William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

There Are Too Many Fat People: What To Do About It. Update: Bloomberg Bans Soda Pop

Update Mike Bloomberg, current owner of New York City’s mayoral title, has graciously allowed (by not yet banning) me to re-publish this article which expresses a sentiment dear to Mayor Bloomberg: that he knows best. In art, in habit, in what to eat. His newest crusade—and it is just that: a righteous jihad against the sins of the body—is to banish pop (also known as soda) if the pop is sold in containers too large to be held comfortably in Mayor Bloomberg’s hand (he is an awfully small man).

I cannot but agree with him. He knows best, not just what is best for himself, but what is ideal for all of us. And the reason he knows what is best is that he is a member of government. And there is no higher power than that.

Update And see this.

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Time magazine has it right: “Everybody knows obesity is a massive problem in the U.S.” I know it. And so do you.

Time says we need to be willing to “demonize excess poundage” just as we shame smokers. All the techniques that worked in getting people to quit smoking need to be employed to get people down to their ideal weight. We need a war on the fat.

It isn’t just the fat being fat. What really concerns me is passive obesity. Sure, I’m thin, and damn proud of it. I take care of myself. I eat right, I watch Good Morning America, I exercise. On weeks where there are positive reports of the benefits of red wine, I drink exactly the recommended amount. But on those weeks where articles appear on the harmful effects of alcohol, I abstain. I take vitamins. I follow Michelle Obama’s lead in eating. I am healthy.

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions (source)
Santa is Obese

But there are a lot of fatties out there and it’s getting so it’s impossible not to be around one. People have a right to be fat, but only in their own homes—but maybe not if they have children.

Suppose you’re with a group of healthy thin people at a restaurant recommended by the New York Times. The people at the table will order what is right, what is good for them. This is made easier because, at least in New York City, and thanks to the efforts of Mayor Bloomberg, transfats (and smoking!) have been banned. You can only get them if you’re prepared to break the law, which is what many fat people do.

Anyway, now imagine a fat person joins the group. What happens? Gluttony, that’s what. Passive waves of obesity are given off by the fatty. He over-orders and over-eats. That’s what fat people do. This forces the superior thin people to do the same. They can’t help themselves! Whereas before the thin behaved themselves, when a fat person arrives the thin suddenly find themselves adding an appetizer or opting for dessert. Butter is slathered on rolls. None of this would have happened had the thin dined among themselves alone.

So, just like we did with smokers, the first thing we should do is change restaurant behavior. We can’t ban fat people from gathering publicly. Not at first. That would be considered draconian and would set the program back a decade. Instead, we should create separate areas for fat people, just as we used to do with smoking sections. We’d set up troughs at which the fat can feed, and elegant tables in another area for the thin.

You see the difficulty, of course. Unless the barriers are airtight, the waves of passive obesity will waft over to the thin side. The hope is that the barriers lessens the impact of these waves. But I’m afraid that reliable statistical studies (p < 0.05) show that even brief exposure to fat people increases the risk of obesity.

Obesity is bad for you. Sure, some fat people tend to live a little longer than thin. But they’re living longer as fat people. This is shocking.

I care about these people. Dammit, I really do. My (unclogged by plaque) heart bleeds. I am sincere. This is what counts. Sincerity. I live in Manhattan and I have a PhD from an Ivy League university. In science. Not only does this equip me with the knowledge of right and wrong, it gives me license to dictate to others what is best.

I shouldn’t say this, because it’s delicate. But these fat people, especially those fatties with fat kids, just don’t know what is best for them. I do. I’ve studied the subject. I’ve read scientific papers by earnest people. They agree with me. Something has to be done.

The real problem is that most people just don’t have the intelligence to know what they’re eating. They are mere dupes of corporations who sell them food that is bad for them. They are powerless in the face of advertisements for fudgesicles. They see fat people on TV who are portrayed as jolly and happy. They are slaves to their genes which force them to gorge on blubber and salt and sugar, all of them bad.

What is bad should not be allowed. What should not be allowed should be controlled and regulated by the government. Government intervention is the only way to successfully control obesity. Mere exhortation by personal introspection, by doctors, family members, the clergy, and the guys down at the bowling alley isn’t going to cut it. Let’s face it. We need a program. We need taxes. We need to stop the obese before they eat again.

