Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: [deleted] 16 March 2011 11:00:25PM 0 points [-]

Taubes wrote a 600-page book on the science, most of it involving humans. I'm out of my depth at this point - you would need to consult the book, either Good Calories Bad Calories, or one he wrote more recently for a wider audience that seriously trims back on the science. But if you want the science you want the earlier, bigger book.

In response to comment by [deleted] on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT
Comment author: retiredurologist 16 March 2011 11:40:38PM 7 points [-]

The amazing thing (to me) is that Taubes' two books are not original or personal studies, nor does he claim otherwise. Instead, they are exhaustive reviews of the published dietary research, in which he looks at what was found, and the conclusions that should be drawn. It is (in my opinion) one of the most egregious examples of confirmation bias that the establishment researchers and the government (USA) chose to conclude from these same studies those things that supported their established views, in spite of their own evidence to the contrary. I conclude that adoption of Taubes' findings into our lifestyles would have more positive impact on healthcare (at least, in the USA) than anything else I know. I acknowledge that SIAI President Michael Vassar has said to me: "I met Taubes and he seemed (almost certainly) sincere but not all that bright. Definitely not very erudite and not all that good at philosophy of science." I suggest that readers review Taubes' credientials and determine, as I have, whether he is likely qualified both to understand and to write about the topic. I have been an Atkins devotee for years, and my chemistries reflect Taubes' conclusions (anecdotal). I acknowledge that some very intelligent people (e.g. Yudkowsky) believe that some particular individuals are mysteriously "metabolically challenged", and may respond differently, although I am not aware of the studies to confirm this.

Comment author: sketerpot 19 January 2011 10:34:33PM 1 point [-]

That's what I think of, too, when I hear the phrase "job interview". Is this not typical outside fields like programming?

Comment author: retiredurologist 19 January 2011 11:17:14PM 8 points [-]

I can confirm that such a "job interview" is not common in medicine. The potential employer generally relies on the credentialing process of the medical establishment. Most physicians, upon completing their training, pass a test demonstrating their ability to regurgitate the teachers' passwords, and are recommended to the appropriate certification board as "qualified" by their program director; to do otherwise would reflect badly on the program. Also, program directors are loath to remove a resident/fellow during advanced training because some warm body must show up to do the work, or the professor himself/herself might have to fill in. It is difficult to find replacements for upper level residents; the only common reason such would be available is dismissal/transfer from another program. Consequently, the USA turns out physicians of widely varied skill levels, even though their credentials are similar. In surgical specialities, it is not unusual for a particularly bright individual with all the passwords but very poor technical skills to become a surgical professor.

In response to The Meaning of Life
Comment author: retiredurologist 17 September 2010 09:10:34PM 8 points [-]

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference --- Richard Dawkins

Comment author: retiredurologist 13 July 2010 07:32:47PM *  5 points [-]

WrongBot: Brendan Nyhan, the Robert Wood Johnson scholar in health policy research at the University of Michigan, spoke today on Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" about a bias that may be reassuring to you. He calls it the "backfire effect". He says new research suggests that misinformed people rarely change their minds when presented with the facts -- and often become even more attached to their beliefs. The Boston Globe reviews the findings here as they pertain to politics. If this is correct, it seems quite likely that if you have strong anti-bigot beliefs, and you are exposed to "dangerous factual thoughts" that might conceivably sway you toward bigotry, the backfire effect should make you defend your original views even more vigorously, thus acting as a protective bias. OTOH, while listening, I wondered, "Is Nyhan saying that the only factual positions one can assume are those about which one had no previous opinion or knowledge?" Best wishes to overcome your phobia.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 June 2010 04:09:46PM *  7 points [-]

n^2?

1
2+1=3
3+2+1=6
4+3+2+1=10
5+4+3+2+1=15
6+5+4+3+2+1=21
7+6+5+4+3+2+1=28

Let's see... (n-1)n/2. Yes, n^2 it is.

It didn't occur to me to think of it that way given how important that -1 and /2 are for most practical purposes but that just means I wasn't aiming high enough in with my hypothetical plans to require a harem of bisexual women (sorry guys...). More to the point I suspect I discount my expected exposure to other people's drama by more than a linear factor. With larger polyamorous entanglements I'm more likely to be affected by factional politics. Given how they work I'd estimate a drama exposure of order n*log(n).

