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Wellness Wednesday for March 27, 2024

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.

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Went to a nightclub today for the first time in a while. It went exactly how it's always gone: I hated it.

It's kind of amazing how much I hate it, really. The loud music, the lasers, the huge crowd, the stupid pop music that everyone else seems to know but I don't, the pressure to "dance," the complete lack of privacy, the fight to get a drink at the bar, the lines for the bathrooms. It's like hell for me.

And yet I keep coming back. I still have this fantasy that I can somehow stop being a shy, introverted nerd and turn into a cool guy who dances with babes at the club. Is that possible? Has anyone actually done that? I don't even care about getting laid (sorta) I just want to be happier and more "in the moment" instead of wasting my life thinking about weird abstract thoughts.

turn into a cool guy who dances with babes at the club. Is that possible? Has anyone actually done that?

Yes, I have done exactly this. I did it through the use of psychoactive substances, mainly Phenibut combined with extended-release caffeine. For me Phenibut increases social confidence, reduces self-doubt, reduces self-censorship, makes music sound amazing, and makes me want to socialize. It is like alcohol without the impairment. This was back when you could buy Phenibut from reputable nootropics vendors, but that is no longer the case as of 2023. Also, Phenibut can be addictive if used more than once a week and it is dangerous to combine it with alcohol/benzos/opiods/CNS depressants.

I found it fun just getting the attention of hot women even though I have a low sex drive and I wasn’t trying to get laid. I became way more interested in figuring out why what I was doing worked, how to optimize it, and the limitations of it. I started reading about psychology, cog sci, pharmacodynamics, etc.

The simple lesson is that I had a part of me that was shutting down a different part of me that wanted to connect with people. In Internal Family Systems language I had a manager that was shutting down the exile that wanted to be playful/fun because the manager thought I should always act logically/rationally and the exile’s plans were dangerous and stupid.

Furthermore, becoming the cool guy has pros and cons:


  • It builds confidence and skills
  • Reduces social anxiety and this somewhat persists when sober
  • Increases interest in psychology/cog sci
  • More friends
  • Feel way more optimistic about life and people when under the influence of Phenibut.


  • New friends are flaky and only want to be around me when I’m in party mode
  • The newly learned confidence is mostly tied to the environment (club) and mental state (not sober) so the benefits are limited in normal situations
  • Sleep cycle gets interrupted due to staying out late
  • I became more jaded and cynical about people. Other people like me when I’m clownish and not when I’m being thoughtful and sober.
  • Damage to professional reputation if you’re the guy in club every weekend.
  • Probably could have found a better use of my time.

stupid pop music

This will probably work better for you if go to EDM clubs or festivals. You want to go where there are people that use MDMA or other drugs that increase openness and friendliness to strangers.

In conclusion, you can use drugs to change the activities you enjoy and to make it easier to connect with strangers. However, I would advise you to think long and hard about how that will impact you if you succeed because it probably won’t be as rewarding as you expect.

interesting... very interesting. I will have to try that, because I do kinda feel like it's practically a medical condition for me. It's not going to be fixed by something like "just be confident bro." The only thing that sorta works is to slam massive amounts of alcohol, but like you said that comes with drawbacks.

I wonder where i can get it.. one of those online Indian pharmacy sites maybe? I've had good luck getting prescription drugs from them. edit: What do you think of this site?

I would also like to try MDMA but have no idea where to get it.

I have no personal experience buying from the current sellers. It is still legally available as a research chemical in the US. The main issue is trusting that the supplier has sufficient quality control. Places that sell it are, Trafa Pharmaceutical, and edengrows.

You might be able to get an off label prescription from a doctor to pregabalin which might have similar effects. However, I don't have personal experience with anything similar to Phenibut, and they can often vary in effects significantly even though they are structurally similar. See:

If you hate the music, crowd and dancing then this seems like a doomed project. It's one thing if you actually like dancing but are too shy to engage but if you dislike the core activity then this seems like a bad idea.

Surely there are other things for you to do?

Secondly, you don't mentioning going with with friends... Did you go alone? That seems like a really bad idea, for a ton of reasons, and I understand if you were miserable if you did. Step one for enjoying to go to the club should be going there and enjoying dancing with your friends.

Yeah the friends thing is probably a big part of it. I go alone, because I have no friends to go with. My "friends" are pretty much just online at this point. Either they live too far away, or they're too busy, or they have to wake up early tomorrow, or they've already been there and decided it sucked, or... yada yada yada. Finding friends to actually do stuff with me IRL is like pulling teeth. So I go places alone, hoping to meet people that way, but they're all locked into their friend circle, warning each other about "stranger danger" from weirdo loners like me.

Do some activity that requires interacting with other random people if you want to meet new people.

Attend a class, join book club/amateur sports team/an orchestra/a choir/etc or volunteer.

People go in to these activities primed to interact with strangers (as opposed to the opposite in something like a club) which makes it a million times easier to establish new friendships.

Anyone have thoughts on the Huberman article run by NY Magazine? He apparently was dating 5+ women simultaneously, letting each of them believe he was only dating them, and therefore it would be safe to have unprotected sex.

My first reaction is: why did he need to lie about this? He lives in the polyamory capital of the world? Surely plenty of women would be down?

On further thought, I wonder if he didn't want to do the poly thing because you'd have to go through the process of electing a #1 girlfriend that you can swap fluids with, and then for girlfriends #2-5 you have to use condoms and that's no fun.

But on even more advanced thought, perhaps this is a signal that poly is actually pretty low status? If an adored sensitive smart hot famous-ish science-y guy can't even be honest about his sexual desires and find suitable partners, again, in the Bay Area (!), that suggests poly has a very, very long road to general acceptance.

I don’t think I care. Huberman (afaik) has never offered moral advice or implied moral superiority. He’s a neuroscientist who gives professional advice, which is different from a Jordan Peterson or a conservative podcaster who gives moral advice. If he’s lying to women to have sex with them (not a new phenomenon in the history of Man) that’s a personal matter. It’s more effective to just warn women not to dedicate themselves to high status men without assurances, as that is literally what marriage is for. Huberman is 48 by the way, that’s probably the more surprising aspect of the story. Impressed by both his time and testosterone management.

I've got a good quantity of thoughts on it, in that I've listened to a ton of Huberman stuff, bought supplements from Momentous, etc. and was sent the article by a ton of friends.

-- DeBoer wrote on it. He commented that the article feels five years out of date, in that it presents itself as a hit piece but fails to deliver the goods. At the height of #metoo it might have hurt Huberman's business, and tbh I'm considering downloading some episodes in case content disappears, but post Tara Reid it mostly gets a yawn except among fans and the bitter-end-feminists

-- This is a case where understanding Sexual Market Value and basic economics makes things a lot clearer. I mostly agree with @2rafa (as usual) on the normal ranking of male relationship states, though it needs a 6 or a 4.5 depending on the man: Never getting laid at all. What we're seeing here is largely Hubes in his 40s going from "Kinda lumpy looking Stanford professor" to "moderate internet celebrity" and that changed his dating options. He went from a guy who could get a normie girl at a 4 or a 3 on @2rafa's scale, to a guy who could get multiple internet hotties to work toward a 2 or a 1. I've never experienced anything like Huberman's level of celebrity, but his behavior largely mirrors at a larger scale my brief fuckboi phase at 18-19, when I realized that girls might actually want to sleep with me. There's a mix of suddenly feeling like a kid in a candy store, and a scarcity poverty mindset of feeling like you need to warehouse as many of these girls as you can because surely they're going to reject you any second now, a sort of sexual imposter syndrome where you can't let go of your old assessment of yourself. I've noticed this with a lot of men over my life, when they suddenly get rich or lose the weight or otherwise experience a glow-up. They fuck around, because they have the option to do so, and because it is novel and fun, and because they feel like the opportunity is fleeting.

-- This all clearly relates back to @Walterodim's post in the main thread about the urge to label fitness as fascist. They keep trying to hint darkly at Huberman's pipeline of "optimizers" and their weird habits. Given, I have a meathead tendency to want to know the bench press of everyone complaining about him, I really do think a lot of hatred towards Hubes and his Optimizers is simple jealousy. Fat out of shape slobs want the guys who wake up at 430am, meditate, lift weights, and take a cold shower to be losers for some other reason. Because to accept that Huberman is just doing things better than you are is a deep psychic injury, his actions must be evil for some unseen reason.

