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quartz comments on How does long-term use of caffeine affect productivity? - Less Wrong

12 Post author: quartz 11 April 2012 11:09PM

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Comment author: quartz 12 April 2012 08:17:37PM 2 points [-]

Am I the only one who finds it astonishing that there isn't widely known evidence that a psychoactive substance used on a daily basis by about 90% of North American adults (and probably by a majority of LWers) is beneficial if used in this way? What explains this apparent lack of interest? Discounting (caffeine clearly has short-term benefits) and the belief that, even in the unlikely case that caffeine harms productivity in the long run, the harm is likely to be small?

Comment author: gwern 12 April 2012 10:49:21PM *  6 points [-]

Caffeine is extremely cheap, addictive, has minimal effects on health (and may be beneficial, from the various epidemiological associations with tea/coffee & longevity), and costs extra to remove from drinks popular regardless of their caffeine content (coffee and tea again). What would be the point of carefully investigating it?

Suppose there was conclusive evidence on the topic, the value of this evidence to me would be roughly $0 or since ignorance is bliss, negative money - because unless the negative effects were drastic (which current studies rule out), I would not change anything about my life. Why?

I enjoy my tea too much. My usual tea seller doesn't even have decaffeinated oolong in general, much less various varieties I might want to drink, apparently because de-caffeinating is so expensive it's not worthwhile. What am I supposed to do, give up my tea and caffeine just to save on the cost of caffeine? Buy de-caffeinating machines (which I couldn't even find any prices for, googling)? This also holds true for people who drink coffee or caffeinated soda.

(As opposed to a drug like modafinil which is expensive, and so the value of a definitive answer is substantial and would justify some more extensive calculating of cost-benefit.)

Comment author: jsalvatier 19 April 2012 05:54:58PM 3 points [-]

I, for one, would start drinking coffee regularly if there were proven benefits to doing so.