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Wellness Wednesday for March 8, 2023

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

How much should I be studying for the SAT. I not from USA and my education is third worlder and I was also not the greatest student.

A high SAT is necessary, but not a sufficient condition to get into a top school. I would stop caring after 1550-1550. Until that point, it will continue counting.

If you are an Asian/Indian Male without a sob-story, then you will need a high SAT. More so than other races.

What are you typically scoring on practice tests for each subject?

What are your goals in terms of colleges/universities?

I have yet to take a practice test.

I'm trying to become a naval engineer in the marine merchant.

I would encourage using Khan Academy to take a diagnostic test, then practice tests which take an hour before a full length (3-5 hour) practice test.

The merchant marine absolutely does take immigrants, but there are always possible issues.

Both comments made already are correct; let me outline why. I spent a month or two studying hard for the SAT and the LSAT respectively during those respective periods. My standardized test scores ultimately got me $270k in merit scholarships I would absolutely not have gotten without them. So yeah, highest paid two months you'll ever get in your teens; in all likelihood.

Everything you can. Get the public example tests the college board publishes (there was a book of ten tests, might be more / different now. Used to be called the “blue book” or something). Do one or two and then study parts you arent good at. Take more, repeat. If you arent from the US, your local online retailer should have pirated copies and should not be expensive.

There are free guides and stuff online as well, so google around. I used a guide someone wrote on College Confidential. Helped a lot.

Practice means perfect. Triply so for SAT.

There will be no better return on hours spent studying in your entire academic career than for the hours you spend preparing for the SAT. You should prepare as if a substantial portion of your future depends on it... because it does.

edit: to be explicit, you should be fucking breathing, drinking and eating SAT practice exams from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, from now until the day of your exam.

Combining walks with music, musing, stories and reading (if on treadmill) is easier on my willpower than walking alone. This probably has to do with the evolutionary antecedents to these cognitive processes: using stories to store information on the world, music to make sense of one’s environment, etc. We could even say that walking is supposed to be associated with such informational activities.

What other evolutionary cheats are there to implement?

Walk with a friend. I have a guy from college who I can meet up in 15 minutes. Super easy to spend 2 hours walking in discussion. Our part of the city is pretty decent for walking.

In the same vein as this, more strenuous exercise is always, always, always easier and more fun with another person. The "get a gym buddy to keep you accountable and motivated" advice is very real and very effective if you are one of those people who, like me, often struggles to summon the motivation to work out.

Or a study buddy or a work buddy or a whatever buddy.

Borrowing conscientiousness from the group is very effective.

Please reccomend me a generalist History book for dummies, something not woke or overly opinionated.

History is my weakest subject and as a result Im impotent when I get Eulered with references to the Mesopotamians and the Akadians and the Anglo Saxons and the Carthagians and the Kievan Rus or whatever and how something happeneed to them that disputes a statement I am making about modernity.

Im looking for something like a CIA handbook for history, something to get me upto speed quickly.

There is nothing that will get you to the point where you can't get tripped up by a specialist on Sumerian history or medieval guilds or Chinese secret societies. You could spend a decade on it and you still won't get all those things, it's just not possible.

If I were looking for a couple books that give you a complete vision for human history in the shortest time possible, I'd move from The Dawn of Everything to Hobsbawm's series on the 19th and 20th centuries. That will get you enough grounding to frame most everything you run into later.

I liked The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community by William McNeill, but that was back in 2009.

Susan Bauer's History of the Ancient World seems a pretty good overview of Antiquity up to the fall of Rome, although I'll admit I've read only parts of it. The Great Transformation is a wonderful primer on the origin of all major religions and philosophical traditions of Eurasia. In general Erenow's archive is full of gems (though I also notice a couple that are pretty much pseudohistory). I don't know if the site itself has any particular political bias, but the books are all over the place in that sense.

Initially considered recommending Bauer's book, so I guess I'll just second that.

I enjoyed Why The West Rules - For Now by Ian Morris a few years back, though I think it's not exactly what your looking for. It is a overview of global history, but it's in service of the titular topic with a focus on geography and environment. Recommended by /r/askhistorians, for what it's worth.

Seconded. It is both informative & an entertaining read.

