72: The Environmental Causes of Obesity with Slime Mold Time Mold

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Hosted by
Will Jarvis

In this episode we’re joined by the sibling duo Slime Mold Time Mold to talk about the environmental causes of obesity. We also discuss why current theories about diet are insufficient, the benefits of working with people you trust, and a whole lot more. We’re also joined by Faith Jarvis for this episode. You can check out Slime Mold Time Mold’s blog at https://slimemoldtimemold.com/

William Jarvis 0:05
Hey folks, welcome to narratives. narratives is a podcast exploring the ways in which the world is better than in the past, the ways that is worse in the past towards a better, more definite vision of the future. I’m your host, will Jarvis. And I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen to this episode. I hope you enjoy it. You can find show notes, transcripts and videos at narratives podcast.com.

In this episode, we are joined by faith Jarvis in slime, mold, time, mold, slime mold time, mold is a sibling pair. Well, slime mold time mold. How are you guys doing today?

SMTM 1 0:54
Pretty good. Well, I’m glad to be here. Thanks for having us.

William Jarvis 0:58
Yeah, thank you guys so much for taking the time to come on. Do you guys give mind giving us kind of a brief like anonymized or vague bio and in some of the big ideas you’re interested in?

SMTM 1 1:09
Sure. If it’s alright, I’ll go first. I’m sort of a cognitive scientist, historian and statistician. And so that’s sort of what I bring to the table.

SMTM 2 1:22
Yeah, my background is mostly in sociology and chemistry. But I’ve worked in a couple biochem labs, and generally pretty broad interests.

SMTM 1 1:33
Yeah. And should I should I talk a little bit about like, the big picture stuff that we have coming up? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So in terms of like, future interests, and you can see a little bit this in the obesity work. We’re interested in things. Cognitive science, because we think that part of our new approach is treating obesity, like a cognitive science problem. And part of that is paying a lot of attention to control systems. Right? So control systems seem like they’re relevant here. Right, you have a set point, you’re trying to maintain homeostasis around it, but we think that’s going to be an important, or it’s an interesting topic. That’s really multidisciplinary. And so we’re gonna try to do some work related to that. Do other work related to that coming up?

William Jarvis 2:14
I love that. And and how did you guys first get interested in obesity? Weight? You know, was there one moment? Are you guys have you guys both been thinking about it for a while, and it just kind of congealed into some more like robust thoughts? Like, like, how did that come about?

SMTM 1 2:28
Yeah, it’s a great question. But it’s another one of those things where there’s not like a specific story. I mean, there was a specific time. So we both been following it for a while, and Penley and come up with some of these thoughts independently. And then we had a long road trip. And each of us was like, Oh, you were thinking about this, too. Maybe we should write something about it. So there was a moment where it came together. But there wasn’t like an instigating event, at least not for me. It’s just like, something you follow, and eventually pieces fall together?

SMTM 2 2:56
Yeah, it was something that just didn’t really make sense to us something where there seemed to be a lot of explanations, but I didn’t really understand how that explanation actually explained what we were observing.

SMTM 1 3:09
I think that’s a really good way of putting it, you just notice all these things that make you go Hmm, that’s funny. I wonder.

William Jarvis 3:17
Can you talk about those things a little bit? You know, I was recently talking to a friend of mine, who’s a resident and preventative cardiology. And he was really into ketogenic diets for a while, and then he did a deep dive on all the nutrition science. And he’s like, Well, you know, like, this is just eventually his message to be was that it is just so much more complicated than I can even grok right. So, you know, how did you guys first get interested in kind of the environmental aspects of obesity and how that might play into and that and the fact that perhaps it’s not just calories in calories out? Or it’s not just sugar, or it’s not just, you know, excess carbohydrates or something like that?

SMTM 1 3:57
Yeah, well, if you keep up with the people who are, you know, researching it directly, if you keep up with the academic world, they haven’t really believed in this in a long time, right. Steven DNA stuff on DNA says that he doesn’t think that there’s anyone in the research world who really believes calories in calories out. He was saying that 10 years ago, 15 years ago, yeah. And so they’re looking at other models, and that hasn’t really gotten out. If you follow the primary sources even a little bit, you know, that most people weren’t taking it. Taking those simplistic views. Seriously, for a while now. What was the original question?

William Jarvis 4:36
So I guess the original question was, you know, I guess how did you get interested in in the environmental aspects of obesity? Like, you know, perhaps there’s this, you know, chemicals in the water, you know, things going on that might explain, and it’s not just purely people’s diets or something like that.

SMTM 1 4:53
Yeah, well, like I was saying, if you read people who are doing research on it, you know that you Most of the sort of explanations don’t pan out and haven’t panned out for maybe a decade. Now, you want to talk about the 2010s, you could say that was sort of the decade where most of the theories that looked promising fell apart in one way or another, people started trying things. And a lot of them just didn’t go anywhere. I mean, most of them. And so we sort of thought there has to be something else. And if you look at a bunch of these things that we identified called mystery trees, we were like, well, a contaminant really seems like it would make sense. If, you know, it has to be plausible, because we know there’s stuff in the environment. And we know that chemicals can make you gain or lose weight. I don’t know if my co author has anything to add to that.

