Plus or Minus Bad Teeth (Excerpt from Antifragile by Nassim Taleb)

Plus or Minus Bad Teeth

You can control fragility a lot more than you think. So let us refine in three points:

(i) Since detecting (anti)fragility—or, actually, smelling it, as Fat Tony will show us in the next few chapters—is easier, much easier, than prediction and understanding the dynamics of events, the entire mission reduces to the central principle of what to do to minimize harm (and maximize gain) from forecasting errors, that is, to have things that don’t fall apart, or even benefit, when we make a mistake.

(ii) We do not want to change the world for now (leave that to the Soviet-Harvard utopists and other fragilistas); we should first make things more robust to defects and forecast errors, or even exploit these errors, making lemonade out of the lemons.

(iii) As for the lemonade, it looks as if history is in the business of making it out of lemons; antifragility is necessarily how things move forward under the mother of all stressors, called time.

Further, after the occurrence of an event, we need to switch the blame from the inability to see an event coming (say a tsunami, an Arabo-Semitic spring or similar riots, an earthquake, a war, or a financial crisis) to the failure to understand (anti)fragility, namely, “why did we build something so fragile to these types of events?” Not seeing a tsunami or an economic event coming is excusable; building something fragile to them is not.

Elastin as a Key Measure

Potential Vulnerability


Relevance as Vulnerability

Does not regenerate as readily as essentially any other tissue (currently vetting this claim)

“It’s a very important molecule to longevity and quality of life as you age, but your body only manufactures it under very specific conditions, and it includes a lot of hormones, and we just don’t have all those hormones long after puberty. If you’re past puberty, you can’t make any more. That’s where nature’s punishing you, elastin. “(1) – Dr. Shanahan

“I don’t believe it’s possible because I think it has to do with the fact that the DNA that makes this stuff is just basically hidden downregulated and exposed, because biology does not want us to live longer. We’ve got a clock (Dave Asprey interjects: ‘That’s why you have to hack that biology then.’) ” (1) – Dr. Shanahan

Potential Remedy

Reduce impact on elastin – tai chi, float tanks, low inflamation diet, hormone/chemical balances, self authoring, stoicism

Proper nutrition – Minerals as in, “A zinc complex was recently developed to help restore functional elastin in photodamaged and aging skin. Until this discovery, there was no method to regenerate damaged elastin and restore resiliency to photoaged skin. Studies in the murine model demonstrated the ability of this zinc complex to increase epidermal thickness, augment hypodermal fat and tropoelastin mRNA as well as increase elastin content. This article summarized the proceedings of an interactive dialogue among leading clinicians who reviewed these findings and made recommendations for future research.”(2) – The Dermatologist



Upward Limits

“First thing to get is that predation, parasitism and cooperation are all natural consequences of the same natural phenomena – life must seek asymmetrical benefit to survive. From there – cooperation because it multiplies agency through aligning agents, opposed to predation and parasitism which reduces net agency, provides the only strategy (application of natural phenomena) which has an unlimited time horizon. Predation ends when the prey have been consumed – the more successful the predator the more likely the prey supply is reduced to zero; the more successful the parasite the more degradation of the hosts health. Predation and parasitism cap their success – their success increases their limits to success. Cooperation, however, when success increases, limits decrease. When we extend the interpersonal strategy (cooperation) to our pool of resources (environment- including social=material, intellectual) our extraction of asymmetrical benefits increases the health of the pool of resources (stewardship) woof.” – Bill Joslin

Saturated Fat

“Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year.” -Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association, 2017

Claim 1 – “lowering intake of saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, will lower the incidence of CVD. “
Suggests DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and Mediterarian diet, leaning heavily on grains, vegetable oil, soy, etc. (more on this later).