-- It's amazing how weaksauce their accusations of Charlatan-ry against Hubes are. Athletic Greens probably isn't as good as they say it is, but it isn't harmful either. And they didn't even touch Momentous in any detail, probably because they couldn't come up with anything. They couldn't point to any of his content that was really harmful. Either they didn't do any research, or he really is that whistle-clean. I do think that Huberman's podcast suffers from needing to put out content, though less so than most fitness influencers, with a constant stream of things you should be doing. Huberman, at least by his own account, actually does follow too many confusing protocols, claiming for example that he saunas regularly but puts an ice pack in his shorts to keep his balls chilly, which is just colossal levels of weird. Any given episode may be great, but trying to do it all at once will end in nonsense for most people.

-- There's this weird strain of thought among some extremely online femcels that a man who talks with emotional competence is actually a crypto-abuser using therapy-talk to manipulate women. I noticed this a lot on podcasts for the current season of The Bachelor, with Joey being regarded skeptically for trying to listen to girls play their Personal Trauma Cards and gas them up about how strong they are, with some women praising him and others engaging in Backlash because he's surely secretly evil. And for the most part I think what we're seeing with both Joey and Hubes is: they were being a good boyfriend, but they didn't pick you and that's upsetting because they were a good boyfriend. I got the feeling from the little we heard from these women that they would have been perfectly happy with Hubes if he had picked them.

-- Everybody, if you don't want shit like this to happen, don't commit and don't expect commitment until you get married, or at the very least are on a glide path to a definite date of marriage. Don't move in with a boy/girl-friend, for Christ's sake don't do IVF without a ring. If you like it than you should have (made him) put a ring on it. I have very limited sympathy for "cheating" in an LTR that seems to have no plans for marriage. You get what you put up with.

And for the most part I think what we're seeing with both Joey and Hubes is: they were being a good boyfriend, but they didn't pick you and that's upsetting because they were a good boyfriend. I got the feeling from the little we heard from these women that they would have been perfectly happy with Hubes if he had picked them.

This does definitely sound like the mirror image of the old nice guy meme about men who get mad when they're rejected.

As it turns out, it's pretty ego-busting to be rejected, especially by someone you really like, and think might be a great match for you. It hurts. A lot. I've been there. And it's very easy to turn immediately to the ego-defense mechanism of denial: "I never liked them in the first place." I'm sorry to say that long in my past, I was there too.

I wish we all could just get along, cooperate, be kind to one another, and derive gains from trade. But I'm disappointed in how sorrow so often leads to bitterness, and bitterness to hatred. I'm reminded of that surprisingly pithy Yoda quote: "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."

I'm going to disagree with you that Huberman did nothing wrong. I have a strong distaste for infidelity, especially at this scale. I suppose that comes from just good-faith disagreements we might have over relationship structure. And I don't think this is jealousy. Believe me or not, I'm not all that jealous of someone who chooses not to settle down -- ultimately I prefer monogamy and I see in it a lot of profound benefits that, especially as I've considered it in recent months, far outweigh whatever benefit comes from the alternative. And with the specifics of this case, to hide so much of his life from intimate partners just doesn't sound all that appealing to me -- but hey, I really like deep pillow talk!

Sometimes I worry discussions about dating ignore the diversity of considered preferences that exist out there in the world. I'm a man who, for the balance of my life, has preferred and pursued monogamy as a major life goal. There have certainly been moments where I've doubted that preference (as avid readers may recall), but I've always come back to my strong view that being interpersonally intimate with an exclusive partner is profoundly meaningful, one of the most meaningful things we have on this earth. For me, things like sexual market value and dating strategies are means to the end that is a loving relationship. I think this kind of true relationship becomes more than the sum of its parts, where sex and commitment bring forth not only children but the intimacy, companionship, and mutual fulfillment of a life spent thinking not of "me" but "us."

What strikes me about sex-and-dating discussions nowadays is the total poverty of romance. This is the lifeblood of the poets, the essence of many of our highest values! I don't recognize in them the sort of reckless abandon, or even passionate affection, that has characterized my dating goals since the day I first fell in love in my youth. Perhaps love is just rare. But in all these discussions about body counts and marketplace values and sexual relationship priorities, I see little emphasis on the possibility, however remote, that something profoundly great, sublime even, could ever emerge from an intimate connection with one's lover. It feels like a desacralized, mechanistic, optimized, even inhuman approach to life and love. Where is the lover about which the Bard wrote, who could "see Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt"?

Maybe that's just the internet in general -- happy people don't tend to post about their happiness, but bitter people post ceaselessly about their bitterness. And I see little value placed upon that most agreeable of words, "us," and all the value in the world placed upon the darkest and most tempting: "me me me me me me me." This happens not only in people's honest assessments of their current state, but even in their assesssments of what the ideal would look like. Has anyone ever heard of a dating thread where people talk about how passionate they are about romance and how much they want to spend their lives sacrificing and caring for another person? I presume the people who feel this way get eagerly snached up by the first person to realize it.

But nevertheless I continue to believe strongly in the significance of the Third Thing, the love that unites commitment to sex and alchemizes both into something greater and more enduring, about which cummings could write, "love is the every only god."

I'm going to disagree with you that Huberman did nothing wrong.

I don't really think Huberman did nothing wrong, just nothing worth a magazine article over, and certainly not something I should become aware of on Twitter.

Though to be fair, I put a significant probability on the outcome that, if we had theoretical perfect knowledge of events, Huberman actually didn't do anything wrong by NYMag's own standards of sexual ethics and that the weak accusations against him by ex-girlfriends wouldn't stand up to scrutiny. When you write a hit piece, and the best things you can come up with are pretty soft or vague or rely on personal recollections of interested parties, then I tend to doubt pretty heavily.

They couldn't point to any of his content that was really harmful. Either they didn't do any research, or he really is that whistle-clean.

There was also the complaint that he demonized alcohol, like this advice is so absurd that it's prima facie wrong and requires no further discussion. Even still, this is unfair as Huberman says in that same podcast he continues to enjoy drinking.

I think his claim that there's a scientific consensus that the best option is zero alcohol is pretty close to prima facie wrong, but it actually merits a fair bit of a discussion on how a bunch of smart people could wind up with a position that seems pretty silly when looking at the breadth of human history and performance. For me, it raises both safetyism and the overemphasis on low-quality empiricism as issues that color quite a bit of the optimization-minded landscape.

I thought the update (from more than the Huberman camp) is

  • studies that show any benefits to even moderate alcohol consumption were p-hacked
  • there aren't any health benefits at any amount
  • but there probably isn't significant harm from a small amount, like a drink a week

Is it even p-hacking, when it's so tricky to control for confounders here? IIRC if you just graph mortality vs outcome you get a robust "J shaped relationship", where moderate drinkers are healthier than either heavy drinkers or non-drinkers, but there are so many possible confounding variables (from the obvious "people with other reasons to worry about their health stop drinking" to "people with higher socioeconomic status are more likely to be moderate drinkers" to who knows what else) that any attempt to get a more causal result is going to necessarily end up with a bunch of arguments. It's also not entirely crazy that the effects of moderate alcohol could vary from subpopulation to subpopulation; e.g. if moderate red wine is bad for cancer risk but actually is good for heart disease risk then it might be a net mortality increase for some age/sex/athleticism levels and decrease for others.

Clearly we need an RCT where we find a few thousand moderate drinkers who aren't overly attached to the habit and have the ones who flip "heads" go cold-turkey. That's surely not going to trigger enough anti-experimentation bias to upset people, right?

There's this weird strain of thought among some extremely online femcels that a man who talks with emotional competence is actually a crypto-abuser using therapy-talk to manipulate women.

I don’t think it’s this. I think it’s that many women realize that there is a subcategory of men who pretty ruthlessly optimize every aspect of their lives to get laid and who don’t really care about any moral or ethical issues, telling the truth or whether people get hurt along the way.

What's the moral/ethical issue with optimizing for getting laid? Other than straight up lying, I can't think of anything, but lying is bad in any context.

I don’t think trying to get laid is necessarily bad, but lying to people and giving them STDs surely is, as is infidelity more generally.,

Okay, but those 3 things are not exactly what one thinks of optimizing for getting laid.

Nothing, really.

But it makes women feel less Wonderful, less of Strong Independent #BossBabes, the thought that they’re but passive objects, NPCs or lootboxes, for which men can strategize or play the numbers game.

Courtship and romance, from the view of women generally, should be something that just happens like a magical act of God.

It's amazing how weaksauce their accusations of Charlatan-ry against Hubes are.

Disclaimer: I don't know anything about this guy except what I've learned looking at the subreddit for a few minutes.