51 Comments

  1. Put the obese to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and constructing high speed rail. With bare hands and 15 pound hammners. Two birds, one stone and all that.

  2. Fatty Foods Addictive as Cocaine in Growing Body of Science
    (“Growing body.” Get it?)

    “This could change the legal landscape,” said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity and a proponent of anti-obesity regulation. “People knew for a long time cigarettes were killing people, but it was only later they learned about nicotine and the intentional manipulation of it.”

    Said Richard Adamson, a pharmacologist and consultant for the American Beverage Association: “I have never heard of anyone robbing a bank to get money to buy a candy bar or ice cream or pop.”

  3. William there is a thoroughly enjoyable short fantasy novel called “The healthy dead” by Steven Erikson.
    There is a warning on the cover page : “Life-style fascists should not read that. They will go blind if they do.”
    It is a story of a city where only virtue, health and righteousness rules. The “police” is called “Well Knights”.
    And thus all people die healthy what is of course a scandal for our couple of wine drinking, rustleaf smoking, homicidal necromancers …. :)
    I am sure that you would love it!

  4. My doctor has found the ultimate incentive. If you are fat, your ass won’t fit in a single chair in his waiting room. There are a couple of couches, but are not very big.

    Maybe restaurants could right-size their chairs, or like Delta airlines, make the seats smaller with less leg room to pack in more customers.

    I think the obesity craze will come to an end if we keep putting food in our gas tanks. Food will eventually be so expensive that only the rich can afford to be fat, just like it used to be.

  5. One man’s technological solution.
    Being Less Fat

  6. The sad part is that the Time Magazine article that you link is not a satire. Hayek was right when he said that socialism is the road to serfdom. Speaking of which, the following experience with my own doctor is instructive. Have you ever been lectured on your weight by a doctor who weighs more than you do? Neither of us is overly fat. Have you ever received diet advice about cholesterol levels from a doctor who refuses to test his own cholesterol because he knows that he would not follow the diet? The best medical advice is not the official line that your GP hands you. It is the advice that the GP gives himself under similar circumstances, if you can find it out. I ask. Also, try to find out which specialist he would go to.

  7. Clearly what’s needed is a NEW GOVERNMENT PROGRAM in which every person is “sized up” and then provided person-specific food rations–something like military Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). These can be adjusted if/when the individual gets into an exercise program (e.g. rations would be adjusted if one joins a bowling/hockey, etc. league & plays).

    Smart educated people, like Briggs, would naturally determine the “right” ration with a scientifically-based balanced meal of calories, vitamins, etc.

    This would not only reduce the obesity problem, it would also address then growing anorxia problem (check that out–it IS growing).

    THEN, when new scienintific findings show that different genetic arrangements lead to different caloric, vitamin, etc. requiremnts the smarties running the program can ignore & suppress the evidence as they are already certainly correct.

    Of course, to make this work we’ll probably need the government to take over the food-producing industries to get the balances just right…and to ensure temptations from excess production is minimized…and we’ll be that much closer to Utopia!

    DISCLAIMER: The above is presented in sarcasm. I do NOT actually endorse a bit of it. But, unfortunately, some people would/will/do actually believe that’s the “best” way to go if only we’d let them. So, go ahead & make fun of it. Laughter is not only the “best medicine” its also an effective way of suppressing really stupid ideas–poke fun at them. Mercilessly!

  8. Actually, the problem is due to Global Warming. Right? RIGHT???

    See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLxicwiBQ7Q

    Apparently not!

    Its well known that when people get hotter a gland in the brain (pituitary?) tends to regulate, in part, by reducing appetite. Which is to say that Global Warming hasn’t gotten warm enough to reduce appetites & waistlines (see 3:00 & 3:04 min points in above link/video — its been shown that, at least, Sheep & Whales are already getting smaller due to Global Warming…whales are losing “blubber”!!).

    So, this winter, instead of shoveling snow or chopping wood the old fashioned way fire up that snowblower & chainsaw to put out those hydrocarbons to warm the planet — its for our own good!!!!

  9. Obesity is pretty much genetic as is the predisposition to be thin. If you don’t want to be fat choose your parents better. I have never met a fat person who wanted to be fat. They struggle with diets and excercise and rarely succeed in attaining a normal weight. Their body works against them and will react to diets by slowing their metabolism and storing even more fat. Most people can with diet and lifestyle changes lose 20 pounds or so but typically they will gain the weight back as soon as they revert to “normal” behavior. Certainly our “easy” lifestyle and readily available food allows us to be all we can be but it isn’t the cause. It’s you parent’s fault.

