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Comment author: Vaniver 30 January 2015 01:02:01AM *  1 point [-]

Such humans are Natural_Selection!Broken, but the point is that that's not Human!Broken.

Do you have a better example of what the algorithm feels like from the inside? (Pointing out that an example could be problematic seems less useful than supplying a fix also.)

Comment author: ShadowElemental 30 January 2015 12:55:40AM 0 points [-]

Their biology does not permit otherwise.

Assuming they aren't lying about that.

Comment author: michael_b 29 January 2015 10:51:34PM *  1 point [-]

I'm skeptical this is a great strategy for topics in general.

Nutrition, for example, doesn't appear to be the kind of topic where you can just learn its axioms and build up an optimal human diet from first principles. It's far too complicated.

Instead you need substantial education, training, experience and access, as well as a community that can help you support and refine your ideas. You need to gather evidence, you need to learn how to determine the quality of the evidence you've gathered, and you need to propose reasonable stories that fit the evidence.

Since I haven't made health and nutrition my career most of these things will be hard or even impossible for me to come by. As such, my confidence in the quality of any amateur conclusions I come to must necessarily be low.

So, the most reasonable thing for me to do is trust authorities when it comes to nutrition.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 29 January 2015 10:51:25PM 1 point [-]

Even a system smart enough to figure out what was intended is not compelled to act accordingly: human beings, upon learning that natural selection ``intended" sex to be pleasurable only for purposes of reproduction, do not thereby conclude that contraceptives are abhorrent.

This seems like a distracting example that is likely to set off a lot of people's politics behavior.

For instance, it may be misread as saying that humans who don't draw that conclusion are somehow broken.

Comment author: Jiro 29 January 2015 10:18:53PM 0 points [-]

(Reply to somewhat old post)

In "The Design of Everyday Things", Don Norman points out that having a "push" sign on a door where the most natural action is to pull the door is a bad design.

Having a sign saying "do not take this survey" on a survey that would otherwise look like you should take it seems to be an extension of that.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 January 2015 08:46:52PM *  0 points [-]

But it's not that the choice is random -- it's that the consequences of choices are rather uncertain.

its fitness landscape might be friendlier

Well, first it's well-bounded: there is both an upper bound on how much (in health and longevity) you can gain by manipulating your diet, and a clear lower bound (poisons tend to be obvious). Second, there is hope in untangling -- eventually -- all the underlying biochemistry so that we don't have to treat the body as a mostly-black box.

Another thing is that there is a LOT of individual (or group) variation, something that most nutritional research tends to ignore, that is, treat it as unwanted noise.

A major problem is that it's legally/politically/morally hard to experiment on humans, even with full consent.

Comment author: Nornagest 29 January 2015 08:39:31PM *  1 point [-]

Where does the idea of a random choice even come from?

If you don't have much good information about what the fitness landscape looks like -- for example, if the literature is opaque and often contradictory -- then there's going to be a lot of randomness in the effects of any choices you make. It's not random in the sense of a blind jump into the depths of the fitness landscape -- the very concept of what counts as "food", for example, screens off quite a bit -- but even if the steps are short, you don't know if you're going to be climbing a hill or descending into a valley. And in complex optimization problems that have seen a lot of iteration, most choices are usually bad.

You can, of course, iterate on empirical differences, and most people do, but the cycle time's long, the results are noisy, and a lot of people aren't very good at that sort of reflection in the first place.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 January 2015 08:36:51PM 0 points [-]

It's a choice, but not a random choice.

Well, of course. Where does the idea of a random choice even come from?

The default is, almost tautologically, a stable equilibrium

If by "default" you mean "whatever most people around me eat", then no, not necessarily. Food changes. Examples would be the introduction of white rice (hence, beriberi) or mercury-polluted fish.

There is also the issue of the proper metric. If you want to optimize for health and longevity, there is no particular reason to consider the "default" to be close to optimal.

Nutrition is a very complicated system.

I certainly agree.

Comment author: Nornagest 29 January 2015 08:30:04PM *  1 point [-]

It's an option -- a point in a configuration space -- but not a random option. The default is, almost tautologically, a stable equilibrium, while in a sufficiently complicated system almost all possible choices may move you away from that equilibrium in ways you don't want.

Nutrition is a very complicated system. Of course, its fitness landscape might be friendlier than I'm giving it credit for here, but I don't have any particular reason to assume that it is.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 January 2015 08:27:23PM 0 points [-]

Never was too convinced by that.

It looks obviously true to me.

while taking some default stance on the practical issue

Your stance is a choice nevertheless and it necessary implies a particular theory of nutrition (even if that theory is not academically recognized and might be as simple as "eating whatever everyone else eats can't be that bad").

