“Most [Scientists] are Trapped”

We need personal science, I say, because professional scientists lack freedom and have goals (e.g., status) other than progress. Art Robinson agrees:

“Most [professional scientists] are trapped,” [he said.] Trapped by government money. Filling out grant requests, politicking to be well-liked, serving on grant review boards, going to the meetings to be seen by others, will take half your time. The project itself had better be popular. “You’re only going to get the money for something that everyone has heard of and thinks is the coming thing,” he said. As for politically sensitive areas such as global warming, “your research had better come up with the results they want.” At private research institutions, where half the money may come from private endowments, the research is nonetheless still held hostage. “Professors in these [institutions] who are candid with you will say, Well, we can’t really do what we want here because half of our money comes from the government so we can’t afford to put it at risk.”

He also agrees with me about the importance of hormesis.

In the 1970s, when he worked at the Linus Pauling Institute, Robinson did a mouse experiment that found at certain doses Vitamin C increased cancer. This was contrary to what Pauling had claimed, and he reacted badly. As Robinson tells it,

Pauling responded to the unwelcome news by entering Robinson’s office one day and announcing that he had in his breast pocket some damaging personal information. He would overlook it, however, if Robinson were to resign all his positions and turn over his research. When Robinson refused, Pauling locked him out and kept the filing cabinets and computer tapes containing nine years’ worth of research. They were never recovered. Pauling also told lab assistants to kill the 400 mice used for the experiments. Pauling’s later sworn testimony showed that the story about the damaging information was invented, while experiments by the Mayo Clinic conclusively proved that the theory about cancer and Vitamin C was wrong. . . . When he found himself locked out of his own office, Robinson sued Pauling for breach of contract, slander, and fraud. . . . The case was settled out of court with Pauling paying Robinson $575,000.

Pauling wrote a book saying that large doses of Vitamin C shortened colds and another  book about Vitamin C and cancer. Long ago, I took large doses of Vitamin C when I got a cold. It was hard to tell if it helped. Later I tried zinc, which definitely helped. After I improved my sleep, however, I no longer got unpleasant colds. I stopped taking zinc. For me, Pauling’s belief that megadoses of Vitamin C reduce colds was a dead end. (And dangerous. It isn’t reassuring that Pauling’s wife, who took megadoses of Vitamin C for many years, died of stomach cancer.) Improving sleep isn’t hard, and I suspect a much better way to improve immune function than megadoses of Vitamin C.

20 Replies to ““Most [Scientists] are Trapped””

  1. “Improving sleep isn’t hard.” – This seems like a gross generalization. If only it were so for everyone! 🙂 Some folks with long-term insomnia like myself bounce from supplement experiment to supplement experiment (D3, l-theanine, melatonin, valerian, magnesium, etc., etc.), try one-leg standing and skipping breakfast, etc., and get no results.

    Seth: Have you tried getting an hour of sunlight every morning, as early as possible?

  2. I have done so whenever it’s feasible. Feasible = sunny + before 8 am (when I must leave for work). The advent of Daylight Savings Time has made this much more difficult (for now). BTW, I really value your original essay on self-experimentation and your subsequent discussions on insomnia on this blog, and it has led me to carefully track various n=1 sleep experiments. M negative comment above is purely out of frustration with myself, not with your theories or observations. (BTW, is “black coffee” – void of protein, carbs, or fat – forbidden under the “no breakfast” program? I’ll ask again at some future time if I am getting off topic.)

    Seth: If you are waking up tired a few hours before you usually drink black coffee you should certainly try cutting it out. The caffeine may produce anticipatory waking. Drinking a lot of caffeine will certainly cause sleep problems. Cutting it out is something else to try.

  3. Agree that figuring out sleep issues is complicated. I tried D3 in the morning, exercise variations, sunshine, and many other ideas. For me, taking supplemental glycine did the trick. Sometimes by making gelatin, other times by simply popping a glycine pill.

  4. Sentinel, have you tried the artificial daylight lamps? My wife uses one in winter: it cheers her up but if she uses it too late in the day it can cost her sleep. So she uses it early in the day.

  5. By the way, I hadn’t known Pauling was such a shit. Are there any leading scientists who are decent humans? Was the last really Clerk Maxwell?

  6. Magnesium (oxide) didn’t work for me as a sleep aid until I stated to take it throughout the day, with a larger dose right before bedtime (about one hour).
    My eyelids get heavy and out I go. 400mg in the morning, again around noon, and then 800mg at night. Works like a charm.

  7. Dearieme, I have not tried an artificial daylight lamp; from what I know they are more for treating SAD, which I do not have. Do you believe, from your experience, that they work for circadian-rhythm-related sleep disorders (as opposed to the Seth-recommended “real sunlight” first thing in the morning)?