It's certainly way below the level you want but I have a soft spot for Gombrich's A Little History of the World. Highly readable -- I picked it up in a bookstore and read half of while standing on that spot -- and a decent topical overview, though overly focused on Europe. It's not going to do everything you want but has extremely high return on investment if you're looking to get a basic picture. Perhaps will serve as a good jumping off point?

Really the book is a sweet little pleasure and I'll probably enjoy re-reading it myself soon.

How To Shower Right

How To Set The Temperature

If the water is painfully hot, it's too hot. When you shower with water hotter than a fever (>105F), you scald the "horny layer" of skin, leading to dry, chapped or cracking skin which doesn't provide the natural antiseptic barrier of whole, unbroken skin. You shouldn't need moisturizer on your back after a healthy shower.

Dry skin is a great place for bacteria to enter the body. You may be able to eliminate unnecessary back acne within a week.

How To Breathe

Your nostril hair is a great air filter for keeping dust and germs out of your lungs. However, when you're breathing high concentrations of warm water vapor through your nose, all of what previously got caught in the filter gets sucked right down. Blow your nose before you shower, and breathe through your mouth during the shower. This can keep you from getting many colds. I have gone much longer between colds since stopping breathing through my nose during showers.

If you have a cold, still breathe through your mouth. This can keep a head cold from becoming a chest cold. Never suck that snot backwards.

How To Shampoo

Shampoo is mostly a detergent. Detergents work as surfactants. They lower the surface tension of water, making it less likely to stick to itself and more able to bind with oils and soiling particles. The first batch of shampoo you use on your head should not foam up. That's how you know it's working: the soap is sticking to oils, not making bubbles.

Rinse and repeat with a smaller amount. This should foam up, indicating cleanliness.

WARNING: If you're breathing through your mouth, you may get some shampoo in your mouth. Spit it out. Swallowing hair-cleaning surfactants will give you physical diarrhea (as opposed to germ-caused diarrhea) as surely as drinking a single drop of Dawn dish detergent dissolved in a cup of water.

How To Dry

Have you ever noticed how one side of your towel is fluffier than the other? Use the fluffy side first.

The cut strands on the fluffy side are where water will end up eventually, through a purely mechanical process. The whole fibers on the smoother side wick the water away to the fluffy side. If you use the smooth side first, the fluffy side will already be damp if you flip it.

Hang your wet towel up with the fluffy side out, for faster evaporation.

Your Turn

Do you have any useful showering or bathing tips?

The hedonic trap while showering is where you spend a superfluous amount of time showering because you don't want to change from being pleasurably warm to damply cold. How to avoid it? Here is one way: do not always shower your whole body, but only the parts that actually require it. How often do you need to wash your back? Possibly never*! This efficient way of showering usually entails washing the face and wherever there is lots of hair. Since only a portion of your body is wet, the discomfort of being cold and wet is minimized, and there is less warmth to sacrifice.

I got this idea after hearing about Aella.

*Except after sweaty workouts, in which case I recommend cold showers.

Ordinary (non-conditioner) shampoo seems to work just fine as a body wash, and is much cheaper for some reason.

A more interesting how-to would be on long hair care. Because as a man with recently grown long hair, I didn’t learn shit about it as a kid and it took several years to figure out how to maintain it.

As I’ve always had short hair, I’d be interested in learning your tips and tricks (and seeing exactly how much easier I’ve kept my life). Are you planning a similar post in next week’s Wellness Wednesday?

For sure you should be squeegeeing off your skin with your hands before applying the towel.

Also, /u/Interversity of the subreddit pilled me on the wholesomeness of briefly using a blow dryer on one's body after toweling to really just get rid of the excess moisture. But this is an advanced technique and I usually don't.

The blow dryer is something I tried, but now that I have two dry towels in one, I no longer need to.

My useful showering idea is to not do it too often. Using soap and shampoo every day used to fuck up my skin and I achieved near flawless skin just by showering every other day and being judicious with soap and shampoo.

I have the dry earwax and no body odor genes though so ymmv.

Ideally if your diet and general health is in check you shouldnt turn into a skunk after skipping showers.

Might be entirely pseudoscience but I believe the overuse of chemicals to not smell bad diminishes your bodies ability to not smell bad without them.

Is this necessary? SneerClub would have a field day seeing this posted on TheMotte.

Within the same second that the photons from the title hit my retina, before I could finish scrolling down to the bottom of the post, my inner monologue had already voiced the words "Aella on suicide watch."

