Assumptions and Approaches

When it come to living longer, there are many studies and claims about what works and what doesn't. From my actuarial background, I've developed some layers of scrutiny by which I view the world.

For any given claim, I hold the following perspectives:

  1. Conclusions are rarely absolute. Instead, I view them as 'likely, based on current evidence.'
    • A conclusion may change over time with new information
    • A conclusion may represent an average effect, individual results may vary.
  2. Nothing exists in a vacuum. External factors can change the circumstances of an outcome. Not only that, we are a complex system. Food-activity-sleep-connection all feed into each other.
    • To further complicate things, really tiny things (genes, microbes, nutrients) cascade toward really big things (people, populations).  There is a lot of distance to travel as we zoom in and zoom out.
  3. Correlations are guesses. Underlying causation requires investigation and should have some mechanistic driver.
    • Related to this, not all studies are equal. 
  4. There's a lot we don't know. An open mind is essential.
  5. People are people.  People are not robots. People are not lab rats. Emotion sometimes trumps logic. Feelings can be more powerful than facts. Perception makes a world of difference.

For more detailed perspectives on scientific scrutiny, please refer to Peter Attia's Studying Studies.