SMTM 2 5:38
Yeah, I mean, there’s this Lancet quote that we love, that I don’t remember the exact wording off the top of my head, but But basically, that we’ve never had an obesity intervention that actually worked. And to me, that’s, you know, strong evidence that none of the existing theories totally have everything, right. Because if they did, you know, we would be able to design interventions make an experiment, that would actually induce a noticeable change. And that just hasn’t been the case at any large population scale. And I think from there, yeah, it was really primarily driven by the mysteries that we start out with. And it was kind of, you know, the whole project started with those mysteries. And we were like, Okay, let’s look at it. Let’s see, what are alternative explanations, and the environmental contaminant one, like, like my co author said, it’s just, you know, it’s obviously plausible. So we just wanted to see to what degree is it possible? And I think, you know, we more than anyone else are so surprised by how strong the case ended up being.

SMTM 1 6:41
Yeah, it’s worth saying that when we started out, we were like, this seems interesting and plausible, let’s check it out. Because no one has done a really deep dive on this. And just kept getting stronger and stronger. And so, you know, we’re not trying to push an agenda, we didn’t know how good it would turn out. We kept being surprised. And also, so like, there were people who had suggested things that were similar to this, right, there are people who were like, maybe it’s a virus, maybe it’s a contaminant? Maybe it’s one of the other ones. There were some different things, but like, or, you know, maybe it’s vitamin D, you know, and gets enough sunlight anymore. But those didn’t line up with the mysteries, but contaminants did we were like, Okay, that seems like it’s plausible. Let’s pursue this. Let’s see if we can get any evidence for or against it.

William Jarvis 7:27
Do you know, why do you think traditional nutrition researchers just had been unable to pick up this kind of $20 bill on the sidewalk? So far? And that’s, that’s like a very difficult question. I think so You know, there might not be a great answer. But,

SMTM 1 7:42
yeah, it is a hard question. And also, so on the one hand, assuming we’re right, it does seem like a $20 bill being picked up off the sidewalk. But we also got to give credit where credit’s due, all of our work is based off the work of hundreds or 1000s of other researchers, a lot of you know, we didn’t collect almost any original data. And there were definitely publications where people were saying, you know, maybe it is something that is environmental. And the only thing that we’ve really added is we’ve sort of made a stronger background case. And we’ve come up with a few particular contaminants that no one else is looking at. So it’s not like they dropped the ball entirely. And I don’t know, it’s institutional, right? I think we could speculate, but it doesn’t seem that productive to me, I’d love to be like, oh, yeah, it was definitely a good

William Jarvis 8:32
thing. It does

SMTM 2 8:35
say something about nutrition research. But also, you know, that I think is true of any large body of literature is just that a certain point, you have lots of people doing different kinds of work, and it’s a varying degrees of quality. And I think the picture gets more and more confusing, sometimes the more literature you have, because you have stuff, and it’s hard to tell how good it is. And even well done studies are confusing, or just, you know, have a small sample size, whatever, whatever. And I think there’s just so much popular science devoted to nutrition, that it you know, it’s just, it’s just worse than other fields. Because Because of that, and I also think that, again, because there’s so much popular interest, it gets filtered through non scientific media. You know, I’ve seen a lot of really click Beatty titles I’m sure you have to. And I think that kind of has a negative feedback loop on the quality of that type of research.

SMTM 1 9:32
Yeah, I think to add to that, I would just say, I think part of the problem is that it’s gotten too big and people have also sort of lost. People have had a hard time keeping their eye on the ball. This is something that you see a lot in how modern science is done, where people are like, Okay, let’s see how it is to make people fat without saying okay, does sugar make people fat? And, you know, the approach that we started with were like, we noticed that a bunch of things didn’t make sense. We don’t want to say that we were the only people who noticed this other people notice these things didn’t make sense to other people notice that these didn’t add up. But I think paying particular attention to that is something that’s very rare. So we don’t wanna say we’re the only ones but sort of zooming out and being like, Okay, what do we really care about, we really care about why are people fatter today than they used to be? And other people tend to zoom way in, and then they’re like, does this intervention work or not? I think that’s like looking too closely at the problem.

Faith Jarvis 10:26
So given really the repeatability crisis in science, um, what would you say your gut intuition is about the repeatability of most obesity studies? Is it more difficult to study than other things? Would you say? Just because there are so many confounding factors? Or?

SMTM 1 10:41
Well, it’s sort of a large class of studies, right? I mean, there are a lot of replications people run the same intervention over and over again, or different people run similar ones. Is that what you mean?

Faith Jarvis 10:51
Yes, sort of how repeatable do you find most of these to be are there? Is it sort of like a curve where some are very legit and repeatable in some are less so are?