  10. GoneWithTheWind says- “It’s you parent’s fault.”

    The solution is screaming at us- ban parents.

    I’m shocked that no-one has thought of this before…

  11. You know what helps with overeating? Smoking. Wait….

  12. GoneWithTheWind said, “Most people can with diet and lifestyle changes lose 20 pounds or so but typically they will gain the weight back as soon as they revert to ‘normal’ behavior.”

    Normal for them or normal for the general population or normal for people with a “healthy” weight.

    And being skinny ain’t necessarily where it’s at.

    Obesity is a risk factor for several chronic diseases, including hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and some cancers. The relationship between increasing body weight and mortality is curvilinear, in which mortality is highest in adults with very low body weights (BMI less than 18.5 kg per m2) and in adults with the highest body weights (BMI greater than 35 kg per m2).
    http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/1015/p974.html

  13. This problem has already been solved by the diet industry, for example, Jenny Craig. They portion control by having you by all of your food from them. So all we need is a GM-style takover of Jenny Craig and then requiring everyone in the US to buy their food from there! No sweat.

  14. The problem is of course GIFO – Garbage In Fat On. Unlike GIGO (climate models), it has a physiological effect rather than creating alarm and over-reaction. Then there’s the amplification (or feedback) factor – “It was that chocolate biscuit that did it”, while failing to mention that said biscuit was the last in the packet, and that all preceding it were consumed in rapid sequence.. This last is called “cherry-picking”, omitting information that dilutes or disproves your argument.

    “Passive eating” is of course a serious problem – “I’ve only to look at a cream cake and I put on pounds”. Scientists at CERN are examining the idea that stimulation of the visual cortex may induce spontaneous creation of sub-cutaneous fat molecules. It’s thought that certain “flavours” (maybe that’s no simple coincidence) of quark combine to produce hadrons which travel faster than the speed of light to link water and sugar molecules, generating fat molecules in all the wrong places in the body. The “bottom” quark has a special significance for women. “Bottom and “charm” quarks repel one another, so that an increase in “bottom” is accompanied by a decrease in “charm”.

    There are those of you who might scoff at this, but remember, you heard it here first. Trust me, I’m a blogger.

  15. ‘Petitio Principii’, ‘Hysteron Proteron’ and ‘Assuming facts not in Evidence’ about covers it I think?

  16. Now just hold on there. Doesn’t the fat on fatties have to be “burned off” and wouldn’t all that “fat burning” result in increased atmospheric CO2? How many incandescent-to-flourescent light bulb replacements are required to compensate for one pound of fat loss? Inquiring minds (and even the minds of statisticians) want to know.

  17. Have you seen pics of the U.S. Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin? She’s a pretty hefty lady, maybe that’s the reason you never hear her mentioned.

  18. All the weight-challenged have to do is to eat more vegetables, and with Congress declaring that pizza is a vegetable, the pounds will melt off.

    http://healthyschoolscampaign.typepad.com/healthy_schools_campaign/2011/11/pizza-is-a-vegetable-how-the-spending-bill-in-congress-could-unravel-progress-on-school-nutrition.html

  19. Marvelous! Unfortunately you’ve just given me this terrible urge to eat something at Taco Bell, although I still don’t know how to use the three shells properly.

  20. I was having a weight problem as I hit 40. Nothing I did would get the weight off me. Exercise and starvation diets had zero impact on weight.

    Then I met a girl who simply said “stop eating sugar”. And so I did. No more coke, no more sugary foods. At the end of one month it made a surprisingly big impact. No effort, no exersize, no diets, simply stop eating sugar.

    I just want everybody to know how truely simple it is.

  21. Briggs

    18 November 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Greg,

    How can you say that absent a p-value? Shame! Why, even the EU scientists know that without a p-value you cannot even say that water re-hydrates. See this story.

  22. Briggs,

    Not to support the heavy hand of the EU, but advising the drinking of 1.2 L or more per day is also foolish. The body has a self regulatory mechanism called thirst. Too little water produces dehydration and too much produces water intoxication. What you need are salt tablets to go with that water.

    Greg,

    I surely wish you luck in your endeavour, but has it only been one month?

