Abstinence-Only Education Criticism | Part 2

Due to recent events, here is a part 2 to my earlier post on abstinence “treatment”. Slightly more personal this time.

Eating Disorders

Reddit just banned /r/ProED and /r/ProEDmemes. I’m not sure what to say, other than that it sucks.

I’ve never even had an eating disorder. I’ve often flirted with it, my eating has never been healthy, but it has never interfered with my day-to-day functioning.

I really liked ProEDmemes. Many posts were relatable, and the community has helped me through some dark spots. The people were so lovely and caring, it was a place to relate and to vent. It wasn’t a place where eating disorders were encouraged, but one where eating disorders were accepted and everyone could work it out on their own pace, sharing and receiving help along the way.

Reddit is really convenient, like all the social media platforms. You can easily participate in many different communities at once, so any single community can survive even when little fresh content gets posted. But for vulnerable communities, it doesn’t work so well.

I miss the old internet. I miss the old focal points.

What am I feeling

What do normal humans look like? Have my arms always looked this out of place? Are my arms too long or too short? Too wide or too narrow? They are wrong, but I can’t quite put my finger on what part is wrong.

My face looks off. All its parts have the wrong shape, size and location. My head looks fake and silly, not like heads are supposed to look.

Proprioception is bothering me. It constantly makes me aware of where my left leg is, even when I’m trying to concentrate on things that have nothing to do with anyone’s left leg. What’s up with that? Why a leg, why only the left one?

I want loud music, I want to stand outside in the cold, I want physical sensations. Anything to stop the goddamn noise.

I press my tongue against my teeth. Have my teeth always been there? They feel too widely spaced and too narrowly. They are too close to the centre of my jaw. My teeth don’t fit in my mouth and they definitely shouldn’t be where they are now. I want to grab a hammer and smash them from my skull.

Has my hair always looked this ridiculous?

All proprioception is too present right now, all over my body. My ears are bombarding my brain even though the world is quiet. My eyes are doing something equivalent that I can’t describe. My skin is crawling, itching to be cut. I wish my senses could turn off for an hour; I want some rest.

Everything about my body is deformed and in the wrong place and feels like it doesn’t belong.

Isn’t it strange that depression dampens your colour vision while also heightening proprioception? Because hypomania increases both and depression should be the opposite of hypomania.

I feel like a stranger in my own body. Maybe I would feel like a stranger in any body.

Veg*n dishes versus constrained optimization

Mathematical optimization is concerned with  problems of the form \text{maximize~} f(x) \text{~ for ~} x \in X for some set X \subset Y and function f : Y \to \mathbb{R}. In this post, we’ll think of Y as the set of possible restaurant dishes, X\subset Y as the set of dishes satisfying certain constraints like being digestible, non-poisonous and not containing human flesh. The function f to optimize is some combination of price, healthyness and taste.

A first observation is that for any X' \subset X the maximum of f(x) over X' is no bigger than the maximum over X, for if x \in X' attains the maximum of f(x) over X', then also x \in X, so the maximum of f over X is at least f(x). In normal words, if you restrict your diet, you can miss out on good dishes, but never gain access to better dishes than on an unrestricted diet.

From this, we could deduce that you should never pick a vegan dish in a restaurant because the non-vegan dishes were made with fewer restrictions and hence can only be better than the vegan dish. Same for choosing recipes to cook yourself. Before I was vegan, this was my conscious reason for always choosing dishes with meat.

But is the deduction true? I don’t think so. Because, unbeknownst to many, the meat dishes are actually constrained to contain meat. I don’t know why, but my two prime suspects are Goodhart’s law impacting the reasoning above, or meat-eaters being scared of vegetables.

As it turns out, making a good vegetarian meal takes non-zero skill, contrary to making a good meal with meat. In my experience, this causes chefs to put actual thought into their vegetarian dishes, causing these to actually be tastier than most dishes with meat. So the argument from mathematical optimization actually gives the wrong answer here!