The Long Game 10: Epigenetic Clock, Information Diet, Prepping, Pricing, Risk, Hip-Hop, Reading, Good Doctors

🧬 Roam Research, Theranos, The End of Time, Amazon vs. Walmart and Much More!

Hey friends 👋🏼, and welcome to The Long Game — my take on health, wellness, and better living.

If you missed the past episodes, you could catch up here.

In this episode, we explore:

  • The Horvath Epigenetic Clock

  • Information diet

  • Prepping and disasters

  • Pricing

  • Finding a good doctor

  • Amazon vs. Walmart

  • Roam Research

Let's dive into it!

I'm back in Paris for a few weeks. Here's a picture from the last days in Belgrade! After a month in the Balkans, I can say that this part of Europe is underrated and very charming.


🥑 Health

Reversing Your Biological Age

Remember your grandma telling you orange juice is healthy and good for you? It will make you strong and help you fight the winter flu!

Orange juice is a good example of something that many of us believed (or still believe) healthy but is not.

Today there is an increasing focus on increasing lifespan and healthspan. Health advice is everywhere. They aim at helping us live the healthiest and longest life possible. But how helpful are they really?

Some people will tell you a Vegan diet is the best solution for your health. Others will say the exact opposite and promote eating only beef. You may think studies could help figure out who is right and who is wrong, but you would be wrong. Just watch the Joe Rogan Experiment about the Game Changers Documentary.

People, even scientists, are more and more dogmatic about their knowledge. For many of them, there will always be a reason to explain why a study that contradicts their beliefs is wrong: industry-funded, not enough participants, questionable study design, "correlation doesn't mean causation," not enough parameters measured… you name it!

Just like many other aspects of the public debate, science is getting more about identity and less about facts.

This is a real problem because people are starting to be lost in the ocean of health-related advice. They came to find ways to be healthier and in better shape, and they leave lost and not knowing what to do.

This may change soon with a precise measure of how well your body is aging.

I wrote a piece about the Horvath Epigenetic Clock and how it will guide us in our attempts to reverse or slow down aging.

Read the article

Empowering people with useful information is a great first step, but it comes with risks. Information should come with proper counseling and guidance on how to interpret the results of a test.

For example, learning that you have an elevated risk of developing diabetes should come with an explanation of the statistical significance of such a finding. It should also come with a plan to help you reduce the risks associated with this new finding.

Here's the link to the study showing how the Horvath clock works.


🌱 Wellness

📰 Information Diet

If you eat unhealthy food, you're going to feel bad and have suboptimal health.

The same goes for the information you consume.

If you're plugged to the news and don't pay attention to what you read, listen to, and watch, chances are your information diet is going to be very bad.

More and more entities are fighting for your attention. If you're not careful, your attention will go to what's best designed to catch it, not what you'd want to focus on.

I stopped watching and reading the news two years ago. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Ever since, I try to focus on timeless and in-depth pieces.

The main principle that helped me improve my information diet is to aggressively curate what I put my eyes on.

“It is essential for you to remember that the attention you give to any action should be in due proportion to its worth” — Marcus Aurelius

Instead of the news, following the meta-rationality principle often referred to by Tyler Cowen, I find experts in every field that I'm interested in, and I read what they suggest. Twitter is an excellent tool for that.

Minimize your cognitive load from distracting things that don't really matter.


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🧠 Better Thinking

🔦 Risk and Prepping

It's funny because a lot of topics in society immediately put people in two opposed categories. Prepping for disasters is one of them!

To caricature a little bit the situation, preppers are usually equipped right-wingers, and on the other side, people from the left thinking that prepping is ridiculous.

Generally speaking, topics that divide based on identity are really bad, because people stop reasoning about them.

It's even more dangerous when the topic in question could be a life or death question.

I read a fair amount of things on natural disasters over the last months (The Unthinkable, by Amanda Ripley), geopolitical risks, nuclear risk (The Logic of Doomsday on Making Sense Podcast), and existential risks (The Precipice, by Toby Ord.)

Some people find it depressing, but I think we must be aware of the risks to plan accordingly.

This week, I read this excellent piece on the math of natural and political disasters.

If we look at raw dialectic alone, we reach dismal conclusions. “Do you think the United States will exist forever and until the end of time?” Clearly any reasonable answer must be “no.” So at that point, we’re not talking “if,” but “when.”

We see a 37% chance that any American of average life expectancy will experience at least one nationwide violent revolution.

No country or location is risk-free. Disasters happen. We shouldn't fools ourselves into thinking they can't happen to us, nor be overly scared of everything.

Being aware of this can help you be substantially less screwed if something bad happens.

For more on this:


⚡️ Startup Stuff

💸 9 Tricks to Experiment with your Pricing Strategy, by Julian Lehr

As weird as it may appear, pricing doesn't get the love it deserves! This excellent article covers nine pricing strategies companies can experiment with.

A few strategies I found interesting:

Strava clearly signals which of their users have upgraded to a premium subscriptions with a little badge and premium-only leaderboards.

People place a greater value on things once they own them (endowment effect). The pain of losing something you own seems to be more powerful than the pleasure of gaining it.


