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HalFinney comments on Superstimuli and the Collapse of Western Civilization - Less Wrong

60 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2007 06:10PM

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Comment author: HalFinney 16 March 2007 07:05:46PM 19 points [-]

An historical example of this phenomenon is drug use. We have drugs today that are much more powerful, stimulating and addictive than the relatively mild beers, wines, and herbs which people had access to historically. When distilled liquors have been introduced around the world it has been accompanied by several generations of serious abuse problems. Eventually people have become somewhat adapted to hard liquor but alcohol addiction is still a widespread problem.

The response has been to ban most of the more potent drugs (in an admittedly somewhat inconsistent way) in order to reduce the harm from these unnatural stimuli. I suspect that we will someday see similar restrictions on too-addictive video games. The record from drug prohibition suggests that we may not do a very good job on drawing the line between what is OK and what is not, unfortunately.

Comment author: WingedViper 04 July 2012 03:14:59AM 8 points [-]

Drug use is IMO not a good example because drug prohibition does our (modern, informed and scientifically advanced) society no favor. Quite the opposite, as more and more people seem to realise.

Banning superstimuli is not the best way to go (it might not even be a good way), early education is much more effective. Our information society opens up new possibilities to make well informed decisions and to come closer to the free market ideal.

Comment author: Houshalter 09 September 2015 05:32:53AM 1 point [-]

I think that's definitely false. Drug bans are obviously not 100% effective. But they do decrease the number of users to less than what it would otherwise be. Marijuana use has gone way up in Colorado after they legalized it, and even in the surrounding states where it's still illegal.

I'm not saying that specific drug should be illegal, it's just an example that shows bans do decrease usage.

Comment author: mamert 05 October 2015 06:36:59AM 0 points [-]

Good point, bad example. Of course use of a substance safer and more interesting than tobacco shot up once it ceased being illegal.

I would not want to see cocaine as the next widespread antidepressant, or rationed to soldiers, and a ban is simply the most economical way of dealing with the matter.