I am thinking that “Australia” is not correkt and should read “England”.
Examples of “proof by theory”
That someone has a theory that supports something is evidence for something.
1. Once 3 people tell us something, we believe it. Some people think it, so it’s true. Even knowing they are in cahoots and trying to manipulate us. I cannot source the study, but try it. It is scarily effective.
2. Ancel Keys formulated his dietary fat / heart disease hypothesis in the 1950s. Over a period of 3-4 years he moved from “hypothesis” to “almost certain” even though no new evidence arose in support of the hypothesis. It appears that every time he wrote on the issue, he noted that he himself, a very intelligent and credible authority, believed the theory, which seemed to weigh in favour of the theory. He cited his own previous papers which then added to the weight of the case, in his mind. [Keys may also have been influenced by the fact that his chief rival John Yudkin believed that sugar was the chief culprit, which view was therefore clearly wrong (theory in this case as anti-evidence). We are still sorting through the wreckage of his catastrophe].
3. Teenage fashions in clothes and politics. Teenagers are very concerned about acceptance by the group, and at the same time they have little experience and knowledge. So they seek cues from those around them as to what fashion statements and political opinions are acceptable. They are seeking cues from those around them, who are just as clueless as they are. Result: strongly held but more or less random fashions and opinions. One late teen recently told me he considers himself fortunate indeed to have been born at that one magic time when his peer group adhered to basically every right and true political and social opinion.
4. Contagion in financial markets. Didier Sornette has had some success in modeling the structure of financial bubbles and crashes based on the premise that speculators are very anxious about the direction of prices and highly uncertain about them at the same time. They have very little good information about future prices. In Sornette’s model, traders take cues from traders they are in contact with, resulting in violently fluctuating “phase changes” in investor opinion leading to log-periodic hyper-exponential price moves. Again the opinions of other traders are taken as data when in fact they have little information content.
I found early on, when learning a foreign language (German and French), that it was better to read English books translated into the language at first. They tended to be lighter on the colloquial and idiomatic expressions.
There is a great book “Teach yourself a foreign language quickly” by Azzopardi tha I would recommend. It is really excellent for languages with phonetic scripts. PM me if you can’t find it; I can lend you a copy.
One thing that slowed me down is my failure to ‘believe’ that gender of nouns is important. In German it is vital to learn the genders of nouns. Similarly in Italian (and you also need to remember the doubled consonants and where the accent lies).
You cannot learn a language in a big rush. Persistence is the key.
1. Obviously there are many general techniques for memorization you can use, which mostly amount to moving the task into either sensory/visual or spatial memory. Visual and spatial memory are huge, fat larger than verbal memory.
2. With Anki specifically:
2.1 Include an example of use in a sentence (as a separate note from the bare word).
2.2 I find it is very very useful to bring words in initially only a few at a time e.g. 5 at a time. If I bring in 50 new words I find, as with your experience, I am cycling around and the cycle time exceeds my memory.
2.3 Do it every day. I found my progress more than doubled
With these techniques I learned 1500 Italian words pretty fast. (the vocab required for B1 level).
3. Reading really helps to build vocabulary. You get exposed to the most common words more frequently, in an automatic and natural way. Start with really simple material and build up.
Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models has some material about deciding between models on this though pretty low level.
Looking at my bookshelf most general AI/ML books have starting points.
“Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning” Bishop
“Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems: Networks of Plausible Inference” Pearl
“Probabilistic Graphical Models: Principles and Techniques” Koller
This is a super-hard problem but worth tackling.
N=1: Person close to me had NF treatment for ADHD and it was very effective. Unfortunately the outfit closed up, there was no local alternative, and he/she regressed. I think there is something to it.
But no doubt there is a lot of woo woo everywhere. Use as interview practice and ask them what is their evidence (other than X on their web site which no doubt you will closely examine).
… looks further … they look pretty serious to me
You yourself are ignoring a huge part of the issue—capital.
If there is excess capital then this is not relevant. But this is not usually the case. Each immigrant requires capital to support their life and their work. The numbers involved are huge, perhaps $300,000-500,000 per person.
Using econometric data from Australia I estimated that about 25% of its GDP is expended just keeping up with population growth, mostly from (highest in the western world) immigration. New roads, hospitals, schools, colleges, fire stations, houses, power stations, subways etc have to be built. This is why many roads that used to be free to drive on are now toll roads even though the traffic is slower. Taxes go up to pay for new public services.
The rate of spending here is proportional to the rate of growth. For a static population you only need to pay for depreciation and maintenance.