To me he pattern matches to the kind of guy who treats an observational study or one with dogshit controls (or, god forbid, an animal model) as something that should carry any weight (as long as it rejects the null, obviously). In some sense, I don't even blame him, because you can't put out multiple podcasts a week on for years on end about health interventions that are actually proven to work.

As for the supplements, I couldn't easily find a breakdown of micronutrients of CFUs in the product on their website, which makes me think it's bunk. It's probably not going to harm your health (unless it's got heavy metals) but spending $80 a month on a placebo is also a kind of harm. Bonus: the study they place front and center for benefits from the product is a single arm study with no control (see previous para).

As for momentous, it makes even less sense to me. AG1 at least has some special sauce. Momentous is just selling commodity supplements you can get from a million brands, except more expensive? I don't know how these companies stay in business.

Momentous' value add is supposed to be a focus on quality and purity above industry standard.

I'll offer anecdata: I bought the Tongkat Ali from them. I've used supps that claimed to have it before and noticed no difference. Using Momentos' I notice a BIG immediate difference in energy level, strength gains, and muscle/fat ratio when putting on weight. Maybe there's a cheaper source for pure stuff out there but idk where and I don't have time or energy to hunt around.

I do think he puts out quality content, but it's definitely too much content. For a normal human being, I'd encourage them to listen to one episode and follow it, don't try to do all of these things at once. His series with Andy Galpin was magisterial in terms of building a whole fitness program.

I'm glad it works for you, but tongkat ali is exactly the type of poorly studied supplement of dubious benefit that I'm talking about. If you don't miss the $50 a month then it's whatever, but for most people this is probably a waste of money.

As far as purity goes, I did not find any third party test results on their tongkat ali page, so I presume that the standards are probably about the same as other companies (otherwise they'd be trumpeting their results as other companies do).

I'm always torn on weightlifting and sports science studies. There are just so few really quality scientific studies done for weightlifting that even involves people at my pathetic level of skill. I'd love to only do what is scientifically guaranteed to work, but that just doesn't exist. Even the most basic bromides turn out to be based on pretty bad studies. I'm willing to be engage with anecdotal bro-science from people around me who are stronger than me, and guess-and-check to find what works.

Protein powder, water, sleep, healthy eating, lifting heavy weights often but not too often. There is no mystery to it. I was benching 1 rep max 350 as a 160 lb 6' dude in college using just this. Unless you're trying to win a contest you don't need to optimize. Helps to be a bit fat first and lose some weight.

I think that's a fine approach, what gets my goat is the people who conflate that with science. Let a thousand tongkat alis bloom, but it's laughable to pretend that there's scientific backing or that these studies should be taken seriously. The venn diagram of "works" and "science based" is not a circle.

I'd love to hear an AAQC post from you on the topic. In theory, science should be able to prove anything that works, with sufficient resources and time. So it's the case that if it works, it is science that hasn't been proven yet. Which I think is where the confusion sets in.

I suppose there is some subset of people who are automatically fooled by Dr. BroScience having Dr. in front of his name, but Hubes generally does a pretty good job of going over his material and what is scientifically proven, the state of the studies. Is he perfect? Probably not.

But with everything in the Rogan-Verse, I'm reminded how profoundly stupid the advice a man got in 2004 or so happened to be. Nothing is going to be 100%, but the attempt to gather knowledge is so much more advanced. The average bro is so much more educated, and conceives knowledge as so much more important, today than in 2004. That trend is important.

I'm not sure I have an effortpost in me about this, but I'll give it some thought.

In theory, science should be able to prove anything that works, with sufficient resources and time. So it's the case that if it works, it is science that hasn't been proven yet.

I'd disagree, science is fundamentally a process for discovering true facts. You can discover true facts via other processes, but that's not science.

Nothing is going to be 100%, but the attempt to gather knowledge is so much more advanced. The average bro is so much more educated, and conceives knowledge as so much more important, today than in 2004. That trend is important.

It's true, but how much more do we know about e.g. tongkat ali today than 20 years ago? Probably 20 years ago no Westerner had even heard of it, but all we have now is a small handful of low quality studies. The attempt to gather knowledge is more advanced but at the same time there is so much more to gather knowledge about, and there are so many things on the fringes that we know practically nothing about.

Eh... I was a bro in 2004, it was pretty much the same shit.

Anyone have thoughts on the Huberman article run by NY Magazine?

Didn't read it (and not going to) and only saw Meghan Murphy go off on the guy on Twitter, so only 2:

He apparently was dating 5+ women simultaneously, letting each of them believe he was only dating them, and therefore it would be safe to have unprotected sex.

My first reaction is: why did he need to lie about this? He lives in the polyamory capital of the world? Surely plenty of women would be down?

Have we really gone so far down the rabbit hole that the only moral lens we are allowed to look at things through is consent?

The second thought I have is, from the reactions to this and to a similar controversy that happened a while back (some bloke said he's doing polyamory in his tinder profile, but was otherwise heavily signaling "ready to settle down" and some ladies did not read the fine print), I'm getting the feeling that this scenario is the female-equivalent of divorce court horror stories, or at least it seems to bring up similar feelings of existential dread.

Have we really gone so far down the rabbit hole that the only moral lens we are allowed to look at things through is consent?

I mostly like Huberman but I think this is bad behavior. As per the article, I can't really imagine banging 5+ women and letting them each believe I'm exclusively with them (through either bald-faced lies or lies of omission) so that they feel safe being raw dogged.

My first reaction is: why did he need to lie about this? He lives in the polyamory capital of the world? Surely plenty of women would be down?

He didn’t want to do poly because as the article either states or strongly implies, he wanted to be able to sleep with all the women but for them only to fuck him, hence the two (or six) timing. This ties into him regularly shouting at his girlfriend for having children from a previous relationship:

When they fought, it was, she says, typically because Andrew would fixate on her past choices: the men she had been with before him, the two children she had had with another man. “I experienced his rage,” Sarah recalls, “as two to three days of yelling in a row. When he was in this state, he would go on until 11 or 12 at night and sometimes start again at two or three in the morning.”

I wouldn’t date someone who had previous children, but I like to think I’d have the self-awareness not to do it and then rage at them because of something I’d known about for years, while also cheating on them with (at least) five other people.

Most not-absolute-bottom-tier women won’t accept being in an actual harem, even for a moderately successful man (because it’s humiliating and very low status amongst women), and so he ‘had to’ lie to them to get what he wanted.

We can say that the general male preference in romantic relationships runs like:

  1. I can fuck many beautiful women, they can only fuck me (harem)

  2. My wife remains faithful to me, but I can go out and sleep with other women (one-sided poly)

  3. I fuck one beautiful woman, she only fucks me (monogamy)

  4. My girlfriend/wife and I both fuck other people (ie poly/swingers depending on exact nature of relationship)

  5. My wife has more partners than me (eg classic poly cuck scenario)

#3 is the only one that leads to a stable society, at large scale. The others all lead to a war of all against all, where every man is in competition with every other man for a scarce quantity of women. It leads to something like ISIS or the early years of Islam: endless warfare to either kill off the surplus men or acquire more women.

Zero - I fuck all the women, literally all of them, all 3.5 billion of them. biggest issue with him in that article, if it is accurate, is his fur baby behavior. I can't stand it when people treat pets as children and obsesses over them. I consider it a huge red flag as it signifies a lack of awareness and control, and a hijacking of paternal instincts.

*When they were together, he was buzzing, anxious. “He’s like, ‘Oh, my dog needs his blanket this way.’ And I’m like, ‘Your dog is just laying there and super-cozy. Why are you being weird about the blanket?’”

He was devoted to his bullmastiff, Costello, whom he worried over constantly: Was Costello comfortable? Sleeping properly? Andrew liked to dote on the dog,*

The fact that the dog features at all shows how weird he must be about it. I mean the article is actually a hit piece, but if it is true and the guy is out there giving HPV to people while lying about it, he sucks. Also seems proud to have "dark triad" characteristics and takes pleasure in deception.

It kind of seems like he made up his origin story out of whole cloth, he lied about his hardships to gain street cred. As the article says. "A story one could tell is: I overcame immense odds to be where I am. Another is: The son of a Stanford professor, born at Stanford Hospital, grows up to be a Stanford professor." Seems like a trend for these bro-science podcasters. If I have to hear about the 3 weeks joe rogan had to use a wheelbarrow one more time.

Agreed. Sounds like we've settled on: a man of Huberman's status can't organize a harem for himself and have it consist of high-tier women. If you're of Huberman's grade, you have women eager to date you but you need to mislead them about your relationship status if you want your harem.

So... how much more status do you need to actually pull this off? Can Sergey Brin get away with it?