Comment author: Nornagest 29 January 2015 08:21:09PM *  1 point [-]

Ah, the old "choosing not to choose is itself a choice" move. Never was too convinced by that.

You can reserve judgment on the theory while taking some default stance on the practical issue. Depending on where you're standing this might mean the standard diet for your culture (probably suboptimal, but arguably less suboptimal than whatever random permutations you might apply to it), or "common sense" (which I'm skeptical of in some ways, but it probably picks some low-hanging fruit), or imitating people or populations with empirically good results (the "Mediterranean diet" is a persistently popular target), or adopting a cautious stance toward dietary innovations from the last forty years or so (about when the obesity epidemic started taking off).

Comment author: paper-machine 29 January 2015 08:21:07PM -2 points [-]

Then I'd advise in the future you not offer to provide clarification when you'd prefer to quibble and assume bad faith where none exists.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 January 2015 08:15:09PM -1 points [-]

is to reserve judgment

You can't -- you've got to eat each day :-/

Comment author: Lumifer 29 January 2015 08:13:47PM *  0 points [-]

27 instances

I am going to call bullshit on that. You did a word search for "Tuoli" in a web page and that turned up 27 hits. That does not mean that there are 27 instances of using the Tuoli data to argue against TCS.

Section 1.2, for example, explicitly points out that taking Tuoli data out makes some Campbell claims to have much less support in the correlation numbers.

I think you're being dishonest. This conversation is over.

Comment author: Nornagest 29 January 2015 08:11:14PM *  2 points [-]

Given that the experts in the field are precisely those learning from and producing that same literature, the fact that the literature is generally low-quality doesn't make me more inclined to trust them. (Though, as bad as academic nutrition science is, conventional wisdom and pop nutrition science seem to be worse.)

It does make it exceptionally hard to gain a good understanding of the field yourself, though. Unlike Lumifer, I'd say the correct move, unless you are yourself a nutritionist or a fitness nerd or otherwise inclined to spend a large portion of your life on this, is to reserve judgment.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 January 2015 08:10:44PM 1 point [-]

By "learn", I assume you mean read existing literature on the topic

Also around the topic, not to mention that learning necessarily involves a fair amount of one's own thinking.

high-quality literature is rather sparse

I agree which makes relying of authority (and, usually, on mass media reinterpretations of authority) particularly suspect.

what's up with that?

I think the usual explanation is privacy and medical ethics, but my cynical mind readily suggests that it's much harder to critique a study if you can't see the data...

Comment author: paper-machine 29 January 2015 07:53:02PM *  -1 points [-]

I don't believe this is true -- see this.

27 instances. Section 1.2, 1.4, 1.8, 2.2, 3.1, and of course 3.3. "A quarter" is about correct, but let's say "a fifth" if you'd like.

You still haven't made any specific objection against Minger's criticism of TCS.

She depends too much on the Tuoli data -- which she supposedly doesn't trust anyway -- to make her arguments.

Comment author: dxu 29 January 2015 07:50:43PM *  1 point [-]

By "learn", I assume you mean read existing literature on the topic. In the case of health and nutrition (and most other medical topics), high-quality literature is rather sparse, both because of frequently bad statistical analyses and the fact that practically no one releases their raw data--only the results. (Seriously, what's up with that?)

Comment author: Lumifer 29 January 2015 07:46:47PM *  0 points [-]

About a quarter of her criticism of TCS is based around Tuoli being an outlier

I don't believe this is true -- see this.

You still haven't made any specific objections against Minger's criticism of TCS.

You did mention motivated cognition, did you not?

Comment author: paper-machine 29 January 2015 07:41:03PM *  0 points [-]

You're quoting from the page which says right on top:

I was kind of waiting for you to point that out. Notice it's a non-disclaimer anyway:

but the questionnaire data (which is supposedly more reliable than the diet survey data) still suggests they were eating a lot of animal products and very little in the way of fruits or vegetables.

In any case, I'm not using it as evidence for or against a particular diet. I'm using it as evidence of her research process. About a quarter of her criticism of TCS is based around Tuoli being an outlier, so it's interesting that she also thought that their diet didn't increase their rate of disease significantly, even before she found out the data was bad. It's a clear sign of motivated cognition.

You seem to be more interested in creating gotchas than in finding out what's actually happening in reality.

In general, you don't seem very good at ascribing motives to me. Recall you were the one that asked for an example of what I found confusing.

I am sorry, did you miss that comment?

No, I didn't.

But if you want to pretend Tuoli doesn't exist, sure, you can pretend Tuoli doesn't exist. What next?

That's not even remotely close to what I said, and doesn't really have anything to do with the point at hand.

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