"Holy shit, a thread about showering," he laughed in gasps, each mountainous heave puffing a cloud of Cheeto dust into the dark room. Stubby fingers ponderously wiped queso off on his hairless moobs before knocking aside enough Mountain Dew cans to reach the crusty keyboard. "Time to destroy their community with le epic sneer for my fellow clubbers."

Exactly how I imagine it.

Clarification: they did, or they might? I’ve edited it to be far blander than when I tiredposted it.

They might.

Thank you for the feedback and the reminder we are quite public-facing herein.

Did you know this about towels?

Sneerclub has a field day no matter what we do. Best to just ignore those losers.

That said, I also agree that this is a weird topic. @DuplexFields, I think you're way overthinking showering my dude.

Comments edited down to be less sneerable. But hot water causing bacne is still knowledge I wish I’d had twenty years ago, and knowledge I am happy to impart.

To be honest I keep the water in my shower pretty hot (not like painfully scalding hot, but certainly somewhere near 100 degrees), and I've never had acne issues from it. I imagine it's one of those things that varies from person to person.

I was taught to turn it up to where it was painful and turn it down from there, and stand in it until I got used to it. I had no idea I was reducing the effectiveness of my skin as a barrier to germs. Now I go with as lukewarm as I can stand in winter, and tepid in summer.

Disagree. If not here, where? I'm in my mid-30s and still occasionally pick up on some new optimization for routines like this. This is precisely the community, and precisely the thread, I'd expect to find such insights.

Well... nowhere, to be honest. I'm not really upset by it or anything. If not for the sneerclub mention, I would've just moved on without commenting. But yeah, for me personally I think there's no benefit to worrying about getting to optimize showering. It's a simple task with not much to it, and there's no need to make it more complex than that imo. If you're getting something out of it, you do you of course.

My shower has a tankless water heater. I have a problem where if I turn it too low (cool), the water heater trips (some kind of self protection circuit) and the water becomes cold. I have to reset the water to max hot, wait for the heater to reset, and then try to find the comfy temp again. It's almost impossible to find a temperature that isn't too hot. What should I do?

EDIT: apartment management is no help haha

Have you tried running a drizzle of hot water in the sink while you shower? It might work.

I'll try and let you know.

All my ideas have been ruined by your edit because they depended on the fact you could tinker with the heater.

I can tinker with the heater if I'm careful not to get caught. It doesn't seem to have any controls on it, but there are some valves controlling flow in and out.

I thought about undervolting it. Also, something is weird with your setup. Is there no mixer tap the mixes the water from the heater with regular tap water?

Yes there is a mixer. Usually with a tankless water heater, all the water is flowed through the heater and there is a knob to control the temperature. This one is different, it is in a closet (not accessible while showering), and it uses a mixer tap to control the temperature and pressure.

Huh. Then I have no idea what's going on. If there's a mixer tap, you should be able to get all the way to 1% hot, 99% cold water without tripping anything.

Are you sure about that? The heater has to have some flow through in order to turn on.

Yes, but even a little flow should be sufficient to trigger it.

My job is stressful, we're almost two years into an enormous project and people are extremely touchy. I got way too angry today at something and even after making myself go for a drive and get some fresh air, I was driving back into the office park just seething. I realized I wasn't going to be able to make it through the day like that and engaged in a shockingly effective momentary reflection. It was just the simplest one minute stoic meditation. I said to myself that there is a higher mind, and there is an animal that is acting unskillfully due to thinking its emotions are important. There's no threat, being calm is advantageous. Not firing back a shitty email is advantageous. I realize that this is super basic but I guess why I'm writing it is I could actually feel the tension disappear all at once. I've tried to do similar things in the past but its like this time the rational mind actually spoke with authority and everything fell into line immediately. I walked back in completely cool.

Cultivate this skill and it can take you far.

I have to say, it's incredible how well semaglutide is working for me. Literally the only effect I notice is a massive decrease in general hunger and a massive increase in how full I feel after every meal, with no side-effects that I can notice. No more desire to go buy chocolate bars each time I pass by a convenience store. No more finishing a 12 incher from subway and still looking for stuff to eat. No more going to sleep hungry. The other day at subway I finished half of my sandwich and was absolutely amazed to find out that I didn't especially want to eat the second half. To be clear, I still get hungry, it's just that my hunger levels now automatically lead to me eating 2000 calories per day, instead of my old 3500.

