Duke

Can Diseases of Civilization be Caused by Diet?

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Our present state in the West attests to this. We suffer from a host of diseases absent from us 10,000 years ago. Our relatively recent past also attests to this--once we developed agriculture, our lifespans dramatically decreased, our bodies got smaller, and we basically become more unhealthy as a whole. See this paper by Eaton et al, which generally credits today's long lifespan to the industrial revolution, not the agricultural revolution. Our average lifespans immediately dropped to the low 20's upon adopting agriculture.

These are wild, wild claims. Where is the rigorous archeological evidence for such statements?

If you were genuinely interested you would have at least read the paper you were quoting, and then looked at the references. Is it correct that you are majoring in a science at university? You will probably have access to most of their references for free at your university.

Duke, it's not my or anyone else's job to disprove some theory that you have suddenly become intensely interested in. I don't need to prove a negative.

Please cite primary sources that give evidence for these wild claims of "We suffer from a host of diseases absent from us 10,000 years ago. Our relatively recent past also attests to this--once we developed agriculture, our lifespans dramatically decreased, our bodies got smaller, and we basically become more unhealthy as a whole."

To be honest I'm not genuinely interested, because there are a lot of junk theories that many smart people zealously promote, and if we actually had to disprove a negative with all of them there'd never be any time to sit down and do actual science research.

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Here is a little bombshell of information that I hadn't even thought of:
We noted a lack of sudden cardiac death and exertion-related retrosternal chest pain among Kitava's 2,300 inhabitants (6% of which were 60-95 years old), as well as among the remaining 23,000 people on the Trobriand Islands [23, 24].

When you compare equivalent age groups in hunter gatherer populations, they still don't suffer from CVD at all.

What did you think of the "Life Expectancy" section in the paper that you quoted? It seems odd to me that you would quote the introductory paragraph that grants that 1:1 comparisons are invalid and then not say anything about the paragraph about how signs of chronic degenerative disease occur early in life in industrialized populations (yet cause mortality later, which is the nature of chronic degenerative disease), yet these signs are not present in hunter gatherer populations in the young. I'm interested in your opinion of that.

So a pool of people, of whom the majority of the weak never lived through age 3, and who all get exercise on a daily basis, don't overeat, and aren't overweight, are in better shape at ages 40-60 than overweight, overeating, not-exercising people living in modern society all of whom live past age 3, weak and strong? What else could one possible expect Duke, regardless of whether their diet was Mediterranean, Neolithic, Vegan, etc? This is not a controlled experiment. You can't look at this and pretend like they isolated the variable which is diet and have proven that a Neolithic diet is superior to all others.

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Duke, it's not my or anyone else's job to disprove some theory that you have suddenly become intensely interested in. I don't need to prove a negative.

Please cite primary sources that give evidence for these wild claims of "We suffer from a host of diseases absent from us 10,000 years ago. Our relatively recent past also attests to this--once we developed agriculture, our lifespans dramatically decreased, our bodies got smaller, and we basically become more unhealthy as a whole."

Well then, I don't know what more I can do for you. You have the paper. Reading the first few pages takes only a few minutes. There are citations behind specific claims that you called for. If you want a specific area, see the section "Why do We Live Longer Now" which was page 120. There are citations behind the claims that we lived to about 20 once we developed agriculture. Tomorrow I'll have to dig up the papers which show our skeletons got smaller.

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So a pool of people, of whom the majority of the weak never lived through age 3,

I don't think there is any evidence that your resistance against malaria or the majority of parasitic infections they die from has any bearing on whether or not you'll die from cardiovascular disease or show signs of diabetes. Chronic degenerative diseases are somewhat different than parasitic infections or accidents.

and who all get exercise on a daily basis,

Look at their activity levels. There are plenty of people dropping dead in the West from CVD who get much more exercise than many of these hunter gatherer groups.

don't overeat, and aren't overweight, are in better shape at ages 40-60 than overweight, overeating,

They are not overweight because of their diet. Of course they are in better shape, the papers are using their health as evidence that their diet affects health. It seems rediculous to say "You are healthy and a proper weight, therefore that is proof that diet has nothing to do with your health and weight."

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Duke, it's not my or anyone else's job to disprove some theory that you have suddenly become intensely interested in. I don't need to prove a negative.

Please cite primary sources that give evidence for these wild claims of "We suffer from a host of diseases absent from us 10,000 years ago. Our relatively recent past also attests to this--once we developed agriculture, our lifespans dramatically decreased, our bodies got smaller, and we basically become more unhealthy as a whole."

Well then, I don't know what more I can do for you. You have the paper. Reading the first few pages takes only a few minutes. There are citations behind specific claims that you called for. If you want a specific area, see the section "Why do We Live Longer Now" which was page 120. There are citations behind the claims that we lived to about 20 once we developed agriculture. Tomorrow I'll have to dig up the papers which show our skeletons got smaller.

What I have found from here: http://www.scielo.cl/scielo.php?pid=S0717-...ipt=sci_arttext

Greece and Turkey

Largely through the career work of J. Lawrence Angel (Grmek 1989), knowledge of temporal changes in health of ancient eastern Mediterranean populations and the environmental and cultural factors involved is among the most comprehensive for the Old World. As Angel systematically studied archeologically-recovered samples, he gradually pieced together the pattern of change. In 1947 he suggested that longevity increased slightly between 650 B.C. and 150 B.C. in ancient Greece. In 1948 he suggested that populations in Greece in the fifth century BC were healthier than their ancestors and that the transition from prehistoric to historic times brought an increase in body size and length of life.

Iran-Iraq

Rathbun (1984) provides a synthesis of research done in Iran and Iraq noting the tentative nature of his discussion due to sample limitations. In general, he characterized the early Paleolithic samples as displaying comparatively high frequencies of trauma, degenerative joint disease, dental attrition, antemortem tooth loss and low frequencies of dental caries. His preagricultural samples presented high levels of degenerative joint disease and dental abscesses.

Neolithic samples displayed continued problems of degenerative joint disease, trauma, attrition and dental caries with evidence of infection "relatively common". Samples that could be dated to the metal ages generally displayed a greater range of pathology. Rathbun found that evidence for infection generally reduced from a high in the Neolithic to a low in the more recent metal ages.