  23. Briggs

    18 November 2011 at 8:23 pm

    William,

    Very true: the idea is not to replace one asinine regulation with another. But here they were not allowed to put a label on a bottle of water which claimed that water re-hydrates.

  24. Matt,

    “blubber”? I think there’s a reason why there are no blubber-sicles.

    If the light-weights don’t like my +15lbs, I repeat a relatively famous saying attributed to someone rich and famous: “Let them eat cake!”

    Can’t help but notice the obesity along with high-cholesterol changes definition seemingly on an annual basis. Wonder why.

    Interesting photo. At least we know who’s going to be getting coal lumps and zero-calorie food this Dec25th. I’m reminded of a past article in Time showing the photo of a concrete block and underneath had all of the hype phrases found on “health” food products: “Zero calories!”, “Low Sodium!”, etc. along with the question: So this means its good for you?Now I wouldn’t be surprised if they were to start advocating heroin for its weight reduction effects but then again you can get a doctor to give you amphetamines already. Wish I could find that article.

  25. Greg,

    It’s total caloric intake. Sugar is just one source. Presumably you didn’t just substitute honey. One teaspoon of table sugar contains 16 calories, while one teaspoon of honey has 22 calories. Eat a lot of high-calorie in-between meal snacks and your weight will come back in a flash.

    A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

  26. Smoking curbs the appetite, so why don’t we encourage fat people to smoke? That’s a two stones/one bird option.

  27. person of choler

    19 November 2011 at 12:40 pm

    “Obesity is a risk factor for several chronic diseases….”

    Show us the p values.

  28. Mr. Briggs,

    Ha, p-value again! I was going to let it go. But, apparently, you are very fond of talking about p-value, and seem to enjoy arguing, so let’s hear more about it! Specifically, let’s first focus on what you’ve said here.

    You’re quite wrong that “no one has any information as to whether the model is true.”… Further, since you are a statistician and often use models, isn’t it a strange thing to say that you have no information whether the models you use are true? How do you pick a model if you don’t believe it?

    I don’t believe that the statistical model I pick is true, instead, I assume it’s true. With this assumption, I proceed to estimation, diagnostic measures and prediction if the model is adequate. If necessary, I’ll modify the postulated model or use another model. If I believed it, I wouldn’t consider using another model at all.

    No attempts to use the data to prove that my model is true at all, but to establish an adequate predictive relationship with uncertainty measures attached. And there exist various criteria for choosing the best model when there are more than one models under consideration. I don’t know how to pick out the true model… at least not with the help of George Box.

    And it’s only fair that you answer my questions here and here since you, a statistician, have announced that I am wrong publicly. A serious matter. ;-<

    Oooh… are you saying that you believe the statistical model you picked is TRUE and can somehow verify that it’s true with the information/data collected? If so, I shall rest my case, and request no further explanations and answers.

    That is, I’ll take your silence to mean that you believe the statistical model you picked is TRUE.

  29. Please also note I am not denying that the p-value has pitfalls and limitations and that it has been misused, misunderstood and misinterpreted. There are reasons that the typical p-value is defined the way it is. Think of Type I error.

  30. Briggs

    19 November 2011 at 10:08 pm

    JH,

    You may instead assume my silence stems from a lack of internet connectivity and not a fear of answering. I am traveling and haven’t had the ability to answer. Posts for the next three days are also scheduled to automatically appear, incidentally.

    You “assume” the model you use is true, is that right? So that you can pick any model from the statistician’s toolbox in any situation? Arbitrarily, I mean? Or do you use any other criteria?

    To use any other criteria is to argue not necessarily for the truth of the model at hand but at least for its probable truth. If you claim the model you use is false, then you must have deductive proof that this is so—which in some cases is certainly possible; although it usually isn’t. But if you do not have deductive truth, one way or the other, you are stuck with probability.

    Skill is one way to assess the probable truth of a model. I mean skill in the sense that Fisher’s originally defined, as is defined in Bayes. Curiously, frequentist theory does not allow the assessment of the probable truth of any model.

    Finally, about p-values: you must be aware of the absolutely enormous literature, much of it from frequentists themselves, about the problems, dissatisfaction, and misleading nature of the p-value. I am far from the first critic—I learnt from criticisms from such as Jaynes, Jim Berger, Howell and Urbach, Jeffreys, Carnap, Stove, Persi Diaconis, and on and on an on. I will certainly not be the last critic.