I'm simultaneously amazed that I finally found the solution that I've been looking for, and angry at the prevalent "willpower hypothesis of weight loss" that I've been exposed to my whole life. I spent a decade trying to diet with difficulty set on nightmare mode, and now that my hunger signalling seems to have been reset to normal levels, I realise just how trivial it is to be skinny for people with normal hunger levels. All the people who teased me in high school didn't somehow have more willpower than me, they were fucking playing on easy mode!

All the people who teased me in high school didn't somehow have more willpower than me, they were fucking playing on easy mode!

I feel this, as someone who is occasionally sanity-challenged (more on that coming next Wednesday!). Long story short, depending on my mental state my appetite will either be excessive (if bored/depressed, enough to be your average overweight American) or nonexistent (if anxious) such that I'll barely or not eat for a few days and only really notice when I wonder why I'm suddenly so tired.

When I was in my early 20s I had some life circumstances change (escaped abusive mother for good) and suddenly switched from being awfully depressed to suffering from PTSD and lost 70lbs in ~18 months without really trying while having picked up an awful drinking problem (aka 1-1.5K calories a day worth of cheap beer). People were complementing me and asking me for my secret; I was just mostly living on cigarettes and beer (Fun fact: Natty Ice is a bit more calorie efficient for the alcohol content than Michelob Ultra.).

The craziest I've pulled (again, thanks to a wild mood swing) was losing 25lbs in six weeks.

I'm presently falling (okay, kind of already there) in love with a woman way out of my league and think I have a chance so once again my appetite for things that aren't alcohol barely exists and I'm dropping weight without trying.

Glad it's working for you! Honesty, that sounds amazing.

I've become a convert to "set point theory" of hunger and, with a convert's fervor, I now view the opposite view as imbecilic and harmful. Almost no one can sustain weight loss for long periods of time via calorie counting and exercise. The fact that so many people believe otherwise is troubling. How long can a society be so obviously wrong and double down on failure? At least several decades, apparently.

In good news, we finally have something which actually works. As this becomes widespread, I expect obesity to peak soon and then decline - similar to the decline in HIV deaths starting in the 1990s. Life expectancy will increase as well.

As for myself, since I'm only about 20 pounds over my ideal weight, I'll hold off for a few years just in case there are unknown risks.

I think 'almost no one' is an exaggeration. I have lost weight in the past through calorie counting and I know others who have.

That said I think there are fairly profound variations in hunger levels, body weight set points, and efficiency in gaining or losing weight. Some of them are genetic but I think some people who get very fat permanently fuck over their hunger and weight regulation.

I'm aging. In order to prevent weight gain I have given up on breakfast and eat a light lunch. I know a much older and equally lean man who follows similar routine. It obviously and unambiguously works.

Eat less to lose weight, eat more to put on weight. I purposefully ate more while I lifted. I now have a kid and a busy life and cut back on eating.

How long can society be obviously right but people pretend otherwise in order to excuse personal failings leading to the unavoidable consequences?

Would I be correct in saying that your body's natural hunger cues aren't working and you have to exercise willpower to control your weight?

While this may be relatively easy for you, it is probably only because your set point is near your current weight. For people whose set point is much higher, the difficulty is extreme. Imagine being hungry all the time and having no energy. People's bodies will fight to maintain a high weight and energy levels will plummet to reduce expenditure of calories.

Let's say you are a 160 pound man who can maintain his weight with a 2000 calorie diet. How would you feel at 1200 calories? That is the level that some people have to maintain to not gain weight. The difficulty level varies greatly.

I know that intermittent fasting is kind of a fad right now, but following the above program only skipping the lunch about every second day seems to work OK for maintaining a deficit without being obtrusively hungry -- after a week or so the "hungry" signal just seems to kind of recede into the background.

1200 calories every single day does seem extreme -- but is this really a common setpoint for a ~160 lb male?

1200 calories every single day does seem extreme -- but is this really a common setpoint for a ~160 lb male?

No. That would be an extreme case.

I'm suggesting that the grandparent is able to use his willpower to maintain a low weight because his body wants 2050 calories and he only gives it 2000, and that this is something that can be achieved.

A formerly obese person might need to sustain a 1200 calorie diet to maintain the same figure, which (from experience) means being hungry nearly all the time.