South Asia

...Kennedy (1984) provides a comprehensive summary of health changes in South Asia samples. He grouped his samples into Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer, early farming, Harappan, Gandharan, and Iron Age. Although hampered by limited samples, Kennedy found evidence for reduction of stature in the hunter-gatherer to early farming transition, with an associated reduction in sexual dimorphism. Evidence of hypoplasia was more common in farming samples than in hunter-gatherers. Hunter-gatherers presented low rates of dental caries but greater occlusal attrition and higher frequencies of alveolar resorption and antemortem tooth loss. The agricultural samples showed an increase in dental caries. Kennedy also felt his samples suggested that in South Asia the transition to agriculture was associated with increased porotic hyperostosis, caries, abscesses, dental hypoplasia, lines of increased density (Harris lines) and a "broad spectrum of diseases".

There are many more. So some groups of peoples apparently got worse, and some got better, during the transition period. It wasn't just the case of getting worse, as both you and the paleo-diet scientist are depicting it. The claims you are making don't appear to have any substantive base in the scientific literature.

Even this doesn't prove anything one way or another, as you have to isolate the cause of the change of life expectancy/general health--just giving random facts without considering their context is meaningless. Trying to compare the life expectancy of nomad in Africa during paleolithic times to the life expectancy of European farmers during the Dark Ages isn't exactly a meaningful comparison, which is similar to what the author in the study you cited was doing.

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If you are genuinely interested in learning the findings of these studies, and not just debating me, then join in in the discussion.

No, what it seems that you want is for us to agree with your claims without question of which I have never done and will never do.

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I'm interested to know more. I'm not a scientist, so is there an introduction to your diet for laymen?

What do you eat now?

Alright, I'm a bit busy today so I'll try and get back to all the replies in the next couple days. I'll answer this one first.

Right now I eat fruits, vegetables, meats, seafoods, some tubers, and occasional nuts. I don't eat legumes (including peanuts and soybeans), grains, dairy, industrial oils, or anything that is a recent introduction to the human diet. I model my diet after the genetic adaption we made over our evolution in the past 2 million to 10,000 years. Principles from the evolutionary paradigm have also allowed me to smartly select the post-agricultural foods that don't cause acne in me, such as moderate amounts of white rice. White rice doesn't contain phytates or lectins, and although it's fairly devoid of any micronutrients, I have to have some easy dense calories because I'm a training athlete.

I eat in a specific way (Joel Fuhrman's Eat To Live) myself, and it has worked wonders over the past three years. I feel very good, even when I'm not following it one hundred percent. I am not an expert in these matters, and deliberately refrain from using whatever science jargon I do know because of my total rejection of methodological rationalism. I found Dr. Fuhrman's name on Capitalism Magazine, and received the book as a Christmas gift. I decided to give it a shot in the New Year, and the rest is history.

What you have written here about legumes and grains is contrary to my general understanding of, and experience with, these foods. But, I am not here to argue with you, neither do I know enough to do so on anything but a philosophical level. (In fact, I sympathize with your consternation since this is, in a way, how my own attempts at introducing ETL were received a while ago on THE FORUM.) Anyway, in any such argument, whatever scientific testimony one quoted, referenced, or restated would be one professional scientist's word against another's for the most part. My girlfriend has a biomedical science PhD., and I don't spend time arguing with her about biology as if the years of labwork and studying it took her to earn it was knowledge I could gain simply from cramming and philosophic observation. Nutrition is not philosophy. The most a layman can truly rely on is the evidence of his senses: What effects are you yourself able to observe? [Notice that this is true of climate science too; we did not need to listen to the Warmers; all that was required was to look out the window on a cold winter's day.]

Since 2007, my girlfriend and brother have both successfully used the diet. My father, a very thin, fit 66-year-old man who eats very sparingly (twice a day in small quantities) had a cardiovascular crisis in 2008. I flew to Nigeria to see him and gave him copies of the relevant health books. He laughed them off, saying he would go on the British-doctor-prescribed statins and blood pressure medication, since his problem was no big deal and he was one of the last of his mates to go on these drugs. I left the texts with him and returned home. One day, I get a phonecall from him during which he praised The China Study immensely. He had picked it up thinking it was about the Chinese economy (he had recently become a fan of Peter Schiff's, having read both editions of Crash Proof).

Since he began acting on the recommendations in the The China Study barely 9 months ago, his cholesterol has dropped 1.4 points, a trend he expects to see continue. He is now a confirmed believer in the power of this diet-style and now expects to even live into his 80s.

There is definitely a nutritional component to health, as evidenced by the beer drinker's gut and acne's response to nuts (which was a well-known fact growing up in Nigeria many years ago), and no amount of caloric-restriction and weight-training will change this brutal fact.

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. For a non peer reviewed primer on lectins (but well referenced) see this. If you are looking for a published scientific paper I would look up the name of Loren Cordain on Pubmed along with the keyword lectin.

Sorry, that site had barely anything on lectins although it did have some decent scientific references on a few particular lectins if anyone is willing to look them up. The problem is that each agricultural foodstuff has a unique dietary lectin that causes different effects on the body. For example, the lectin in peanuts (which are legumes) is so potent at causing atherosclerosis that we use it to cause clogged arteries in animals for scientific studies. Other lectins don't even have effects on cardiovascular disease at all, but may affect autoimmune diseases. It's hard to find an overview on this topic.

RayK said that people eat too much and I agree with that statement on surface value. But why do they eat too much in industrial societies? Why do primitive hunter gatherer populations that have abundant food like those in Kitava not get obese? They're lean as heck, in fact. Is it because of their incredible will power that us Westerners just don't have? I don't think so, and this paper provides a huge clue (related to lectins): Agrarian Diet and Diseases of Affluence: Do Evolutionary Novel Dietary Lectins Cause Leptin Resitance?

Diet does not exist in a vacuum. Hunter-gatherers may have had a diet which facilitated constant hunting and gathering, being constantly on the move, but that life-style created little leisure time in which to think and invent. The agricultural life-style, on the other hand, created much leisure time, out of which was developed the mainsprings of science and philosophy, profit and progress. Without the development of agriculture we would not even be here. That is not very healthy-sounding.

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Our present state in the West attests to this. We suffer from a host of diseases absent from us 10,000 years ago. Our relatively recent past also attests to this--once we developed agriculture, our lifespans dramatically decreased, our bodies got smaller, and we basically become more unhealthy as a whole. See this paper by Eaton et al, which generally credits today's long lifespan to the industrial revolution, not the agricultural revolution. Our average lifespans immediately dropped to the low 20's upon adopting agriculture.

