This whole post felt like a balm to the soul. Wait…..

Luke & Rina’s Soul Balm: clean, natural, non-toxic. Renews lost serenity. Cleanses bullshit.

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I think there's a huge difference between what the phrase "men’s health website" means and what the phrase "women's health website" means.

Men's health websites are shilling ways to boost your T-levels and cure ED... even though boosting T-levels is pretty unambiguously unhealthy. (Healthy males of most mammals produce more testosterone naturally than unhealthy males. However, basically anything you do to convert their extra androgens to estrogens makes them healthier. Also, castrating them almost invariably increases longevity.)

Women's health websites are at least trying to give health advice.


This interview chronicles someone's journey from being an uninformed and naive pro-wellness movement commentator to becoming an uninformed and naive anti-wellness movement commentator. The problem was always that she was uninformed and naive; and on net she's traded in one set of biases for a slightly worse set of biases.

Caring about wellness is an extremely strong predictor of longevity. And cutting out whole categories of food is not a bad strategy. Vegetarianism probably isn't the optimal diet; but it's unambiguously a much healthier diet than the typical diet. The biggest problem with all of the studies that find that vegetarianism is healthy is that vegetarianism strongly correlates with caring about wellness, and caring about wellness is already such a strong predictor of longevity that it basically overwhelms everything else anyone is ever trying to study to the point that longitudinal studies never actually discover anything other than on average people doing the stuff that "everyone knows is healthy" works better than people not trying to do all that stuff.

Even spiritually-coded obviously-false new age garbage is typically giving good advice for bad reasons rather than giving bad advice. Meditation is super healthy, and a lot of the spiritually-coded obviously-false new age garbage is just repackaging and rebranding meditation.

The biggest problem in all of the popular discourse about what is "healthy" is that the typical person fundamentally doesn't understand the concept of mathematical inequality. Organic vegetables are healthier than conventional vegetables. This is because optimizing for nutrient content and especially sirtuin content is almost exactly the opposite as optimizing for yield, and conventional vegetables are grown in ways that optimize them for yield. "Small blueberries are healthier than big blueberries" is even more true than "Organic blueberries are healthier than conventional blueberries." And both of these sentences are true for exactly the same reason. The right-hand side is more optimized for yield than the left-hand side. But what's absent from any of these statements in the fact that vegetables and blueberries are very, very healthy for almost everybody. If you are choosing between great big beautiful conventional blueberries that you're thinking about buying and not buying blueberries, buying the great big beautiful blueberries you're thinking about buying is the healthy option. If you have already decided you are buying the blueberries and know you're going to eat them either way, buying the small, shriveled, organic blueberries over the great big beautiful conventional blueberries is slightly healthier. (Shriveled is also likely a good sign when trying to optimize for health.) But blueberries are healthy. If you're thinking "nah, I'll pass on the small, shriveled, organic blueberries," that shouldn't turn into "guess I won't be buying any blueberries cuz organicz tuh only helfy fude." But it does for most people who eat organic, which is dumb. Similarly, lots of the wellness industry is pseudo-scientific bunk. But that shouldn't turn into "tuh peeps buying into tuh welnes nonsense is dummies who be foold by their too much optimism."

As for trusting "experts" and "science," the current state of medical research is that individual studies published in Nature are the most trustworthy individual studies, and individual studies published in Nature don't typically replicate. Cochrane is probably the most trusted name in metastudies, which exist because individual studies don't replicate. The Pauling Institute, the World Health Organization, and the Mayo Clinic base what they are saying on enough real research that they *might* actually reliably transform scientific research into good advice. Organizations like the American Heart Association are lobbyists that definitely don't. Organizations like the CDC, the FDA, and the USDA are somewhere between the WHO and the lobbyists, but overall display enormous evidence of being highly influenced by lobbyists. An individual toxicologist who writes an article is much less likely to be writing anything accurate than an individual study published in Nature is to be writing something reproducible. (Also "toxicologist" has completely different meanings as a branch of medicine, than as a branch of biological science. A medical toxicologist specializes in treating acute poisoning. A biological toxicologist specializes in researching the dose level at which exposure to a substance becomes toxic. Neither of them ever have expertise that is more relevant to determining whether exposure to a substance is more generically beneficial for an otherwise healthy human than a nutritionist or dermatologist. Dermatology is one of the few fields of medicine where the recommendations of the specialization correlate so strongly with what's actually healthy that they can give good advice to healthy people. (Ophthalmology is the only one that springs to mind. Though in the US, there's this weird quota system which causes general medical knowledge to extremely strongly correlate with what specialization you end up going into such that surgeons are almost always more knowledgeable about medicine than non-surgeons and plastics surgeons are almost always more knowledgeable about medicine than any other specialization of surgeon. If you want good medical advice about *anything*, and you would rather ask a doctor than a biologist, the best doctors to trust are American plastic surgeons... because they were the people at the front of the line in the quota system in the only country that has a quota system so absurdly stupid that it can reliably funnel all of the best doctors into the most medically irrelevant specialization.)

The life expectancy of someone who's born in LA is 3.5 years higher than the life expectancy of someone who's born any random place in the USA. On average, the wellness bunk is better advice than anything else the average American is smart enough to follow, and Rina Raphael has unambiguously demonstrated that she's not smart enough to understand anything more nuanced. But don't ask me whether LA's health advantage comes from the fact that it's ground zero for caring about wellness or whether it comes from the fact that it's the best place to be a plastic surgeon. I have no idea. I'm also not sure whether those two things are separable.

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