Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nassim Taleb quotes

From Antifragile:
Those recommending the nutritional policies fail to understand that “steadily” getting your calories and nutrients throughout the day, with “balanced” composition and metronomic regularity, does not necessarily have the same effect as consuming them unevenly or randomly, say by having a lot of proteins one day, fasting completely another, feasting the third, etc. 
This is a denial of hormesis, the slight stressor of episodic deprivation. For a long time, nobody even bothered to try to figure out whether variability in distribution—the second-order effect—mattered as much as long-term composition. Now research is starting to catch up to such a very, very simple point. It turns out that the effect of variability in food sources and the nonlinearity in the physiological response is central to biological systems. Consuming no protein at all on Monday and catching up on Wednesday seemingly causes a different—better—physiological response, possibly because the deprivation, as a stressor, activates some pathways that facilitate the subsequent absorption of the nutrients (or something similar). And, until a few recent (and disconnected) empirical studies, this convexity effect has been totally missed by science—though not by religions, ancestral heuristics, and traditions. And if scientists get some convexity effects (as we said about domain dependence, doctors, just like weight lifters, understand here and there nonlinearities in dose response), the notion of convexity effects itself appears to be completely missing from their language and methods. 
Health benefits are convex to speed (up to a point, of course).