Links for November 2022

Jeff Nobbs and Zero Acre Farms released a white paper titled How Vegetable Oil Makes Us Fat, which is partially a response to the questions we raised in response to Nobbs’ previous work in Interlude E: Bad Seeds of A Chemical Hunger. We’ve read the new piece and are going to discuss it with Jeff and the rest of his team, and we’ll put out more posts if the discussion changes our mind about the role of vegetable oils in the obesity epidemic.

Do children prefer candy or potatoes? It’s not the most rigorous experiment of all time, but this informal halloween study by @jana_pruden suggests that many if not most children prefer the potato (as do 77% of twitter respondents). Someone should do a replication, maybe next halloween? 

Hacker News comment claiming that it is 100x brighter outside than inside. “I bring this up because one of the largest factors in myopia development appears to be outdoor light exposure in childhood.”

The Washington Post interviews “Twitter king” @dril. Speaking of @dril: time to get a new car, the Eminem song.

If you’re worried about the death of twitter, why not move to Twitter 2, a Google form and Google doc maintained by a math professor at the University of Toronto.

Early tech queen Susan Kare draws in MacPaint. This woman can do more with an ellipse tool than most of us can do with all of Photoshop. 

Big new investments in induction stoves. This is crazy exciting if it pans out (get it? pans???) because seriously, when was the last time we saw a common household appliance get 10x faster? This will probably be really good for indoor air quality, our free tip for the induction stove teams is to measure nitrogen dioxide and shit and use that comparison in your marketing materials. You’re welcome 😉 

Roman Emperor previously believed to have been fake may have been real — Authenticating coins of the ‘Roman emperor’ Sponsian

Maarten Sap argues that large neural networks like GPT-3 don’t seem to develop theory of mind, a basic element of human social cognition.

Ada Palmer writes a post about one of the most radical ideas of the American Experiment: that all people can benefit from education. “If given a good teacher, a good reading list, and some newspapers, all human beings, or at least the overwhelming majority of them, will become capable of wise judgment and self-rule.”

National Library of Scotland tool that lets you peer through modern satellite photos into old maps, among other neat features.

Simon Sarris on twitter argues that B12 deficiency is common, and may be the cause of what is often diagnosed as anxiety, executive dysfunction, depression, and even autism. If he’s right, this would be pretty easy to study and would be an amazing finding. We haven’t gotten a chance to take a close look yet, curious to know if people think this theory is plausible.

A reader sent us this: Tire particles can impact fresh water

@CollinLysford shares an interesting test from @qkate that claims to reliably distinguish between chronic fatigue and depression. Ask your patient, “if you felt completely better tomorrow, what would you do?” If they go, “idk”, it’s depression. If they describe a huge list of things they would love to pursue, it’s chronic fatigue. Whether or not this test actually works for depression vs. CFS, Collin is entirely right that this is the kind of “ontological firepower” we need more of.

Command+F to search documents for text strings has changed scholarship. Tools like this OpenAI API from Dwarkesh Patel will change it even more.

Vice: Feds Seize One of the Largest Sites for Pirated Books and Articles, Z-Library

Historicizing the Self-Evident: An Interview with Lorraine Daston

The Guardian: ​​No one in physics dares say so, but the race to invent new particles is pointless. (We’d be curious to hear thoughts on this one from physicists in the audience.)

What it’s like to dissect a cadaver

Dapplegrim is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in their Norske Folkeeventyr. A man comes home to find that his parents are dead and his elder brothers have split up the family fortune — all he’s inherited are 12 mares, each of which has just had a foal. He praises the most beautiful foal, which tells him he should kill all the other foals and let it drink the milk of all 12 mares for a year. The young man is like “sure sounds reasonable” (“Yes, the lad was ready to do that; so he killed all those twelve foals, and went home again”), kills the other foals, and comes back a year later to find the foal “so fat and sleek, that the sun shone from its coat”. Events escalate to the point where the man and the giant horse go to hell and kidnap the Devil’s horse to win the hand of the princess in marriage.

9 thoughts on “Links for November 2022

  1. vetaro says:

    Dapplegrim seems to exist in an adjacent reality to Horse Master: The Game of Horse Mastery ( ) with just as normal and well-treated animals (just uh, *general* cw for all kinds of uncomfortable stuff. It’s very good if you can deal with that, like 30 min long, but it’s so short that the exact content warnings would tell you too much about what’s in it)


  2. Michael Eaton says:

    I think your characterization and extrapolation of Simon’s Twitter thread is problematic.

