Monday, January 17, 2011

Marijuana Makes Some People Smarter

Does pot make some people smarter? I have no studies proving that. I do have an anecdote.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The late astronomer and author, Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996) was a secret but avid marijuana smoker, crediting it with inspiring essays and scientific insight, according to Sagan's biographer.

Using the pseudonym "Mr. X'', Sagan wrote about his pot smoking in an essay published in the 1971 book "Marijuana Reconsidered.'' The book's editor, Lester Grinspoon, recently disclosed the secret to Sagan's biographer, Keay Davidson.

Davidson, a writer for the San Francisco Examiner, revealed the marijuana use in an article published in the newspaper's magazine Sunday. "Carl Sagan: A Life'' is due out in October.

"I find that today a single joint is enough to get me high ... in one movie theater recently I found I could get high just by inhaling the cannabis smoke which permeated the theater,'' wrote Sagan, who authored popular science books such as "Cosmos,'' "Contact,'' and "The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence.''

In the essay, Sagan said marijuana inspired some of his intellectual work.

"I can remember one occasion, taking a shower with my wife while high, in which I had an idea on the origins and invalidities of racism in terms of gaussian distribution curves,'' wrote the former Cornell University professor. "I wrote the curves in soap on the shower wall, and went to write the idea down.
Of course it could have been showering with his wife that did it.

Lester Grinspoon has another book of interest.

Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine

And this one not by Grinspoon got five stars from all twenty reviewers.

Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence

Cross Posted at Classical Values


tomcpp said...

It does not. Making people smarter is impossible.

What it does do is randomly altering the thoughts that you have already : it brings in new ideas. Since most people (and most programs) are too closed-minded (err on the side of safety : evolution does it too), this can help bring in new ideas. Of course ... there's a catch.

The problem with random ideas : 99.99% of them are violent, counterproductive disasters. 0.01% are better than the ideas you already have. The more complex the program the less the chance for good ideas.

Or at least, that's how it works in my AI programs. Drugs, even heavy drugs are an effective means of accelerating evolution where it is somehow stuck in a dead end. The machine won't move ? Throw a wrench in there and we'll see about fixing the details later.

Of course, fixing the details later, in my AI programs, means killing the 99.99% violent idiots.

tomcpp said...

(oh and just for reference : the 0.01% - 99.99% divide is for programs of length of 10 instructions. Humans run programs that have lengths of 10.000 (gradually increasing as we get older, but they'll never get longer than 10.000 instructions) (that's the length of "a meme" in our brains, the maximum number of simple functions that can be applied to an input to our nervous system before we have to generate an output or drop the data. Of course, we drop the vast majority of the data. Our genes are about 40.000 instructions). The chances of good ideas arising under influence of drugs, while nonzero, is idiotically tiny)

M. Simon said...

Subroutines Tom.

M. Simon said...

Of course you have to compare it with the universe of bad ideas by folks not on drugs.

Like Drug Prohibition say. Esp. given the disaster of Alcohol Prohibition. How stupid do you have to be to repeat a program known for its terminal failure?