My hypothesis is that the calorie/willpower model is appealing because it allows people to be moralistic. Fat people aren't very nice to look at, but if you can tell yourself that they chose to look like this because they wanted to be lazy and gluttonous, well then you can justifiably dislike them.

Me and girlfriend have had this conversation a few times, and what's fascinating is that she doesn't seem to have any particular model of what causes obesity. Instead, when presented with my version of the setpoint hypothesis (personally I think it's the vegetable oils), she reaches into a grab bag of other explanations (laziness, shift work, hyperpalatable food, snacking, processed food) but never settles on one and refuses to assign a weighting to any of them.

Nothing about set point theory suggests that people don't get fat by being lazy and gluttonous. Even if it absolves people of blame for failing to lose weight, they still get fat through sloth and gluttony.

I guess that could technically be correct. But then it just begs the question as to why sloth and gluttony increased linearly in the latter half of the 20th century at the exact time as countries adopted seed oils into their diet.

If it were true, we would also expect to see people who work longer hours get less obese, because they are demonstrably less slothfull than their peers. We don't see this. Instead we see people who are objectively smart and hard working (for example, medical students) getting fatter just like everyone else.

My guess is that people believe that diet can work both in the short and long term because they see it all the time, because I do. There are people for whom it doesn't work, for some reason, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work.

I also believe that in version of set point theory but in my version that set point is possible to affect for the vast majority through persistent weight change.

I'm excited about the new medications though.

I believe that it works because I lost about 20% of my body weight, almost entirely in fat, have remained within a couple pounds of my new weight for a couple decades. To think that this is incredibly difficult is to think that I have a remarkable talent that I don't really perceive myself as having.

Dieting works in the short term. It almost never works in the long term. There are numerous studies which demonstrate this.

To steelman the status quo, there wasn't (until semaglutide) anything that reliably worked. Diet and exercise aren't bad things, and even short term weight loss might have positive benefits. Similarly it's very rare for alcoholics to quit over long periods of time. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't at least try.

If we just ignore the large and unsolved issue of selection bias in weight loss studies we can still observe that some 20% sustain weight loss long term.

Similarly, for people with so severe alcoholism that they seek treatment the people that stay sober long term seem to be a bit more than 1/3.

Neither of these qualify as "almost never" in my mind.

I have a hard time believing that diet efficacy is much greater than zero given that a large percentage of people diet and obesity is only increasing. Is it possible for dieting to have negative efficacy? Perhaps.

Speaking of selection bias, choosing people who have already lost large amounts of weight selects for people who have HUGE amounts of self-control and probably wealth and free time as well. If, even among this august group, only 20% maintain the weight loss that's pretty damning.

I'm not sure where you are getting your alcohol stats, but the number I remember is 8% of AA users successfully quit. And indeed my memory is correct according to this source:

There is a large body of evidence now looking at AA success rate, and the success rate of AA is between 5 and 10 percent.

Fortunately, the Sinclair Method exists and seems much more promising. Are there other treatment options that work? Maybe. But I wouldn't trust the stats produced by these groups given the they would be so self-interested.

I have a hard time believing that diet efficacy is much greater than zero given that a large percentage of people diet and obesity is only increasing. Is it possible for dieting to have negative efficacy? Perhaps.

It might be the case that the obesity rates would be increasing even faster if people weren't dieting. In this scenario whatever bad stuff is causing obesity is steadily increasing with time, and dieting is working against the bad stuff, just not fast enough.

This feels like playing word games. To me "doesn't work" means "it won't have an effect, no matter how much you do it", not " people will stop doing it after a while".

Doesn't feel that way at all to me. If compliance is < 10%, then the intervention most assuredly doesn't "work" from a public health standpoint.

It's like saying to a smoker "stop smoking" and then saying your intervention is effective. "It would have worked if they had listened".

From a public health standpoint, yes, diets don't work. From an individual standpoint diets work really well.

It's like saying to a smoker "stop smoking" and then saying your intervention is effective.

Obviously that won't work as an intervention. Maybe, and believe me, this is a hypothetical, what if we stopped telling people that eating less didn't work? What if we stopped lying to them by saying that CICO doesn't work?

