[extropy-chat] Failure of low-fat diet

Robin Hanson rhanson at gmu.edu
Thu Mar 2 23:27:25 UTC 2006

At 01:43 AM 3/2/2006, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
> > > >But you didn't answer my question. What do you think stopped people
> > > >dying of those diseases, if it wasn't the vaccines?
> > >
> > > There are lots of logical possibilities, and my state of belief is
> > > that I am very uncertain about which one it might be.
> > > ...
> > Here is one explanation that has a plausible mechanism and isn't clearly
> > contradicted by the data.  ... feeling less stress as we have 
> gotten richer.
> > ...There is a multiplier effect for contagious diseases, ...
>Since the greatest gains in survival have been observed in small
>children, this story would also have to posit economic factors as
>primarily responsible for reduced susceptibility of children to
>infectious disease, as opposed to a combination healthcare factors,
>with a secondary contribution from lifestyle changes enabled by
>affluence. Do rich neonates feel sufficiently rich to have a "reduced
>susceptibility" to e.g. polio?

Healthier parents have healthier children.  And as I said there is an
externality benefit of being around healthier people.

>I would expect that there is a nonlinear survival response ... if you
>vaccinate against the top 10 diseases, ... and give
>much better nutrition, the gains will have a synergistic effect ...
>This effect is likely to explain the difficulty in measuring the
>impact of single healthcare interventions on survival and would
>obviate the need to seek explanations by a roundabout way, in
>economic factors affecting adults.

Such effects are indeed likely to spread the benefits out over time.
Even so, the usual estimates of the relative benefits of the various
vaccines doesn't suggest that their benefits would be spread uniformly
over the entire twentieth century.   But the mortality reductions have
been pretty uniform.

>I also find it important not give legitimacy to, for example, parents
>who deny vaccinations to their children. Theorizing about why you
>might not need basic medical care simply because you are feeling rich
>may be harmless in itself but sometimes may be taken over by people
>with unusual agendas.

As my webpage says:
>I have little patience with those whose thinking is sloppy, small, or
>devoid of abstraction. And I'm not a joiner; I rebel against groups
>with "our beliefs", especially when members must keep criticisms
>private, so as not to give ammunition to "them".

I will continue to call 'em as I see 'em, regardless of who that might give
ammunition to.

Robin Hanson  rhanson at gmu.edu  http://hanson.gmu.edu
Associate Professor of Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326  FAX: 703-993-2323 

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