Another Sunday winds down, and with it, another week has passed where I haven’t written something up.
It’s really hard to find the appropriate time for writing with my schedule. I work 10-12 hour days of driving and manual labor. That makes it nearly impossible to get any writing done.
In my reading of writer interviews, seemingly all writers make a regular practice of writing: writing first thing in the morning, usually. This makes sense to me. I find that I’m most productive on a morning with no agenda. My mind is fresh and unburdened, the air buzzes with potential.
In periods of my life where I didn’t have to get up before sunrise, I did a lot of writing late at night. This is the other time that writers will write. The normal activities of humans subside at night. With the ensuing solitude, one’s muse is unimpeded by not only ambient distraction, but also thoughts of the thoughts of other humans. Less inhibition. Go wild and edit everything when you wake up next morning.
Writing at night is not an option when you get up at 5:30am (or earlier).
On weekdays, mornings belong to work. On Saturday, the morning is also not available; I’m doing all the things I can’t do during the work week. When I get back home on Saturday, I want to decompress, not dive into a project requiring significant amounts of human expressive input. I really enjoy my Saturday errands, they let me live a life outside of work, support personal interests and projects, and engage meaningful relationships. But I’m still tired when I get home.
That leaves Sunday. Sunday ends up getting the big hard important stuff since Saturday deals with personal care (mental, emotional, physical). The big hard important stuff is the kind of stuff you know you need to do in order to progress in life. Stuff like writing and making decisions about your future. So Sunday has a lot on its plate. And it also suffers from some schizophrenic juxtaposition. Even if Sunday is the day with the most freedom, it is also the last call for escapism. The impending workweek looms over Sunday, and that means that certain things have to be prepared or taken care of before the rat race begins anew. It’s very easy to say: “I’ll do it next weekend.”
But not this weekend. Instead, I give you two loosely related rants on Scientism and reductionist science.
The first is a response to an essay by William A. Wilson.
The article started out weak, since it covers the reproducibility crisis and its spokesperson Ioannadis (a necessity for posterity, I suppose). For how important and subversive it is, I have yet to read anything that makes that subject not boring to read.
However, after we’re done slogging through that, we get to some fun. To start, some well-deserved shade gets thrown on physics. Then we see that peer review and seniority deference actively work against the aims of science, making the scientific literature resistant to new and unpopular ideas.
I should note that, before I get into my favorite part, pretty much all of the false and problematic research relies heavily on data collection and statistical interpretation.
Finally, we get to the two most recent (and arguably, the most deplorable) forces of scientific regress. That is, the careerists and the Cult of Science (or scientism, sometimes I refer to it as Science with a capital S). I say they are the worst because they are what will keep science in a downward spiral. Careerists can’t compete with novel and paradigm-breaking research; no, the status quo is good for the paycheck, so that is what they will produce. An intellectually humble scientific establishment is incompatible with the dogmatism of the cultists. Moreover, the longer that scientism continues, the more exposure and influence it will gain on the egos and motives on not only the current crop of researchers, but especially the future generations of researchers.
Second, an email to my brother, responding to “How I Stopped Eating Food“
Okay, so I have a few things to say. I’m going off my memory of it from when you first emailed it, so if there’s an error, that’s why.
A. It’s really dangerous doing a fully synthetic diet because you never know what you’re leaving out. He even ran into that issue quite quickly with iron… and iron is not exactly a new and exotic element in nutrition. People have known about the critical importance of iron for at least decades… so I don’t know how that escaped his review of literature. Total noob mistake. Then you have to extrapolate that problem to molecules we don’t have a lot of data on yet, molecules we don’t even have names for yet. My personal opinion is that thinking you can create the perfect synthetic diet by looking at some research papers is blind Science worship (Science with a capital “S) because it presumes that we know everything we need to know already. People don’t understand that the most important element of scientific inquiry is intellectual humility. In other words, it’s not about FACT!s, it’s about advancing a theory and accepting that you might be wrong.
B. So why did he improve his health after going synthetic? I’m assuming he knows very little about nutrition, and therefore also assuming he basically ate junk before. This is important for two reasons. If you’re not already a food nazi, and you live in America, you are eating a lot of garbage that is terrible for you. You’re eating lots of PUFAs, man-made chemicals, etc. All that stuff will make you feel like crap, so once you remove it, you feel better. Tada! That’s why a lot of people feel better initially when they go vegetarian or do some other restrictive diet. They’re not actively throwing (as many) toxins down their throat, so they feel better.
