Re: evolved viruses
Tue, 16 Sep 1997 18:33:02 -0400

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> wrote:

> > I've been convinced that drugs are evil.

Arjen Kamphuis responded:

> This is highly irrational, even for you. If you call drugs evil you
> should also call the sun evil (causes skincancer right?). The effects
> of illegal drugs may be undesirable, the effect of a .308 bullet can
> also be. Doesn't make the bullet 'evil'. The way drugs are treated by
> the state causes 'emerging' effects that are bad for people. don't
> blame the thing, blame the people making the policy.

"Schaffer Library of Drug Policy" has some interesting information on
this subject-

How many people are actually killed by drugs?

The number of drug deaths in the US in a typical year is as follows:

Tobacco kills about 390,000.
Alcohol kills about 80,000.
Sidestream smoke from tobacco kills about 50,000.
Cocaine kills about 2,200.
Heroin kills about 2,000.
Aspirin kills about 2,000.
Marijuana kills 0. There has never been a recorded death
due to marijuana at any time in US history.

All illegal drugs combined kill about 4,500 people per year, or
about one percent of the number killed by alcohol and tobacco.
Tobacco kills more people each year than all of the people killed
by all of the illegal drugs in the last century.

Source: NIDA Research Monographs

I have a gut-level feeling that even though Eliezer S. Yudkowsky is
"convinced that drugs are evil", he doesn't include "aspirin" in his
definition---even though "aspirin kills about 2,000" individuals a year
and it is a drug. Yet I'd bet he includes marijuana in his definition,
even though marijuana kills 0 and the hemp plant has mind-numbing
industrial uses. Indeed, using an "evolved virus" for such purposes
would be truly evil.