Here is the pertinent excerpt from Eaton et al.

Life expectancy estimates for recently studied forager populations converge on a figure of about 40 years [6,7,10,11], and it seems reasonable to extrapolate a similar value for preagricultural, behaviorally modern Stone Agers. The adoption of farming and settled living is commonly considered an advance for humanity, but the new conditions appear to have adversely affected longevity, precipitating a substantial decline to about 20 years [12].

The references 6,7,10 and 11 are studies of nomadic peoples of a different race, living in a different location and possibly even time than the group of people studied in reference 12.

In my last post I provided a link to an exhaustive review of the literature that covered major works of different researchers on this subject. As I stated, some groups got better and some got worse, and some remained mostly the same under the transition from nomadic to agriculture living.

Whomever "Eaton, et al" are, what they apparently have done is to choose a study of nomads who had good health and longevity, and compare it to a study of a different agrarian group who apparently had poor health and longevity. So out of an overwhelming abundance of diverse facts and studies to choose from (nomads with good health, nomads with bad health, agrarian groups with good health, agrarian groups with bad health) the authors specifically only chose facts/studies which fit with his hypothesis and then made it seem as if that were the only truth; this is poor, poor science... it's barely even science at all, it's exactly what the environmentalists do: out of a wealth of facts available, choose only those which fit your hypothesis, leave your reader in ignorance to the contradicting facts, then in a final leap claim that correlation implies causation and your hypothesis is vindicated.

This is identical to what global warming scientists do: out of hundreds of millions of years of temperature/CO2 records, they choose only the last half million years that fortuitously shows a strong correlation between CO2 levels and temperature, then say that correlation implies causation. Of course on the larger scale CO2 and temperature don't correlate well at all, but if they present only a careful slice of data to the reader they can 'prove' anything they want.

In both cases what is happening is the same. Eaton and the global warming scaremongers are trying to present only a careful slice of data that fits their preconceived hypothesis, and then are trying to depict their issue of study in a crudely simplified and inaccurate way where they claim that one major factor (neolithic vs agrarian diet, CO2) is the fundamental causative variable that drives health/global temperatures, despite the fact that there are a gross number of variables that remain essentially unknown and not understood. From that standpoint it appears that their fundamental goal is to promote their theory, not to actually do honest scientific work.

I think it's been demonstrated irrevocably that this is pseudoscience Duke. The paleodiet.com site appears to exist primarily as a promotional webpage for their diet and the books they are marketing. If you wish to waste your time studying it I guess go ahead, but don't try and claim that this is an earthshaking revolution in science when you haven't even apparently seriously studied the full context of pertinent knowledge.

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Since he began acting on the recommendations in the The China Study barely 9 months ago, his cholesterol has dropped 1.4 points, a trend he expects to see continue. He is now a confirmed believer in the power of this diet-style and now expects to even live into his 80s.

There is definitely a nutritional component to health, as evidenced by the beer drinker's gut and acne's response to nuts (which was a well-known fact growing up in Nigeria many years ago), and no amount of caloric-restriction and weight-training will change this brutal fact.

Your quoted 1.4 points is barely worthy of recognition and at his age it will have almost no positive gain to his longevity, something like 2 months if anything. I have a client that is much younger than your dad when she started, she was 37, and her cholesterol level was 231. After 9 months she had reduced her cholesterol level to 189 which is a drop of 42 points. The primary change I had her make was to apply the 3 fundamentals of proper diet that I have mentioned so many times before. A person's cholesterol level has two factors the first of which we have no control, genetic. The other is within our control and that is from the food we take in as one's cholesterol levels can increase as one takes in the "foodstuff" that allows the liver to produce more cholesterol. Reduce the total amount of "foodstuff' and a person will reduce the overall total of their cholesterol level. But one must also realize that only 10 to 20 percent of one's cholesterol level is directly related to one's diet as the liver manufactures the rest. To manufacture cholesterol (which in limited amounts is needed if one is going to remain healthy) the liver needs energy/fuel. The main fuels the liver uses to create cholesterol are saturated fats and oils.

And yes weight-training and calorie restriction can make a difference in one's overall health, because besides fat cells the main other place where one stores energy is in the muscle. By depleting your muscles through intense exercise you allow the body to maintain (and gain for those that have lost it) it's sensitivity to insulin and the storage of glucose as glycogen within the muscle. So, yes there is a nutritional component to health, but it does not stem from what you are stating.

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Since he began acting on the recommendations in the The China Study barely 9 months ago, his cholesterol has dropped 1.4 points, a trend he expects to see continue. He is now a confirmed believer in the power of this diet-style and now expects to even live into his 80s.

There is definitely a nutritional component to health, as evidenced by the beer drinker's gut and acne's response to nuts (which was a well-known fact growing up in Nigeria many years ago), and no amount of caloric-restriction and weight-training will change this brutal fact.

Your quoted 1.4 points is barely worthy of recognition and at his age it will have almost no positive gain to his longevity, something like 2 months if anything. I have a client that is much younger than your dad when she started, she was 37, and her cholesterol level was 231. After 9 months she had reduced her cholesterol level to 189 which is a drop of 42 points.

You are referring to total cholesterol level here. I was referring to the Total cholesterol/LDL ratio. I used points instead of "units," but anyone vaguely familiar with the subject - or with me - should know that I could not be celebrating a 1.4 point drop in total cholesterol level. Objectivity requires that kind of checking [e.g., "Mercury, what do you mean by 'points'"], not this shoot-from-the-hip approach to "science."

I will write more on this tonight or later this week.

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Please note that I won't be addressing replies that accuse me of taking people on faith because they have PhD's, and will ignore posts about people discussing what their credentials are, or whatever else. I'll be looking to answer specific scientific questions since this is the science forum and will be glad to discuss science. I'm not here to have a debate about something you haven't read either.

You seem to have misunderstood my reasons for listing my experiences as it was not from a point of authority that I did so. I listed my past experiences to point out that my experiences go back almost 30 years of almost continous thought and practical application of those thoughts. For the most part I have already gone down many dead-end trails and was attempting to stop you and others from duplicating my mistakes. But as I stated I do not expect most people will take my advice and experience has taught me that also.

