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I suspect there is a communication barrier between high-IQ and average-IQ people. Also, people tend to connect with each other through shared interests, and many with high-IQ also have high openness, lending oneself to have unconventional interests. With fewer people like you, it can lead to literal social isolation, and a feeling of disconnectedness with others. I don't think this is autism per se, but I can see why many people with high IQs may think they have autism.

I suspect there is a bidirectional relationship regarding quality relationships and cognition.

Even without direct evidence, there is indirect evidence that supports the lack of confidants affects cognition. Socializing is an experiment with measurable effects on cognition that I already mentioned. Animal models, which historically have been a pretty good proxy for human models, certainly support isolation affecting cognition. Prisoners put in solitary confinement show signs of deteriorating mental functioning. Close knit communities, not to be confused with rural communities, have much lower rates of mental illness (almost all of which deteriorate cognition after onset, some to devastating magnitudes) despite lower educational achievement. These lend support that the correlational data is not a simple matter of poor cogniton affecting social skills, and warrants actual experimentation.

An article in the Atlantic talks about a paradox in modern societies; people are more lonely despite (supposedly) more opportunities to interact with others. This also coincides with the rise of cognitive declining mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. It references the falling of close confidants and more rocky relationships with family and spouses as a possible source. Indeed, 10 minutes of conversation can enhance cognition, less quality (but not quantity of) relationships predict cognitive decline in the elderly, and people with more friends have better executive functioning. Forced social isolation deteriorates cognition in other social animals such as rodents.

I think this is important because cognitive enhancement is discussed somewhat frequently in LW (to my knowledge), but developing close friendships less so, and (also) to my knowledge, never in the context of cognitive enhancement. The knee-jerk reaction is that correlation is not causation, and indeed loneliness is hereditary despite it being increased in the past several decades. I suspect, the hereditary aspect is in part, due to the fact that some people are more prone to seek out close relationships, and receive the mood and cognitive enhancement as a positive side effect.

Based on what I could find, no experiments have looked at developing quality relationships and seeing its effects on cognition, and most studies are correlational or based on animal-models. At the very least, it is something to look at.


This post hit a chord with me, and I am curious as to what actions you took to change it. Did you simply go somewhere different, or are you doing something different?

A problem with this experiment is that while Bill may be the same person in Interview A and B, the interviewers are not the same person. You can't know for sure if the VP in A would act like the CEO in B if Bill was interviewing for a managerial position. It is just as likely that the VP in A is simply a jerk who tries and one-up all interviewees, regardless of the status of the position they are interviewing for.

Misnomer noted. So, is there evidence that conventional foods (or foods that are not organic) have adverse effects beyond possible nutritional differences, when compared to organic foods, and genetically modified vs. not modified? (and by not modified I mean not genetically modified, if the context preceding the words didn't make those words crystal clear) I am of course open to the possibility, but I would like to see harder evidence before paying a premium.

Are we trying to find out if organic foods are more nutritious, or if organic foods offer health benefits beyond nutrition? (or to reverse that, do inorganic foods offer adverse effects beyond nutrition) Remember I said , " Modified food may or may not have adverse effects beyond different nutrient contents (which so far is debatable)," The authors conclude in your 2nd link that they agree the evidence on the benefits of organic foods is scant at the moment.

Yes, that was a little extreme on my part. What I was trying to say is that people don't always respond to rational ideas.

"What does it mean for the world to be "saved"?"

I was trying to relate to the author's idea of "saving" the world, which from what I gather is maximizing altruism and bureaucratic inefficiencies, to start. (governments are inefficient, wars are bad, etc.)

A place to start is to feed two groups of animals foods, one eating organic and the other eating inorganic, with identical or near-identical nutrient compositions, and see how they respond over time. Linking dietary effects between animal and human models has been done in the past, so it isn't too far-fetched. It won't be perfect, since the animals won't be humans, but it is certainly better than the paucity of data available, and assuming that organic = good with scarce evidence (see below).

Some other ways to optimize sleep:

  • Metformin helps improve sleep, and a theorized mechanism is through improved glucose metabolism. This might also explain why exercise, which has a similar effect on glucose metabolism, improves sleep as well, and why deteriorating health worsens it.
  • Some blood pressure lowering drugs worsen sleep, but the possible mechanism is through melatonin suppression.


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