SMTM 1 11:01
Oh, in the sense of like, are things done carefully in the sense that they will replicate? Sure, yeah. I think pretty much things are good. I don’t think there ain’t huge, like replication crisis cases where someone did something, and it seemed to be working, and then everyone else replicated it didn’t work out. I don’t remember any stories like that. Because in most cases, people, you know, try to replicate things. It’s just like a small effect size that doesn’t stand out. Right. And yeah, there there are cases where one study works, and then none of the other ones do. But does that answer the question?

Faith Jarvis 11:36
Yes, certainly.

William Jarvis 11:37
That’s good. So since the field is fairly healthy, in that sense,

SMTM 1 11:42
yeah, I think that a related answer, it’s not exactly what you asked. It’s just that diet is really, really highly dimensional. And stuff on Lindbergh has these great points in his book, where he talks about, you know, if you make a diet, high fat, it has to also be low carb, right? Because you have to assume you’re, if you’re talking about proportions, you got to replace if you’re adding fat, you’re reducing everything else. Right. And so it’s just hard to study because you can characterize the exact same diet and multiple different ways. You just got a lot of really, right. It’s it’s a it’s really highly, highly hydraulic, I’m not sure if that’s a commonly used term, but it’s like high dimensionally hydraulic, which is really tricky.

William Jarvis 12:28
Makes it difficult. I’m curious, you know, so you’ve looked at a ton of these different environmental contaminants, you know, which ones are the most promising? You think? And do you think it’s kind of like a combination of these environmental contaminants that have contributed to the rise of obesity?

SMTM 1 12:46
Yeah, so this one, we can give a really straightforward answer to lithium just looks like a much stronger candidate than everything else. Starting out, we were really worried that it would be multi dimensional, that it was the effect of a bunch of small, different contaminants, and that it might be hard to even come up with a good list of what the contaminants were. Lithium wasn’t even on our original list. But we sort of realized that it causes obesity in clinical doses, we look into it. And everything else we found was stronger and stronger. Right, we heard about the Pima Indians, and it didn’t have to be the case that they had lithium in their water, and didn’t have to be the case that someone had measured it and written it down. But somebody did. And then we looked at the most obese cities in the US and the least obese in the US. And maybe there were would be, you know, no measurements of how much lithium was in the groundwater? Well, there just is right, most of these cities seem to be exposed to a lot of abuse, a lot of lithium, and the least of the cities seem to have very little lithium in their water. So yeah, lithium is really the standout at this point.

William Jarvis 13:50
And why do you think lithium levels have increased in the water? Is it you know, are we digging wells in different places? Is it groundwater that’s been sitting there for a long time? You have any thoughts on that?

SMTM 1 14:02
Yeah, absolutely. So there’s definitely some effect where deeper aquifers seem to have more lithium in them. And if you are drinking water in the 1950s, you’re probably getting most of your water from the surface. Or from a relatively shallow wells. And the further back you go, the shallower the wells are. We started drilling really deep wells recently. And it seems like the deeper aquifers have more lithium in them. The other big one is fossil fuels. Fossil fuel activity, sometimes not always, but sometimes is associated with high levels of lithium, lithium brines that come up when you’re drilling for natural gas or oil, lithium and coal ash when you burn coal for power plants. And so we definitely have been using a lot more fossil fuels of the past century. And it kicked off, you know, in the 1970s. And also just make sense. Geographically, right. The United States produces a lot of fossil fuels and we’re one of the most obese country countries. So same thing for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, a bunch of other countries in the Middle East. Oh, yeah.

William Jarvis 15:03
Very, very, very interesting. You know, I’ve wondered when I first encountered yells work I was, I was very intrigued. And I had this thought that, you know, perhaps one of the reasons why you guys were able to kind of like, you know, I don’t wanna say the extra coverage we’ve talked about a little bit earlier in the podcast, but you need at least at least bring all these ideas together in a really robust manner, which I think is very important is because so much of the energy around environmental issues, issues today is kind of sucked up by climate change, and not like environmental pollutants, like, and I feel like this wasn’t the case. When I was a kid. There’s a lot of focus on environmental pollution as well. Do you think that’s the case at all?

SMTM 1 15:47
You want to take this one?

SMTM 2 15:50
Yeah, I mean, I definitely think climate change has sucked up most of the air in the room for sure. I mean, I know that there was return recently, a little bit of controversy in my home state of Vermont about a climate plan that came up that some residents of the state did not think had enough of focus on biodiversity present preservation, and you know, conserving land. So I definitely think that’s true. Um, yeah.

SMTM 1 16:23
Yeah. And I was just talking to somebody today, who he’s interested in, what do you call it a small molecule movement, just the idea that there are a lot of these small molecules in the environment. And we don’t always know what they do. He was telling me about one case where they were able to reverse engineer or something killing a bunch of salmon. And they were able to say, through a lot of hard work that it was, like a byproduct of a chemical added to tires to make the rubber stay together better. Wow. Yeah, it’s a lot. But yeah, so there’s definitely less interest, I think people are recognizing there’s less interest and maybe things will turn around. I guess I would say in defense of this climate change seems like a potentially an existential risk. And the rest of these things will they may be terrible and bad, we should care about them probably are not going to lead us to go extinct.