My wife swears up and down that she "didn't know", even though on one level, you know. You don't know, in your gut. You hear all these tales of how it's this thing or that thing, that you need this special diet or that special diet. That so and so has a magic thyroid that causes a 300 cal/day diet to result in gaining weight. That the sign on the gym which says you can lose 20lbs in 30 days is real. And this isn't just misinformation on the internet; literal doctors are involved in keeping people "ignorant". We have a good friend who is quite obese. She literally asked her doctor for help. She practically begged for an actual plan; something other than, "Well, ya know, maybe you could eat less." I know doctors are constantly afraid to tell their patients that, "Diet and exercise will help with [insert condition here]," because sooo many patients either a) get offended or b) aren't going to do it anyway. So you know what this doctor told her? "You're just getting older." Seriously.

It requires actual education, planning, support, and discipline. For education, if you asked people, "How many calories per day corresponds to a 1lb/week weight gain/loss," do you think you'd get consistent answers? What if it wasn't so pointed, and instead something along those lines was asked in a multiple choice along with a bunch of other options? Like, lithium and thyroids? Maybe perhaps not lying to people anymore might help even a little bit?

For planning, even just estimating calories is surprisingly hard to the raw senses. One tablespoon of Substance A will have the same calories as two cups of Substance B, and they may have vastly different satiety characteristics. You need to have an actual plan for how you're going to measure, compare, and execute. Lying to people and saying that the only possible plan is to do nothing probably isn't going to help.

And, of course, support/discipline matter, too. Why do you think alcohol therapy/rehab deliberately plan support to help with discipline? For a personal example, when I convinced my wife to try tracking our calories and weighing ourselves every morning (putting together an actual plan), she obsessively tried to over-read the noisy line tracking our weight. Sooooooo many times, she whined, "The line looks like it's going up the last few days! Maybe it's not working anymore!" Over and over again, I needed to basically say, "Shut up; keep doing it; in a week or two, you'll see the line is continuing to go down." It always did, but in a few more weeks, she'd complain again that maybe it's not working this time, as if she just forgot the last seven times where no, it definitely still kept working if she just shut up and kept doing it. If I wasn't there to provide support/discipline, she'd probably have gone back to believing people like you and just failed. She has succeeded, by the way, and is incredibly attractive, maintaining her desired weight well, now that she knows how it works and knows how to plan adjustments.

Obviously, not having a plan isn't going to work. Obviously, just casually saying, "Maybe you could eat fewer calories," isn't a real plan and isn't going to work, just like casually saying, "Maybe you could just smoke less/drink less alcohol," isn't a real plan and isn't going to work. But having a real plan that includes actual mechanisms for education, detailed planning, support, and discipline absolutely actually works. It would be frankly stupid to look at the data, say, "Whelp, alcoholics still exist. People still smoke tobacco. The success rates are the success rates. It must just be impossible to stop drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco!"

Well, I suppose I could see it as similar to the "masks don't work" vs. "mask mandates don't work" drama. Still, as pedantic as it may be, if you just said "telling people to diet/exercise doesn't work", I think very few would have objected, as there would be no way to conflate it with "actually exercising and dieting does not work".

Nobody ever tries to put these fat people in work camps.

If WW2 history classes have taught anyone anything, it's that dieting works.

Every time this topic comes up someone posts something like this. Every time.

That's because this argument forces people to disambiguate between two definitions of dieting:

  • consuming fewer calories

  • voluntarily consuming fewer calories in the presence of abundant hyperpalatable food by exercising your willpower

CI<CO works. Yes, BMR goes down as you lose weight, TEF goes down as you eat less food, NEAT goes down if you diet too hard, but that doesn't change the laws of thermodynamics: CI<CO? Weight loss.

Voluntarily staying at the level of CImaint=COmaint works for some people, fails for others. Why? Two options:

  • they let they CO creep below COmaint, probably by dropping EAT. I think it's less probable, since EAT has a small impact

  • they let their CI creep above CImaint

Why do they stay at CI>CImaint? Because they enjoy it, it gives them hedons. But why do they enjoy it more than staying in shape, while others don't?

  • does eating more tasty food simply have a larger weight in their hedonic formula? Is it an endogenous or an exogenous weight?

  • or does their formula discount future hedons/negahedons at a higher rate? Someone might take into account the dieting they will have to do to lose the weight they are gaining by eating this brownie at -6h and eating the brownie at 5h, while someone else might discount the future dieting to -4h

  • or is there this magic "set point" of CIsp, and every CI<CIsp generates negahedons? Some have it high enough that COsp=CIsp means they have to up their EAT to unsustainable levels

More comments

If you don't like the Holocaust comparisons, imagine they are references to Hollywood actors cutting for roles. Caloric restriction rock solid works.

