Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bacon reduced at Waitrose

Watched "Horizon should I eat meat?" on BBC2 last night (why is it not yet on YouTube?). The bottom line (so many puns) is that processed meats - bacon, sausages - are the killers: the nitrosamines they contain and produce are carcinogenic.

We predicted there would be a lot of half-price bacon and sausage on the shelves at Waitrose this morning!


Michael Mosley's self-experiment with extra meat rations was a trifle disingenuous. Presumably he is usually on the 5:2 diet - his physique certainly suggests that. If you then switch to seven day extra-meat-eating for a month, with generous bread rolls, fruit and veg, you are certain to gain 6-7 pounds (3 kg) as he did. Not sure it was the processed meat doing the damage here, doctor!

We got some great shots of a colonoscopy BTW .. I can hardly wait!


Steve Hsu has an accessible paper here on progress in identifying the many genes (alleles) of small effect which underlie quantitative traits such as height and intelligence. I've been reluctantly* convinced by his argument that fixing the many negative (dysfunctional) alleles in every person could remarkably increase intelligence. Read the paper, skip the harder maths and see if you agree.


* Why reluctantly? There are a number of brain attributes which presumably contribute to increased general intelligence: specific modes of brain modularisation, optimised brain architecture, increased brain size, larger number of neurons, efficiency of neurons, efficiency of neural-interconnect, density of neural-interconnect .. and so on.

Only some of these are capable of significant change - brain size, for example, is hard to increase given birthing constraints. Steve Hsu's linear additive model seems to imply that (in Sky Pro Cycling terms) there is the possibility of 'aggregation of marginal gains' which would impact all of the attributes mentioned above and more.

And so I have become a reluctant convert.