Seems like a cultural issue rather than a status one. Mainstream western culture is horrified by the idea of a harem, even if its consentual. Almost by definition, no high status woman would agree to be in one. But it does seem to work in other cultures where its more normalized, like fundamentalist Islam and Mormons.

Sergey kind of has it although my impression is it’s with poly people. Eric Schmidt kind of has it, but only by leading on women about having a kid with him apparently. In general the status loss for a high status woman being a concubine is so significant it doesn’t happen often. To some extent if your definition of ‘high tier’ is young fashion models, Adnan Khashoggi had it in his prime, and he was a billionaire in the 70s and 80s when that was very, very rare indeed.

I've been trying, in the most casual way imaginable, to lose weight since the start of Lent. My basic strategy is: try to avoid truly terrible junk decisions with food, three days a week MWF eat nothing until 2pm and aim to stay light throughout. I also switched from a heavy lifting plan to more cardio and climbing, and swapped some supplements around.

I'm down seven pounds, putting me at 199. I'm looking to lose another two or three pounds, then reassess progress to make sure I'm not losing more strength than I'm comfortable with. Ultimately I'd like to continue to cut until I get below 195, which was a good weight for me long term for a number of years, before I change gears entirely.

I'll probably gain a pound or two back this weekend visiting the in laws for Easter, there's a lot of fluctuation just in simple stuff like that.

I can already notice a difference. Some of my clothing fits a little looser. My abs are a lot more visible, and other muscles are more distinct. Climbing is noticeably but marginally easier, seven pounds off every rep can add up. Definitely motivated to continue, though I suspect it will get harder from here or involve more tradeoffs.

My actual primary lenten pledge, giving up alcohol and weed, turned out to be pretty bullshit for me. Super easy. I've had to turn down drinks from people a couple times, and other than that it wasn't difficult for me. There was one moment I was tempted to get wasted because I was tired and upset and frustrated at work, but I just...didn't. People did it around me, my wife and friends, and I didn't care, was not tempted. I'm reminded that whatever the genetic status of addiction is, I didn't get that gene. Just, absolutely not on substances. Smartphones maybe. Junk food probably. But I have no susceptibility to alcoholism.

I kinda did the weightloss thing to coordinate with the sobriety, because I figured sobriety would keep me from making bad decisions. I'm a little worried that I need to manage use vs. weight going forward. We'll see.

How are you finding the cardio? It sounds like you and I have both similar exercise histories, and almost exactly the same weight lol.

I have really been considering following a similar plan to you; I just find it hard to make myself do cardio because it bores me. But it sounds like between that and diet you're having success that would make it worthwhile.

Diet makes up at least 80% of the reason for weight change. You don't strictly need cardio. Don't let that keep you from starting on a weight loss plan. Losing weight is pretty easy tbh. Just log your food intake for a while until you can keep a rough estimate of your daily intake of calories in your mind, and consume 300-500 fewer calories than what you burn. Simple.

Yeah, I already know that. It has been many years since I saw a weight loss thread on the Internet that did not contain that advice. It's true information, I don't dispute it.

I need to do cardio for my general physical well-being. Plus I like to play sports that involve running, and doing cardio will improve my performance and endurance.

Oh ok. How about interval training then? It's tougher, but less boring.

That's probably what I need to do, honestly.

Any suggestions for where to start?

Slightly contra @TowardsPanna, I don't think you should do interval training if cardio is a chore rather than a hobby. The injury risk of hard efforts are much, much higher than easy efforts while the rewards are not comparably disparate if you don't have a strong aerobic base. The vast majority of desirable aerobic and metabolic benefits are from easy effort, not from hard effort. Running fitness benefits greatly from sustained consistency and volume to a greater extent than short bursts and training that increases injury risk and burnout tends to come in short bursts.

Without further background, my first suggestion would be trail running. The combination of soft surfaces, slower paces, time in nature, and diminished boredom has substantial value.

anec-datally, I worry about multiple decades of Long Slow Distance as a training base for running. So many lifelong runners end up nearly unable to walk. Joints just ... go.

To that end, a lot my cardio is based around doing the long duration stuff in low impact activities; swimming and rowing machines. But, I intrinsically like running and so pretty much only do intervals for it. N-of-one-personal-report, this has resulted in an increase in all of my short and middle distance race times.

Am I off base, tho? I truly would enjoy input.

With regard to long-run results, I don't think the data is consistent with that and it doesn't really match my understanding of the biology either. Aging well is heavily governed by muscular fitness, VO2Max, and bone density, which all improve from running. For anecdata, I guess I see more runners aging well than aging poorly.

That said, even for someone whose primary focus is running, low-impact cardio is an amazing supplement. Most amateur runners aren't doing anywhere near enough low-intensity work to maximize the metabolic and fitness gains available from very easy aerobic efforts. Biking, rowing, swimming, even just simply walking all improve both aerobic fitness and fat-burning capacity. Parker Valby has become the fastest college women's 5Ker ever on three runs a week, using tons of cross-training to supplement the low running volume.

Ultimately, I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all solution. The standard advice for running faster at distance is that more volume is better as long as you don't get hurt, but that last caveat is so broad and totalizing that it makes figuring out individual optima really difficult. I certainly wouldn't worry about negative long-run consequences of volume if I wasn't getting hurt, but if I was constantly getting dinged up, I would rethink that. Likewise, if you're already doing a bunch of interval work supplemented by low-impact cardio, that's certainly a proven effective strategy and if you're not getting hurt, that's great.

The advice to go the other direction and focus on volume first is what I tell someone that doesn't have a program yet and is debating what to do. If you're not already a runner, I think starting on intervals is a bad idea because of the injury risk. If you're having success and you're happy with what you're doing, all's well.

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Anec-datally, many non-runners end up unable to walk. As with most sports, extreme performers will be prone to performance-related injuries. But I don't think there's any reason to believe that moderate running leads to debilitating joint health. You'll find a lot of conflictong studies and ways of looking at things.

Running sessions should probably be less intense than people normally think, and coupled with exercises to help form and general strength. Joints, bones and tendons are the most likely things to get injured from overuse, and take a lot of training to strengthen. Cardiovascular endurance in an untrained athlete improves much faster than tendon strength. Distance should be increased quite gradually, while paying respect to your ability to run with proper form.

I'm shit at cardio, hence the username. My rowing is going pretty well, I'm getting back towards a decent 2k on the erg after barely touching it for a while. Running, it's pretty shit. I'm mostly just trying to make myself run for longer time periods without worrying about speed. I can't really do a speed+time goal well at the moment, I'm bad at hitting moderate paces. On the erg I still have the leg strength to push a <1:30 pace for 250 meters, but I struggle sustaining a 1:55 pace for 2k.

I'm hopeful that working on cardio will carry over to conditioning in other goals, but either way I should improve it.

What's your take on dopamine detox?

Everyone's got a story about how they read so much back in the 90's/00's. But they pick up a book now, and... it's just not entertaining. We all know we can dopamine detox and make reading enjoyable again, but the corollary is quitting the hyper-stimulating activities everyone does nowadays. No TikTok, no Twitter, no mindlessly playing games while listening to podcasts. You'll be (roughly) just as stimulated after detoxing, but you'll be disconnected from the root of modern culture. Your opinions on culture will be less accurate because you're simply out of touch, like boomers reading newspapers.

OTOH, dopamine detox has huge benefits. Your mind isn't constantly bombarded with stimulation, so you can perceive subtleties and "flavor" in art more, like when you remove sugar from coffee. You perceive the world in a slower, calmer, more rational, interconnected way. You're around people less, so when you meet people IRL you're much friendlier and happy to see them. There is probably some balance to the dopamine situation, but it's hard to spot, so we mostly stimulate ourselves as hard as possible from FOMO, scared of falling behind the world.

I'm on a "dopamine detox" for 6 days of the week anyways because work, gym, side quests, errands takes up so much fucking time. This is a total 180 to how I used to live a year ago, where I was connected to the internet practically 24/7.

Being "connected" is a major fucking waste of time, effort and bandwidth. Sorry but no, knowing opinion #176785 of random twitter anon #454342 does me no fucking favors. What I gain from being a bit more quickwitted and charming by living an active, healthy and balanced life far far outweights knowing one more trivia about "the root of our modern culture", in the exact same thing you would want to be connected to the root of modern culture anyways.

So yes, a "dopamine detox" is very very recommended (even though it has nothing to do with dopamine at all). Seriously, Go Offline NOW.

However, I don't think scrolling is a heavy hitter here, the real heavy hitter for me was porn and masturbation. Stopping that was like unlocking natural adderall.