    Joe, regarding the magnesium dosage and timing, that’s interesting. Today I took Natural Calm (ionic magnesium citrate) for the first time during daylight hours, just to see what would happen. One thing I’ve learned from Seth’s blog is that details like timing and dosage are essential (witness Seth’s discussion re Vitamin D3 timing), but these details are often left out by someone (doctor, blogger, etc.) making a recommendation. That’s why I asked (above) if black sugarless coffee is “breakfast” for the purposes of Seth’s “no breakfast” approach; that’s also why I wonder the extent to which Seth exhausts a leg during his leg stands. 🙂

    Seth: I always do the one-leg stands to exhaustion. I found that artificial fluorescent lights with sunlight-similar spectrum improved my sleep.

  8. “Do you believe, from your experience, that they work for circadian-rhythm-related sleep disorders”: I don’t know since neither of us has such a problem. But their prices seem to have fallen a long way in recent years so I suppose it wouldn’t cost too much to try.

  9. “By the way, I hadn’t known that Pauling was such a shit.”

    Speaking only for myself, I still don’t know any such thing. I can only be certain that these two intelligent and opinionated men did not get along, and that Linus Pauling cannot offer a rebuttal.

    Seth: “Did not get along”? That understates what happened and the power asymmetry. Pauling fired Robinson for no good reason. And destroyed his data. And, apparently, threatened to destroy him. Robinson did not do anything like that to Pauling.

  10. Alright smart guys. I see all this talk of insomnia here, but do any of you have ideas on how to treat HYPERsomnia? I have a friend who needs to sleep 10-11 hrs/day or else she’s positively exhausted. Any advice? The doctors are stumped.

  11. Hi Seth, thank you so much for your responses. I now see that elsewhere you defined “to exhaustion” as “until it hurt too much to continue.” That helps to clarify a bit.

    Regarding your statement that “artificial fluorescent lights with sunlight-similar spectrum improved my sleep”, do you know what # “K” temperature fluorescent bulbs do this well, and how many bulbs/watts would be necessary to have a positive impact on sleep?

    BTW, I am very jealous that (as cited in your “Effect of One-Legged Standing on Sleep” blog entry) your daily “Rested” ratings only fluctuate in the narrow band between 99% and 100% (or when things are bad, between 95% and 100%). I think I am usually in the 0% to 60% category! 🙂

    Seth: I used 4 ordinary length fluorescent lamps. Their color temperature was about 5-6000. My face was about 4 feet away, they were shining upward I was looking forward. I wrote about this in my long self-experimentation paper (where I also discuss standing and sleep).

  12. CC:

    That’s above my pay grade, but hypersomnia is the need to sleep during the day. You didn’t mention if your friend sleeps well at night. So this sounds like it might be related to depression rather than a need for more sleep. And possibly fibromyalgia, too.

  13. Sentinel:

    “Today I took Natural Calm (ionic magnesium citrate) for the first time during daylight hours, just to see what would happen.”

    So…what happened? And don’t forget that dosage counts. At least for me, it does.

  14. Joe, it made me a bit sleepy at the time I took it (~3pm); as for the night time effect of daytime Natural Calm, it was inconclusive; if this Comment forum is still open in a few days, I will post something then about the effect daytime use of Natural Calm on nighttime sleep, after I accumulate some data.

  15. Joe: You’re right… maybe hypersomnia wasn’t the right term. Let’s just say that she needs a *lot* of sleep. I think she sleeps well at night, but she still needs 10-11 hours. I think the doctors have considered depression and fibromyalgia, but I’ll check. If you guys have any other ideas, let me know.

  16. Joe, After my second day of mid-day Natural Calm magnesium citrate (2:30pm), I actually had a very good (for me) night of sleep. Fell asleep in 5 minutes, slept for six hours straight, which is unusual for me. In compliance with Dr. Roberts, I faced the rising sun for 30 minutes out of an open window from 7:30 to 8 AM. (Had to slink off to workplace.) Hopefully mid-day magnesium plus sun, applied consistently, will yield solid results. Thanks to all for support and advice.

  17. Sentinel:

    Great. Why not try taking some magnesium right before bedtime, too? Yes, in addition to the magnesium you’re taking at noon.

    Nota bene: There are many kinds of magnesium salt, and they vary widely in the amount of elemental magnesium therein. I recommend that you read “The Magnesium Miracle,” by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. for the full skinny. Magnesium is as important for overall health as Vitamin D, in my opinion.

    PS to CC:

    It helps with depression and fibromyalgia, too.

  18. Update: unfortunately, more Natural Calm (magnesium citrate) in afternoon and before bed, delaying 1st coffee 2.5 hours, and increasing exercise and 1st-in-AM sunlight (plus 6000K light, albeit only 45W) has had no effect on the early awakening. Usually I only have 1/2 to 1-1/2 cups of coffee in a day, and typically I have no trouble falling sleep at first, so I doubt eliminating the remaining coffee will solve the problem. I am developing n=1 fatigue…. 🙂

    Seth: You might try: 1. eating more animal fat. 2. one-legged standing. 3. Vitamin D3 in the morning.

  19. Thanks again, Seth. I will try to increase animal fat intake; this might be a challenge for me, paleo but pescatarian. One-legged standing did not work for me, though I cannot say I continued doing it after a couple of weeks. I have taken 10k IU of D3 (Solger) almost every day for months but it has not changed my sleep.

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