📚 What I Read

📖 How to Read: Lots of Inputs and a Strong Filter, by Morgan Housel

What's the best way to approach reading and your content input in general? Most of us have been taught at school to finish the books we start. That's very bad advice. In this article, Morgan Housel details his reading strategy.

Reading is a chore if you insist on finishing every book you begin, because the majority of books are either a) adequately summarized in the introduction, b) not for you, or c) not for anyone.

Why is it so important to chose what you read wisely? Because without broad input, you're never going to challenge your beliefs.

This applies to more than reading books. It’s true for all kinds of data, research, conversation, and learning. Without flooding your brain with inputs you’ll be stuck in the teeny tiny world of what you’ve personally experienced. But without a strong filter you’ll be overwhelmed with choice and paralyzed by inaction.

👩‍⚕️ How to find a good doctor, by Peter Attia

My life got better when I stopped trusting "authority figures" blindly. A lot of doctors are great, and a lot aren't. You can't just trust someone because they're a doctor.

In practice, however, it can be hard to assess whether a doctor is good or not. This article helps us navigating this process by proposing ten questions to ask your doctor.

Here are a few of them:

  • How do you think about balancing the line between prevention and treatment of the disease? How much of your time with patients is spent focusing on the former versus the latter?

  • Which lab tests and biomarkers do you consider essential for patient management?

  • Which conferences do you try to attend each year?

  • How much time, on average, do you spend per month staying informed of the latest research in medicine overall, such as reading broadly from journals like JAMA or NEJM?

💉 Does Theranos Mark the Peak of the Silicon Valley Bubble?

The fraud story of Elizabeth Holmes is fascinating. She claimed to have developed technology that dramatically increased the convenience and affordability of blood testing. She managed to raise more than $900 million. She is now awaiting trial.

The case U.S. v. Holmes is set to begin on 10/20/2020, she could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Holmes and Balwani (former COO of Theranos) were looking into a possible defense strategy of blaming the media for the downfall of Theranos.

🤑 How Hip-Hop Helped Cash App Grow Faster, by Trapital

Learn how the Cash App leveraged Hip-Hop culture to grow. From Hip-Hop stars to their fans, the brand awareness exploded using an original strategy.

Cash App’s user base is strongest in the South and the Midwest of the US, which aligns with the regions where many hip-hop fans are at. It’s the opposite of most founders who focus first on their “early adopter” personal networks in the coastal metro hubs in New York and San Francisco. 

TikTok had Lil’ Nas X. Snapchat had DJ Khaled. YouTube had Soulja Boy. The list goes on. Hip-hop culture influence continues to grow, and more companies will find their own way to engage fans.


📽 What I'm Watching

🌌 TIMELAPSE OF THE FUTURE: A Journey to the End of Time

I can't get over how good this short movie is. This video is the most beautiful and terrifying video I've seen.


🍭 Just for fun

What's the difference between an intellectual and an entrepreneur? Answer here!


🎙 Podcast Episodes of the Week

🥇 Business Wars Series: Amazon vs. Walmart

This series on the ongoing war between Amazon and Walmart is worth your time. It's a narrated story retracing the rivalry between the two giants. The show does a great job of explaining the thinking and the strategy of Jeff Bezos.

I loved listening to how Walmart underestimated Amazon in the beginning. Jeff Bezos had a clear idea in mind and refused the purchasing offer from Walmart CEO in the early days of Amazon.

It made me wonder who's going to be the challenger for big tech companies of today. They may seem invincible, but they won't last forever.

Timing and paradigm shifts will create opportunities for new players.

For example, I learned while listening to Turner Novak on Invest like the Best that Social E-Commerce, with Pinduoduo for instance, could be a significant threat to both Amazon and Facebook.


🔧 The tool of the Week

🕸 Roam Research, a Tool for Networked Thoughts

I got into personal knowledge management a few years ago. At first, I was using the Apple Notes App, and I didn't have any system to organize the content I read, listen, and watch.

Then I discovered the P.A.R.A method of Tiago Forte. It helped me build a functioning productivity system and create a reliable system to save ideas, knowledge, and notes: a second brain.

I have been using Notion (a note-taking tool) as a personal knowledge management tool for more than a year. Notion has a lot of excellent features, but I got increasingly annoyed by the fact that the more notes you have, the harder it becomes to organize them in a way that makes sense.

For example, if you read an article about the Mimetic Theory, you may want to have it in #Philosophy #Sociology #Desire #Girard #Mimetic Theory. That's something you can't easily do in Notion.

Roam (a different note-taking app) makes it very easy to classify and organize your knowledge. It also enables bi-directional linking.

For example, when I was reading articles about the Horvath clock, I could easily tag them with #Hovath Clock and get a "Horvath Clock" page created, that gathers all the articles on this topic.

I'm just getting started on Roam; I will detail my new productivity system in a full article soon!

An example of my “Horvath Clock” page in Roam Research.

Check out this excellent thread to understand the power of Roam.


🪐 Quote I'm Reflecting on

In truth, so far modern medicine hasn’t extended our natural life span by a single year. Its great achievement has been to save us from premature death, and allow us to enjoy the full measure of our years.

— Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus


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EndNote

Thanks for reading!

I will see you next week. As always, if you're finding this newsletter interesting, give me your feedback, you can respond to this email, tweet at me or send me a note!

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Have a great day,

Mehdi

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