Blog Update

I’ve been writing a blog post every day for over three years. Most of those posts covered research in biology and medicine. I’m going to take a break from reading medical journal abstracts over the holidays. I’m planning on switching to a new format for my site that focuses on longer pages that discuss physiological systems or organs or classes of pharmaceuticals. I’ll probably focus on essays or other long form writing instead of trying to update a blog every day. Suggestions are welcome on what you would like me to write about. You can tweet me @snydr or email me at svsnyder@gmail.com

Giving Up Video Games

I think video games are works of art, but I’ve also given up other forms of art. Last year I stopped reading books. Just because you’re a male in the game playing demographic doesn’t mean you have to play games. This post outlines arguments in favor of giving up video games. Even more importantly, these reasons for not playing video games have nothing to do with any possible links between games and violence. Gaming takes time away from understanding and implementing scientific advancements in biology and medicine. Everyone’s life is worthless unless researchers succeed in curing aging.

Medicine:

• Playing games takes time away from important things like doing work on extending human lifespan.

• Playing games takes time away from reading medical journal articles and putting science-based medical findings into practice.

Physical:

• Sitting for long periods of time increases the mortality rate by promoting blood coagulation.

• Certain games are frightening and exacerbate the startle response and its negative effects on catecholamines.

Addiction:

• Games can be addictive yet have a low payoff.

• Games victimize people who are genetically susceptible to addiction and attention problems.

Financial:

• The cost of video games and consoles would be better spent on buying medication and access to therapy that helps people function better in life.

• New games and new consoles are too expensive in a world where unemployment and financial stress impact family finances.

• Subscriptions for online services create another financial drain for players.

• Digital game purchases have no resale value.

• Many playthroughs are available on YouTube where you can watch someone else play instead of having to buy a game.

• Some games require expensive controllers or other peripherals.

Game Companies:

• Game companies have overpaid executives.

• Game publishers exploit development companies who have less bargaining power.

• Unpaid overtime is abused in game development production cycles.

• Games can be canceled or become vaporware because of mistakes in planning and management.

• The game industry is trying to use anticompetitive practices to eliminate the used game market.

• Game retailers use upselling techniques and membership programs that annoy customers.

• The time programmers spend on creating games would be better spent on bioinformatics or health applications.

• Game developers have lower revenue, profit, and valuations than companies in other industries and therefore have fewer financial opportunities.

• The game industry is hit-driven, which leads to precarious employment for programmers.

Gamers:

• Many gamers focus on trivial things instead of important things like extending human lifespan.

• Gamers have low status in society. Being a skilled gamer is much lower status than being a doctor or CEO or director of a research lab.

• Many gamers are arrogant and think their opinons matter when they are really just animals without free will whose lives are worthless since they die like other human beings.

• Some girl gamers are attention seekers and some male gamers are too.

• Many online gamers are children, and few of them have any useful knowledge to offer on important non-game topics.

• There are rude and offensive players in multiplayer games.

Technical:

• Many games lack effective quality assurance which is reflected in glitches.

• Graphics advances are not as noticeable as they could be between the most recent generations of consoles.

• Loading times are frustrating.

• Certain consoles have a lack of backwards compatibility.

• Lag can be frustrating in online games.

• Some games lack online play.

• Control schemes are difficult to design to reach the sweet spot between too easy and too difficult.

• Superior artificial intelligence rarely exists in games.

• Soundtracks can lack rich soundscapes.

• Frame rate abnormalities can occur in games.

Reviews:

• The vast majority of games receive average or poor reviews because of their copycat nature and lack of fun.

• The reliance on advertising revenue skews reviews coming from game media companies.

Social:

• Games promote false ideas about how the world really works.

• Many games promote unrealistic images of both women and men and their bodies.

• Game fandom is still less socially acceptable than other hobbies such as sports fandom or movie fandom.

Environmental:

• The manufacturing process for making video game consoles involves toxic chemicals.

• Running video game consoles requires electricity and power generation, which has negative environmental effects on the planet.

Gameplay:

• Many games involve tedious tasks like hunting for an object or retracing steps.

• It’s tedious to upgrade characters.

• Games can have short campaigns.

• Games can lack replay value.

• Many games can be too linear for some people.

• Difficulty is either too hard or too easy.

• Difficulty doesn’t change automatically based on skill.

• Mobile games rehash or copy old obsolete games.

• Stealth gameplay can be annoying.

• Writing a good story takes too much effort for some game designers.

• On rails shooter segments can lack creativity.

• Voice acting is bad in many games.

• Platforming segments can be frustrating.

• Puzzles can be frustrating.

• Bad camera angles can ruin gameplay.

• Level design can be uninspired.

• Tutorials can be unhelpful or require memorization for too many things.

• Humor is difficult to get right in games.

• Games have to walk a difficult line between insufficient character customization or overwhelming character customization.

• Boss fights can be too difficult or too easy and unsatisfying.

Longevity and Perfection

As long as people continue to die, it doesn’t matter whether they die at age one or at age one hundred. It’s a tragedy when a baby dies in infancy, but it would also be a tragedy if they died in old age. Death means that all the time people invest in themselves and their families is ultimately pointless. Even if a person is remembered in a positive way, it doesn’t matter to the person who dies, since that individual will still be dead. Life is pointless and meaningless as long as everyone dies in the end anyway.

