Szia! Welcome to this week's digest. This week is a very special "(Not So) Silent Killers" edition, as we explore nutrition debates, noise complaints, and doomsday machines. Enjoy!


Source: Giphy

Share: Spread joy and knowledge to people you care about by forwarding or sharing!

Subscribe: Join 380 other TD Digest subscribers!

Past Digests: Did you miss a digest? Read recent digests 100, 99 (or dive into the full archive).

Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward

"When you don’t have the highest-quality evidence, the correct conclusion is ‘maybe.’" ~ Dr. Dennis Bier


  • Making Sense: The Great Uncoupling, A Conversation with Andrew McAfee
  • The Ezra Klein Show: The Loneliness Epidemic - "How are we designed to live? And everything that I have seen, from the research, to the stories that I've heard, to the reflections that I've done, have led me to one inescapable conclusion here. Which is that we were meant to live and to exist in relationship to each other. That our relationship with each other is one of our greatest sources of not only benefit in terms of survival, but of fulfillment. And then at some fundamental level, we need each other, as much as we like to hold up the powerful narrative of the individual... At its heart, we are beings that were designed to be interdependent. And that is when we are at our best."

  • The New Rambler: A Century of Cars Driving the Fourth Amendment - "Changing Fourth Amendment law around car stops in the early twentieth-century resulted in a shift from a question of warrants to a question of reasonableness in late twentieth-century jurisprudence... The reasonableness standard had made it “easy for officers to concoct a defense” to routine acts of violence against African Americans."
  • Pacific Standard: We Are All Confident Idiots - "The American author and aphorist William Feather once wrote that being educated means “being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t.” As it turns out, this simple ideal is extremely hard to achieve. Although what we know is often perceptible to us, even the broad outlines of what we don’t know are all too often completely invisible. To a great degree, we fail to recognize the frequency and scope of our ignorance."
  • Aeon: The fast track to a life well lived is feeling grateful - "In considering moral character, the Roman orator Cicero said: ‘Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.’ And while I think it’s an overstatement, Cicero’s view does offer up the tantalising prospect that, simply by cultivating gratitude, other virtues will grow. If correct, it suggests that there’s an entirely different way to improve moral character – one that is rapid, easy and efficient."
  • Scientific American: Proper Breathing Brings Better Health - "365 : The name given to a common technique recommended by therapists to counter accumulated stress: at least three times a day, breathe six times per minute (inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds each time) for five minutes. Repeat all 365 days of the year."


ARTICLE - The NY Times: Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice. by Gina Kolata - An intriguing, but not surprising, twist in the evolution of nutrition research and dietary guidance. The red meat debate is a case study in logical fallacies (e.g., bandwagon, special pleading, appeal to authority, false cause, burden of proof) and cognitive biases (e.g., first-conclusion bias, inertia) leading to a travesty of public health advocacy. It is also a fun excuse to learn more about how nutrition research is conducted (i.e., garbage in, garbage out), the differences between high-quality and low-quality research, and the high (yet invisible) opportunity cost of advocating for unproven health recommendations over proven health recommendations.

What do I do now?: If this topic is interesting for you, listen to the below podcast, and decide for yourself whether the existing evidence is sufficient to make a concrete change in your (and your loved ones') lifestyle.

Complement with Is Meat As Bad As We Think: Breaking Down Nutrition Myths with Chris Kresser and Chris's resources on the subject.

My highlights:
  • The new analyses are among the largest such evaluations ever attempted and may influence future dietary recommendations. In many ways, they raise uncomfortable questions about dietary advice and nutritional research, and what sort of standards these studies should be held to.
  • In each study, the scientists concluded that the links between eating red meat and disease and death were small, and the quality of the evidence was low to very low. That is not to say that those links don’t exist. But they are mostly in studies that observe groups of people, a weak form of evidence.
  • The findings are a time to reconsider how nutritional research is done in the country, some researchers said, and whether the results really help to inform an individual’s decisions.
  • Or maybe, said Dr. [Dennis] Bier, policymakers should try something more straightforward: “When you don’t have the highest-quality evidence, the correct conclusion is ‘maybe.’”