Faith Jarvis 17:15
Got it? Got it. Yes, it’s gonna seem like the low hanging fruit in the pollution was solved. About 10 years ago, we pulled the lead out of the walls and the pain, the DDT, like out of the pesticides, and now it’s a lot more rigidly controlled. I don’t know if the rest of it is sort of smaller in comparison to what we’ve already solved from, like, when we were kids, just back in the 2000s.

SMTM 1 17:35
Yeah, that’s a great point. And I guess it’s an open question whether or not we sort of picked all the rolling is waiting to be found, or if it’s just that we did a good job. And we briefly, you know, let our guard down. Right. And we’re going to find that. Right.

SMTM 2 17:52
I think to that point, there also just, you know, natural swings in public opinion. So we spent a long time dealing with pollution and talking about that a lot. And, you know, I think climate change will is a newer topic. But it’s also, you know, I think people were tired about about of cleaning up their rivers, you know, they did a lot of that.

SMTM 1 18:12
Yeah, and it’s also not like, we don’t still care about lead and arsenic in people’s water, right, I can still make the news. Maybe what is slowed down is just finding new things to be concerned about. But also, you know, even independent of our work, people are becoming more and more concerned about PFS, or even actually, people are becoming more concerned about lithium, even independent of what we’ve done. They didn’t use to track it. And now the USGS is like, hey, levels are way up what’s going on?

William Jarvis 18:39
Right. I’m curious on the lithium front, you know, what kind of policy prescriptions Do you guys have? I you know, I know nothing about water treatment. But is there any way to to kind of minimize the impact of increased lithium in the water?

SMTM 1 18:53
This is a great question. And we don’t really know, The tricky thing is that nobody thought Tim was a problem, in part because no one really thought it was in our water to any great degree. So we don’t really know whether or not standard water treatment techniques will get it out of water. We don’t know if water filters work. Distillation would probably work, but we don’t know for sure. And yeah, it’s

William Jarvis 19:19
a real it’s an unsolved question. Yeah, question, a real problem.

SMTM 1 19:22
And the tricky thing is that lithium is this really tiny ion, right? It’s the third element on the periodic table. It’s a gas that thinks it’s a metal, and it’s not going to act like other things that you want to get out of water.

Faith Jarvis 19:38
So it’s just really difficult. So the key is the effective altruists used to joke they were going to put lithium in the water to because it’s used to treat mental health problems. So has that been brought up near a serious sensor? Is that just me my friend on the internet?

SMTM 1 19:51
No, that’s real. There’s a New York Times article about it. Sometimes you’re like not for I suppose. Yeah. Oh, it’s such a bad idea. In our opinion, my co author may say more about this, but lithium is used to treat bipolar and sometimes depression. But we basically think it’s a sedative. Right. We don’t think it’s really a treatment. We just think

Faith Jarvis 20:11
it would make sense why that would make you gain weight. I guess it’s a slight sedative. Yeah. It just makes

SMTM 1 20:15
you do less it makes you zone out. In our opinion.

William Jarvis 20:22
That is wow. That’s, that’s really?

SMTM 1 20:26
Yeah, it’s a terrible Yeah, we came across a lot of terrible ideas. There was some guy who wanted people to eat Teflon, he was like, we should put shredded Teflon in your food to reduce the number of calories per gram. Yeah, so there are a lot of bad ideas out there.

Faith Jarvis 20:43
I mean, you also weigh less if you have to get cancers cut off. So

SMTM 1 20:46
yeah, I mean, if you really want to weigh less, you can, you know, take powerful stimulants, but

Faith Jarvis 20:53
the best stimulant is one that makes the mitochondrial wall have holes in it. So the electrons just fall back down without creating biologic energy. But then people are getting heatstroke because the energy was being bled off as heat. So that was briefly approved by the FDA in like the 1990s. And it worked great until Yeah, died a lot.

SMTM 1 21:11
It’s possible, but you know, side effects,

William Jarvis 21:13
right? No problem. So I’m curious, you know, we just talked about the policy level. What about on the personal level? Like, like, what should should we do? You know, how concerned should we be generally about sugar or carbohydrates? Or, you know, I guess the water, right, there’s, it seems like there’s little we can do about lithium, we should be concerned about it, and try and explore what we can do. But, you know, at the personal level, what kind of recommendations do you try and give to people?

