Re: Which is the better nootropic?

Eliezer Yudkowsky (
Mon, 25 Nov 1996 22:28:04 -0600

Max More wrote:
> According to what I read in (I think it was) Smart Drugs, caffeine
> definitely accelerates thinking, and boosts peformance at logical,
> mathematical reasoning, including tasks like computer programming. However,
> some study indicated that it may reduce the ability to find patterns in
> ambiguous or unclear data. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it may
> suggest caffeine could make it harder to form clear ideas from the haze, as
> when you're trying to get ideas to coalesce for a piece of writing.

I need specifics on that NOW. Actually, I don't. I bet I know what they
were studying, even if they didn't.

They found that caffeine improves performance on tasks that require
long, linear chains of causality to be worked out.

But it impaired tasks that required causal analysis, or finding root

And it does this... Because caffeine increases your level of mental
energy. It's a minor version of what I described under:
when I speculated about what the side effects of increased mental energy
would be. I want specifics so I can claim this as a scientific

I'll never drink anything with caffeine in it again. I feel like such a
moron. I should have been able to figure that out from first principles.
I guess I just didn't think about it.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I know.