ARTICLE - The Atlantic: Why Everything Is Getting Louder by Bianca Bosker - A well-written, though lengthy, deep-dive into noise pollution. I do not want to overhype the damage here (except on sleep, specifically), but I do want to emphasize the opportunity here for most of us, because most of us probably have not been thoughtful about noise levels in our lives. In 2018, I lived in Santa Monica, directly down the block from a fire station. The intermittent sirens almost always shocked and disrupted my focus, and I wish I had the right KPI data to better understand the explicit implications on my health and happiness. Luckily, from a sleep perspective, earplugs are <$10 and are often incredibly effective! My personal struggle re: noise pollution is my addiction to podcasts and a need for perceived productivity - I rarely give myself the gift of even pseudo-silence while in transit.

What do I do now?: Find your 'quiet place' near your home and your work, and identify opportunities for silent time in your calendar to simply be and think,

Complement with The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught You (TD Digest summary).

My highlights:
  • Noise is never just about sound; it is inseparable from issues of power and powerlessness. It is a violation we can’t control and to which, because of our anatomy, we cannot close ourselves off.
  • Scientists have known for decades that noise—even at the seemingly innocuous volume of car traffic—is bad for us. “Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience,” former U.S. Surgeon General William Stewart said in 1978. In the years since, numerous studies have only underscored his assertion that noise “must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.”
  • Experts say your body does not adapt to noise. Large-scale studies show that if the din keeps up—over days, months, years—noise exposure increases your risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and heart attacks, as well as strokes, diabetes, dementia, and depression.
  • Research confirms that what makes a sound annoying is only partially whether it whispers or roars. The volume at which noise begins to irritate varies depending on the source—we tolerate trains at louder volumes than cars, and cars at louder volumes than planes—and its pitch, or frequency.
  • A soundwalk—during which you actively listen to the sonic demeanor of your surroundings—might involve tallying the number of car horns you hear in the course of an hour or scavenger-hunting for sounds with specific characteristics, like a buzz followed by a squeak. Schafer saw soundwalks as a way to address our sonological incompetence. Teach people to tune in to their soundscapes, and they will understand which sounds to preserve and which to eliminate, then act accordingly.
  • ...[S]ound, once noticed, becomes impossible to ignore. “Once you are bothered by a sound, you unconsciously train your brain to hear that sound,” Pigeon said. “That phenomenon just feeds itself into a diabolic loop.” Research suggests habituation, the idea that we’ll just “get used to it,” is a myth. And there is no known cure.
  • “The further we get into quiet, the further we discover who we are.”

- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb by Stanley Kubrick - A classic and low-key hilarious movie about the potential for nuclear war, despite good intentions and semi-thoughtful planning. The movie serves as an incredible showcase of Peter Sellers' talent, and, according to Rotten Tomatoes, it is Kubrick's highest-rated movie.

What do I do now?: Carve out a few hours to enjoy a classic movie :D

Complement with Full Metal Jacket.

My favorite quotes:
  • Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room.
  • Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!
  • Let me finish, Dmitri... Well listen, how do you think I feel about it?... Can you *imagine* how I feel about it, Dmitri?... Why do you think I'm calling you? Just to say hello?... *Of course* I like to speak to you!... *Of course* I like to say hello!... Not now, but anytime, Dmitri. I'm just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened...
  • Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face.
  • Well, I've been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that's the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones.
You made it to the end! Legend :D Is there someone you care about who also lives an examined life? Share this digest with them and they can join 380 other subscribers.
Is this showing up in your Gmail Promotions tab? Send my digests to your primary tab

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
TSD Ventures, LLC · 70 East Sunrise Highway · Suite 500 · Valley Stream, NY 11581 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp