[ExI] Artificiality

Adam Raizen adam.raizen at gmail.com
Thu Jun 11 05:31:11 UTC 2009

On Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 06:16, Tomasz Rola <rtomek at ceti.pl> wrote:

> > Western culture has a strong bias against anything 'artificial' and I
> would
> > think that extropians would be less likely to suffer from this. Some
> Well, who knows, maybe they (as well as some other people) will be more
> likely to prosper because of this?

Or maybe they'll just be unnecessarily depriving themselves.

> However, I think, that since many generations of humans were able to make
> it without artificial things, I should be able to be at least partially
> successful too.

Many generations of humans were able to make it without running water,
sanitation, milk, refrigeration, cities, computers, and email. I'm sure I
could be successful living like that too, even more than partially. Living
long-term in cities (all the more so living a sedentary lifestyle in cities)
almost certainly has some long-term deleterious effects.

> So there is no obligation to use this stuff, I am not a
> "client" of artificiality, quite the opposite. I'm going to only use what
> can prove being worthy (and kick the rest off my way). In case of natural
> things, it is hard to be purely natural - bread is not natural and so is
> butter.

Grains in general are not natural for human consumption, nor is cooked food
(at least, that's what the raw-food faddists claim), etc.

> So, while I am not enemy of artificiality, I am against (in a soft sense)
> being mindless and using surrogates to meet real needs. In case of sugar,
> when I need something sweet, then let it be sugar because this is what I
> really need, not some replacement. In other words, I don't need to just
> feel this sweetness in my mouth. There are some other side effects of
> eating a candy, which is what I really want (and this is why I want
> something sweet, when I want it). And if I don't need a candy, then I
> should not eat it.

I agree with not being mindless. I am not actually an extremist on this
(though I may have come off as one). If I'm not cooking, I eat mostly what's
served, including sugar and aspartame. When I'm cooking, I hardly use any
sweeteners of any kind except for occasionally sucralose with some hot
chocolate. But it does seem to me that there are cultural ideas about what
is good and natural which cause a lot of people to lose a sense of
proportion regarding a lot of things, and it's not clear to me that the
things that people tend to get worked up about (e.g., artificial sweeteners)
are likely to be so much worse than things that bother almost no one (e.g.,
living in cities).

Refined sugar is more artificial than bread. Humans evolved a strong desire
for sugar when it was invariably found in fruit along with a lot of
micronutrients and fiber, and undernutrition was a constant problem, and
overnutrition almost never was. IIRC, refined sugar causes an increase in
serotonin. If your serotonin is low, you may in a sense need sugar, but that
is not a good way to correct low serotonin.

Nah, being moderate is, I believe, a side effect of watching oneself.
> Being able to tell oneself something like "that's enough". Without this,
> anything can be bad. Even oxygen and water - funny, isn't it?

That is an excellent point, I think.

Adam Raizen <adam.raizen at gmail.com>
Timendi causa est nescire.
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