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Since he began acting on the recommendations in the The China Study barely 9 months ago, his cholesterol has dropped 1.4 points, a trend he expects to see continue. He is now a confirmed believer in the power of this diet-style and now expects to even live into his 80s.

There is definitely a nutritional component to health, as evidenced by the beer drinker's gut and acne's response to nuts (which was a well-known fact growing up in Nigeria many years ago), and no amount of caloric-restriction and weight-training will change this brutal fact.

Your quoted 1.4 points is barely worthy of recognition and at his age it will have almost no positive gain to his longevity, something like 2 months if anything. I have a client that is much younger than your dad when she started, she was 37, and her cholesterol level was 231. After 9 months she had reduced her cholesterol level to 189 which is a drop of 42 points.

You are referring to total cholesterol level here. I was referring to the Total cholesterol/LDL ratio. I used points instead of "units," but anyone vaguely familiar with the subject - or with me - should know that I could not be celebrating a 1.4 point drop in total cholesterol level. Objectivity requires that kind of checking [e.g., "Mercury, what do you mean by 'points'"], not this shoot-from-the-hip approach to "science."

I will write more on this tonight or later this week.

Well most people that understand that there is only one type of cholesterol generally refer to their "total" cholesterol level as it is a myth to think that some is good and some is bad as cholesterol is just cholesterol. Cholesterol leaves the liver and is carried through the blood to the rest of the body by what is known as LDL (low-density lipoprtein). The LDL cholesterol is released at different points of the body for good things such as hormone production, building cell membranes and other things of this nature. The LDL cholesterol is also released for what can be considered bad things such as the forming of deposits in the wallls of arteries. Some cholesterol is rejected by the body and is returned to the liver by HDL (high-density lipoprotein) where it is broken down and discarded from the body. So cholesterol is cholesterol no matter which direction it is going nor what carries it through the blood, LDL or HDL and "anyone vaguely familiar with the subject" should know that. But, if all one does is read research articles as the basis of their knowledge then they might not understand the basic nature of how the human body works.

And you have failed to address my statements about the studies that have shown no or almost no benefit to elderly people reducing their cholesterol levels.

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I believe that there is a scientific paradigm for nutrition, which has been a severely retarded and handicapped science without it. Geology has a theory of continental drift, for example. Nutrition has now found its basic scientific theory which is a starting point to then go out and guide us in research rather than groping around randomly. To see it put in better words than I can, by an actual scientist, read the first part of this debate. If you read any of the references here, page 4 and 5 of this PDF are the best.

I would like to thank Duke for the link noted above to the article titled "The Protein Debate," in the Performance Menu Journal of Nutrition and Athletic Excellence. I read the article and found it to be an excellent introduction to the current controversy between "paleo" advocates and vegetarian/vegan advocates.

Both sides in the controversy seem fully in agreement that the current Western diet is grossly unhealthy -- a diet of highly refined sugar and flour, along with plenty of store-bought, fatty meat, fish and dairy products of all kinds. The only diagreement is over what kind of "ancestral" diet should replace it: a diet going back at least two or three centuries ago into the neolithic era (up to about 10,000 years ago), or going back still farther into the paleolithic (pre-agriculture) era, up to about 2.7 million years ago to the dawn of the whole "homo" species.

The ancestral neolithics benefitted from the vastly increased abundance of nutritious plant foods made possible by cultivation of plant species (agriculture), while the ancestral paleolithics were primarily nomadic hunter-gatherers who ate considerably more meat than the more populous ancestral neolithics.

Modern Western man's downfall came with the increased refining of plant foods about two or three centuries ago, according to Gary Taubes (Good Calories, Bad Calories). Taubes favors what amounts to a "paleo" diet high in protein and fat, and as low as possible in carbs (even lower in carbs than the carbs eaten by primitive hunter-gatherers).

What I find most noteworthy about this controversy is the following:

1. A tendency of paleo advocates to assume that the minimally refined plant foods (and low meat consumption) of most ancestral neolithics are not much healthier than the modern Western diet, despite a track record of nearly 10,000 years of experience with post-agricultural (neolithic) eating, and despite the proven benefits of agriculture for promotoing the great expansion of human populations over time, with development of corresponding social and economic organization.

2. Data offered by paleo advocates themselves indicates that man can survive perfectly well on either a paleo or ancestral neolithic diet, under the right conditions of food quality and variety.

3. Paleo advocates tend to understate the challenges of modern Western man to obtain sufficiently "paleo worthy" animal products free of growth hormones, antibiotics and preservatives, from animals that are at least range or grass fed if not wild and freely migratory, and animals that are as lean (low fat) as possible, as freshly killed as possible, cooked without excessively high heat, and so on.

If I seem a little partial toward a neolithic plant-based diet, I am (for my health). I find that it works very well for me, although I recognize the importance of checking one's wheat tolerance before trying to eat too much of it. And speaking of wheat, a major element of my own nutrititional regimen is to avoid all store-bought bread entirely. I make my own bread, using whole wheat flour that is "100% stone ground, organically grown and certified" (Bob's Red Mill brand, available from Whole Foods Markets and elsewhere). I do this to maintain total control over the ingredients. I can eat plenty of this bread (plain, with fresh vegetables and moderate amounts of fresh fruit) without weight gain, tooth decay or other health problems. From my own experience, I can predict that even if one followed a strict "vegan" diet in all eating except dinner, even that much vegan eating would bring significant health benefits. (To repeat, by "vegan" I mean minimally refined starches for energy calories and total bulk, along with copious vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit for micronutrients and additional bulk. I also find that the starches make the fruits and vegetables more digestable, and the latter blunt any lingering aftertaste or hunger from the starches. The large portion sizes of such "vegan food" that can be eaten without excessive calories and weight gain are quite surprising compared to the much smaller portion sizes of modern Western food needed to avoid excessive calorie intake.)

Still, I remain open to the views of the paleo advocates, and they do seem to offer convincing evidence that a true paleo approach, properly done, may be just as effective for health as a more heavily plant-based (ancestral neolithic) approach, likewise properly done.

On the other hand, Campbell points out that the ape ancestors of the paleolitiic "homo" species were mainly plant eaters (though they also ate insects), and that "homo" became a more substantial meat eater with the advent of stone tools and the brain capacity to use them effectively in meat eating, while still retaining the original capacity to live on plant foods as well, when available (or whenever meat was harder to find). Agriculture, in turn, made plant foods vastly more plentiful and reliably obtainable on a far larger scale than in paleolithic times.