I’ve always seen the “I used to be a reader” thing as largely LARP. People want to seem like they’re better than they are so they claim that they “used to read so much,” when I can remember from my (pre-iPhone) days in high school, and people were not sitting around the hallways reading books and magazines and so on. They were socializing, talking about the opposite sex cuties, talking about sports and fashion. At home, I mean sure I occasionally read a book, but I think I and most of my peers were watching TV, playing sports or making art or something else. Books haven’t been a mainstay of leisure activities since the advent of television.

I think there might well be benefits to disconnecting from the hyper online culture we’ve created. And to me the main benefit is in hearing your own inner voice telling you what you’re actually like, the kinds of things you actually want to do, the things you really believe in and think about the world. The problem for me isn’t that “I suddenly can’t read a book”, it’s that the firehouse of information and entertainment that we are pushed to keep track of all the time tends to crowd out the individual you actually are.

I don’t think people are suddenly aware of more subtle nuances of art either. The difference is in the fact that you aren’t viewing it with thoughts about how other people react and without the pressure of trying to fit in with whatever tribe you’re a part of.

They were socializing, talking about the opposite sex cuties, talking about sports and fashion.

I wasn't doing that stuff. I was reading.

Today, I'm probably 99th percentile well-read but I rarely read new books. I can't decide if this is good or bad. I somewhat agree with Hanania's take that books suck:

I don't know. For me, reading a bunch of books to get from 99 to 99.9 percentile might not make sense. But if you haven't read seminal works of literature then it probably makes sense to read some more instead of getting more hot takes off the internet.

I'm in a similar position to you, but I still read a few books a year. I was a voracious reader until I was about 16, reading multiple fiction books a week. I'd go to a library, check out 10 books from the kid's section, read about five, and return the others(sometimes weeks late, to my parents' chagrin).

Sometimes I still devour books in a similar manner, where I'll read hundreds of pages in a week. But that's a rare occurrence. I think that's mainly because it's difficult to find books I enjoy. The majority of books I start simply don't engage me, and I can often force my way through, but I'll probably just be reading a couple chapters a week when I have absolutely nothing better to do with my time. But when I find a book I really like, I make time for it. When I was a child, I had much lower standards and there were a lot of engrossing books.

Also, I don't think there's ever been a "classic" that I've really enjoyed. The closest would probably be Animal Farm, Dune, and Lord of the Rings, but those were still books I forced myself through. The books I burn through are the modern page turners, stuff like Cradle or Dungeon Crawler Carl that are really popular on Reddit and have tons of action and tension. Sometimes non-fiction too, I like Frans de Waal's pop sci on animal intelligence a lot.

Everyone's got a story about how they read so much back in the 90's/00's. But they pick up a book now, and... it's just not entertaining.

I see similar comments on sites like this from time to time—“Oh, I hardly ever read anymore, no matter how hard I try”—and I always wonder if the speakers just discount reading Internet content for some reason. I also don’t read books like I did in the ’90s, but I spend an average of 5–6 hours per day reading on my phone, plus whatever additional time I spend reading on my computer.

I would certainly hope that reading on the Motte is more "useful" than the majority of wastes of cellulose that line the shelves of bookstores.

Yeah, if you're just looking at memes on /r/aww, that's a different matter, but my phone is a fucking portal to nearly the sum of human knowledge, it's a skill issue if someone can't make that improve their lives in some capacity.

“Dopamine detox” in the sense of abstaining from hyperstimuli and distractions and lesser pleasures is something everyone should do. It’s a spiritual practice in every religion. There are basic psychological reasons for how it works: the mind is limited, so learning something undesirable takes the place of something preferable; the mind is efficient, so it will choose easier pleasures over difficult pleasures; the mind is habit-forming, so it will form habits around easier pleasures rather than difficult pleasures; the over-justification effect will reduce your motivation to do difficult things after satisfaction from easier things; the difficult pleasures in life are vastly more satisfying than the easier pleasures, but we can’t easily grasp this with our limited mind, so we have to accept it on faith until we are mystically resurrected from the dead presented with these high experiences.

Trivial examples:

  • two bored kids in a math class, and one can use his phone. The bored and abstaining one will eventually and sporadically have his interest piqued by math, because that’s the only interesting thing going on. The one with the phone has no such motivation to ever pay attention in the classroom.

  • A man’s friends and crush are on the other side of a mountain, while he sits bored in a cabin. He will, one day, trek the whole mountain out of sheer human need. If he instead has a ton of distractions and drugs, he will never take those steps on the narrow path.

  • One person’s friends are reputable and wholesome. They give each other attention and affection for their good works. Another person’s friends are disreputable and corrupt. They only have fun being edgy and doing drugs. The former person’s character will change because only prosocial activity is reinforced; the latter person will be dragged down by his comrades, and wind up ”learning” that deleterious things are important — some of his mind is essentially worthless now, those months were a write-off.

  • One man is captivated by a virtuous crush, and molds his life so that it is aligned with what the crush wants. Another man is captivated by promiscuous women who just want to have fun. The former is going to be better for the longterm character and life of both.

The term “dopamine detox” is misleading, I think everyone here knows that, we can just call it mental purification or something, or mental detox. It’s not so much about longterm lowering of dopamine as purifying and filtering cognitive expenditure for that stimuli which leads to the highest reward. There’s no reason at all to bring in neurotransmitters here especially when we barely understand how dopamine and serotonin synergize.

like when you remove sugar from coffee

Agreed. Alas, I must confess that even coffee is a superstimuli which staves off the boredom.

With regards to the first part of your post, about dopamine - I don't have knowledge about that. I barely even have a pop-sci understanding of brain chemistry. So I make no claims about that.

But this does remind me of a subject I talk about with my friends a lot.

I am an extremely avid reader. I have never personally known anyone that reads as much as I do. I have always been this way; it's what I won in the "lottery of fascinations." Accordingly: I've never had the feeling of "I should be reading more" instead of gaming, scrolling, etc. I do those things some as well, but I read without having to make myself do it. And I don't find scrolling hyper-enjoyable compared to reading at all. I read a lot more than I scroll. I'm not making myself do that by an act of will, it's my real preference.

People have often said to me: "I should read more. I always want to read more than I do." And I get the sense when they say this to me, that they are imputing some sort of virtue to the act of reading, instead of doing other things. I think this is connected with the idea that people should be productive, that they should continually be improving themselves or producing something; and that commonly, reading books is thought of as a way of doing this.

I don't think that's untrue. I do think that it is better to improve one's self than to not do that; I think it's very easy to start doing "mindless" things and piss your life away in that way. Having said that, it's not as though reading is the only way to do that. One of my friends is a painter, and she paints often, and is continually trying to get better at it. She tries to read, and feels like she's forcing to, and I don't think that she has to do that. She could just as well not. The point is: if I tried to take up painting, I'd probably feel like I was always making myself do that, too. If you are of the mindset that people should do those improving things, painting is probably just as good as reading.

But if reading was enjoyable, and now it isn't, you can do other things as well. Personally I think it's bad to be a phone zombie, but there are probably things you can find stimulating, that can keep you away from your systems without it feeling like a huge effort. Furthermore: you may reach a point in life where you've mostly got it made (see @Walterodim below), and when you're not working, you might as well chill as you like. Only you can decide if there's anything wrong with that.

As a final thought: maybe I just haven't gotten dopamine-toxed enough to need detox, and so I can't relate to the thrust of what you are saying; but other people may be able to better.

Everyone's got a story about how they read so much back in the 90's/00's. But they pick up a book now, and... it's just not entertaining.

Personally I see it as two seperate issues.

First, phones/videogames/social media are addicting. I find myself messing around on my phone long after it is fun, just cycling between apps. For whatever reason that's hard to quit, even if doing almost anything would be more entertaining.

Second, I still read. Usually just before bed (highly recommend doing this instead of phone use before bed). But learning to enjoy books is hard if you don't read a lot. I don't think it's any different from other media; you have to develop and choose books that are to your taste. I distinctly remember reading many books as a kid and not liking them (I was a more voracious reader then). There are still books I read because I think they are valuable but not particularly viscerally enjoyable. But if you want to compare they joy from reading to the dopamine rush of social media, you need to read books you enjoy reading.

Sounds silly, but I think people have the tendency to choose books because they should read them rather than because they want to read them (self included). Go read a book meant for entertainment if you need a fun replacement to social media. Or don't be afraid to put a book down. Reading isn't inherently a slog, but some books are.