    Incidentally, I’m still waiting for you to say why Wikipedia’s definition of the p-value is false.

  31. New developments on the waterfront!

    http://www.foodbev.com/news/efsa-and-water-some-clarifications-from

    as linked from http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/19/dehydration-story-wrong/

    We seemed to have jumped the gun a bit. The EU wasn’t banning the health benefits of drinking water at all. It was all a bureaucratic misunderstanding. They now claim that I need 2.5 L of water a day. Is this like drinking a yard of ale? Where’s my graduated cylinder when I need it. They weasel out of it by restricting their advice to moderate conditions of activity and temperature, which makes the advice meaningless. To quote a recurrent commercial: stay thirsty, my friends.

  32. Dr. Briggs: As is the case with all statistical studies, connections between eating and obesity are based upon assumptions. The assumption that fat people became fat by eating too much may not be valid. I submit that fat people are just too short as result of inactive pituitary glands. Somehow early in their youth height growth didn’t keep up with their weight growth. Unfortunately, medical science has misled us into believing that weight growth is the cause of robust appearances and not a deficiency in height growth hormones. The obesity problem could be solved by implementing a government program to grow taller people with mega doses of growth hormones. Of course the avenue of approach has not been deployed because there is a general consensus that being tall is bad and causes people to look down on the shorter people. If the data taken from the NBA players were compared to short ordinary people, the NBA players would be skinnier. Hence tall is all and fat not where it’s at.
    Seriously, being too heavy is not funny and this bit of sarcasm is only a feeble attempt to contribute to the humor directed at the notion that the government needs to regulate eating. If my comments offend anyone who are short or tall or shinny or fat, I apologize in advance for my comments

  33. My Dear Mr. Briggs,

    I said that I’d take your silence to mean that you believe the statistical model you pick is TRUE, not that you are afraid of answering.

    (1) You are the one who claims Wikipedia’s definition of the p-value is false, don’t you think you should be the one to disclose why it’s false. So, p-value can mislead practitioners, does it imply that its definition is false? I can’t wait to hear how you can say that a definition is false!

    (2) Do you believe that your model is true? A simple yes-or-No question.

    (3) As I have said before, a model is postulated based on the data structure, graphical results, and the knowledge of probability distributions. (If you want know more about this, be an academic statistician!) Isn’t this what you do?

    “If A then B.” Right! I can only proceed to the usual three steps of estimation, diagnostics and prediction with the assumption of the premise A, i.e., the assumption that the model is true.

    To use any other criteria is to argue not necessarily for the truth of the model at hand but at least for its probable truth. If you claim the model you use is false, then you must have deductive proof that this is so—which in some cases is certainly possible; although it usually isn’t. But if you do not have deductive truth, one way or the other, you are stuck with probability.

    (4) The above is a bunch of words jumbled together to me. Please explain.

    “If A then B.” Do I need to have a deductive proof whether my assumption A is true or false?

    (5) Bayesian theory allows the assessment of the probable truth of any model? The probability that a model is true?! Amazing. Show it. Please keep in mind that I am trained to accept claims based on evidence and proof. I’ll need you to quote me a paper or show me exactly how it’s done.

    Five questions!

  34. Anesthesiology News, October 2011.

    In his previous career as a firefighter, Steven Powell, MD, twice rented a U-Haul truck to transport patients who were too obese to fit inside a standard ambulance. Now that he was a physician, Dr. Powell faced the ultimate challenge: the transportation and treatment of a patient weighing half a ton. (….) The episode began on Dec. 30, 2008, when a 32-year-old man arrived at New London Hospital in New London, N.H., complaining of breathing difficulty. His last known weight had been 580 pounds, but this time the scale registered 1,018 pounds. His BMI was 134. (….) Dr. Powell knew he had to take the patient immediately to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., the most advanced facility in the area and a half-hour drive away. (….) He again considered renting a U-Haul, but the temperature was only 2 F outside and the cold posed a danger to both the patient and the workers.