SMTM 1 21:41
Yeah, so the last post in the series is all about this right? Part 10. We’re like, what can you do? And then we talk a little bit about what research we think we want to do and other people can do? And the short answer is, we think there’s not a lot people can do about their weight individually. We just don’t think that there’s a lot that you can do to control it. Based on what we currently know, if we figure out for sure what the contaminant is, and a way to protect you from it, maybe we’ll be able to say something. Right now, we can’t say much the closest thing we can say that real advice. And you can see it on the blog, if you want a longer version, is you can move to a place that’s leaner, right, you can move higher in the watershed. So you can move to Colorado, you can move to Japan or Vietnam, we think that those will probably lead you to leave lose weight, they’ll certainly lead you to be exposed to fewer of these contaminants. But that’s a pretty big change that a lot of people can’t make. So

William Jarvis 22:29
very cool. So you think diet exercise, but it just has very little impact on what, you know, at the end of the day?

SMTM 1 22:37
Yeah, this is really well studied. It just doesn’t seem to work. No one does kind of. Yeah, and again, exercise doesn’t seem to do much right.

SMTM 2 22:45
To be clear, we’re pro exercise and pro healthy eating. Absolutely. And and you know, I think to a certain degree, this is kind of encouraging for exercise, right like that you should be thinking about and focusing on all the other benefits that you get, right?

SMTM 1 23:02
Yeah, it’s easy to, you know, go and workout and be like, Oh, I haven’t lost any weight, I’m going to quit, you shouldn’t quit, you should keep exercising, because it’s good for you in other ways. And again, you should you should care a lot about what you’re eating, you should try to eat in a way that’s going to make you healthy and full of energy, which may mean eating more, and not putting yourself on an intense starvation diet, because we just don’t think you’re going to lose much weight. And if you do, you won’t keep it off.

William Jarvis 23:24
Gotcha. So essentially, it’s something like, you should try to eat healthy and you should try to exercise for for other reasons, but you should worry less about your weight. Because there’s, there’s a lot of things you can’t control. At the end of

SMTM 1 23:37
the day. We don’t think there’s much you can do about it. We think that’s really clearly borne out by the research.

SMTM 2 23:43
Thank you said it better myself.

William Jarvis 23:46
Very, very cool. Very cool. It’s such an interesting, it just, you know, with diet culture in the US, and just like thinking about that, and everyone has their own specific answer in the day to day reps is something you know, just it just completely out of left field. Right.

SMTM 1 24:01
Yeah. And well, one of the big casualties of the obesity epidemic, and I think it’s just tragic, is like a better understanding of nutrition, because we talked about nutrition science right now. It’s mostly, what do you need to eat to lose weight? What do you need to eat to avoid getting fat? And so we don’t really understand as far as I know, this isn’t my you know, we haven’t looked closely at this. But we don’t really know what does it mean to eat good. If we’re not talking about you know, staying skinny? Right? How do you eat to be maximally energetic right? How do you eat to just feel really good all the time? I don’t know if we know that and I think that it’s been very distracting that people have been focusing on staying lean. Right, which is too bad.

SMTM 2 24:39
Yeah, if we if we do know that it’s definitely not making the clickbait headlines, right.

SMTM 1 24:44
But somebody should be writing you know, 10 foods that they will make you lean but you’ll feel great all the time. I want to I want to read that. Maybe we’ll write that next. I

SMTM 2 24:53
think the answer is kale. I’m

SMTM 1 24:54
pretty sure. Markel.

SMTM 2 24:57
Eat more kale

Faith Jarvis 24:59
back in college point. Will used to grind a blend up kale in water and then call it a kale smoothie. So I think he’s into that.

SMTM 1 25:06
Like, yeah, you felt great, right?

William Jarvis 25:08
I felt great. I feel like it goes off that, you know, do you guys have suspicions about like, you know, what foods are generally better for people to consume? Is it like vegetables and like use like common sense stuff or anything?

SMTM 2 25:21
potatoes,

SMTM 1 25:22
potatoes? Definitely potatoes. Really? Yep, yep, they’re basically a complete everything, you should be able to live basically off potatoes, so they don’t have any vitamin C. So if you do it for too long, you will get scurvy. Short of that. I think they’re great.

William Jarvis 25:35
So potatoes and oranges, and you’re good to go.

SMTM 1 25:39
One of the things that we’ve discovered throughout this is just that people around the world have eaten historically, really, really different. And all of them have seemed fine. So I think if you get your macronutrients, and you’re getting, you know enough to not get scurvy or Berry Berry, you’ll probably be okay.

William Jarvis 25:56
Is that just because humans, you know, like our bodies are quite, are very good at self regulating, you know, weight and things like that if there’s not external pressure from like, environmental contaminants.

SMTM 1 26:09
Yeah, exactly. You know, you’re just a finely tuned machine. And unless we basically drug you, there’s not a lot you can do for that other lack. Cool, very cool. And there are some, you know, there’s some interesting cases, corner cases, like scurvy, where vitamin C was just so prevalent in our ancestral environment that we never evolved the ability to, like, notice, am I getting enough of it. And so if you are stuck on the ship for a month, it becomes a problem for, you know, 99% of the stuff that your body needs? You’re really highly engineered to pick up on that.