I have given it some thought and keep returning to the same question - what exactly am I trying to solve for? What do I think I'm depriving myself of by playing XCOM2 while listening to a podcast instead of reading a book or sitting in quiet meditation? As near as I can tell, the main thing I'm missing out on with this choice is some aesthetic sensibility that reading the book is what a smart, educated, in-control person should do.

To each their own, but when I do my best to look at my life objectively, I just don't see anything important that I'm missing out on with entertainment choices. I'm fit, healthy, monetarily comfortable, have great friends, a loving wife, and a generally placid, upbeat demeanor that friends and colleagues tell me they appreciate. While I do have some sense of nostalgia for the days when I consumed books voraciously instead of occasionally picking one up that catches my eye, I'm hard-pressed to figure out what would be different if I read more and listened to podcasts less. I like podcasts! I still learn things! When they're interesting enough, I go dig into the relevant information.

I think it's full of shit.

Unless you've overdosed on dopaminergic drugs (why'd you steal grandma's Parkinsons meds, the opioids look very different, oh wait she's detoxing from dopamine far more effectively than you can), then it's not an excess of dopamine that's causing you issues.

Even hand-waving that away and coming to the problem of super-stimuli in general, just because something is a super-stimulus does not necessarily mean that that's a bad thing.

Movies are super stimulus compared to live actors. Nobody particularly cares to blow up Hollywood on those grounds alone.

Reading a book is superstimulus compared to staring at a campfire and gossiping, and books weren't part of the ancestral environment. Anatomically modern humans 100k or even 10k years back out weren't cracking open tomes of literary fiction.

I have ADHD, so I have no need for excuses of modern superstimuli to account for my attention deficit, it was obvious from birth. And yet I read voraciously then, because it was more appealing than everything else, and I still do, even if my tastes have evolved and become far more niche. I'd read even more if there was more content that aligned to my particular interests.

McDonald's may be lowbrow, but it's an observed fact from its popularity that it's more appealing to most people than caviar is (and caviar's reputation as fancy is recent, it used to be peasant food and even served for free as an appetizer to coax you into ordering a drink in some parts of Russia), and while Japan has McDonald's, they don't have an obesity epidemic. Since we don't know why that's the case, we can hand out ozempic to Westerners and let them eat delicious food at cheap prices without killing themselves

Even something as genteel as coffee was once the source of enormous controversy:

European travelers to the Near East brought back stories of an unusual dark black beverage. By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe and was becoming popular across the continent.

Some people reacted to this new beverage with suspicion or fear, calling it the “bitter invention of Satan.” The local clergy condemned coffee when it came to Venice in 1615. The controversy was so great that Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene. He decided to taste the beverage for himself before making a decision, and found the drink so satisfying that he gave it papal approval.

I'm pretty sure the current Pope has a cellphone.

You perceive the world in a slower, calmer, more rational, interconnected way.

Sounds an awful lot like boredom to me. And I'm intimately aware of what that feels like, and would not for a moment trade the fruits of modernity for it. While boredom hasn't been cured, it's more bearable than it ever has been. If I need human company, I can keep my phone away, and I have ADHD, what's their excuse?

You're arguing aesthetics more than anything else. There's no reason to prefer black coffee over coffee with sugar barring personal taste and diabetes, humans like sugar. Some of us also like to be contrarian hipsters. I drink my coffee any way it's served, because I don't care.

It's a problem when one lives two completely different lives depending on if one is hooked or not, and especially when one of those lives is objectively better than the other by most personal and societal metrics.

And why shouldn't it be considered bad if people cannot choose to adhere to an aesthetic solely because their will is attenuated? I'm no puritan, but something isn't working here for a lot of people.

That's why I took pains to clarify that superstimuli are not necessarily bad, it's that the ones that people get into a hubbub about that are being selected for being bad for you in some way.

Modern music is superstimuli, fucking Mozart is superstimuli. Food with spices added is superstimuli. The main consideration is that this form of enjoyment far outstrips anything in the ancestral environment, not that its bad for you. We just call them out more when they are. If it could make a caveman or medieval peasant fall to their knees, it counts.

And why shouldn't it be considered bad if people cannot choose to adhere to an aesthetic solely because their will is attenuated? I'm no puritan, but something isn't working here for a lot of people.

Just because you like an aesthetic doesn't mean the universe is obligated to make it easy. I'd love to be ripped, I don't blame smartphones for not being there.

If you think smartphones are a distraction or you prefer hiking over Netflix, then find out a way to minimize smartphone use. They are not so utterly overpowering that you have no other choice, not in the way someone can turn you into a heroin addict against your will.

We do have solutions for willpower, I happen to fall outside the normal range for it/executive function to the point it's a detriment in my life, so I get to take ADHD meds. Ozempic, if it wasn't amazing enough already, has evidence suggesting it solves the issue of addiction in many cases, such as food addiction, gambling and even alcoholism (!!)

What you are not going to achieve anything with is "dopamine detox", which besides being a frankly retarded name, doesn't seem to provide any longterm relief to its adherents. The majority who try it end up back on the phone after a few days. Try something else, and the problem isn't that big of a deal in the first place for most.

I don't share what seem to be your firm beliefs here. I think the jury, so to speak, is still out on the effects of smartphones on attention spans or the brain generally. I think it's going to take a longer time than we've had to know. No matter how thrilling and convenient they become.

I was filling out the ACX survey the other day and I ticked the boxes to indicate "I didn't have the internet growing up." I was in my mid-thirties when I got my first smartphone. I have read your views elsewhere that the good old days weren't so good, and perhaps from the perspective of current comfort that has a certain ring of truth ("They had no refrigeration or antibiotics or even sanitation, etc etc") but I also believe you personally are rather an extremist when it comes to modernism (I use that word idiosyncratically {my phone is telling me that is not a word} to mean something like futurism and a love for technology). I could be reading you wrong, of course. (That's probably a pun.)

I sometimes long for the idle days of youth, not so much for me because I have memories. But that my boys don't have this. Ranging up and down pecan groves with the shells crackling under my sneakers, just wandering in the woods looking for arrowheads or sitting still up in a tree hoping to see wildlife. I'm sure this sounds maudlin (it does even to me as I type it) but my teenagers might well never have these experiences of stillness and just observing the world. Of course you may counter "What's stopping them?" and you'd be right on the surface, but I often ask them on weekends if they'd like to go for a walk with me (we live in a very walkable, pretty interesting area near a massive forested park) but the tune of their electronics (YouTube, whatever's on Prime, their PS5) is inevitably far more attractive. Just teens being teens? I'm sure that's part of it; that certainly must be part of it. And of course old man's gonna old man.

I feel the same about drugs like Ozempic in that their long-term effects are not yet known. One always pays the piper eventually, at least in my experience.

I was filling out the ACX survey the other day and I ticked the boxes to indicate "I didn't have the internet growing up." I was in my mid-thirties when I got my first smartphone

Neither did I. My parents were luddites about things like giving their kids phones or internet access, I was probably past 16 when I first got a decent smartphone and a broadband connection. It's too long ago for me to resent them for it, but it was a stupid decision then and remains that way.

So I certainly am not so young that I don't remember a time when television and books were your best bet for entertainment, I happen to remember being rather dissatisfied with that state of affairs, and even more when it was artificially prolonged. I certainly didn't enjoy nature much at that time, but maybe it's all the mosquitoes that sour me on them.

As you correctly state, I think modernity is the best things have ever been, though I can happily acknowledge that people can have different tastes and there are certainly normal people who still pine for the uh, pines, and love being outdoors and on the trail. It just isn't my cup of caffeinated beverage. The majority of people do have that option, like your kids, and find other things more attractive. I understand that can be painful for you, given how dear that experience is to your own heart.

I feel the same about drugs like Ozempic in that their long-term effects are not yet known. One always pays the piper eventually, at least in my experience.

This kind of belief always confuses me. Many people seem to have an adversarial relationship with the universe, as if there's some ironclad law of Equivalent Exchange, and that because a simple pill has had so many positive benefits, there must be a catch somewhere, maybe it causes brain tumors fifty years down the line or something.

Thankfully, that isn't how things work. Semaglutide/Ozempic was known to be safe when it was first approved for diabetes a good while back. Then said diabetics began to lose an incredible amount of weight. Some drugs for diabetes cause weight loss, but not nearly as much, some even cause weight gain. This was so surprising they looked into it further and then were so blown away they decided to apply to the FDA for another trial to treat just obesity alone.

And then, after it was approved for that purpose, doctors noticed it was suddenly curing alcoholism and gambling addictions. It's basically an anti-superstimulus drug to a degree.