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Empirically, I am with Ray (from the limited argument he has put forward, and the similar argument Mike Mentzer makes in Heavy Duty Nutrition).

My diet this year has been all over the place due to heavy travel (e.g. today I woke up at 5am, ate a croissant and bad coffee at 10am, a pork steak and almond biscuit at 12, a croque-monsieur at 5pm, and a full dinner at 10pm, every meal 50-100km from the last).

But I ate less, lost a lot of weight, and am stronger, faster, and healthier than say, last year or the year before when my diet was much more stable but in larger quantities.

I have seen the same thing on a friend. He started eating just enough to be slightly hungry post-meals, and eating more often during the day (Mentzer's 3-4 hours between meals). He is now perhaps 4-5% body fat down from 20, and the change happened in a few months. I can testify, having played a variety of sports against him, that his physical shape is exceptional.

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Since he began acting on the recommendations in the The China Study barely 9 months ago, his cholesterol has dropped 1.4 points, a trend he expects to see continue. He is now a confirmed believer in the power of this diet-style and now expects to even live into his 80s.

There is definitely a nutritional component to health, as evidenced by the beer drinker's gut and acne's response to nuts (which was a well-known fact growing up in Nigeria many years ago), and no amount of caloric-restriction and weight-training will change this brutal fact.

Your quoted 1.4 points is barely worthy of recognition and at his age it will have almost no positive gain to his longevity, something like 2 months if anything. I have a client that is much younger than your dad when she started, she was 37, and her cholesterol level was 231. After 9 months she had reduced her cholesterol level to 189 which is a drop of 42 points.

You are referring to total cholesterol level here. I was referring to the Total cholesterol/LDL ratio. I used points instead of "units," but anyone vaguely familiar with the subject - or with me - should know that I could not be celebrating a 1.4 point drop in total cholesterol level. Objectivity requires that kind of checking [e.g., "Mercury, what do you mean by 'points'"], not this shoot-from-the-hip approach to "science."

I will write more on this tonight or later this week.

In my angry, non-objective haste [precisely what I had accused Ray of] to respond to Ray's post, I had forgotten that, outside the U.S., there is a different metric system for cholesterol readings. In fact, this unit of measurement, the mmol/L (millimole per liter), is what my last blood test readings came in. The U.S. measurements typically come in mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).

Also, I have confirmed with my father that, contrary to what I had written, the number he gave me was not cholesterol ratio, but his total cholesterol. And his most recent cholesterol readings have been 5.9, 5.0, and 4.2 mmol/L. (The first result was contested, and the 5.0 figure was the result of the second test.) He is not taking statins. To convert mmol/L to mg/dL, see here: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/diabetes/faq/part1/section-9.html.

To convert mmol/l of HDL or LDL cholesterol to mg/dl, multiply by 39.

To convert mg/dl of HDL or LDL cholesterol to mmol/l, divide by 39.

To convert mmol/l of triglycerides to mg/dl, multiply by 89.

To convert mg/dl of triglycerides to mmol/l, divide by 89.

These corrections leave some egg on my face, but better that than truth be sacrificed just to "save face."

In furtherance of my thesis, which has not changed, I am posting here my blood test results from August 28 of last year. Please note that when I started Fuhrman's diet in January 2007, I had been taking Micardis HCT medication for high blood pressure. I am 36 years old.

(The last two columns were added by me, so you may wish to perform the conversion yourself.)


TEST-NAME RESULT AB REFERENCE UNITS Converted UNITS


Routine Chemistry
-----------------
Sodium 140 135-145 mmol/L
Potassium 4.3 3.5-5.0 mmol/L
Chloride 105 96-106 mmol/L
CO2 31 H 22-29 mmol/L
Anion Gap 4 4-12 mmol/L
Urea 2.6 L 3.0-7.0 mmol/L
Creatinine 76 60-120 umol/L 0.8636 mg/dl
Glucose Fasting 5.2 4.0-6.0 mmol/L 93.6 mg/dl
Cholesterol 3.31 mmol/L 129.09 mg/dl

< 5.20 for primary prevention
< 4.20 for secondary prevention

Triglycerides 0.28 mmol/L 24.92 mg/dl

< 1.80 Fasting
> 2.20 Fasting - increased CVD risk
> 10.0 Fasting - risk of pancreatitis

HDL Cholesterol 1.26 AB mmol/L 49.14 mg/dl

< 1.30 increased risk
>= 1.30 desirable
> 1.55 optimal

LDL Cholesterol 1.92 mmol/L 74.88 mg/dl

<3.40 for primary prevention
<2.60 for secondary prevention

Cholesterol/HDL Ratio 2.6

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Hunter-gatherers may have had a diet which facilitated constant hunting and gathering, being constantly on the move, but that life-style created little leisure time in which to think and invent.

I am not convinced this is true. There are claims that hunter gatherers have more leisure time than people in agricultural societies. What I think we can all agree on is that they don't have much surpluses or predictability in yields.

With regard to the life expectancy, what matters is not the life expectancy at birth, but that of an adult, factoring out accidents and violence. In short, what's interesting is whether people liven in a hunter-gatherer society live longer (baring violence or accidents) and suffer less "old age" diseases than us. Life expectancy at birth is completely skewed by infant mortality of 30%-to-50% in primitive hunter-gatherer societies.

Recently, I heard Art de Vany on econtalk. I actually emailed Ray about it because I think that his approach and that of De Vany are fairly similar as far as fitness is concerned.

Art De Vany is an interesting guy. He's a (free market) economist, an ex-minor league professional player, and a health & fitness fanatic. He's in his 70's. Here are a few pics:

ArtDeVany.jpg

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Art-DeVany.png

art%20057.jpg

Like Ray, he advocates dropping completely aerobic training (long runs and the like), and spending limited time at the gym (30mn or so), no more than 2X a week hitting core muscle groups fairly hard. For De Vany, the rest of the activity of the week should be mostly near-rest (leisurely walks) and some "play", mostly fast twitch muscle activities like sprints, jumps, and some plyometrics.