William Jarvis 26:43
Got it? Got it. I’m curious, you know, we’ve got a lot of different

interventions that that people try for, you know, to work solve, try and solve obesity. I guess the big one I’m thinking of right now is, you know, gastric bypass surgery. And I guess that that works, because it physically constrains the amount you can consume, which I guess you’re just starve yourself. But but that seems to be different than, you know, the environmental contaminant problem, right? Because it’s just like, if you truly were able to constrain how much energy is going into, you know, a human, like, of course, they’re going to lose weight to some extent, or does that gastric bypass just not work long term? I don’t know. Yeah, this

SMTM 1 27:31
is a good question. My impression was nobody knows why it works. That it seems to work. And they’re not sure. But this isn’t a thing we’ve looked into in great depth. I don’t know if my co author has any sense of that. Beyond what I do.

SMTM 2 27:45
Yeah, I don’t have a super right sense. I do. I, I think my understanding is also that it works. But I haven’t really looked into it super closely. And I will say an interesting part of this project was just there were lots of things that I thought were obviously true, that did not end up being true. So maybe they No,

SMTM 1 28:05
I’m not, yeah, there are a lot of things we’re we’re just gonna be like, we don’t know, because a lot of things that we took for common sense just didn’t pan out. So we’re going to try to be very careful about what we say. And when we talk about things we really lucked into.

William Jarvis 28:17
That’s why is it what was what was probably the most surprising thing that you thought was just common sense. Like, this is clearly true. And you go in and you look at it, and like this is like, wow, that was just completely wrong.

SMTM 1 28:29
Probably, I mean, besides the obvious ones, like, calories in calories out and donate fat, I think the one for me at least was that class doesn’t have much of an effect, right? Class and income just don’t seem that closely correlated, maybe not related at all.

William Jarvis 28:45
That’s very interesting. That’s very interesting.

SMTM 1 28:46
Yeah. You know, there might be a small relationship.

SMTM 2 28:51
Yeah, definitely. For me as well. Definitely. I think common sense is that rich people are skinny poor people are fat. Very small effect, if any, definitely,

SMTM 1 29:02
yeah. And then maybe even be causal in the opposite direction. It may be that if you are fat, you become poorer. And if you are really skinny, you become richer, right? So there’s even if there is a relationship, not strong, and it may actually be running in the opposite direction.

William Jarvis 29:16
Got it. Got it. But what do you guys, you know, if you were the dictators of the nutrition science field, you know, where would you Where would you point everybody’s energy? Next?

SMTM 1 29:28
nutrition for for energy or nutrition for weight loss?

William Jarvis 29:32
That’s a great question. That’s a great question.

SMTM 1 29:34
Yeah, it just it’s really sad because nutrition seems like it could be a really interesting field, but most people are focusing on this one particular thing.

William Jarvis 29:42
It kind of sounds like that. That would be you know, the answer from you guys said, right. It’s like focus on energy instead of just weight loss.

SMTM 1 29:51
Yeah, what do we want from nutrition if we don’t want to lose weight? I guess I’m not sure what things nutrition can influence that be really interesting. My bet is that energy definitely matters. But what if we discover if you eat exactly right? You only need to sleep three hours a night. Now, I don’t know if you know what you eat has an influence on how much you sleep, but it seems plausible, right? Have you really good discovery? It’s worth trying, maybe, maybe we could learn more about early childhood nutrition. You’re going I’m not sure what games are gonna be picked up there. But it’d be interesting. I guess it’s a, it just seems like seems like the wild west out there, it seems like we know very little. And again, we haven’t looked into nutrition in great depth. So maybe there’s a bunch we don’t know about, we were focusing pretty clearly on this one topic. But

SMTM 2 30:37
I think the one for me would be something along the lines of a better standing understanding of IBS and other food sensitivities. Because that seems like quite a big problem. And everyone I personally know who has IBS, or food allergies, or sorry, not food allergies, but a food sensitivity has had a really difficult time interacting with the traditional medical system. And it seems like, you know, I know that people are researching this. But I think that it’s something that really negatively impacts the quality of life for a lot of people. That would be great to know more about.

SMTM 1 31:19
Yeah, I entirely endorse that, too. And this is something that we would also be interested in working on at some point, we have, we have a chapter that hasn’t gotten published yet, because it got really huge on aluminum, because a lot of aluminum is added to foods. And we don’t think right now that aluminum causes obesity, but it’s definitely being added to a lot of foods or different aluminum compounds. And so I’m curious, I sort of have a hunch that it might be related to food sensitivities. But you know, who knows?

William Jarvis 31:56
I’m curious, you know, you’ve got the aluminum pipes coming up, you probably break that up into maybe it’s a gigantic CH,

maybe put it in a couple different sections or something. But other than that, you know, what is next for you guys? Like, what do you want to explore next? And I know, you might not want to get into it here. But we’re, we’d love to hear it.