    Bariatric ambulances can take on heavier loads and have lift systems, but none was available. Dartmouth’s medical helicopter couldn’t take more than 1,300 pounds total (the patient’s bed alone weighed several hundred pounds), and its stretcher had a limit of 350 pounds. Black Hawk helicopters were deployed to Iraq, but also would have had a problem. A Coast Guard unit in Massachusetts told Dr. Powell that it had a chopper that could handle the patient’s weight but not his volume.
    A last resort was the Air Force Rescue Center in Washington, D.C.The Air Force sent a 100-foot-long, Army Reserve CH-47 Chinook helicopter from Connecticut. The twin blade hubs create hurricane-force winds near the ground, so takeoff and landing were tricky—especially in a small landing area. Dr. Powell and his team winched the patient’s bed to a tow truck to get him to a landing zone and into the chopper for the brief flight.

  35. “Why can’t we just shoot them?”

    — Fiona Glenanne

  36. Briggs

    21 November 2011 at 8:09 pm

    JH,

    Let’s continue this in a post dedicated to the topic. This isn’t the place. I’ll try, as soon as I can, probably after Thanksgiving, to dedicate a post on “what is a model.”

    Meanwhile, I suggest you read Bayesian Theory by José M. Bernardo and Adrian F. M. Smith, particularly the chapter on models (open vs. closed, etc.).

  37. William, sorry for the delayed response, I’ve been off sick for a week.

    No, it’s been almost 12 months. My point was that doing something so simple made a noticeable difference at one month. Right now, my body shape has slowly returned to what I was in my early 30’s, i.e. normal healthy non-fat body shape.

    DAV, I know calorie counts are the normal dieting method. However, counting calories and caring about what you eat is a nuisance at best and a pain at worst. My point again, is to point out just how simple it is to make a real difference. No counting, no change in lifestyle. Coke was likely the biggest contributer, I’m adverse to cake anyway, and I now have 1 spoon of sugar instead of two in my coffee, and reduced my chockolate intake. For a big difference in health, gotta love it.

    Briggs, I’m a draftsman. While I read all about your p-value excursions, and I know broadly what it is and does, I’m not likely to ever use one in my lifetime.

  38. Mr. Briggs,

    I have answered your questions, and I just want to know your answers to my questions. How about clearing up the following first?

    You’re quite wrong that “no one has any information as to whether the model is true.”… Further, since you are a statistician and often use models, isn’t it a strange thing to say that you have no information whether the models you use are true? How do you pick a model if you don’t believe it?

    So,
    1) Do you have or how do you collect information on whether the statistical model is true?
    2) do you believe that the statistical model you have chosen is TRUE?

    Shot me straightforward answers of Yes or No. I shall rest my case.

    Though I wouldn’t discourage you from writing a post on what a model is, which is not one of my questions at all.

    I happen to have the book on my shelf, a gift from a Bayesian shortly after the book was published. Time flies at warp speed.

  39. Briggs

    22 November 2011 at 8:58 pm

    JH,

    Your asking question 2 proves my point, incidentally (it also shows you misunderstood what I’m saying). As does your prior admission that you use probative, but non-deductive criteria to choose a model. That is, you non-frequentistically choose a model. I.e., you use Bayesian/logical reasoning.

  40. My Dear Mr. Briggs,

    Ahh.. so, now I misunderstood you! Saying that I am wrong and that I misunderstood is not helpful. Tell me how I misunderstood you.

    Pobative but non-deductive criteria???!!! How do you think the likelihood in a Bayesian model is postulated? Yes, the prior distribution expresses your belief on the parameters.

    Let’s say you have collected monthly mean temperatures for the past 30 years. Now, how do you postulate a model for the data using your Bayesian/logical reasoning? That is, how do you choose the likelihood and prior distributions, the two components of a Bayesian model?

    You said,

    You’re quite wrong that “no one has any information as to whether the model is true.”

    So, again, I ask, “Do you have or how do you collect information on whether the statistical model is true?”

    Keep in mind a Bayesian model consists of the likelihood and prior distributions.

    You asked,

    How do you pick a model if you don’t believe it?

    I answered. So, again, I ask, “Do you believe the model you pick?”

    Why dance around all the questions I have, just give me a simple answer of Yes or No?

    I hate nagging, so this is my last try.

    I would be happy to lend you the book by Bernardo and Smith.

  41. Briggs

    23 November 2011 at 2:34 am

    JH,

    OK, okay. All questions answered, but in a different thread and after Thanksgiving. It just isn’t the right place here, where it will get lost.