Why This Claim is Important: It is a strong, academic representation of the establishment position of one of the most culturally dominant nations on Earth, the American Heart Associations Presidential Recommendation, the official summary of decades of official health advice. It “[takes] into consideration the totality of the scientific evidence, satisfying rigorous criteria for causality.” It is echoed by the likes of :

(1) Harvard University
“But, for now, I’d use coconut oil sparingly. Most of the research so far has consisted of short-term studies to examine its effect on cholesterol levels. We don’t really know how coconut oil affects heart disease. And I don’t think coconut oil is as healthful as vegetable oils like olive oil and soybean oil, which are mainly unsaturated fat and therefore both lower LDL and increase HDL. Coconut oil’s special HDL-boosting effect may make it “less bad” than the high saturated fat content would indicate, but it’s still probably not the best choice among the many available oils to reduce the risk of heart disease.”

— Walter C. Willett, M.D.
Harvard School of Public Health
Department of Nutrition
Harvard Health Letter Editorial Board

(2) Internet (Ie. WEBMD, news sites)
-coming soon-

(3) Across media in general because it constitutes an official position
-coming soon-

Claim 2 – “Every 30 point reduction in cholesterol came with a 22% increase in mortality.[7] You read that right. The very data used by the AHA in their marketing campaign actually shows that lowering cholesterol can kill you.[8] In one of the AHA’s go-to studies, researchers spell out that the low saturated fat, low cholesterol experimental diet might be toxic since they saw a jump in mortality.[9]” – Dave Asprey (see links bellow)


Why This Claim is Important: The AHA consolidated their position on what constitutes the most relevant evidence of causality, and while a lot of (supposedly) better, recent research is claimed by the opposition to have been overlooked, this summary of the very data that the AHA allegedly used against saturated fat, allegedly undermines their own position. It’s sort of a double blow to be able to test a claim that (if correct) would lend weight to the opposition narrative, while so directly refuting the establishment narrative.

Process – Analyzing inductive reasoning in primary documents referenced by online thought leaders

Personal Bias:
Bulletproof coffee, clean beef, and vegetables seems to work for me. I don’t trust Bulletproof blindly, nor am I in any sort of total agreement, but I think they’re onto something.

Vegetable Oil

Significance: Primary driver of inflammation because it hits the brain and nervous system as well as elastin with significant destructive capacity? What to isolate as a unit of measure (health as maximized symbiosis and agency)?

Claims for Canola
Low saturated
Reduces cholesterol

Claims Against Canola

Process of Inflammation
Results from the study (
Fragility of oil
The Brain and Nervous System Made of PUFA?

Inflammation and Focus

Good: Clean eggs, meat, vegetables, white rice, clearing lymph system, mitochondrial efficacy, tai chi, antioxidants, balanced stress

Bad: Modern wheat, meaningless suffering, vegetable oils (generally)?, Monsanto vegetables?, factory/grain-fed animals?

ESPN: Bone broth soup helping Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant
Farm-to-Consumer: LA Lakers Eat Grass-Fed: An Interview with Cate Shanahan, Nutritionist for the Lakers
Grantland: Butter, Bacon, and Bone Broth: A Week on the Lakers Diet

Washington Post: Tom Brady rejected NFL’s medical culture. At almost 40, he’s never played better.

Digesting Depression:

“Your brain is actually the first part of the body to suffer when you are chronically inflamed. This is because your brain is sensitive to inflammation anywhere in the body. It doesn’t matter if the source of inflammation is your heart, stomach, or left pinky toe—if any part of your body is inflamed, it will release chemicals called cytokines that negatively impact your brain. I didn’t realize for a long time that the muffin top around my waist mirrored the muffin top in my brain.

Inflammation is at the core of most age-related neurodegenerative diseases. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation kills off neurons, causing memory loss and other cognitive problems,3 although there are clearly other mitochondria-related parts of the disease, too. The prefrontal cortex (your human brain) is even more sensitive to inflammation than the rest of your brain, which is why even “normal” aging is associated with decreased cognitive function and forgetfulness. These symptoms, which are commonly dismissed as by-products of aging, are actually symptoms of inflammation,4 which itself lowers mitochondrial function.

Scientists have established a connection between non-pathological (or “normal”) inflammation in the aging brain and cognitive decline in many species, including pigeons, rodents, and humans.5 Inflammatory genes are found in higher quantities in aging brains than in youthful ones.6 Aging brains also have an exaggerated response to stress and infection,7 meaning they become inflamed more easily.” – Dave Asprey, Head Strong

Optimization and “Bucky”

Still under production… just some interesting ideas that need developing.