The other side of this is that now that he’s planning out his diet, he is consciously selecting for nutrient sufficiency. Compare this to his previous diet where he likely never gave a second thought about whether he was getting enough vitamin C or magnesium. I can guarantee you he was deficient in many nutrients, and so when he started eating a supplement smoothie, he was getting nutrients he wasn’t before. Now his body could start doing processes it couldn’t before.
C. Regarding his thoughts on the social and environmental implications: classic Silicon Valley Transhumanist Engineer babble. Derision aside, I thought his point about trash cans being in the kitchen was genuinely insightful. Most waste is food-related, this is true. But if we’re not pooping anymore… that sounds like some robot type shit to me. It just moves us closer to the man-is-machine utopia these people want. We’re living in temperature regulated structures, using motorized transport, sitting in chairs and interfacing with technology all day… just get in the fucking Matrix already, you pansy. Hook up your damn brain. It’s complete dissociation from one’s body… and other bodies, as well. It’s ignoring all the wonders of manifested reality. It narrows the scope of life, it doesn’t broaden.
Before I got off on that rant, I was going to talk about how eating is an extremely communal practice. Not so much in America, but many other cultures have retained the communal nature of food. It’s what you do with friends and family. When you gather for a meal, you’re not just nurturing your body, you’re also nurturing your relationships, your soul, your mind. It’s a time to slow down. It’s a form of identity, it bonds you to your family, your community. If everyone is ingesting gray goo, that’s another bond you lose to other people, past and present. Again, dissociation — you lose one more way that you know who you are in the world.
D. I did know about Soylent before. In fact, halfway through reading the link, I was thinking “too bad, dude, somebody already made Soylent.” And it turned out that it was THE Soylent. An acquaintance of mine wrote of a review of Soylent from a nutritional perspective: http://fixyourgut.com/soylent-2-0-review/ He makes a rather startling observation:
What is disturbing to me is not the similarity of macronutrients, but the means from which they were sourced and processed. Captive animals, who have lost their freedom to graze naturally, are fed commercial products derived and processed from corn, soy, and vegetable oil. The ingredients are designed to keep animals alive in a confined and restricted environment as cheaply as possible without a reduction in weight. When you read the story of a software engineer overworked, too busy to eat, and consumes Soylent, there are some definite parallels.
If you did want to try something like that, I’d suggest reading this thread: http://forum.bulletproofexec.com/index.php?/topic/13718-most-foods-seem-useless-any-insights/?hl=soylent At least it’s not from some nutritional noob.
- I’m postponing my coach training through Bulletproof.
- I’ve started a new job twice. I’m now back at where I used to work a couple years ago.
- I’m now co-leader of the Boulder WAPF Chapter. I’ve been having a lot of fun with this.
- Finally, AHS 2016 is right around the corner.
This is one of those articles that, after reading it, you walk away from your computer in a dazed state of new perception.
The college cynics typically categorize college as a way of signaling either intelligence or work ethic, but to me there’s always been something lacking in that explanation. Why would colleges bother with, as the author notes, cafes in libraries, stupendous stadiums and sports teams, lavish dining hall menus, extensive gyms, etc?
None of these sweeping, ubiquitous changes to college life make any sense under the view that college is for getting a credential, leading to a good job, leading to good income, leading to higher consumption levels. They make perfect sense under the view that young people today expect to have no shot at the career competition and are opting instead for lifestyle competition, and that the college years are training them for that kind of striving.
As someone who dropped out of college after two years, it explains so much — why everything felt so dissonant. When I was a student, I liked to call CU-Boulder an educational day spa. Though I never could explain why that moniker felt so true, I think this article does. It is about the lifestyle, the image, your personal brand.
Lifestyle strivers become obsessed with increasingly arcane points about seemingly mundane leisure activities, and having to flit from one fad to the next in order to not appear to be taking a break but still vigorously invested in the competition. Who is cooking the most original and titillating variation on the mac-and-cheese dinner? Who has the latest style jogging shorts? Who has the most on-point living room decor? Whose playlist contains bands that no one else has ever heard of? Ad nauseam.
If all that is the long road ahead of adolescents, then they had better get a solid training in young adulthood. In fact their parents already model the adult lifestyle striver behavior while the children are still school-aged — bringing home bacon-and-avocado mac-and-cheese for dinner from Whole Foods, so their kids will know what to order when they’re on their own. The parents drag the kids along to IKEA so that they’ll learn what kinds of trendy furniture to pick out once they’re living away at a college dorm room, or their first apartment.
But the parents can only accomplish so much by modeling the behavior. The kids actually have to leave home and begin lifestyle striving in earnest on their own. Hence the current form that the college experience takes.
