August 16, 2020

Mental models

A few things worth sharing: 08-16-2020

I’m doing something a little different for this week’s email and highlighting a couple of things I thought were worth sharing.

Read Time < 1 minute

I’m doing something a little different for this week’s email and highlighting a couple of things I thought were worth sharing:


How to Think Like an Epidemiologist (New York Times, August 4th, 2020)

This article caught my eye because it raises a very good teaching point for anyone interested in real-world statistics: you must update your information as it changes. Now I must be honest, I initially clicked on the story because I thought the title was meant to be ironic. (After all, why would I possibly want to “think” like an epidemiologist, given that I am hard-wired to associate epidemiology with horrible nutrition studies?) But it’s actually a fantastic piece that explains Bayes’ Theorem which you need to understand if you want to make sense of anything from cancer screening to COVID testing to ruling out a ruptured appendix in the ER.




Robin Williams’ final days detailed in touching trailer for new documentary Robin’s Wish (Entertainment Weekly, August 6th, 2020)

In response to my email about Robin Williams last week, a reader sent us the news that a new documentary called Robin’s Wish is set to release on September 1st. The film tells the story behind Williams’ struggle with Lewy body dementia and the final years and days of his life. 


 – Peter

Disclaimer: This blog is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this blog or materials linked from this blog is at the user's own risk. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.
  1. Thanks for the heads up about the Robin Williams documentary.
    Unrelated to Robin Williams, I hope you return to the subject of LDL-P sometime.

  2. Hi Peter,
    Can you please elaborate on your comment “associating epidemiology with horrible nutritional studies.” As a lay person trying to make sense of the recommendations put forth by “experts” in the nutritional/diet/environmental impact fields, I am horribly confused. Should I be vegan, vegetarian, paleo, take supplements, avoid supplements, avoid wheat, avoid dairy, incorporate more dairy….. the list goes on. Actually, what I would love to see is a full on debate between proponents of each of these “movements” for want of a better term.

  3. Drive with Dr. Peter Attia: Qualy #26 – What is Peter looking to achieve and monitor with his blood glucose monitor?

    You may know that there is an early-version of a home insulin-tracking device. It was likely announced after your Qualy podcast aired.

    The website is and Gabor Erdosi would be the one to contact about it. I think they limit who can acquire one. Not available to the masses yet.

    I, too, hope it comes to pass that we will have access to more metrics.

    I will have my first opportunity soon to try a 14-day CGM as a learning experiment on myself. I would not qualify as diabetic, based upon my low-carb eating, so I haven’t had access to a CGM, but I am convinced that I will learn a lot from the experience.

    Your thalessemia trait brief discussion was interesting, too. I recently did a home A1C with A1C Now Professional on the same day as an A1C from Quest Labs. The home kit metric was substantially lower than the metric from Quest. I did have a doctor tell me at one point that he thought I had thalessemia triat based on odd bloodwork. I went back to his office and asked what test he had run years ago (once I had learned of the implications of it for A1c when trying to understand the variance.) That was before electronic records and he could not retrieve the information. [So, I am not convinced that I have it.]

  4. I try to squeeze in these typically good reads in my slack time between tasks so making it a more complicated (as the NYT does requiring a login/account to be established) is detrimental to me reading. As a good Bayesian model might suggest my probability of continuing on to the article is already low when it is from the NYT but dramatically lower when whatever site hosting it requires a new account to be set-up. We can do better than this, right?

  5. NYT article you linked to was weak according to my MD public health epidemiologist husband He didn’t think the author understood beysian theory Or at least lacked in his explanation and threw out a lot of platitudes.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Instagram icon Pinterest icon Google+ icon YouTube icon LinkedIn icon Contact icon