His view is that our bodies have not had the time to adapt to refined sugars and carbs (so, glucose, starchy foodstuf, etc). His claim is that this food has only become available in large amounts in the last 10,000 years or so. Before that, we spent millions of years as hunter-gatherers, and his theory is that this is the type of activity and food our bodies are best equipped to deal with.

He claims that scientific studies show that ancient hunter-gatherers had a higher stature, more bone density, probable heavier musculature, larger brains, and lower incidence of arthritis and tooth problems than the farming peoples that followed them. He also claims that modern studies also show a lower incidence of "old age diseases" in modern hunter-gatherer societies.

Another important point for him is to inject some "chaos" into our lives. Taleb (the "Black Swan" author) calls it a "power law" distribution, which I think is a better explanation. So De Vany insists on stimulating your bodies with some variability: forgo meals every ones in a while, and then let yourself over eat in some other occasions. Take some walks in shorts and t-shirts when the weather is brisk. Basically, add some "semi-extreme" stimuli to your everyday experience. He claims such stimuli promote a whole variety of healthy reactions from the body, hormone production and the like.

Here's an intro article from his website:

http://www.arthurdevany.com/categories/20091025

There's a more complete article here:

http://www.arthurdevany.com/categories/20091026

Here's a chapter by Taleb:

http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/whyIwalk.pdf

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Another important point for him is to inject some "chaos" into our lives. Taleb (the "Black Swan" author) calls it a "power law" distribution, which I think is a better explanation. So De Vany insists on stimulating your bodies with some variability: forgo meals every ones in a while, and then let yourself over eat in some other occasions. Take some walks in shorts and t-shirts when the weather is brisk. Basically, add some "semi-extreme" stimuli to your everyday experience. He claims such stimuli promote a whole variety of healthy reactions from the body, hormone production and the like.

Whilst I can't stand Taleb, I have to say that sounds very good advice.

(amusingly, I have had Fooled by Randomness on my desk for over a year, and yet, much like Black Swan, never got round to finishing either)

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I think his are powerful ideas. He's a pompus speaker, enamoured with the sound of his own voice, and he's a long-winded book writer. This being said, his core idea is in my opinion super-important, and he's a talented essay writer.

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I think his are powerful ideas. He's a pompus speaker, enamoured with the sound of his own voice, and he's a long-winded book writer. This being said, his core idea is in my opinion super-important, and he's a talented essay writer.

In which case I wonder what you will make of this: http://scottlocklin.wordpress.com/2009/07/...tative-finance/

I bring your attention particularly to the following, which will remind many Objectivists of nasty things:

Finally, both Feyerabend and Taleb are very much Against Method. This means, effectively, they’re both intellectual nihilists. Feyerabend thought we couldn’t know anything for various reasons too silly to get into right now. Taleb thinks all of quantitative finance is nonsense and we should do away with quants.

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Although some of the items that Art de Vany mentions are positive other items show his limited understanding of how the human body functions and what actually stimulates the body to make physical adaptations.

One of the first things is that man is an omnivore which means that our metabolisms can take many different sorts of food/energy sources and turn them into what we need. The idea that we cannot withstand or properly digest simple sugars is unfounded considering that is what our bodies primarily run off of and what the brain uses as it's primary source of energy. That which is running through one's blood stream is glucose or in other words a simple sugar and it is the preferred energy source for the human body. If we, as humans, take in protein and we need sugar/glucose our liver can take that protein and derive the amino acids from it and then through a process called gluconeogenesis create glucose "simple sugars" to fuel the body. If we take in fat and the body needs sugar it can turn fat into ketone bodies and ATP with a leftover by-product called glycerol which can be sent back to the liver and converted into glucose through gluconeogenesis. If needed the newly converted glucose can undergo oixdation and produce 96 molecules of ATP. So, for someone to state that our bodies cannot process sugars is to show a lack of understanding of how human metablosim works.

If 10,000 years is of to little a time for man to have had adaptations to our metabolism then how can Art de Vany come to the conclusion that we have been able to adapt our bone density, muscle mass and other items? Ancient man has actually been shown to be shorter than man today, but it is speculated that his bones were densier and he carried more muscle. This does not mean that it had anything to do with a so called lack of activity as our cousin the ape does almost nothing but sleep, eat and crap and he has much larger bones and muscles than man does and they do not exericse at all. As a matter of fact no other species but man attempts to waste so much of their resources through wasted activity. Look around at your house pets and tell me which ones are lifting weights, which ones are condemning themselves for not getting on the treadmill today and for sleeping so much of their day away? The answer is not one dog, cat, parrot or any other animal is worried about their lack of activity. So, up to this point man has very little control in the totality of his evolutionary changes and should not keep kicking himself for where he stands today.

What I mention above seems to be what Art de Vany and others fail to recognize, that being that in the past we have had very little control over what adaptations our genes made and that we are actually a more efficient species today than our ancestors when it comes to energy use. We acutally require about 300 fewer calories a day than our closet ancestors which makes perfect sense if one understands the theory of evolution and uses it to explain how we have evolved to this point. No species goes backwards they just fail to make mutations that keep them alive and then stop existing, remember "natural selection." Man's genetic makeup is 98.6% genetically the same as an ape. Our last known similar ancestor is the chimpanzee which we both supposedly stepped away from 7 million years ago. Many adaptations have pushed us further and further apart from our genetic cousins, but the biggest one being man's movement toward a bigger brain which has allowed man to become more of a conceptual being than a purely perceptual and physical being (brute force). And with that mutation certain genetic traits were set, one of which is that the brain and the mind were going to be our greatest tools and no longer physical strength. Mutations have also happened with the ape but his gene's drive him toward a more physical structure that with no weight training at all has enough strength that he can probably pull the average humans neck and head apart.

Finally, the "chaos" principle, or in other areas it is called the "confusion" principle. Once again some people show their lack of understanding of how the body funcitons, specifically the neurological system. The human brain retains almost every aspect of physical exertion that last longer than 2 seconds. Once someone does an activity their brain makes a neuronal connection and almost instantly retains that action and the pathway required to reproduce it. This is why someone can go without riding a bike for years but within a few seconds be peddling away as if they never quit. There is no way to "confuse" the muscles nor the neurological system and hence why the principle is fallacious. And as long as a person has not had any type of neurological problems, such as a concussion, they should retain all their activites although they might need more practice at it to become extremely efficient at that activity.