Now for the real practical consideration... what is the relationship between number of polyamorous partners and expected depletion of my Pramipexole supply... Yes, Pramipexole enhances libido for both sexes and in the case of males reduces or eliminates the refractory period). ;)

Comment author: retiredurologist 28 June 2010 11:29:32PM 4 points [-]

" Yes, Pramipexole enhances libido for both sexes and in the case of males reduces or eliminates the refractory period."

If these effects were reproducibly demonstrable, controlling for placebo effect, Boehringer (it's maker) would be all over it with both feet, but they're not. They are the company that recently wasted many millions trying to get flibanserin approved for enhancing female libido. The FDA voted 10-1 that it was no better than placebo, and that the side effects were unacceptable. Boehringer would not likely have gone to all that trouble if they already had a FDA-approved drug (pramipexole) that they could have submitted for approval of a new indication without repeating all the pre-clinical safety trials.

Comment author: retiredurologist 03 June 2010 10:47:22AM 16 points [-]
Comment author: mattnewport 20 May 2010 07:01:55PM 2 points [-]

This seems like a potentially significant milestone: 'Artificial life' breakthrough announced by scientists

Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell.

The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell.

The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA.

Comment author: retiredurologist 21 May 2010 03:15:39PM 2 points [-]

Given that this now opens the door for artificially designed and deployed harmful viruses, perhaps unfriendly AI falls a few notches on existentialist risk ladder.

Comment author: [deleted] 02 November 2009 10:34:39AM 5 points [-]

So, I'm having one of those I-don't-want-to-go-to-school moments again. I'm in my first year at a university, and, as often happens, I feel like it's not worth my time.

As far as math goes, I feel like I could learn all the facts my classes teach on Wikipedia in a tenth of the time--though procedural knowledge is another matter, of course. I have had the occasional fun chat with a professor, but the lecture was never it.

As far as other subjects go, I think forces conspired to make me not succeed. I had a single non-math class, though it was twice the length of a normal class and officially two classes. It was about ancient Greece and Rome, and we had to read things like Works and Days and the Iliad. Afterwards, we were supposed to write a paper about depictions of society in the two works or something. I never wrote the paper, and I dropped the class.

Is school worth it for the learning? How about for the little piece of paper I get at the end?

In response to comment by [deleted] on Open Thread: November 2009
Comment author: retiredurologist 02 November 2009 02:36:17PM *  9 points [-]

Is school worth it for the learning? How about for the little piece of paper I get at the end?

In the comment section of this post, "Doug S." gives the most salient analysis I have seen. After stating, "the job of a university professor is to do research and bring in grant money for said research, not to teach! Teaching is incidental," he was asked why parents would pay upward of $40,000 annually for such a service. His parsimonious reply: "In most cases, it’s not the education that’s worth $40,000+. It’s the diploma. Earning a diploma demonstrates that you are willing to suffer in exchange for vague promises of future reward, which is a trait that employers value."

Comment author: taw 20 October 2009 08:58:38AM 3 points [-]

Wikipedia says:

A "disease" or "medical condition" is an abnormal condition of an organism that impairs bodily functions, associated with specific symptoms and signs.

The key word is abnormal. If something is naturally common in humans, and doesn't impair any bodily functions, it shouldn't really count as a "disease". Like being short, as a matter of fact.

FDA has these views, as they only approve treatment of people with specific shortness-causing disorders, or within 1.2% of most extreme shortness (which is highly atypical). If people pursuing height expand this band to bottom 50% of current population, or bottom 80% of historical record, and redefine it as an illness, then it will be a lie, as a matter of fact.

Even better case is premature ejaculation, which is estimated to "affect" 30%-70% of American males. It doesn't impair any bodily functions. So it's factually incorrect to claim it's an illness.

Comment author: retiredurologist 22 October 2009 04:32:12PM *  3 points [-]

Re: premature ejaculation, see The sooner the better. There is excellent therapy for those who desire it, but ironically the SSRI's that work so effectively to delay ejaculation were developed to treat depression, for which their effectiveness is the same as placebo. Yet, they are FDA-approved for treatment of the latter, not the former.