SMTM 1 32:15
Yeah, so right now we’re we’re looking to collect funding to do some empirical work to follow up on our obesity research. Because we’d really like to run some experiments and see if we can actually cure obesity, or you know, reduce it at least, or at least try out more information about it. In terms of writing, I think my co author feels different. I think the things that we want to write are things that have to be written, just write to work. So, you know, we can say in general, stuff that is related to control systems continues to interest us, and you want to add anything to that. We’re trying to write stuff, that’s fun. Yeah, we’re trying to write some more, it will be eclectic, right? We’re gonna write a bunch of stuff. We do have a couple big projects on the line, but anything that’s big enough to like, take the time to write it really right. You know, I don’t want to share it until it is right. Imagine if we had tried to describe the obesity idea, you know, just two or three sentences you would have been like, Well, okay, you have to lay it all out, right? You had to be like, okay, here are these mysteries. Now, here’s why none of the things that you think, answer these work. Now, here’s, you know, some things have to be developed, I think that the big things we have in the pipeline need to be developed properly.

William Jarvis 33:34
That’s great. That’s great.

SMTM 1 33:35
And partially that is just that, we have not figured out exactly how to talk about them with other people yet, we’re not sure what framing makes sense.

William Jarvis 33:42
Right? And that’s important aspect of it. I’m curious, you know, that there’s this huge movement in the 2000s in particular, 2000 I guess it’s 2010s as well, that was just anti you know, nutrition research, like nutrition research is all bunk. What’s this all they’re all wrong, the food pyramid is terrible, etc, etc, etc. You know, was that critique just wrong all along?

SMTM 1 34:11
Um, are you referring to like Gary Taubes his

William Jarvis 34:13
work? Yeah, I think you know, tabs is probably the the biggest proponent I can think of like, really like being like, you know, mainline to print nutrition research is just really bad.

SMTM 1 34:23
Thomas has an interesting figure. I have to admit that I haven’t read any of his books all the way through, but I’m familiar with his work. I think the tricky thing is that a lot of his criticisms are accurate, but a lot of his solutions are wrong. Gotcha. So, you know, when he said that, you know, it’s not fat. He was right. It’s not fat, fat doesn’t make you fat. And he was totally right that a lot of that research was either shoddy or just the conclusions were wrong. But also when he turned around and said it is definitely sugar and had his particular theory. You know, that was not It didn’t pan out. Got it? Does that answer the question? Yes, I think, yeah,

William Jarvis 35:07
it’s very broad. It’s a hard question. Right. But like, Yeah, I think directionally it does answer it. Yeah. And, you know, I I’ve demonized sugar for sup for so long. I’m just curious. Should we be worried about sugar in some sense for the type two diabetes risk? Or is that also just like, you know, really, you’re gonna be fine. Like, just worry about that less in general?

SMTM 1 35:30
Great question. I mean, I think you should be worried about sugar in terms of teeth, your teeth. I mean, again, this is something we haven’t looked into maybe the conception, but right now, I would guess it probably still causes cavities. Yeah, well, I know that. Go on.

SMTM 2 35:47
I try to eat low sugar because sugar makes me break out.

William Jarvis 35:51
Okay. The irritancy. You know that that’s a that’s a great point. Yeah, but sugar and

Faith Jarvis 35:57
cavities thing is mainly soft drinks if you let it soak in your teeth, and I just read a couple articles. And that’s really what gives you mostly cavities as you’re just laying soft drinks and that sugar sit on your teeth. So I don’t know if that’s

SMTM 1 36:09
good or bad. Yeah, I know that. Or I’ve heard, I haven’t looked into it. I’ve heard that the British had a big problem with sugar. Or when they started importing, it did really terrible things to their teeth in like, I don’t know, the 1700s or something.

Faith Jarvis 36:24

  1. I feel like everyone had terrible teeth.

SMTM 1 36:27
I’ve heard again, just claims that it was related to the fact that they started importing sugar and putting it in their teeth. I mean, yeah, history was not a good time to have teeth. In general. Well, there were specific claims that you could tell whether or not someone was rich enough to have sugar in their drink by the quality of their teeth. Gotcha. So again, don’t want to say that I am sure that was true, but that is something I’ve heard.

SMTM 2 36:55
I think I would say that i i generally subscribe to sort of a Whole Foods real foods diet in terms of deciding what all eat, I have to say, doing research on PSATs and seen the numbers of how much PFA s are in grocery store cakes. Really made me never want to eat a grocery store cake again. So generally, you know, like, if you’re a baker at home, you know, having a homemade baked good or you want to add sugar to your coffee. I feel like that’s different than eating a Twinkie probably.

SMTM 1 37:25
Okay. Yeah, this is definitely true, which is just that processed foods has a lot of weird stuff in it. It’s probably stuff that we don’t even know about you. And yeah, it’s not like we’re sure that these things cause cancer, which just like things that were not intended to be in that are definitely in there. Right.