Life needs to involve an obsession with perfectly predicting the future, which is very difficult and maybe even impossible. Why is it so important to predict the future? America lacks sufficient social safety nets and has a culture of judgment and blame. This means people have to be able to predict the future with perfect accuracy. Even though the lives of people are controlled by corporations and governments and powerful individuals, the average person is still expected to take “personal responsibility” for everything single thing that happens to him or her. If you make a big mistake, people will say that it’s entirely your fault and that you deserve to suffer. The widespread belief in the myth of free will and the religion of personal responsibility leads many Americans to think the individual is entirely responsible for any negative outcome that happens to him or her. Just look at most comments on the web where people make the mistake of trying to ask for help. Some Americans combine the worst of both worlds, holding opinions that are both cruel and illogical. People seem to think that if a person gets sick, experiences financial difficulties, gets the wrong degree, has emotional problems, marries the wrong person, etc – it’s entirely that individual’s fault and they deserve to suffer alone.

Even worse, those types of people seem to have power to decide which people can get jobs and healthcare. A possible outcome might go like this: get sick -> can’t work -> lose job -> lose health insurance -> can’t get healthcare -> can’t get another job -> go bankrupt -> get sicker -> die. I take around forty supplement pills a day, not only because I live in fear of death every day since no one knows for sure what happens after death, but also because sickness can lead to a ruined life via the pathway outlined above. I feel guilty whenever I have fun instead of spending time reading medical journals and finding biomedical studies with predictive power.

There are also violent people with animal urges who still roam free. People with a biological propensity towards violence can’t be arrested until they actually commit a crime, so the only thing to do is hope you aren’t the first victim when their psychopathy manifests itself. Until everyone’s brains are scanned to identify neurological correlates of violent behavior, there are plenty of violent people who are ticking time bombs just walking around. It’s not just a gun control problem. These violent people can find lots of inventive ways to kill someone, especially if they rise to positions of power.

Life extension can give meaning to human life. If life expectancy can be extended indefinitely, life will finally mean something because a person can continue to exist. Changing brain chemistry to generate feelings of meaning in life is another potential solution.

Amygdala Drug Effects

The following medications and compounds reduce activity in the human amygdala. This indicates they are useful in treating anxiety disorders.

Alcohol

Cannabidiol

D-cycloserine

Diazepam

Escitalopram

Lorazepam

Paroxetine

Pregabalin

Propranolol

References:

Altered affective response in marijuana smokers: an FMRI study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19656642

Amygdala volume reductions in pediatric patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder treated with paroxetine: preliminary findings. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14970831

D-cycloserine inhibits amygdala responses during repeated presentations of faces. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17667888

Distinct effects of {delta}9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on neural activation during emotional processing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19124693

Dose-dependent decrease of activation in bilateral amygdala and insula by lorazepam during emotion processing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15753241

Effects of alcohol on brain responses to social signals of threat in humans. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21122818

Effects of diazepam on BOLD activation during the processing of aversive faces. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21106607

Escitalopram effects on insula and amygdala BOLD activation during emotional processing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18058090

Human amygdala reactivity is diminished by the β-noradrenergic antagonist propranolol. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20102667

Modulation of effective connectivity during emotional processing by Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19775500

Pregabalin influences insula and amygdala activation during anticipation of emotional images. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21430645

Nutrigenomics

Studies from the field of nutrigenomics show that the following foods lead to beneficial genetic changes

Chlorella

Cocoa

Green Tea

Mediterranean Diet

Olive Oil

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Orange Juice

Tomato Extract

Vegetables

References:

An antiinflammatory dietary mix modulates inflammation and oxidative and metabolic stress in overweight men: a nutrigenomics approach. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20181810

Characterization of human gene expression changes after olive oil ingestion: an exploratory approach. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19545487

Effects of cocoa extract and dark chocolate on angiotensin-converting enzyme and nitric oxide in human endothelial cells and healthy volunteers–a nutrigenomics perspective. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20966764

Hesperidin displays relevant role in the nutrigenomic effect of orange juice on blood leukocytes in human volunteers: a randomized controlled cross-over study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22110589

In vivo nutrigenomic effects of virgin olive oil polyphenols within the frame of the Mediterranean diet: a randomized controlled trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20179144

In vivo transcriptomic profile after a Mediterranean diet in high-cardiovascular risk patients: a randomized controlled trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23902780

Mononuclear cell transcriptome response after sustained virgin olive oil consumption in humans: an exploratory nutrigenomics study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19290808

Nutrigenomic studies of effects of Chlorella on subjects with high-risk factors for lifestyle-related disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18800884

Nutrigenomics approach elucidates health-promoting effects of high vegetable intake in lean and obese men. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23595524

Time course of changes in the expression of insulin sensitivity-related genes after an acute load of virgin olive oil. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19422291

Skin Rejuvenation

These nutraceuticals have proven successful in rejuvenating skin in lab animal experiments:

alpha-tocopherol

coenzyme Q10

green tea

L-methionine

salidroside

soy phospholipids

References:

Beneficial effects of pro-/antioxidant-based nutraceuticals in the skin rejuvenation techniques. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17519117

Green tea and red light–a powerful duo in skin rejuvenation. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19817517

Rejuvenating activity of salidroside (SDS): dietary intake of SDS enhances the immune response of aged rats. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22367581

Food and Hair

These foods and compounds increase hair growth or improve hair in lab animals:

apple procyanidin

choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid

dietary isoflavones

polyunsaturated fatty acids

References:

Dietary isoflavone increases insulin-like growth factor-I production, thereby promoting hair growth in mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20576422

Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17960402

Investigation of topical application of procyanidin B-2 from apple to identify its potential use as a hair growing agent. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11194183

Skin surface lipids and skin and hair coat condition in dogs fed increased total fat diets containing polyunsaturated fatty acids. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18700855