But why do those insufferable millenials continue to act like millenials, vociferating for free higher education schemes?
Well, it won’t do us any good to lecture them about how they can pay off their debt once they use their degree to get a decent job. They know their degree is worthless — they went to college for lifestyle striving, not to earn more money.
What they’re really asking for is state-subsidized training and apprenticeship in the domain that they’ll be competing for status in as adults — lifestyle contests. In their minds, it’s akin to state-subsidized high school classes in math, science, and technology for those who are planning to strive in the career domain. Fairness would seem to argue for subsidized training for the lifestyle strivers too.
Of course, one of those domains is productive for society, and the other only enriches the individual’s reputation. But the productive niche is already beyond saturated with incumbents and foreigners to whom the work could be outsourced. We can’t expect most young adults to focus on career-building when there are hardly any decent careers waiting to be filled. It’s only natural that they will mostly turn to lifestyle striving as their form of “bettering themselves,” while accepting a crummy job and crummy living circumstances.
The author continues expanding the commentary in the comments.
Perhaps I didn’t drop out of college so much as I opted out of college.
I have my test results back. In order to save some dough while still testing markers I was interested in, I ended up getting results from three different companies: Wellness FX, Life Extension, and Requestatest. This meant I had to visit two locations for a blood draw, but it wasn’t inconvenient since they’re very close to each other.
(By the way, LEF is having their annual blood test sale until June 6th.)
These are my test results as compiled in Wellness FX. I recommend table view [pdf] over sparkline [pdf], unless you’re looking for a trend.
If I walked into a doctor’s office today with these lab results, there are three or four things I’m certain the doctor would want to discuss. The first is my lipid panel. According to conventional medical interpretation, I’m doing everything wrong. My total cholesterol, trigs, and LDL are going up, and my HDL is going down. I don’t follow the conventional interpretation very closely, though. There are many health researchers and gurus like Stephanie Seneff that don’t think cholesterol is inherently bad, and I agree with them wholeheartedly. As well, there is some evidence saying that high HDL might not be so beneficial after all. I’m not ready to declare a war on cholesterol yet, but movements this large are concerning to me, if for no other reason than that I have no solid explanation for why they exist. And I don’t like it when things are red.
The second area of concern I would expect a doctor to bring up is my iron levels. I got an anemia panel out of curiosity, and because I’ve been seeing a lot of interesting stuff about iron. My last blood donation was on March 9th. The blood tests are from April 13th. My ferritin and iron saturation are out of range (on the low side) and my iron serum is in range on the low side. I don’t really understand a lot of these anemia numbers since most of them seem to be calculations and not actual measurements. For instance, TIBC is an estimation of transferrin available to bind iron. The actual transferrin test is much more expensive. To me, a calculation is at least a little suspect since it is itself an interpretation and therefore reflects bias. (Notably, most lipid values seem to be calculated as well). As far the iron side of anemia is concerned, it seems that I’m anemic. However, both B9 and B12 numbers are high (though LEF says my B12 is too high).
My red blood cell count is high. I’ve seen this since I started doing labs, but there wasn’t anything directly actionable to implement and it doesn’t sound super hazardous to have high RBC. However, when I got to see my dad’s most recent labs a few months ago, I noticed his RBC was high, too, so my interest was peaked and I did some digging. I found a condition called Polycythemia, but it looks like that wouldn’t apply to me since my hematocrit is below 55. Other causes of high RBC include, but are not limited to: poor oxygenation and dehydration. I live in Colorado, so altitude could be a factor. I’m thinking dehydration is a factor as well. On my August 2015 labs, my BUN/Creatinine ratio was at its lowest point (indicating better hydration) and that was the only time my RBC test was in range. With my April 2016 labs, my BUN/Creatinine ratio rose (indicating less hydration), and my RBC rose.
On a related note (oxygenation), my CO2 levels have lowered since I started testing in March 2014. I would be concerned about this, except haidut uncovered something interesting about CO2 blood tests. The blood tests actually measure bicarbonate, which alkalizes the blood. CO2 acidifies the blood, so a lower bicarbonate level (what the blood test actually measures) would suggest more alkaline blood and therefore less CO2. Hopefully, this is a correct understanding of events. I have been drinking a lot more carbonated water than before I started testing.
Any functional medicine practitioner would be worried about a vitamin D level of 31 ng/mL. To be honest, it worries me a little since it’s on the verge of insufficiency. Many vitamin D advocates suggest levels between 50 to 80, and possibly 100. The reason my level is low is because there is a seasonal variation in vitamin D availability (the sun) and the mercurial and neurotic Woo pointed out that there is some evidence that this is beneficial (study citation in link). So I didn’t supplement with vitamin D during the winter, and I don’t think I supplemented with vitamin D very much at all last year. I did supplement a little bit staring in February to kickstart my levels this summer.