What the body does need to enhance itself is a stimulant of an intense enough nature to cause it to make positive systematic adaptations. And our only window of opportunity to do so is our muscle as it is the primary system of function and it puts the demand on all our sub-systems to come up to where it is going. And in the long run the things that are most likely going to kill us are either eating or breathing. Eating because it causes toxins to be released, no matter what type of food one eats. Breathing because it causes oxidation that has ill effects on the human body long-term. In closing I offer that proper exercise and diet are not panaceas, they are adjuncts to a rational life and one should get what they can from both and then go enjoy life.

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I bring your attention particularly to the following, which will remind many Objectivists of nasty things:
Finally, both Feyerabend and Taleb are very much Against Method. This means, effectively, they’re both intellectual nihilists. Feyerabend thought we couldn’t know anything for various reasons too silly to get into right now. Taleb thinks all of quantitative finance is nonsense and we should do away with quants.

I'm against quantitative finance too. That doesn't make me an intellectual nihilist.

All that Taleb says is that there are some areas of life that follow a non bell curve distribution, they instead follow a power law distribution where you have some critical outliers that completely throw off the averages. The modern approach to deal with those things is generally to force them onto a bell curve and throw off the outliers. Taleb's view (and I agree with him) is that this is worst than doing nothing. He apparently made lots of money during the crisis by trading on those principles.

A good illustration of his idea is that of individual weight and wealth. If you put a random selection of 100 persons in a room, and calculate their average wealth and weight, and then add to the group the heaviest person and the richest man on the planet, the average weight (which does follow a bell curve) will not be impacted too much, whereas the average wealth (which follows a power law distribution) will be completely out of whack.

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Ray, I'm not in a position to make a definitive judgment between your approach and that of De Vany. Some of what he says with regard to evolution makes much more sense to me that your view. In other areas, I think you largely say the same thing. I'm going to give it a shot and we'll see what comes out of it. All I want to point out is that he's been at it for a loooonnnng time, he's a very intelligent guy, and he's clearly successful with regard to his own health, so maybe there's something to be gained from taking a closer look at what he says.

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Although some of the items that Art de Vany mentions are positive other items show his limited understanding of how the human body functions and what actually stimulates the body to make physical adaptations.

Ray - did you read the articles or listen to the last 40mn of the podcast? I'd be particularly interested in your opinion of De Vany's theory with regard to insulin, the way it spikes when we swallow sugars, and the effects those spikes can have over time. De Vany developed his interest in evolutionary fitness in response to his young son developing diabetes, which he had inherited from De Vany's first wife.

One of the first things is that man is an omnivore which means that our metabolisms can take many different sorts of food/energy sources and turn them into what we need. The idea that we cannot withstand or properly digest simple sugars is unfounded considering that is what our bodies primarily run off of and what the brain uses as it's primary source of energy.

Your 2nd sentence is actually a logical fallacy, as you demonstrate below. More to the point, De Vany doesn't say that.

That which is running through one's blood stream is glucose or in other words a simple sugar and it is the preferred energy source for the human body. If we, as humans, take in protein and we need sugar/glucose our liver can take that protein and derive the amino acids from it and then through a process called gluconeogenesis create glucose "simple sugars" to fuel the body. If we take in fat and the body needs sugar it can turn fat into ketone bodies and ATP with a leftover by-product called glycerol which can be sent back to the liver and converted into glucose through gluconeogenesis. If needed the newly converted glucose can undergo oixdation and produce 96 molecules of ATP. So, for someone to state that our bodies cannot process sugars is to show a lack of understanding of how human metablosim works.

Actually, what you demonstrate here is that we don't need to take in sugar. We can make the sugar we need from other nutrients. So for now you're mostly in agreement with De Vany.

If 10,000 years is of to little a time for man to have had adaptations to our metabolism then how can Art de Vany come to the conclusion that we have been able to adapt our bone density, muscle mass and other items?

He doesn't say we lost the genetic potential to develop this mass. He just say that as agriculture flourished, it became more difficult for us to realize this potential because the new life-style was inadapted to our genetic equipment (or vice versa).

Ancient man has actually been shown to be shorter than man today, but it is speculated that his bones were densier and he carried more muscle. This does not mean that it had anything to do with a so called lack of activity as our cousin the ape does almost nothing but sleep, eat and crap and he has much larger bones and muscles than man does and they do not exericse at all. As a matter of fact no other species but man attempts to waste so much of their resources through wasted activity. Look around at your house pets and tell me which ones are lifting weights, which ones are condemning themselves for not getting on the treadmill today and for sleeping so much of their day away? The answer is not one dog, cat, parrot or any other animal is worried about their lack of activity. So, up to this point man has very little control in the totality of his evolutionary changes and should not keep kicking himself for where he stands today.

Yep, you are in agreement here again. In fact, he gives the example of modern hunter-gatherer societies where the idea of exercise for the sake of exercise is met with incredulity and wonder. Why would anyone want to do that?

What I mention above seems to be what Art de Vany and others fail to recognize, that being that in the past we have had very little control over what adaptations our genes made and that we are actually a more efficient species today than our ancestors when it comes to energy use.

We're more efficient or we are less muscular. I guess it depends how far back we go.

We acutally require about 300 fewer calories a day than our closet ancestors which makes perfect sense if one understands the theory of evolution and uses it to explain how we have evolved to this point.

No, the theory of evolution doesn't say that. Yes, there is some evolutionary pressure for our internal systems to get more efficient but (1) there are plenty of other possible explanations for that lower caloric need (smaller brains, smaller muscles, less activity), and (2) the evolutionary pressure must have lessened significantly since food became plentiful.

No species goes backwards they just fail to make mutations that keep them alive and then stop existing, remember "natural selection."

That is simply not true. Some species loose their limbs or their eyesight when they loose the need for it.

Man's genetic makeup is 98.6% genetically the same as an ape. Our last known similar ancestor is the chimpanzee which we both supposedly stepped away from 7 million years ago.

More exactly, the chimp and us share a common ancestor.

Many adaptations have pushed us further and further apart from our genetic cousins, but the biggest one being man's movement toward a bigger brain which has allowed man to become more of a conceptual being than a purely perceptual and physical being (brute force). And with that mutation certain genetic traits were set, one of which is that the brain and the mind were going to be our greatest tools and no longer physical strength. Mutations have also happened with the ape but his gene's drive him toward a more physical structure that with no weight training at all has enough strength that he can probably pull the average humans neck and head apart.

