancement to human ability. No matter what our abolute IQ, we
seem to be constantly getting "smarter" as we learn more through life.
If we can extend the lifespan of this ability to learn we can reach new
peaks of insight at much later points in life.
> Dan Hook
> ----------
> > From: Carl Feynman <>
> > To:
> > Subject: Re: Filtered Extropians
> > Date: Thursday, May 08, 1997 12:16 PM
> >
> > Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > >In general, the idea of nootropics only
> > >having positive cognitive effects and no side-effects is *very*
> unlikely,
> >
> > In fact it is forbidden by Algernon's Law: All simple major enhancements
> of
> > human intelligence are net evolutionary disadvantages.
> >
> > To find out why this is a law, look in
> >
> >
> >
> > --CarlF
> >

			Michael Lorrey
------------------------------------------------------------		Inventor of the Lorrey Drive

Mikey's Animatronic Factory My Own Nuclear Espionage Agency (MONEA) MIKEYMAS(tm): The New Internet Holiday Transhumans of New Hampshire (>HNH) ------------------------------------------------------------ #!/usr/local/bin/perl-0777---export-a-crypto-system-sig-RC4-3-lines-PERL @k=unpack('C*',pack('H*',shift));for(@t=@s=0..255){$y=($k[$_%@k]+$s[$x=$_ ]+$y)%256;&S}$x=$y=0;for(unpack('C*',<>)){$x++;$y=($s[$x%=256]+$y)%256; &S;print pack(C,$_^=$s[($s[$x]+$s[$y])%256])}sub S{@s[$x,$y]=@s[$y,$x]}