Monthly Archives: April 2014

Rest In Peace, Seth Roberts. He was a man of integrity, of intellectual thirst, and a real friend…

Rest In Peace, Seth Roberts.

He was a man of integrity, of intellectual thirst, and a real friend: he truly had skin in the game (he experimented on himself).

We are considering a memorial a-la-Seth: A memorial one-day conference for all his friends and admirers, organized by his pals: John Durant, Tim Ferris, Tucker Max, Gary Taubes, and other members of that independent thinking clique who connected socially through Seth.

Ad vitam aeternam.

Seth’s Blog » Blog Archive » Seth

Hello, this is Seth’s sister, Amy, with the sad news that Seth died on Saturday, April 26, 2014. He collapsed while hiking near his home in Berkeley, CA. He had asked that any memorial gifts be made to Amnesty International. Thank you to all for following and sharing Seth’s work.

via Rest In Peace, Seth Roberts. He was a man of… – Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Lessons from 3 episodes of fasting for ~44 hours.

Lessons from 3 episodes of fasting for ~44 hours.

Recall that the Antifragile likes stochasticity and variability (by Jensens’s Inequality), up to a point. So in order to allow myself to comment on the literature on Intermittent Fasting and modeling it mathematically (skin-in-the-game), I just completed today 3 fasts of ~44 hours each over 11 days (only water & black coffee) and I can report the following.

1) BARBELL – It is easier to fast completely than diet. The idea of life is to never have the brakes on when eating. But also when fasting, it is not a good idea to be tempted: you put yourself in a state of arousal for food by eating “a little bit”. Hunger comes and then goes away after a cup of coffee.

I would say the combination fast+good meals with no inhibition was absolutely thrilling.

2) MAIN INSIGHT- The body is effectively an information machine, food brings metabolic noise, and it thanks you for resting.Fasting is like silence after being in NYC’s Time Square. It is like not watching the news. Then food becomes more differentiated…

3) HEALTH BENEFITS – I may be subjected to placebo effect, so I can’t comment except via negativa: nothing wrong.

4) WEIGHT LOSS – beyond expectation, and in the right places, but that was not the point. I lifted weights during fasts to signal the system to avoid cannibalizing muscles, but maybe it’s a bad idea.


A- Caloric restriction may not extend life expectancy, and it is a completely different mechanism from IF (Intermittent Fasting). We are made for unsteadiness, not to be “thin”. Data shows that thin people don’t outlive slightly overweight ones. We have hints that diabetes seems more the result of hunger-deprivation than being overweight since diabetics can be cured after a long fast and weight loss and do not immediately relapse upon gaining back the weight. It takes ~ 3-6 months which hints to us the frequency of famine. So it looks like we are made for a cycle of deprivation, on which next:

B- Matching the randomness in nature, it is silly to want to inject routine into fasting. We need (say) 1 day a week, 2 days a month, …, and 1 week a year, with powerlaw frequency. My next fast will be 4 days, etc.

C- The video below has some focus on metrics like IGF shIGH, but it includes the best researchers. Valter Longo is the most rigorous and understands proteins are bad for us, see Orthodox fasts. Proteins harm our kidneys, but we recover if we ingest them-then rest, like acute-stressor-with-recovery vs. a constant-dull one.

D- Discovered that there is a huge Russian literature on fasting as it was clinical practice (21 days), discounted because it doesn’t follow modern protocols, but should be replicated.

Eat, Fast and Live Longer – Horizon from Steve Hartman on Vimeo.

via Lessons from 3 episodes of fasting for ~44… – Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

156 The Pikettistas’ Reasoning Error

Reminded by a tweet that NNT frequently updates his notebook page.

A wealth tax meaning to punish the wealth generator is absurd: since the payoff is severely clipped on the upside, it would be a lunacy to be a risk taker with small probability bets, with wins of 20 (after tax) rather than 100, then disburse all savings progressively in wealth tax. The optimal strategy is to go become an academic or a French-style civil servant, the anti-wealth generators. To see the cross-sectional problem temporally: Compare someone with lumpy payoffs say an entrepreneur who makes $4.5 million every 20 years to a professor like Krugman who earns the same total over the period ($225K in taxpayer-funded income). The entrepreneur over the VERY SAME income ends up paying 75% in taxes, plus wealth tax on the rest while the rent-seeking tenured academic who doesn’t contribute to wealth formation pays, say 30%.)

The problem with economists is that they are not (with very few exceptions) familiar with fat tails and make general statements that violate the true probabilistic payoff. In Mediocristan changes over time are the result of the collective contributions of the center, the middle. In Extremistan these changes come from the tails. Sorry, if you don’t like it but that is purely mathematical

via Opacity.