This issue is why it is a cliche in development economics that high population growth rates make it almost impossible for poor countries to get rich. All the growth is consumed paying the the higher population.
It also explains why Japan remains prosperous, clean and a nice place to visit in spite of low GDp growth. With more or less zero population growth the need for new infrastructure is low, free up ~25% of GDP.
Another (more widely viewed) form of capital is land. Combined with restrictive land use regulations in many parts of the rich west, this is a recipe for higher and more volatile land and house prices. See e.g. https://www.ft.com/__origami/service/image/v2/images/raw/https%3A%2F%2Fd1e00ek4ebabms.cloudfront.net%2Fproduction%2F3175bb18-2ceb-4125-b48e-a386bef8d43c_FINAL.png?source=Alphaville
Your essay reads—to me—a bit like you are working backwards from a preordained conclusion rather than working forward from the data. Could I suggest going back to square one and taking another look at the whole question.
Usually conflicts of interest and funding are disclosed (these days) in the paper. Usually I go there first, before the second step which is reading the methods section.
There are also registers of funding for medical researchers.
But it is imperfect
and of course disclosure is not a complete answer. Disclosed funding greatly affects the reported results.
I have generally just taken the existence of Jesus as a given
I think most people were the same. I was. Our default is to believe what we are told, especially if told by >= 3 people (a heuristic that is good to know if you want to convince someone of something).
In one sense it doesn’t matter much because even assuming he existed, there is IMHO very little reliable evidence about what he said or did. Scholars widely believe that the eucharist, the feeding of the 5000 and the sermon on the mount were later additions to the story.
It is worth noting the trend here. Over time the historicity of biblical figures has eroded as older figures are gradually accepted as legendary. Usually this process occurs by the time honoured method of “science advances funeral by funeral”. A new generation comes through who accept e.g. tha Abraham or Moses were mythical figures.
Why 4 hours?
1. 4 hours a day has been widely reported as the limit
2. The book Daily Rituals reports high achievers doing 4 hours really hard work a day.
3. Personal experience. Steep drop off after more than 4 hours; burnout after a few days much over 4 hours, etc.
4. Very few examples of people going over that number sustainably.
I suggest people track this themselves and see what happens.
I find I can get to 4.5-5 hours maybe with a lunchtime nap. Maybe much more with lots of micro-naps (doze in chair for 5 minutes).
Currently I am experimenting with turning 24 hours into two days with a long nap in the middle. I am having trouble doing this though.
N.B. This is not 4 hours of any kind of work. This is work at the maximum of intellectual effort e.g. deliberate practice, learning to ride a bicycle, memorizing vocabulary with Anki decks, practising a foreign language at the limit of your comprehension, trying to prove theorems, doing exercises on a hard scientific subject you are learning, writing at the top level of quality and/or on difficult topics, etc.
Also, not all ‘experts’ are actually expert.
If they can’t
Build/achieve/create things that are impressive and that work, or
Fix broken things that others can’t fix, or
Predict the future better than simple heuristics can (e.g. present trends will continue), or
Explain otherwise baffling things in a parsimonious way, in a way others can’t, then
They are not an expert. Even if they have fancy pieces of parchment on the walls of their office, and even if they have fancy titles.
As Barbara Oakley pointed out in the excellent “A mind for numbers”, claims of expertise not accompanied by proof are worse than acknowledged incompetence. At least the acknowledged incompetent will not act on a false basis of competence.
This is a very hard problem. I really have no answer other than learning as much as you need to know. Keep asking “what is the evidence for this?”, and learn statistics deeply. I read lots of books and read the FAQs and watched the debates on /fit/ etc.
Most of the fitness advice you will hear is bad. But this is not unique; the same applies to financial advice and to medical advice, including from doctors and specialists. Conflicts of interest play a role but incompetence is rife. [Conflicts of interest: I commented to a General Practitioner here that surgeons often have a conflict of interest—they recommend surgery and also profit from. His comment was that there was no conflict—they are in it for the money!. Perhaps slightly too cynical but not bad as a first approximation. Incompetence: Anyone who has read the medical literature or looked deeply into their own medical issues and then spoken to doctors and specialists will be appalled. This post is too short to go into details but if at all possible and you have a serious medical issue—read up both on statistics and on the particular problem.] Also worth noting that, far more than most other scientific fields, medicine is a ‘status’ model not a ‘knowledge and evidence’ model. Pernicious and wrong ideas can live for decades because the people who hold them are powerful and have high status.
