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Seth RobertsRSS Feed of this column.

I am a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and author of Read More »


Last night, at a Vietnamese restaurant, I had an avocado shake for dessert. On the way home I stopped at a Chinese bakery and got garlic pork cookies. Had science, like cooking, been invented more than once, what would other scientific traditions — other ways of doing science — look like? My guess is they would not include:

1. Treating results with p = 0.04 quite differently than results with p = 0.06. Use of an arbitrary dividing line (p = 0.05) makes little sense.

  During the recent PBS special on obesity Fat: What No One is Telling You, a segment about surgery included this voiceover:

Until recently it was believed that the tiny stomach [that the surgery produces] is what forces the patient to eat less and lose weight. The surprise came when researchers learned that what makes surgery work so well is the cutting of some nerves in the bowel, which changes signals which flow between the gut and the brain.

The obvious connection between durian, the big smelly spiky Asian fruit, and the Shangri-La Diet is that both rely on flavor-calorie learning. We come to like the initially unpleasant smell and flavor of durian because we learn to associate it with the calories in the fruit. Here’s what happens

“To anyone who doesn’t like durian it smells like a bunch of dead cats,” said Bob Halliday, a food writer in based Bangkok. “But as you get to appreciate durian, the smell is not offensive at all. It’s attractive.

From the Shangri-La Diet forums:

This is week 5 for me, and I have lost 7 pounds so far.

A few days ago on the Dean Edell radio show, I’m told, Dean Edell told his listeners that nicotine patches don’t cause any addiction problems; people just don’t get addicted to them. To anyone who has read The Shangri-La Diet this will sound eerily familiar: Dr. William Jacobs, a professor of psychiatry and addiction researcher at the University of Florida, told me that no one gets addicted to unflavored sugar water, although lots of people get addicted to Coke, Pepsi, and other forms of flavored sugar water.

Do omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function? I blogged earlier that switching from olive oil (low omega-3) to walnut oil (high omega-3) and flaxseed-oil capsules (very high omega-3) caused my sleep, my balance, and maybe my mood to improve. If you are interested in duplicating what I did, here are details:

Supplies. I take (a) 2 tablespoons/day walnut oil (Spectrum Organic refined). Store locator at will help you locate this. Total 240 calories. (b) 10 1000-mg capsules/day of flaxseed oil (Longs cold-pressed softgels). Longs drugstore house brand, which is only available at Longs drugstores. Total 100 calories.