Friday, February 4, 2011

more about the heritability of attitudes

Chris Masterjohn writes:

v/vmary, well I at least agree with you that most attitudes are probably not biologically heritable, but the view that they are is can be found in evolutionary psychology and sociobiology, and the language that Dr. De Vany used seems very close to what you'd find in a sociobiological explanation.

fun conversations with Chris Masterjohn

I just wanted to copy the conversations here so I don't lose track of them.

Chris Masterjohn writes:

"Taleb says he eats "no carbs that do not have a Biblical Hebrew or Doric Greek name (i.e., did not exist in the ancient Mediterranean)." I think that's his own rule, not De Vany's. He seems to primarily credit De Vany with his exercise routine."

Taleb writes as the las 2 sentences in his afterword to Professor De Vany's book: "So good luck with the regimen. I've been on it for close to 3 years and my intellectual production keeps getting greater."

I think we can assume that by the word "regimen" used in the afterword in a book with the word "Diet" in it, that Taleb is including the concept of *diet* in his endorsement of the book. In other words, he is a believer in the De Vany guidelines for *diet*. His diet mentioned in the afterword follows those guidelines. He is close to my age and was overweight. He has had ongoing success with the diet. He is very smart. Therefore his endorsement of De Vany means more to me than a criticism of the De Vany guidelines coming from someone much younger than me who never had metabolic issues. Dr. Harris is close to my age, but has never been never fat. De Vany has never been fat either, but his guidelines work for the most metabolically challenged and have the longest record of success that I know about.

I do think that Professor De Vany has cleared up some contentious points, but he only does that on his blog, so if you are not a subscriber, you are missing out. It's like $40 a year- not a lot for even a cheapskate like me who used to get around paying the fee by coming into the blog via a google search before he closed that loophole.

I remember in response to one poster who wrote that he ate a lot of eggs with the yolks everyday from his own hens, Professor De Vany wrote that (paraphrasing here) the poster's activity level probably mitigated all the fat he was taking in, but that most people who eat lots of eggs with the yolks are getting a surge of fat to their system. Then they get in their cars to go to office jobs where they just sit around. So in that context, which prevails for many people (all the people not employed in physically demanding jobs), eating lots of yolks is problematic. He explained more of the science, but I need to find that info and quote him directly since i am science-challenged :(

v/vmary said...

Hi again!
Chris Masterjohn wrote: "Usually when people explain a psychological trait as something that "began in evolutionary times" with an adaptive function, they are suggesting it is a heritable adaptation. If that is not what De Vany meant, and he personally corrects me, or someone can convince me from something he has written that this is not what he meant, I will gladly change it."

De Vany does not use any words on page 179 indicating that the attitude towards fat people is heritable. I would never have that interpretation because, as far as I know, *no one* makes the claims that attitudes are biological heritable. Where did you hear that concept? Could you site some references? Ideas/attitudes/culture are passed down through time, yes, but this is not a function of heritability. Just because he used the phrase "...began during evolutionary times..." you went off on that tangent? I just took that phrase to me in the early period of the evolution of homo sapiens.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

out of my league grappling with the anti-De Vany faction

Chris Masterjohn has a negative review of Professor De Vany's book. Professor De Vany has already said that there are mistakes in the book that he inadvertently let slip during the proofreading process. He does not prefer white meat over red. He does not recommend canola or castor oil. Probably a few other things. He is pro low-fat, though.

When I get lost in the technical stuff, I have to judge a reviewer's thought process on those areas I can grasp. There were several places where I thought CM's reasoning was off. This tends to make me think he is also off on the technical/scientific side that I don't follow as easily, but I can't be 100% sure of that.

Here are some places he demonstrated weird reasoning which made me dubious about the quality of his reasoning in areas harder for me to grasp:

Chris Masterjohn said: "My point was not where he is placing blame, but that he was offering "just so" stories reducing cultural beliefs to *heritable* evolutionary adaptations with no evidence other than creative stories." I must be lacking sensitivity to language, so be patient with me, but where does Professor De Vany say that the propensity to judge obese people harshly was a heritable adaptation? Your

Also you missed my point about age completely. It is because our bodies don't generally run as well when we are older (say 40s on) compared to when we are younger. That is why an older person who does well on a diet with all the metabolic issues they have to struggle through has more credibility than a 20 something with a less metabolically challenged body. Now if you show me a 20 something who was very obese and diabetic who did well on the diet you recommend, that would also carry a lot of weight. Was my point really that hard to understand? Did you really think I was saying I listen to my elders just because they are elderly? Where is the rolling eyes emoticon???