I think part of the problem is government enforced licensing of medical people. if you can do a better job that current endocrinologists for example and start doing that, the government will put you in jail. Add to this the fact that membership of the esteemed order of endocrinologists is at the whim of the current endocrinologists. For example in my country having seen at least a dozen endocrinologists I have yet to find one who has even an elementary grasp of medically relevant statistics, nor have I found one who seems to be able to think of the endocrine system as a complex non-linear feedback system. Usually you don’t get much beyond “your blood level is normal therefore there cannot be a problem”. And how is ‘normal’ defined …
Having gotten into fitness myself thanks to a back problem, I do agree with the proposition that lack of strength is behind many but not all such problems. But hormonal issues are important too—if you have low testosterone (which many young males do, and by low I mean < 450ng/dl USA or < 15nM/L everywhere else). High cortisol can also nuke any fitness program.
I also agree with warm-ups. Not with stretching. Warm up for me = a few minutes of walking and then reps of the target exercise at low weights, gradually building up 10X10kg, 5X30, 3X50, 2*65...
On the other hand I found machines to be of limited value in producing real world strength because the unnatural movements only trained a very specific set of muscles and did not train proprioception and bodily intelligence. I switched to barbells.
On cardio I think that it is good if intense and in small doses i.e. HIIT. Long moderate cardio only put up my stress hormone levels and left me debilitated. Cool down from intense cardio is important I think to restore normal blood flow and avoid staving the heart of oxygen. Again just walk a few minutes. At this time you can stretch if flexibility is a goal—now, not before exercising.
For burning calories long slow walks are best IMHO. You can use the time for ‘diffuse mode’ thinking which is important. If you are very young you might be able to get away with slow running.
I could not find one a few years ago. I read the last couple of and the first IPCC report. Read sceptic books and blogs and looked for refutations. I took what looked like the 3 strongest sceptic arguments and studied them in detail (all proved fallacious). Though I did conclude that there had been early on an overconfidence about the accuracy of the projections.
Analogously I am looking for the best rebuttal to Richard Carrier’s book questioning the existence of the historial Yeshua / Joshua / Jesus (in Greek). It is difficult because almost all biblical scholars are in a position where even entertaining the question might be a career threatening move, and all the texts basically simply assume his existence. I read Bart Ehrman’s attempt (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Did_Jesus_Exist%3F_(Ehrman_book)&_%28Ehrman%29=) and found it an embarrassment (to him). I have looked at the Josephus and Tacitus texts and find them to be very weak evidence.
There seem to have been a few individuals who could work hard for more than 4 hours a day: Proust (who took vast amounts of caffeine tablets and died at 51), Erdos (who used amphetamines), Richard Stallman who was and is a super motivated individual.
In the book daily rituals, about high achievers, few worked more than 4 hours on their core hard work e.g. writing novels, science etc. You would think if it were possible to work productively at the top level more than that, someone would do it and blow away the competition.
I would be interested in any others, or any evidence that people in general can do more than 4 hours at the top level. Possibly a nap after 3 hours can get you another 30-60 minutes. This was from the violinists study that Cal Newport (I think) referred to.
In general people tend to initially find the 4 hour limit a big problem. My response is to ask people to get back to me when they are consistently doing the 4 hours and we will see how it can be extended. They tend to find it is very hard to get to 4 hours.
I didn’t read this. There seemed to be no way to tell if it would be of interest other than to read the whole thing. No summary, no tldr, even the title is vague.
I think you may be confusing the business cycle with market cycles.
anticipate a random walk with an average of 10%/year growth,
I suggest anyone who believes this have a closer look at world wide stock market returns over time. If you cherry pick the most successful of the ~200 markets (ie the US market) and ignore inflation you can maybe get 10% PA returns.
But unless you have evidence that you can pick the most successful market prospectively, then 3-4% after inflation and costs is more like it.
Bear in mind at the start of C20 the US had only recently exited a ruinous civil war, rule of law was limited, there was rampant corruption, etc etc. Which country that (might) looks like this would you pick as the top performer of the next 100 years?
I don’t think you are being fair minded at all here.
Consider your claim that Taubes “hailed” the 2010 study with the reality
“The biggest study so far on lowcarb diets came out last year. It compared a low-fat diet in which you got Not everyone gets fat from eating carbs, and getting rid of carbs might not make you lean. But it will make you the leanest you can be. 118 r e a d e r s d i g e s t . c o m 2 / 1 1 1,200 to 1,800 calories per day with a low-carbohydrate diet where you could eat as much as you wanted. The researchers kind of buried this part of it, by the way. They barely touched on the fact that this is a severely calorie restricted diet compared with an allyou-can-eat diet. But what they found was that the low-carb diet did just as well.