Pre-frontal coretex for scheduling and optimization
Most personal agency when intent and actions towards “highest advantage of others?”
Fuller on Nature’s Imperative to growth

Buckminster Fuller was the architect and systems theorist, most well known for his geodesic domes.  Optimization was one of main topics of inquiry and he applied it to his livelihood when he lost his job.   He realized from studying his logs that his periods of success were always aligned with his services to others.  He interpreted this to mean the system of reality (which contains a series of cause and effect rules) favours those sets of behaviours.  He took it to the extreme, figuring he must set out to serve as many people as possible with his innovations, and ultimately it landed him among the most powerful political circles and most famous architects.

“You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.” – Unverified Buckminster quote while I locate my personal favourites

Notes on the Form Within

Superego as Psychological Representation Resulting from Fundamental, Interpersonal Nurturing Rather than Oppressor
“The ‘superego’ is therefore a process during which society, in the role of a caretaking person, tries to meet and help satisfy drive-induced needs, not to suppress them. This is contrary to the ordinary interpretation given today which holds that the ‘superego’ acts to suppress the ‘id.'” -Page 243

Reality Testing as Core Process: Memory-Motive Structure

“Reality Testing: an input is sensed by a person. The input becomes unconsciously-that is, automatically-processed in our memory-motive structure. A comparison between the results of the memory-motive processing and that input is then made consciously before action is undertaken. This “double loop of attention,” as Freud called it, is necessary because action undertaken without such double-checking is apt to be faulty.” -Page 243

Perhaps being able to maintain this loop for maximal efficiency is cultivated by a balance of confronting danger while successfully embracing a relationship of love and safety with society (the other: the part of nature that appears beyond the bounds of a given individual of nature). This excerpt from the Tao Te Ching seems relevant to holding these vital processes of Motivation and Reality Testing in some balance (although there is a role for argumentation and confrontation is not to simply be avoided entirely, but systematically minimized by practicing Rule of Law and science):

“Those who are superior do not argue, those who are
inferior love to argue.
The highest virtue is not virtuous, the lowest virtue
clings to virtue.
Clinging to it is not called the virtue of the Tao.
The reason people do not attain the virtue of the Tao,
Is because they have wild minds, their spirits are disturbed.
Their spirits being disturbed, they cling to the myriad things.
Clinging to the myriad things, they develop cravings.
In developing cravings, they become anxious.

Full of anxiety and wild thoughts, they distress their
bodies and minds,
And encounter ruin and disgrace, drifting through life
and death,
Eternally drowning in the sea of bitterness, forever
astray from the perfect Tao.
The perfect and eternal Tao is naturally attained by those who awaken to it.
To awaken to the Tao, be constantly clear and still.”

The author is recounting Freud’s ideas and expanding on them, it will take a closer reading to see where the thoughts of one ends and another begins. In any case, these are two points that took my attention as primary to the overall model being discussed. Further analysis to follow…

Grass-Fed Meat

“Grass-fed looks similar to grain-fed meat, tastes (somewhat) similar, and smells the same, but it’s simply the most nutritious meat you can buy. It’s lower in toxins and packed with more powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fats and is hands-down better for the environment than grain-fed meat.”

Trivium and Quadrivium (Autodidactism)

Trivium: the three fundamental steps of linear thought.  {expand on this}

1 Grammar (Knowledge) – Label and define data
2 Logic (Understanding) – Remove contradictions and expand by implication (deductive reasoning) and scientific testing (inductive reasoning)
3 Rhetoric (Wisdom/Application) – Precise speech, warrantied for due diligence and actions informed by conclusions and values

Quadrivium: A classic model regarding the “sacred geometries” in nature, the second 4 of the 7 Liberal Arts, in order: arithmetic(number), geometry(number in space), music(number in time), and astronomy(number in space and time).  The golden ratio is said to be the mathematical underpinning of musical harmonies, physics that form stars, chemical bonds, ratio of limb size in animals, and many more applications.