Watch any Marvel movie and see the part where the male lead takes his shirt off and shows his cut abs. They aren't all that lean by happenstance.

I'm losing my hair. Given my family history I've expected it, but it's still had a larger effect on my confidence than I thought it would. What are my options? It's hard to know how much to trust all of the supposed treatments.

I lost my hair over my 20's, gradually trimming shorter, then buzzing, then safety razor. I didn't go the chemical maintenance route due to an early bad experience with the diagnosing dermatologist who wanted to milk me for regular consultations in order to get my prescription renewed.

Now bald, I am almost certain that if I had hair replacement I would be more attractive. I don't say this out of insecurity, I say it from observation. I get more looks from women when I'm wearing a cap or hat that frames my face.

I have an ex-bald friend that actually went the surgical option over in Turkey in his early 30's. He says that he does better with women after the operation. I trust him when he says it wasn't an increase in confidence that helped him.

My advice is to take advice from bald men, or men that have had hair replacement on this issue. Others will often give you 'it doesn't matter, its not a big deal' type of feedback. Buzzing it down is absolutely the best advice if you decide not to maintain it through finasteride or getting hair replacement though.

Buzz it down and grow a beard.

I would just get over it. It really just doesn't matter 99% of the time. If you want to spend money and time on treatments that will at best slow it down, then by all means do so, but I would recommend really examining why it matter so much to you.

I would start with just finasteride, the sooner the better. It prevents the conversion of testosterone to DHT in your blood. The hairs on your head miniturize and eventually die in response to high levels of DHT. Once the follicles are too far gone, you can't bring them back. There are potential side effects, but they are almost always reversible if you stop taking it.

The reason to avoid other treatments like Minoxidil at first is to see if the finasteride is working. You may not need anything else if you respond well enough. On the other hand, if your hair continues to get worse on just finasteride it might take stronger anti-DHT medication such as dutasteride.

People who only use Minoxidil usually see a temporary improvement in hair thickness, but because it doesn't address the root cause of thinning they keep losing hair. Think of it as a multiplier for the number of living follicles left on your head.

Edit: Getting finasteride is very easy these days through online pharmacies, although you can probably get it cheaper if you go to an actual doctor. But you might have bad luck getting a doctor to prescribe it. Many don't think baldness is a serious problem so they think any chance of side effects is a reason to not prescribe.

People who only use Minoxidil usually see a temporary improvement in hair thickness, but because it doesn't address the root cause of thinning they keep losing hair. Think of it as a multiplier for the number of living follicles left on your head.

I've been taking it daily for three years now, and I haven't noticed a slowdown (on the bright side, I didn't experience any side effects). I'll look into dutasteride, thanks.

The stuff that actually works is minoxidil, finasteride, and scalp needling (don't use a derma roller, use a needling pen like this ). All of these only stave off the shedding, you have to continue treatment indefinitely if you want to keep your hair. I'd suggest starting with some combination of minoxidil+needling until the point where you feel confident enough to just go bald.

I've got to say, church is great. My partner and I recently went after almost a decade, despite both being atheists. We are admittedly part of a non-traditional "New Age" style church, but it was great. I actually teared up during the service, which I did not expect.

If you're in a bad way I'd recommend giving it a chance!

What do you do when the adherents talk to you and inquire about something theological, to which you'd either have to lie or admit your atheism?

I'm an atheist and I've often contemplated going to church with my Christian fiance, but I'm always halted by the thought of what the hell I'm supposed to do when people start with the Jesus-speak one-on-one.

I usually say something like "I'm spiritual but not religious" or some other tripe. If pushed I'll say I believe in Buddhist philosophy but think there's a lot of wisdom to be gained in a Christian tradition, and I believe in the importance of community, etc. People are shockingly accepting about it so far at least.

Does this “New Age” church conduct wedding ceremonies for homosexuals?


How does that affect his recommendation to go to service if you're doing poorly? It isn't a wedding ceremony and it isn't your church.

Might as well ask their thoughts about transubstantiation.

Might as well ask their thoughts about transubstantiation.

This, but unironically. Do people really choose their church based on whether they like the music and not on their doctrine?

This, but unironically. Do people really choose their church based on whether they like the music and not on their doctrine?

