Dopamine Dialogues: Playing in the Science Sandbox

August 15, 2013

Third in a series of dialogues between Charles Lyell and visitors to this site. Anyone interested in joining the discussion is invited to send suggestions, comments, and questions to Please include “Dopamine Dialogues” in the subject box.


From:    Andrew
Date:    Sat, May 18, 2013 11:53 am


I’d really like to see your site get more exposure. What you talk about here could help a lot of people understand their own behavior and that of others.

Now that I’ve learned as much as I have about how dopamine plays a role in behavior, I can’t help but evaluate my day to day experiences with that in mind.  When I see someone doing something I immediately try and link what they’re doing to how they get their fix.

Anyways, before I ramble on too much, the point I’m trying to make is that there are a couple of hurdles you’ll have with your website when trying to convince people that what you’re saying has merit.

The first one is presentation.  Avoid any phrasing or terminology that one might find on a conspiracy or “new age” medicine website.  The first red flag I saw was the statement, “You won’t read this anywhere else.”  People will see that and just close the window.  Try it yourself.  Google for “You won’t read this anywhere else” or “You won’t see this anywhere else.” It’s not company that you want to be included in.

The second is you need to include references. You didn’t just make this up out of thin air. Inline hyperlinks to the studies that you’ve read as you talk about various things would go a long way towards propping up your credibility and will encourage people to take you more seriously.

Thirdly,  you use absolute phrasing in a lot of places.  This is a very delicate subject and needs to be introduced to people in a way that doesn’t directly tell them that they’re chemical machines and they can’t do anything about it.

Ideally, you want to present the evidence in as an objective way as possible and lead people to draw the conclusion themselves rather than slapping them in the face with it.  You can lead a horse to water and catch more flies with honey, etc.

You want to plant a seed in their minds to keep them thinking about your points instead of simply dismissing you as another nutter on the internet.

I submitted one of your pages to /r/psychology on and the first thing people said about it was how it lacked science. Here’s the link to the discussion. It was impossible to get any kind of discussion going about your hypothesis because  of this.

So I hope you take this to heart. With a few changes your site could be much more effective than it is in its current form.  This is an area where the standards for acceptance are quite high.  Even the general audience will be easier to convince if you include references to supporting documents.

I think your website has a great deal of potential and I’d like to contribute at some point, but in its current form it has about as much credibility as Jenny McCarthy talking about how immunizations cause autism.

That’s how people see it right now.  I’m sorry to sound so harsh, but that’s how it is.

If you want to play in the science sandbox, you have to walk the walk.




Thanks for taking the time to write and for the helpful advice.

After reading your suggestions I started removing (and avoiding) phrases alluding to exclusivity. And I’ve been adding references (or at least more references than before). Cutting back on absolutes is proving challenging. Probably because I’m not interested in “playing in the science sandbox.” is a labor of love. Trying to pass as a wannabe scientist would suck the enjoyment out of things. And it would be a waste of time.

It wouldn’t matter if I followed every procedure, what we both know to be true wouldn’t be taken seriously by the scientific community. The information on this site is so dopamine repellent that Carl Sagan might have tarnished his reputation trying to explain it.

I’m OK with working on a project that provides honest addicts with information they’re seeking. I’m grateful to all the influences who helped me along the way, and happy to be a part of an honorable pursuit.

There are plenty of visitors to this site who get it but, for the time being, we’re in the minority. Sometimes it takes centuries for the majority to catch up. Let’s hope, for the sake of our species, that it only takes years.

Experience has taught me that it’s not possible to explain to dishonest addicts that they’re addicts until they’re ready, willing, and able to drop the self-deceptions and defenses. It doesn’t matter if they have advanced degrees or if they’re addicted to drugs, food, gambling, safety, power, acceptance, approval, attention, esteem, status, money, or religion. And it doesn’t matter if they’ve lost everything they once held near and dear — the only thing addicts care about is protecting and triggering dopamine flow.

Jenny McCarthy proves that it’s possible to be unscientific, totally wrong, and still have a million Twitter followers, as long as you help people trigger dopamine. Galileo Galilei and Ignaz Semmelweis proved that being totally right doesn’t matter when the facts threaten dopamine flow.

An estimated one in 50 children have autism and dopamine-induced expectations of finding solutions keep millions of loved ones desperately seeking answers, any answers. Unfortunately, 17th century bigwigs couldn’t handle expectations of having their world turned downside up and 19th century doctors abhorred expectations of admitting to killing mothers and newborns with their unwashed hands.

In my case, dishonest addicts aren’t interested in hearing that we’re not all that different than junkies who use heroin to trigger the same neurotransmitter that’s driving us all mad.

BTW, I believe the autism stats are one more indication of a species gone insane because of widespread dopamine-induced addictions.

I’ve invested decades and a small fortune trying to make sense out of the widespread self-deception, inhumanity, and insanity. Understanding how powerful dopamine appeal and repel are made it possible to comprehend why so few can admit that our species is really insane — because owning up to the rampant insanity would require looking for the cause of the insanity.

Ignorance might not be bliss, but it definitely protects dopamine flow.

Re: This is a very delicate subject and needs to be introduced to people in a way that doesn’t directly tell them that they’re chemical machines and they can’t do anything about it.

We are dishonest chemical machines and I see honesty as the best approach to turning things around. I’m not against using dishonesty, it’s just that, when it comes to dishonest addicts, dishonesty doesn’t work any better than honesty does. Still, I’m open to suggestions.

I don’t remember ever saying that we can’t do anything about being chemical machines. I believe that the key to awareness, consciousness, self-actualization, crystallization, wholeness, wellness, happiness, (or whatever anyone wants to call it) starts with admitting to addictions in order to understand how dopamine manipulates behavior.

I especially appreciate your taking the time to post (and defend) my article on The responses were interesting and helpful. Most were variations of popular dopamine games and challenging dopamine games is much more effective in person than in writing.

BTW, I do have a plan to to get my points across, but it would requires a minimum of 500 million, and possibly a billion dollars. I just don’t think it can be accomplished on a shoestring.

Thanks again for the feedback and advice.





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