Clearly this is true but it does not contradict De Vany's points.

Finally, the "chaos" principle, or in other areas it is called the "confusion" principle. Once again some people show their lack of understanding of how the body funcitons, specifically the neurological system. The human brain retains almost every aspect of physical exertion that last longer than 2 seconds. Once someone does an activity their brain makes a neuronal connection and almost instantly retains that action and the pathway required to reproduce it. This is why someone can go without riding a bike for years but within a few seconds be peddling away as if they never quit. There is no way to "confuse" the muscles nor the neurological system and hence why the principle is fallacious. And as long as a person has not had any type of neurological problems, such as a concussion, they should retain all their activites although they might need more practice at it to become extremely efficient at that activity.

I am not sure what you are trying to say here or why this contradict what De Vany is suggesting. All he says is that it is beneficial to our body if there's some outliers in our day to day life - days with exhaustion and days with complete rest, days with fasting and days of feasting, days with exposure to cold, days with exposure to sunlight, etc.

What the body does need to enhance itself is a stimulant of an intense enough nature to cause it to make positive systematic adaptations. And our only window of opportunity to do so is our muscle as it is the primary system of function and it puts the demand on all our sub-systems to come up to where it is going. And in the long run the things that are most likely going to kill us are either eating or breathing. Eating because it causes toxins to be released, no matter what type of food one eats. Breathing because it causes oxidation that has ill effects on the human body long-term. In closing I offer that proper exercise and diet are not panaceas, they are adjuncts to a rational life and one should get what they can from both and then go enjoy life.

This makes sense. I wonder how we could apply this principle to our brain. It's hard to exercise the brain in a meaningful way. Maybe learning new skills (a foreign language says) helps, but maybe it is so specific as to not benefit us much in other areas of our brain usage. Food for thought (and for another post if anyone is interested).

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I'm against quantitative finance too. That doesn't make me an intellectual nihilist.

Any particular reason? Feel free to start a thread if you feel it is important...

I see quants as performing a very valuable function in the quest to further efficiency of capital markets, namely to remove trends related to emotional investing (or other patterns). Whilst they occasionally cause wild swings, by speeding up trends they also ensure markets reflect underlying value faster causing less investors to lose their cash.

Now quant risk managers, and those who trust them blindly, then that is another thing entirely :D

All that Taleb says is that there are some areas of life that follow a non bell curve distribution, they instead follow a power law distribution where you have some critical outliers that completely throw off the averages. The modern approach to deal with those things is generally to force them onto a bell curve and throw off the outliers. Taleb's view (and I agree with him) is that this is worst than doing nothing. He apparently made lots of money during the crisis by trading on those principles.

He did not. He made a bit of money because of his strategy, which was to always be short the market**. In some ways, like certain economists (you know who I'm talking about) he was screaming wolf and people ignored him until wolf. And then he was hailed as a genius for "seeing" the wolf when it finally came. Selective hearing if I've ever seen any.

Somebody who made money from the crisis (hence showing it was entirely forecastable, and therefore NOT a Black Swan :D) was John Paulson (see "The Greatest Trade Ever") who spent years convincing investors of his thesis and perfecting the most beautiful trade ever structured. He made a personal bonus of $4.8 billion in one year. Julian Robertson also reportedly made close to a billion with a curve steepener (his specialty). I call THIS "lots of money", not the few millions Taleb made because of his low Sharpe* strategy**, barely compensating (Locklin argues, and I would agree, not compensating) for his lack of any results for the previous and following few years. It's a fairly high opportunity cost to have your capital locked up for, what, 6-8 years before seeing any positive returns. Big leap of faith too. One of the biggest problems facing Taleb - which has sunk him once before if I remember well - is that if his "Black Swan" event (or rather, the entirely predictable to reality-focused types like Paulson) does not occur fast enough, his investors will pull out fed up with bleeding money, and he'll close the fund before hitting his magic return-enhancing event and therefore down 5-10% per annum on average (possibly up to 100% if all his options expired worthless - even with prices moving down he's facing time affecting the value downwards - see theta).

I actually called up a friend trading derivs at a major US bank post-2007 (he had just made himself $4m in 6 months, at 0.5% of profits I'll let you guess how much that was for the bank) to ask him if Taleb's strategy was worth anything. He told me that actually, deep OTM options tended to be OVERpriced. And most people on his desk thought Taleb a muppet.

I'll grant you that Taleb is an expert marketeer. In the vein of Kant, the Catholic Church, etc.

That being said, I know you work/worked in financial services, whereas I do not (right now) so please let me know if my reasoning/facts are off :D

*for the benefit of non-financially-literate members: the Sharpe ratio is a common performance measure in the hedge fund world. Long story short, it measures the excess return generated, e.g. if you made 50% that year and the stock index from which you were picking went up 5%, then you obviously generated excess return, and divides it by the standard deviation, or "risk" of the underlying asset. If you made 50% because the one stock you bought swung up 50% after swinging down 40% then you were obviously taking very high risk compared to the guy whose basket of well diversified stocks and bonds went up 15% with much smaller swings, and your Sharpe ought to be lower. Taleb would argue that since he's betting on the normal distribution not applying, the Sharpe is not a suitable measure of performance here. I'd argue I will place my millions with a manager concerned with yearly absolute returns.

** Taleb's theory is that very unprobable, unpredictable events - deep outliers, what he calls Black Swans although October 87 or Russian crisis events happen on average every 6 years, and therefore are quite regular - that strongly affect markets particularly towards the downside are underpriced. That is, you buy options betting that these huge swings will happen because they are very cheap. To go short the market, you buy deep "out of the money" (OTM) put options which allow you to rake it in should the market drop much below the strike price. E.g. Lehman Brothers is trading at $100 in June (can't remember exact timing), I buy $30 December puts for 3c because on a normal distribution, or even a leptokurtic one that's what the put is priced at (don't know if that was the exact pricing), then LEH collapses to whatever it was, a few cents or 0, and bam I rake in almost $30 for every 3c invested, a 1000x return (100k%). Problem is, GE didn't go down 90%+, nor did any other stocks on the NYSE except financials. And by the very definition of the Black Swan you don't know where it will come next, so you have to be short everything. Which costs you money. More money than it will return, according to above trader friend (i.e. the options are overpriced).

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