I was going to write up a full post on John Derbyshire’s epic fuckup, but the internet being what it is that’s mostly been covered for me (see for example here, here, and here). One point I can add — from my own experience as a white straight cis North American able-bodied English-speaking middle-class right-handed male — is that discussion of privilege occasionally pokes my id in a nasty, resentful place. “You didn’t earn anything”, it seems to say, “you just got where you are by picking the right parents and phenotypes”. Well, yeah, sort of. Checking off all those boxes (note the misleadingly active metaphor) means I’m playing life on Easy Mode.
Of course, I didn’t get to pick and choose at character creation time — I just squirted right out into e1m1 without even the opportunity to remap the controls. But there’s no point trying to pretend that I’m some sort of gritty underdog and manufacture a set of fictional victim-traits for myself.
Instead, I’d be better off spending the effort on pharmaco-wonkery. Here’s Derek Lowe on resveratrol:
- Would I take resveratrol? Would you? (In the Pipeline)
Incidentally, if you’re not as big an endocrinology nerd as you would like to be, check this shit out. Wish I’d found that before the long weekend rather than after.
Anyway, it will not surprise you to discover that the research surrounding a compound that’s active in so many pathways is… er, not precisely definitive. Lowe’s conclusion:
The bottom line? Resveratrol is a very interesting compound, and potentially useful. But the details of its actions aren’t clear, and neither, honestly, are the actions themselves. Given the importance of the processes we’re talking about – cellular metabolism, which is intimately involved with aging and lifespan, which is intimately involved with defenses against cancer – I don’t feel that the situation is clear enough yet to make an intelligent decision. So no, I don’t take resveratrol. But I’d be willing to if the fog ever clears.
There are other interesting problem domains that are tangled and foggy, of course. Formula car aerodynamics is one of my favourites, and so is economics. But in all of these domains we’ve found a few things upon which even the experts will all agree, and Adam Ozimek (blogging for Megan McArdle) points us to
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