Yes. The noughties are over, age of christian-atheist debates is over. No one cares about doctrine, no one cares about apologetics, no one cares any more to prove or disprove existence of God and literal truth of the Bible.

"Just go to church, bro. One full of majestic music, lots of incense, shiny pictures and golden statues. It is based and trad. You want to be based and trad, don't you?"

No one cares about doctrine, no one cares about apologetics, no one cares any more to prove or disprove existence of God and literal truth of the Bible.

The people in the churches that have the highest birth and retention rates do.

You look down on it, but how is that wrong? Ultimately, people have a God-shaped hole. Two millenia of tradness – which is in fact more impressive in person than your tacky description suggests – has a better plugging effect than baseball, Marxism, BLM struggle sessions, therapy counseling, Marvel cinema or whatever is the surrogate of the day. I fully expect people to come out of liturgy in a decent Orthodox church with more noble thoughts and feelings.

Choosing a church based on the music is way more sensible than choosing based on their opinions on gayness. You should go to a church that makes you feel good. If you're choosing a church based on their politics, then politics is your god.

Religion is not about feeling good - particularly Christianity!

I wanted to go to church I could agree with theologically. Both music and opinion on gayness are derivative aspects of the fundamentals. That's how I nearly became a Mennonite before I realized I had to expand my search beyond Christianity.

What did you find?

That I reject revelation as a source of divine knowledge on one hand, and that empirical reason and observation of the natural world are totally insufficient to determine the existence of a Supreme Being on the other. The existence or non-existence of a Supreme Being that has or hasn't created the universe isn't proven or disproven by any faiths and is ultimately irrelevant. It's the believers you have to worry about, since they can and do act according to their beliefs.

Therefore, I don't really care about organized religion beyond avoiding or mitigating its impact on my life. Theoretically, if someone came up to me and explained that if you earnestly believe in some silly things start with axioms A, B, C you end up with a net positive balance of utilons/hedons/whateverons, I would be hard pressed to explain why I won't do this. Waaait a minute, have I just ended up with the plot of South Park S07E12 "All About the Mormons?"?

That I reject revelation as a source of divine knowledge on one hand, and that empirical reason and observation of the natural world are totally insufficient to determine the existence of a Supreme Being on the other

Wouldn't a philosophy like Buddhism or Stoicism be compatible with this?

The whole 'reject organized religion' doesn't mean you have to reject all prior knowledge and thoughts on how to live a good life.

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I wouldn't be surprised if they did. I am not Christian, but if I were, and there would be a choice between a church where I feel nice and welcome, but whose official doctrine is slightly different than mine (not to the point where visiting this church would be religiously forbidden for me, if that's even a thing) and one that matches my views exactly but doesn't work very well for me socially - I'd rather go to the former. Reducing it to just "music" is probably too narrow, but I think social aspect in general should not be underestimated.

I also heard numerous cases of Christians changing denominations for reasons like moving, marriage, etc. I don't think their thoughts about God and the ways to worship Him changed instantly with that, and they still seem to be ok. So I imagine there's some flexibility in there?

The music obviously. Theology and preaching are Satan's schemes to keep you away from direct interaction with God, IE sacral music.

More seriously, that might be relevant question to ask if you're looking to join a particular church, but I can't imagine that was the goal here, nor the point of the general recommendation.

It's strange, after learning how to read the four-part hymns and practicing how to sight-read the bass lines, I've found that many churches, especially the more progressive ones, don't even use hymnals any more, opting to just print lyric sheets and figuring you'll pick up the tune. Like, that's the main reason I would go in the first place, is to sing some harmony. So strange.

I've never been in a church where the congregation is expected to sing multiple parts, the choir does that. I've been to Catholic, Protestant and orthodox churches and I've never heard the congregation sing multiple parts.

Sweden is exceptional at choir singing but I don't think that the Swedish psalm book has ever contained arrangements with multiple parts. The older versions of the psalm book didn't even have sheet music.

Or are you saying that the choir isn't doing multiple parts?

Maybe it's a quirk of where I grew up. We always sang from hymnals with all the parts printed. Nobody was expected to sing anything in particular but those that could, would. Many of the tunes would be uncomfortably out of my range otherwise.

Where I've been people mostly just pick a preferred octave.

I went and checked and there are actually a few songs with two parts in the Swedish psalm book (<1%), and all are newer songs.