Great review and summary in one! I especially liked the scorecard section in the end as a quick recap. The issues you had with the content of the book were well-founded and you explained your gripes with them well enough to make me nod in agreement. I especially buy your general “in addition to” argument.
Only thing I’d like to add is the following general insight:
In your scorecard section you write:
Ranked from most about Y to least about Y:
Food isn’t about Nutrition
I’ve worked in sales for websites and ads before and similar to your shocking personal insight when it comes to medicare I’ve had my own: You wouldn’t believe how much food isn’t about nutrition and actually about signalling, judging by the absolutely shocking amount of customers peddling their crackpot vegan food, raw food and supplements I’ve had to deal with during my time there. Sure, obviously food is about nutrition, too—however, I’d say food is only about nutrition if you actually don’t have enough food. If people actually have a choice of what to eat then it’s no longer about just the nutrition, but it becomes a potential playing field for signalling, just like pretty much anything else.
For me personally though, I think I can say with a straight face that food was never about signalling, probably because I came from parents that actually experienced hunger and scarcity, so I eat whatever is on the plate and I’m really fine with whatever you dump on my plate, while I raise a judging eyebrow at people making a big deal of their moral or expensive or “sophisticated” food choices. I abhorr all sorts of foodies with pretty much in the same zeal that I abhorr modern art museums.
I think the particular insight here is generalizable to the following statement:
For people who choose to compete in the social status playing field for X, X is not about Y but mainly about Z.
In other words, the truth of the statement ” Food isn’t about Nutrition” depends practically entirely on who you are actually talking to.
Signalling well takes effort, and the more elite the group that you’re trying to signal to, the more effort is usually required of you. Thus, I predict hardly anyone actually tries to compete at all playing fields for signalling simultaneously at all times. Even before being aware of hidden motives and signalling I’ve never even tried to compete in some fields (like food or sports or owning anything expensive) and instead I focused entirely on competing in other areas, where I know I’m actually good at and where I know my comparative advantage lies.
Not only that, in addition I regularly find myself actively sh*tting on playing fields I myself am no good at. Damn all those pretentious artists and foodies and religious types and sports-fans and people who can afford spending lots of money on signalling! I’m obviously much better than all of those bastards, because science and academia is actually saving the world and it’s the only thing that really matters and incidentally it’s also where I can signal all my SMART.