It is also extremely safe, the only negative consequence of note is occasional constipation in some people, and loss of muscle with the fat, which is a common issue for any treatment that causes rapid weight loss, be it gastric bypass surgery or fasting. The benefits still outweigh the risk enormously.

Your suspicion is highly unwarranted, all the more because other people with the same kind of suspicion have done their best to find something horribly wrong with it and failed to turn anything up.

The universe is apathetic, not evil. We can occasionally find ourselves a good thing, ozempic seems to be one of them.

You're arguing aesthetics more than anything else.

From experience, more accurately. I've done this myself, I was stuck with a shelf full of Dickens for 2 weeks without internet. The mental effects are real, even for someone who ticks the "ADHD" boxes.

Dopamine in all its forms is a thing. You would need to make a serious lifestyle change and be happy with it to step back from it.

I've looked into this, done detoxes (including meditation retreats etc). If in your heart of hearts you don't wish to leave the dopamine alone then you won't.

Oxytocin is meant to be a curb on dopamine. If you have a good social network and feel loved and happy and safe, perhaps you'll be able to curb it.

I suppose there are probably objective experiments that prove it, but I don’t know how true it really is that TikTok is hyperstimulus compared to books. Sure, sometimes I open a book and the words look like a blur and I don’t have the attention span to continue, but sometimes I scroll on these dopamine apps or play a video game and feel the same feeling, that I just don’t care to do it and everything’s boring.

I strongly suspect that while there’s a core of scientific truth, much of the whole theory surrounding dopamine up/downregulation is conjecture built around a kind of minimalist, de-stress, meditation-heavy wellness lifestyle that is largely a class signifier more than anything else.

It’s kind of like the moment in The Road where the kid who never grew up pre-apocalypse tries Coca Cola and it’s so good because he’s never had it before and is presumably used to much plainer and less flavorsome food/drink. We have this idea that if we live some ascetic lifestyle (forced or by choice) that even the ‘simplest’ pleasures - a good strawberry, a classic novel, an old black and white movie, a beautiful sunset - will be so much better because we’re not constantly experiencing pleasure.

I’m very skeptical that that is true. I think, instead, that some people are able to enjoy life more than others, and that this is likely largely biological/genetic.

In support of your point, here is Dostoevsky writing long before even the most elementary super stimulus:

Even now, so many years later, all this is somehow a very evil memory. I have many evil memories now, but ... hadn’t I better end my “Notes” here? I believe I made a mistake in beginning to write them, anyway I have felt ashamed all the time I’ve been writing this story; so it’s hardly literature so much as a corrective punishment. Why, to tell long stories, showing how I have spoiled my life through morally rotting in my corner, through lack of fitting environment, through divorce from real life, and rankling spite in my underground world, would certainly not be interesting; a novel needs a hero, and all the traits for an anti-hero are expressly gathered together here, and what matters most, it all produces an unpleasant impression, for we are all divorced from life, we are all cripples, every one of us, more or less. We are so divorced from it that we feel at once a sort of loathing for real life, and so cannot bear to be reminded of it. Why, we have come almost to looking upon real life as an effort, almost as hard work, and we are all privately agreed that it is better in books. And why do we fuss and fume sometimes? Why are we perverse and ask for something else? We don’t know what ourselves. It would be the worse for us if our petulant prayers were answered. Come, try, give any one of us, for instance, a little more independence, untie our hands, widen the spheres of our activity, relax the control and we ... yes, I assure you ... we should be begging to be under control again at once. I know that you will very likely be angry with me for that, and will begin shouting and stamping. Speak for yourself, you will say, and for your miseries in your underground holes, and don’t dare to say all of us—excuse me, gentlemen, I am not justifying myself with that “all of us.” As for what concerns me in particular I have only in my life carried to an extreme what you have not dared to carry halfway, and what’s more, you have taken your cowardice for good sense, and have found comfort in deceiving yourselves. So that perhaps, after all, there is more life in me than in you. Look into it more carefully! Why, we don’t even know what living means now, what it is, and what it is called? Leave us alone without books and we shall be lost and in confusion at once. We shall not know what to join on to, what to cling to, what to love and what to hate, what to respect and what to despise. We are oppressed at being men—men with a real individual body and blood, we are ashamed of it, we think it a disgrace and try to contrive to be some sort of impossible generalised man. We are stillborn, and for generations past have been begotten, not by living fathers, and that suits us better and better. We are developing a taste for it. Soon we shall contrive to be born somehow from an idea. But enough; I don’t want to write more from “Underground.”

Writing as mass literacy in Russia began to appear, Fyodor saw his generation being divorced from life based on ... Books.

even the ‘simplest’ pleasures - a good strawberry, a classic novel, an old black and white movie, a beautiful sunset - will be so much better because we’re not constantly experiencing pleasure.

some people are able to enjoy life more than others, and that this is likely largely biological/genetic.

Both these statements are true. The baseline for pleasure is roughly fixed from person to person -- some people are just happier than others -- and because it's fixed, our brains will adapt to any lifestyle/level of stimulation and balance it out. If you suddenly read nothing but 1800s novels, you'd be bored as hell for a week, but eventually the brain will adjust and the novels will hit harder.

This is intuitive. Reverse it: If things didn't work this way, wouldn't the average person be bored out of their minds 2000 years ago? If we can mindlessly scroll TikTok and only feel moderately entertained/content, wouldn't some European peasant feel an absurd lack of stimulation 24/7 back then? If the brain does not balance stimulation like this, this logically has to be the case. Otherwise, the average TikTok/Twitch user must be absolutely thrilled the whole time, which doesn't pair with experience. They watch streams with a bland expression, apparently not more excited than an old man reading the papers.

This is intuitive. Reverse it: If things didn't work this way, wouldn't the average person be bored out of their minds 2000 years ago?

OK, reverse it again: why do people who have access to TikTok (ie. are not diligently disciplining themselves to avoid it) and who use modern social media still read classic novels or long-form, low-stimulus, black-on-white text at all? Why are we here? For some people it might be some heroic effort to strip themselves of any modern dopamine hits, like that guy who asked for help to make his screen black and white last week. But most don’t seem to have that issue. It just doesn’t take any effort from me to be here over TikTok; I’d rather be here, and that’s not because I think this place is ‘better’ for me, it’s because I think it’s genuinely more entertaining.

I think people extrapolate from the mouse orgasm-button experiment (?), but TikTok isn’t an orgasm, which is inherently more pleasurable than not-orgasm. That TikTok is more pleasurable than reading is unclear, scientists can measure brain activity but this doesn’t fully answer the question.

I don't use TikTok either; Gave it a shot, but the app felt boring.

why do people who have access to TikTok (ie. are not diligently disciplining themselves to avoid it) and who use modern social media still reading classic novels or long-form, low-stimulus, black-on-white text at all?

Do you know a lot of people that regularly read for fun? Maybe I'm in the wrong places but everyone I've met says, "I want to read more but it's too difficult." Reading is considered a past-tense thing; something we all used to do, but which nobody can really enjoy nowadays except (usually) people into science fiction and fantasy.

I think this misses some gradation. The core claims, that people have a relative set-point of happiness and that hedonic adaptation negates the pleasure of many things, those I think are true, but I also think they go too far. I don't have empirical evidence for this, only personal experience and appeals to others to consider their personal experience. Nonetheless, a few examples:

  • Food - I really love burgers. After decades of life, having tried many different foods, including expensive Michelin Star restaurants, fancy steaks, high-end sushi, there is still nothing that hits better for me than just a really good cheeseburger. I don't seem to have experienced any hedonic adaptation on this front, in fact. Every time I bite into a perfectly cooked burger, it is delightful all over again, the same way that it has been since I was a kid. I do not think simply eating bland foods could result in me enjoying those bland foods the same way I enjoy regular cheeseburgers.

  • Flying - On this one, I will grant that there is massive hedonic adaptation, that the first-time experience of anything is very different from doing it again and that things can start blending into the background. Nonetheless, I have traveled a lot, and first-class international flights still give me a sort of childlike joy. The sense of traveling thousands of miles while having genuinely good food and a cozy place to sleep doesn't seem to be something that I can just adapt to and not notice. I do not think people that take the same trips, but are stuck in steerage, actually have the same experience and relationship to flying that I do.

  • Work - Having worked in manual labor prior to having a real career, then a decades in research labs, then a decade in software, I am very confident that I do not fully adapt to my conditions. I fucking hated grad school. It made me miserable. I didn't hate my postdoc quite as much, but man, it still made me miserable, almost to the point of despair at times. I didn't adapt to this being my norm, I was just way less happy than I was after I switched careers and got an easier job with way more monetary reward.