William Jarvis 37:43
That makes sense. So I like that. I like that. And I think that’s a it’s, it’s just not

SMTM 1 37:48
worth taking the risk. Right? Don’t don’t, they may be totally benign. But you know, it’s still a mystery chemicals in your food.

William Jarvis 37:56
Yes, exactly. You put that in your body? And you want to be careful about that.

SMTM 1 38:01
Yeah, I think what my co author said is really, right. Which is that the same thing, right? The things you think are identical. If you buy it at a store versus if you make it at home, they may really be different. And you’re getting exposed to Yeah, gotcha, gotcha. So are you good or bad? Like which cookies, they can be really different if you grind your own flower, and they’re going to be really different than if you buy them from Walmart.

SMTM 2 38:26
I do encourage everyone to have cake on their birthday.

William Jarvis 38:29
Good, good stuff. I love it. I love it. You know, I’ve got one more kind of big line of questions that I want to open up faith, see if she has any more. You know, you two are siblings, which I think is really cool. And, you know, faith and I are siblings. And we’ve worked on a lot of projects together and have had a ton of fun and been very productive. Do you think generally just you know, people should work on more projects with their siblings? It seems like a lot of people like like, Don’t do this. But it’s someone that you’ve known for as long as you possibly could have in most cases. And

Faith Jarvis 39:02
the decline of Western civilization is because there’s smaller families, so you have less and less and less to work with.

SMTM 1 39:08
I don’t know. But that’s a great, that’s a great theory. Maybe we’ll write something like that. I know that astral Codex 10 recently had something about great family great families, yes, maybe under under explored dimension. I think that people should lean more on their high trust relationships. Interesting, right? So I have college friends who are, you know, not quite like a brother to me, but we’re really close. And we’ve known each other for a long time, but we can really trust each other, or highschool friends where I’m willing to argue a different level of intensity because I know that, you know, there’s no way I can jeopardize this relationship. Right? I can really tell him what I think. And and I think that people could lean on those more, because you can get more out of a relationship where you can be really honest with someone.

Faith Jarvis 39:56
You can always see if you can track someone down at Thanksgiving, you can lend them anything

SMTM 1 40:02
Yeah, yeah. So I don’t know, you have hopefully high trust relationships and you can go in there and I know really barrier. So it’s easier than with people who just met Well, I mean, not always sometimes you meet someone you’re like, wow, we really quick, but um, you want the Orville and Wilbur Wright thing?

William Jarvis 40:22
Right. Right. Right. It seems to be easier than just meeting some of the slots in Vegas. And then, you know, we’re gonna do this great project together. Seems like fraught with peril.

SMTM 1 40:32
Exactly. There’s just different level of trust there. Okay, cool. I don’t know if my my co author has anything to add.

SMTM 2 40:43
I enjoy working with you.

SMTM 1 40:45
And I enjoy working with you.

William Jarvis 40:46
Yeah. Well, you guys put out a great work product together.

SMTM 1 40:51
Thank you. Faith DME DME,

William Jarvis 40:53
parting questions before

Faith Jarvis 40:55
closing? Oh, oh, I want to get your opinion on semaglutide, the new John like molecule that’s coming out. Do you think that’s probably bunk? The initial results look pretty promising. But I guess it’s the same thing with every new cure for obesity that comes out?

SMTM 1 41:08
Yeah. What was will say that we are at least I have heard good things. But I think this sort of points to a difference of opinion that we have with how other people have done research, which is just that, you know, there’s too much out there, you can’t read everything, you really literally can’t, especially in a field this big. And we’re just not very interested in things that have to do with cures, except insofar as they tell us like what else is going on? So it’s possible that semaglutide does cure obesity. And that will be great from a practical standpoint. But in terms of answering the question, you know, why are we fatter now than we were in the 1960s? Doesn’t seem like it answers any of that question, which is part of why we haven’t pursued it. So sorry to soapbox off of that. But it looks good. But you know, we haven’t gone that deep. Makes sense.

Faith Jarvis 42:01
Like it doesn’t give you heat stroke. So it’s a step in the right direction. Yeah,

SMTM 1 42:05
that’s good. That’s definitely good. It’d be great if we had a cure, right? There are really good reasons that you would just want to, you’d want to be leaner. A lot of people want it. And that would be really positive. But it also be good to figure out what happened. And right now we don’t really know.

William Jarvis 42:25
Very cool. Well, slimeball time. Well, thank you both so much for taking the time to come on. I know you guys are you’re raising money for a new project, you know, how can people contact you if they want to contribute and and help you guys get that started? And and where should we send people?

SMTM 1 42:43
Absolutely, they can look at our blog at slime mold time. old.com. And we have a Twitter account at mold time, mold underscore time, and they can email us at slime mold time. mold@gmail.com

William Jarvis 42:59
All right. Well, thank you both. Thank you so much. Well. Thanks for listening. We’ll be back next week with a new episode of

SMTM 1 43:12
narratives.

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