Re: Algernon and Nootropics

Dan Hook (
Thu, 8 May 1997 21:30:40 -0400

I'm also not sure it is valid. It is a common fallacy in thinking about
evolution to suggest that it can produce anything. There are two
limitations to those things that evolution can produce. One is that
everything has to come about through step by step changes, each step
providing an advantage for survival. The second is really a more specific
form of the first. Development has to permit the change. I'll use the eye
The photo receptors in the eye are wired backwards. The part of the cell
that receives light is located behind the nucleus and the mitochondria and
the dendrite(?) the sends the data to the optic nerve. This results in
(most likely very slight) reduction in vision. The current eye that we
have now is so ingrained in the genome that there could be no change of
this magnitude because it would conflict with other developmental

With thanks to Richard Dawkins,
Dan Hook
> From:
> > Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > >In general, the idea of nootropics only
> > >having positive cognitive effects and no side-effects is *very*
> >
> > In fact it is forbidden by Algernon's Law: All simple major
enhancements of
> > human intelligence are net evolutionary disadvantages.
> >
> Algernon's Hypothesis (sorry, it han't been around long enough) says
> nothing about the ability of an individual to increase her/his
> intelligence, nor does it place any limits on the magnitude of an
> increase. Algernon simply states that a person with such an enhancement
> will put the fitrness of their genes at risk. Genes, remember, are the
> of many limits we extropians seek to overcome. As an extropian, the
fitness of
> my genes is a non-issue, if not an annoyance. Just b/c my genes suffer
> my intelligence expands does not mean I do.