    First off, his central point is that the relationship between B12 and these neurological issues is already well-studied. His concern is primarily focused with the failure of medical practice to correctly detect B12 deficiency due to inadequate diagnostics, especially following the addition of folate to the fortification mandate in the early 00s.

    This is not a research question at all, this is the business of clinical practice. The disconnect between research and clinical practice is something that comes up over and over again in all corners of healthcare to the detriment of patients everywhere.

    The other thing here I am concerned about is an over-generalization of Simon’s remarks about the prevalence B12 deficiency. You imply that “B12 deficiency is common.” Simon’s actual tweet says:

    “Forgetfulness, Social withdrawal, Paucity of speech, Apathy, Sleepiness, Weakness, Limping

    Complete Remission After Treatment With B12 Shots

    surprisingly common. You all have a vegan friend with “anxiety”.”

    What he’s actually saying is that anxiety disorder is “surprisingly common” in people who have diets that are predisposed towards B12 deficiency.

    As someone who is an advocate for serious thinking about nutrition as an element of health & wellness, I’m all too aware of true-believers and industry shills who latch onto simplistic arguments that are bad for patients and consumers and serve to reinforce thinking by cynical physicians whose paradigms are captured by big pharma. (This is a good spot to note Simon’s other observation that multivitamins often deliver nutrients in chemical forms that are functionally useless.)

    All that said… if any of your readers are vegans/vegetarians, y’all have real work to do in order to ensure that you’re getting proper nutrients that are typically most available in animal products.


  3. drew070 says:

    How is that induction hob ten times better than my (or anybody’s) induction hob at home? I never really measured, but it certainly does not take 6.67 minutes to boil one litre of water on mine (in that time, it can probably boil at least 5 litres, probably more). They are using fairly large pan for just one litre. Not sure about the physics but bigger bottom surface probably means faster cooking. If I used a large pan with a lid to boil one litre of water on my standard induction, I guess I could get it to boil under one minute too.

    Don’t you guys in the US commonly use induction? Are you that backwards???


    1. J says:

      The hob doesn’t pretend to heat water faster than other induction hobs. It reduces the cost of installation by using a rechargeable battery so that it doesn’t need to pull tens of amps from the mains to work. You could charge the battery on Economy 7 night rate.


      1. drew070 says:

        Well, I was commenting on the link of ten-time speedup of a common house appliance. I think that is misleading (induction is alread common). Also, I doubt the results, I have some experience of gas hobs and induction hobs and induction might be slightly faster, but definitely not ten times faster. I doubt that comparison was fair in not using the maximum power of the gas hob (or using a weird gas hob). As far as I know, inductino is probably less energy intensive (but again I doubt ten-time difference).

        If I understand it correctly, the main beneficiary would be island installations, no? At least in my country (Czechia) the electricity installations are quite often more or less ready for induction (my mother installed it in a house build in the sixties, cable with 380V was just there, despite her using a gas hob before). I guess in the US it might be different so I guess it might have its uses.


  4. J says:

    “B12 deficiency is sadly well studied but no one cares. Like this child, it is why Greta looks 12 even though she’s 19. You can diagnose it from 1000 miles away.”

    If this is so well established, and so easily diagnosed, why is the tweeter quoting a study that establishes correlation rather than an experiment that show the efficacy of an intervention? Smells rotten to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Em says:

    I’m a physicist (astro/astro-particle physics) and many of my particle physics colleagues were outraged by Sabine Hossenfelder’s article. However, I think this is mostly personal (since they are searching for these particles as a career) and they (like many other physicists) have not taken a step back to consider the field as a whole. Inventing new particles hasn’t solved the enormous problems of dark energy and dark matter yet, and while it is possible that such a solution will be found, sometimes it seems like a wasted effort to keep ruling out more and more parameter space. The solution we really need is (in my professional opinion) something more revolutionary/creative. Nowadays there is great pressure to publish and secure grants, and it is safer to do this by sticking to what people already know (eg inventing new particles). To take the time to come up with a completely new solution could lead to loss of funding, and even a revolutionary solution that seems to perfectly explain everything will receive a lot of criticism from the largely toxic physics community and could hurt the career of its advocates.


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