Monday, November 19, 2012

Why the Shangri La Diet Cannot Work as Supposed

A man should treasure his doubts:

If consuming tasteless calories lowers your set point, then anyone who loses their sense of smell should lose weight like crazy.

I do not know, but I think that this is not true.

The Shangri La Diet book was a best-seller. Many people must have tried it, even though it sounds crazy and I can quite see why people would not go around admitting that they were trying it. But if it works for most people, then surely people who tried it and had it worked would tell other people. People are usually happy to go around spouting the worst craziness once they are convinced it's true.

So it should have spread by word of mouth and taken over the planet by now.

More arguments please. We can be like Greek philosophers, finding the truth without troubling ourselves to ask reality.


  1. Dunno about "cannot work". But it's interesting that you've gone from p=0.36 to what seems like great confidence. Is that because you think your prior was over-conservative, or because you think there's evidence that wasn't adequately incorporated into your calculations, or what?

  2. The reason I'm a bit more confident than 1/3 chance of working is because I was trying to tell the difference between 'no change with a bit of random walk', 'lose one notch a month with a bit of a random walk', and 'gain one notch a month with a bit of a random walk'.

    The only two left in the game are 'lose one notch' and 'nothing happens', so I reckon that the truth is probably somewhere in between.

    I should go back and redo the calculations with some sort of variable parameter, but I don't anticipate it telling me very much apart from 'the peak on the left has shifted to be a peak on the right'.

    Affective Death Spiral, I guess.

    On the other hand, I'd only be mildly surprised if I suddenly found out that it didn't work for me and had never worked for me. So maybe I'm only really about 60% confident.

    It's all moot. You can convince yourself of anything. This needs a proper test of the sort that finds out for good.

    And I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that it only works for 1/100 people and it just so happens that Seth Roberts and I and all the other people reporting success are lucky.

  3. My mother has no sense of smell and is thin. Does that help ;-?

  4. It's data. See 'the paradox of the swans'.

    It would be better data if she was fat, lost her sense of smell, and became thin.

  5. We are dealing with the brain here, a biological device which has been known to rewire itself on more than one occasion.

    Perhaps people who have no sense of smell could start to equate texture with calories.

    (On the other hand, I too had a friend born with no sense of smell. Skinny as a rail. Hated eating because it was boring to him.)

  6. I remembered a different friend who temporarily lost her sense of smell. due to a criminally botched nasal surgery. i asked her about it on Facebook and she said:

    1. She lost her sense of smell for about three to four weeks.
    2. She lost a lot of weight and she lost her appetite.
    3. She had her tonsils taken out at the same time, so she was on a liquid diet.
    4. She gained all of the weight back, and became ravenously hungry when she could eat solid foods again.

    Coincidentally she could eat solid foods at about the same time that she started to be able to smell again. That, and the nasal surgery are some significant complications to your theory.

    1. Bah, I hit submit too soon. What I meant to say was that this data lines up with your theory, but the nasal surgery and the liquid only diet add in some complications to the interpretation of the data.

  7. Crazybutable, this is very interesting. I asked a doctor whether people with no sense of smell were thin, and she said no. But you know two examples. Maybe I should look into this some more. It's possible that what I thought was an argument against is actually a prediction that is true.

  8. I lost about 10 pounds on Shangri-La and don't people. The only person I told (my brother) thought I was crazy.