  42. I think you meant to say, “Mike Bloomberg, current owner of New York City…”

  43. Ban the largest coffees too. No one needs more than 6oz at a time.

  44. Carmen D'oxide

    31 May 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Don’t worry. When the massive inflation kicks in to finally finish off our wounded economy, few will be able to afford to eat. The soup lines will dole out meals with minimal calories and the obesity crisis will be solved. It’ll just take a few years, but then, Rome wasn’t destroyed in a day.

  45. Had I known I was emanating obesity waves all this time, I would have secluded myself or just jumped off the nearest bridge. I have realized, however, that having been a net contributor to society for over sixty years, I have suddenly achieved victim status. Thanks to your blog, Matt, I now know that rather than being the gluttonous slacker I have always held myself to be, I am simply another poor soul who has been infected by someone else’s emanated rays.

    Narrowing it down, I think the first round of infection occurred when I met my wife to be and she asked if I wanted a beer. Within a year, her obesity waves took me from 108 to 135. Fifteen years later, My wife got pregnant and gained a few pounds in the process. Apparently, her obesity waves resulted in a continuous, thirty year climb from that 135 level to 250.

    As we speak, I am simultaneously writing my second diet book (the first was based on lower calories and increased exercise) and wrapping my self from head to toe in aluminum foil. Here all along I thought it was sloth or low-t, happy to discover it is just low-p.

    Thanks for the tip, we’ll report back on how the anti-ray shield works!

  46. Noblesse Oblige

    31 May 2012 at 7:22 pm

    So one day we will see illegal soda pop contraband circulating in the streets and being sold on corners in certain parts of town. If anyone doubts that good intentions in the minds of political class elites, who know what is good for us all, slides us all toward tyranny, take a look.

  47. If this happens I want to make an RP prediction.

    Places that dispense soda will start selling empty “containers” for a small but nominal fee. These containers will not be sold as part of a meal or beverage purchase. Sold separately. Kind of like the theme cups you get now, minus the beverage.

  48. Bloomberg Logic, Boiled Down: Unhealthiness costs more, therefor, we should regulate unhealthy behaviors so that people become healthier.

    Which of the following does not support this underlying goal:

    1. Government-enforced food plans
    2. Government-owned restaurants selling approved food
    3. Fines for being over a certain weight (regardless of health)
    4. Tax breaks for skinny people (regardless of health)
    5. Mandatory exercise regimens
    6. Ability of citizens to choose what to eat and drink

    Number 6 seems like the likely candidate. Funny that it also seems to be the only item on there that makes much sense in a free society. Hmm….

  49. And so we asymptotically approach governmental nirvana, where all that is not commanded is forbidden.

  50. Michael Larkin

    2 June 2012 at 8:25 am

    We had a very interesting programme on obesity on the BBC recently. It included a study of a group of identical twins, one of whom was obese and the other not obese. The difference was, certain genes had been switched on in the obese twin due to a stressful situation (that’s the current hypothesis, which already has a degree of supporting evidence) many years ago that the other had not undergone. For example, when one got married, she had to move away from her home town, but the other hadn’t). Would it be possible to switch the gene off? If so, the problem would be cracked.

    IOW, the effect was epigenetic. Maybe increasing obesity has something to do with increasing levels of stress.

    Obese people don’t get a feeling of being full however much they eat, whereas non-obese people do. Gastric bypass operations work not just because they reduce the size of the stomach, but also because they also change the sensations people get from food, and that can be confirmed by fMRI.

    People operated on say how for the first time, they eat and actually feel satiated, possibly for the first time in their lives. But also, they no longer have cravings for sugary or fatty foods. This could be important because stomach bypass operations can be of a kind that doesn’t involve major surgery (e.g. by keyhole) and isn’t necessarily even irreversible.

    All in all, one got the definite impression that obesity isn’t just a case of people being greedy pigs. There are genetic and hormonal effects involved.

    See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAjVWpkoJJs

    On another note, as conventional religion wanes, and as we are more accepting of behaviours we once abhorred (homosexuality, sex out of wedlock, racial differences, etc), I do wonder if we still need something “legitimate” to attach our disapproval to – smokers and fat people, for example.

    Also, when the greatest fear isn’t of hell but of dying (than which there can be nothing worse), the tub-thumpers may well be turning their ire not on sinners per se, but those with the effrontery to take risks with their own lives, something they aren’t willing to do with theirs, no matter what miserable cusses they might be.

    And did you see the South Park video, “Smug alert”?:

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s10e02-smug-alert

    Brilliant and relevant! :-)

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