  • Relationships - Seriously, there's just no goddamned way you're going to convince me that I have a set-point that I return to. Not even close. No way. Being single sucks, being in a bad relationship sucks even more, but being in a happy marriage is awesome. You might get so accustomed to being in a relationship with someone that makes you unhappy that you forget that there are other options, but really, you're going to be much less happy than in a good relationship. I don't know how anyone that has had a chaotic, messy, toxic relationship and then later a fantastic one could think that they just arrive at a set point.

My own life makes me pretty thoroughly reject the idea that I have some happiness set point that I move back towards. While you're not going to be comically jubilant at literally all times of the day even with a very good life and it may be possible to still have nice peaks when you're not happy with life, the differences in the valleys are genuinely enormous.

Humans vary a great deal, and the hedonic treadmill and recalibration has strong evidence even if it doesn't overwhelm literally every human. Consider yourself lucky it doesn't seem to be an issue for you.

Besides, those concepts do not claim that happiness and joy can't exist. Otherwise opioid addicts would eventually stop outright as they get bored. They certainly develop tolerances, but the actual enjoyment remains the same with ever increasing doses, it's downregulation in other aspects that makes them need bigger doses till the point the side effects become lethal.

Plus the recalibration works both ways, it might well be that even a day or two is enough to reset your enjoyment of a cheeseburger, whereas if you were (somehow) given a dozen cheeseburgers in a row and an infinite stomach, you'd be rather bored of them by the end if you went through like a train.

The problem is the application of downregulation theory to subjective experiences. The hedonic treadmill applies to opioids, the suggestion that TikTok is more pleasurable than some arbitrary other kind of media is complete, evidence-free conjecture, because unlike opium the amount of enjoyment obtained from media is very dependent upon many different factors. You’re also confusing the hedonic treadmill with novelty. They’re related but not the same thing. The hedonic treadmill is solely about returning to a biological baseline happiness, it says nothing about differences between media or why using TikTok everyday would make looking at a sunset less fun.

I think people are largely happy or unhappy, and the ‘hedonic treadmill’ is mostly about the ways in which that naturally unhappy proportion of the population cope.

What is the hedonic treadmill but a consequence of a series of subjective experiences?

A disabled person experiences the utter horror of being disabled. He's still disabled later, and subjectively experiencing all the issues that brings (alongside coping mechanisms), and yet his mood trends back to where it began. The same for the suddenly rich lottery winner, though presumably the more modest but sustained gains from those who earn a lot of money (I don't think the studies were on net worth, rather income) leads to higher well-being longterm.

These are almost certainly not the same as the downregulation of opioid receptors in addicts, but they're all examples of the body's stubborn desire to achieve homeostasis. It's the ultimate Nothing Ever Happens Chud of all time. Then when shit does happen, I come in.

It's all homeostasis, be it becoming inured to a single form of once novel stimuli, or to the gestalt impression of all the things that act on your mood.

I think people are largely happy or unhappy, and the ‘hedonic treadmill’ is mostly about the ways in which that naturally unhappy proportion of the population cope.

Some people are certainly happier or unhappier by default than others. What the hedonic treadmill claims is that they tend to revert to whatever that default is. It does not rule out variance between people or even within the same person, simply that in the latter case it will almost inevitably converge.

Humans vary a great deal, and the hedonic treadmill and recalibration has strong evidence even if it doesn't overwhelm literally every human. Consider yourself lucky it doesn't seem to be an issue for you.

I guess this is the core of what I'm objecting to. As mentioned, I buy that the claim that the treadmill and recalibration are real, but I am very skeptical of any purported evidence for the idea that it's totalizing. To be a bit snarky about it, I think it's basically a coping mechanism, similar to the misinterpreted evidence that happiness and satisfaction don't improve above a certain income. That might be nice if it were true, that once you're above some threshold it doesn't matter anymore, but when I search both myself and the people I see around me, it just seems pretty clearly false to me. Does it not feel that way to you?

The hedonic treadmill is very much not a cope. Paraplegics recover to baseline happiness in months and so do lottery winners. It's one of the more robust findings in psychology.

But claims that money doesn't buy you happiness are bunk, it does, even if it has diminishing returns and is more of a log scale. There have been plenty of recent papers on it, of pretty high quality. Obviously when you get into the realm of multi millionaires and then billionaires, good luck getting a proper sample size, but for anyone who doesn't have 7 digits or more, money will make you happier, just not linearly.

I share this scepticism. I scroll tik-tok and YouTube shorts when I have literally nothing else to do. I'd rather read new posts on themotte, read a long form story that exceeds 1000 pages, listen to a multi hour podcast while playing a 100 hour save file on a video game, or watch a good movie.

I choose the long form stuff because I usually enjoy it more. I have a frustrating lack of short term things I enjoy. Lately I've just been playing sudoku to kill 5-10 minute waiting spots. But I find it very unsatisfying.

Yeah, I mean clearly the fact that we’re here reading 20,000 words a week of other people’s cultural commentary suggests wordswordswords can be as or more compelling than TikTok.

You cannot detox from dopamine, but nitpciking aside, it is always good to be less stimulated and extremely thoughtful, I wish I could do it successfully so I do wish you luck. Reducing screen time besides work is always great.

As for "news", I have read enough political material to know what is what in the world thanks to being on this forum so I do not need to read the news, you can always check stuff out occasionally but there is no benefit in knowing everything if you cannot do much with it, as internet surfing does make you worse at whatever you do. Quitting and then being really really mindful should be ideal.

Ah, fixing my sleeping pattern at 65 was quite the journey, but I'm proud to say I've finally cracked the code. Firstly, I realized the importance of establishing a consistent bedtime routine. I started winding down an hour before bed, turning off screens, dimming the lights, and enjoying a calming activity like reading or listening to soft music. This signaled to my body that it was time to prepare for sleep.

Secondly, I made my sleep environment conducive to rest. I invested in a comfortable mattress and pillows, ensured the room was dark and quiet, and adjusted the temperature to a cool, comfortable level. Creating a tranquil sleep sanctuary helped me drift off more easily and stay asleep throughout the night.

Thirdly, I prioritized relaxation techniques to quiet my mind before bedtime. I practiced deep breathing exercises, meditation, and gentle stretching to release tension and promote relaxation. Letting go of the day's stresses and worries allowed me to transition into sleep more peacefully.

Lastly, I stayed consistent with my sleep schedule, even on weekends. I set a regular bedtime and wake-up time, avoiding naps during the day to regulate my body's internal clock. Over time, this consistency helped train my body to fall asleep and wake up at the same times each day, leading to a more restful and rejuvenating sleep.

I miss the past a lot at times. My time as a startup founder has been brutal, we are figuring out ways to make high revenue and I am still a hermit living with my parents because of how transitional things are right now so that we save money. However on days when I work really hard, I feel peace. It is just that I always feel that life was better back then, in some made-up revisionist timeline that does not exist. My family saw an exponential rise in their standard of living these past 20 years (I am 23) and I keep wishing to go back to being a kid or be a teenager even though I know that life was objectively way worse. I have agency to make an impact on the world, make money, make good friends, learn things I could not have conceived of, meet women and whatnot but I still feel uneasy for some reason. It has gotten to the point where I think about vacations when I work and think of work on my vacations and can never be in the present moment.

The guy who is teaching me inner work and meditation recommended a combination of focusing (the book and practice by Eugene Gendlin) and meditation alongside abstinence from screens and more consistent work and sleep hours but I still feel like I am somehow stuck in mud mentally and never good enough or that if my startup fails, I am fucked for life and since I already am low, that possibility is an inevitability. It is a downward spiral I wish to avoid. I wish to live life going forwards, not backwards, perhaps I should learn to ignore my thoughts if after doing all that he recommends and making headway into my startup does not change my outlook. Would appreciate any tips on this.

Also, I have been regular to the gym for three straight months now, I am not doing the HIT/Isometric stuff but visit the gym 3x a week and do 3 sets for like 7 different lifts, I copped my program from this French guy named Natural Hypertrophy from youtube and have seen zerminimal changes even though I have added weight to all my lifts. Might be because I only get 6 hours of sleep each night and I am skinny fat (75kgs/165lbs at 6 foot/182cm, started eating like a pig and sleeping badly since last year) but regardless, I will stick to this for a year. I dunno if I can add MMA too because of time constraints. I just wish to not look terrible for once. I don't fit into my small-sized vests as well as I did and my arms have minimal definition but that is not encouraging at all. My calories are the same since I do not wish to go to 30 per cent bodyfat.

Have a great week folks!