Seth Roberts R.I.P

Last week, Levitt eulogized Gary Becker, who died at age 83. After bringing an entirely new set of ideas to his discipline, for which he was occasionally ridiculed or marginalized, Becker was ultimately rewarded with nearly universal acclaim (and a Nobel Prize).

A couple weeks earlier, Seth Roberts died. He too brought an entirely new set of ideas to his discipline -- he was a psychologist who delighted in self-experimentation -- for which he too was occasionally ridiculed or marginalized. He didn't receive the universal acclaim Becker did, and Seth died far too young, in his early sixties.

But Seth had a huge impact on the people who were lucky enough to know his work or, even better, know him. Levitt and I wrote about him back in 2005, taken by the diligence and creativity with which be tackled topics like diet, personal health, sleep, and even acne.

Score a Point for Seth Roberts and the Shangri-La Diet

Earlier this week, we linked to a news article about a medical study finding that rats gained about the same amount of weight (80 grams, versus 72 grams on average) when they ate saccharine sweetened yogurt as when they ate yogurt sweetened with glucose. In both cases, the rats ate the yogurt in addition to […]

Freakonomics in the Times Magazine: The Stomach-Surgery Conundrum

Read the Column » For their Nov. 18, 2007, “Freakonomics” column, Dubner and Levitt revisit a favorite topic: unconventional weight loss. In September 2005, they wrote about Seth Roberts, who shed 40 pounds with a diet he crafted through years of meticulous self-experimentation. This week’s column digs into the risks and benefits of using surgery […]

Another Supply-and-Demand Obesity Explanation

It is hard to tune out all the talk about obesity in this country. In the past, such talk has led me to ponder how serious the problem really is, how obesity is measured, etc. It has even led to the suggestion that higher oil prices may help curtail U.S. obesity. Now here is a […]

Al Gore Blames the Media for Global-Warming Inaction

Here’s what he had to say. I would argue that he is, um, wrong. Anyone who can say with a straight face that the mainstream media’s portrayal of global warming has been overly skeptical deserves — well, an Oscar. P.S.: David Remnick wrote a very interesting essay on Gore in this week’s New Yorker (and […]

Does Omega-3 Work Miracles?

About twice a year I go on a health kick that lasts a few weeks. Typically this involves going for one-mile runs two or three times, doing as many push-ups as I can (about eight) every night, increasing the fiber in my diet, ramping up my carrot juice consumption, and taking whatever health pill is […]

Does Obesity Kill?

There is so much noise these days about obesity that it can be hard to figure out what’s important about the issue and what’s not. To try to keep track, I sometimes divide the obesity issue into three questions. 1. Why has the U.S. obesity rate risen so much? Many, many answers to this question […]

The Monkey Chow Diet

We wrote about Seth Roberts’ Shangri-La Diet in the New York Times last summer, which he has since turned into a best-selling book. Seth’s research suggested that the key to weight control was consuming flavorless calories. Adam Scott has a new diet idea: Monkey Chow. For the next week, he plans an experiment in which […]

Friends in High Places

As of the last few days, the friends of Freakonomics are dominating the best seller list at Amazon. The number one book is by Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz. Michael Roizen used to own the house Levitt now lives in and was a doctor at the University of Chicago; Mehmet Oz is a longtime friend […]

The Shangri-La Diet, Between Hard Covers

Way back when, we wrote about the Berkeley psychology Seth Roberts and his yen for self-experimentation in the realms of mood, sleep, and especially weight control. Because there was such an intense interest in his work, we asked him to guest-blog on this site, which he did, for several days. (If you want to read […]