I got sick twice this winter, and both times were around seasonal transitions: in November (first big snow) and February (when winter was loosening its icy grip). Over the past few years, I have observed myself and even other people experiencing what I’ll call “symptom flux” when seasons change. I think my sickness in February was brought on by me getting too much sun on my body, or starting D3 supplementation.
My RBC magnesium was in the middle of the range, but I’d like to move it higher, above 6.0.
Another thing that would worry doctors is my increase in weight. I weigh 170 lbs right now, the most I’ve ever weighed. It seems to be all packed around my gut, as I’m starting to develop a paunch. The cause is definitely not inflammation; I got several inflammation markers tested and they’re all low. It’s also not blood sugar, since both blood glucose and Hba1c are where they’ve been since I started testing. My guess is that there is an energy excess. I’ve been eating a lot more carbs, particularly rice, oatmeal, maple syrup, and honey. I know, I’m terrible. I was influenced by Matt Stone and decided to experiment a little bit. I also started drinking a gallon of raw milk each week starting in January. I’ve been relatively sedentary, aside from going for walks 3-4 times a week.
My TSH continues to trend lower after the jump that was most likely caused by iodine megadosing. In light of my weight gain, I’m really temped to get a full thyroid panel very soon.
Like I said earlier, inflammatory markers are all good. LDH is in range. hsCRP is in range. ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate; sedimentation rate-westergren) is 2 mm/hr with a range of 0-15. TNF-alpha is 0.8 pg/mL with a range of 0-8.1.
Another indulgence/curiosity. Retinol is 58 ug/mL with a range of 24-85. Beta carotene is 63 ug/mL with a range of 3-91.
Going from here
I do not really like the taste of coconut oil, but I want to eat two or more tablespoons every day. Also, will do 500mg of niacinamide twice a day. I stopped niacinamide for a while because either B3 or ascorbate (average half tsp a day) was starting to give me scurvy. I’m intrigued by the prospect of raw carrot fiber, and aim to hit 150 grams of carrot fiber per day. I’ve been slacking on transdermal magnesium, and will do that more often. I want to remove milk from my diet for 2-4 weeks and see if I notice anything suggesting a sensitivity. Finally, I’ll reintroduce Bulletproof IF to my toolbox. I’m thinking about doing a three day fast. A ceruloplasmin test might be interesting.
Seeking comment on
Is there a test for LPS?
Weight gain in context of low inflammation and stable blood sugar
Rising cholesterol in context of low inflammation and stable blood sugar
I’ve become a lot more mindful of iron over the past year. It shows up in a couple places in the ascorbate-ceruloplasmin story, and there are numerous people covering the harm of excessive iron. What’s fascinating about all these people is that there is very little cross-pollination between them. This, to me, suggests an increase in the credibility of what each of them is saying. There’s a lot more strength in an idea when multiple people come to the same conclusion independently.
The idea of iron excess is agnostic as well. It doesn’t come with any other baggage, it’s not part of the framework of any conceptual systems (CICO, paleo, LCHF, vegan, etc). This lack of attachment means it’s a lot more portable between conceptual systems and its more likely to be accepted by any random person. When an idea is embedded within a conceptual system — that is, the idea is understood to be true by a large segment of people buying into a certain conceptual system — people from other conceptual systems tend to be quite biased against it. There is some adversity between many conceptual systems (probably because people with particular views and dispositions gravitate towards one or the other).
Iron excess doesn’t have this problem. It’s not involved in any ideological turf wars. Outside of the anti-aging community, nobody considers it. It will largely slip right under the quack radar of self-appointed vanguards of Western science, since the solution to iron excess has the air of an unequivocally medical procedure: needles, gloves, bandages, all conducted inside a building filled with plastic containers, white walls, biohazard buckets, and fluorescent lighting. It is what Western medicine excels at. Amusingly, though, blood letting has decidedly “unscientific” roots. It was contemporary and peer to such things as elixirs, electric shock treatment, trepanning, homeopathy, and, when connected to the word “leeches”, it is seen just as backward and barbaric. (Note: like blood letting, I expect to see modern revivals of some of those treatments, too.)
In summary, I think the idea of iron excess has a promising future. To get you up to speed, I will list a handful of sources for you to check out.
In link #2, Dr Leo Zacharski mentions Iron Disorders Institute.