Taubes is saying that a low carb diet with no calorie restrictions did as well as a calorie controlled high carb diet. Which is very interesting. But it is not an apples for apples comparison and in no way says that a low carb diet is no better.
I recommend people read Taubes’s books for themselves and be mindful that powerful vested interests are at play in this space.
Skills: Learn both bayesian and frequentist statistics. E T Jaynes’s book, also Gelman’s Bayesian Data Analysis, and any solid frequentist textbook e.g. Goodman Teach Yourself Statistics 1972 edition. Also Judea Pearl Causality. Read the papers critiquing current methods (why most published research findings are false, the recent papers criticising the use of P values).
You will need calculus and linear algebra to get far but for reading the medical literature you can probably ignore measure theory.
Heuristics: Look at sponsorship, both for the study itself and for the researchers (speaking fees, sponsorship of other papers. This massively skews results.
Look for ideological or prior commitments by authors. This also massively skews results.
Look out for p hacking / garden of forking paths i.e. degrees of freedom that result in ‘significant’ results being claimed when this is not valid.
Understand the difference between statistical significance and practical significance. Understand how arbitrary the 5% threshold for statistical significance is. Understand that a result falling short of statistical significance may actually be evidence *for* an effect. No significant effect /= no effect, may mean probably is an effect.
Understand how little most medical people from GP to professors know about statistics and how often basic statistical errors occur in the literature (e.g. lack of statistical significant taken to be disproof as in the Vioxx debacle).
Read the methods section first. Don’t read the results part of the abstract or if you do, check that all the claims made are backed up by the body of the paper.
When reading meta-analyses look hard at the papers they are based on—you cannot make silk from sows ears. Be very wary of any study that has not been replicated by independent researchers.
Be aware of the extreme weaknesses of epidemiological and observational studies and be very sceptical of claims to have “controlled for” some variable. Such attempts are usually miserable failures, invalid and can make things actually worse. See Pearl’s book.
As an example here is copypasta from the latest dietary guidelines:
Adults who are obese should change their eating and physical activity behaviors to prevent additional weight gain and/or promote weight loss. Adults who are overweight should not gain additional weight, and those with one or more CVD risk factors (e.g., hypertension and hyperlipidemia) should change their eating and physical activity behaviors to lose weight. To lose weight, most people need to reduce the number of calories they get from foods and beverages and increase their physical activity. For a weight loss of 1 to 11⁄2 pounds per week, daily intake should be reduced by 500 to 750 calories. Eating patterns that contain 1,200 to 1,500 calories each day can help most women lose weight safely, and eating patterns that contain 1,500 to 1,800 calories each day are suitable for most men for weight loss. In adults who are overweight or obese, if reduction in total calorie intake is achieved, a variety of eating patterns can produce weight loss, particularly in the first 6 months to 2 years;  however, more research is needed on the health implications of consuming these eating patterns long-term.
Straight wall to wall calories in calories out.
I don’t buy this at all.
The OP has attacked Taubes on a peripheral issue and used that to make it look like Taubes got it wrong on his central theses. And I don’t think he did.
Even on this peripheral issue, I think Taubes is actually basically right. I have read 3 of his books and watched a few of his talks so I know his views on the topic.
Overwhelmingly the advice to consumers has been eat less move more. As if that was a solution to the problem of weight gain. My own doctors have said this to me. Not a word about more sophisticated approaches to regulating appetite and hunger.
The scientific rationale for the 2015-2020 guidelines has barely a thing to say about this. They have some ideas about eating less sugar and less takeaway food but evcen there the main argument is the hoary old chestnut about calorie density (fat = 9 calories / gram versus healthy carbs at 4).
Of course you can find some quotes suggesting that regulation of weight is complex. But overwhelmingly the message is calories in calories out. Ancel Keys—who dominated the field, and was funded in part by packaged food companies—gave this message repeatedly in his works.
Dietary policy in the US (and therefore in most of the world) has been a monumental failure with skyrocketing rates of obesity and diabetes. The fall in smoking rates and better treatments have masked the impact of this on heart disease.
There is a long and sad history of the recommendations not being evidenced based and being skewed by the packaged food industry and by vegetarian/vegan zealots (particularly more recently).The AHA’s original big funding splash came from Proctor and Gamble, who marketed the wonder food, Crisco, full of “healthy” trans vegetable fats.
Read the reports over time and look at the evidence that wasn’t there and the evidence that was ignored.