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Terribly biased hit piece on Silicon Valley, here is my rebuttal: https://medium.com/@DrSepah/why-the-media-lies-to-you-about-...



Sorry, what? That Medium article can't be taken seriously, especially when it veers off the rails into moaning about people speaking out about toxic masculinity and complaining about an opinion piece in The Washington Post from over a year ago!

If you want to seriously rebut the New York Times piece, find a serious article.


yes they are violating the recommendation of Dr. Sepah's proposal and make it into a purity trip, a meditation retreat in daily life.

"You don't need to “do nothing” or meditate during a dopamine fast (unless you’d like to). Just engage in regular activities that reflect your values:

- Health-Promoting (exercise, cooking)

- Leading (helping, serving others)

- Relating (talking, bonding over activities)

- Learning (reading, listening)

- Creating (writing, art)"

-- https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dopamine-fasting-new-silicon-...


This is something I came to slowly realize in the search for repairing my attention/depression issues. So far I've been getting good results. It started with giving up amphetamines (adderall, vyvanse), when that didn't do the trick, I removed alcohol and caffiene from my diet. The benefits I experienced led to stop smoking marijuana as well. That one was the toughest to give up, the anhedonia was torturous. It was like my brain forgot how to make dopamine. I couldn't enjoy any activity.

It's been 38 days since I stopped smoking, and it seems that things are starting to improve. I'm able to work on my creative endeavors again in multiple short bursts. I've also massively cut down on porn consumption (from daily to biweekly on average, but trying to get rid of it all). As well as halved my newsmedia consumption (an avg of 10 hours a week down to 5, another thing I want to get close to zero).

I've been reading a lot more, mostly philosophy (stoicism, daoism), but also worked through some other self help books as well as some science fiction. Still playing lots of games but, Im using it as my support system for the time being. Eventually I want to get even games down to just a very select few titles.

It's am ongoing process, tempting to want to rid myself of everything but that would be setting myself up for failure, too overwhelming. Must ease into things. the benefits have been manifold, discipline, concentration, memory, emotional control have all improved, which cascade into fitness, eating better, getting work done, less procrastination, and my favorite: more time. Bill Burr said "a year sober is the longest year of your life" and it's true, the clock passes so much slower, which is great, life is starting to feel plentiful again.

Anyway, I digress. But what I did notice is that is all comes back to dopamine. Some activities seem to give it more sustainably, others supernormally. And by limiting supernormal stimuli, we should expect to see positive effects.


Do intense physical exercise, that’s the missing link in your plan. You’ve got basically all the other key parts in place.


Some martial art (a real one) like muay-thai (no need for fights) works really good for this.


Martial arts are really hard to get into as a beginner. I'm physically fit and fairly flexible, but the dogmatism of many martial arts and the high barrier to entry (extreme strength and flexibility seem to be required even to start) made me really uncomfortable with a wide variety of martial arts. I've tried aikido, capoeira, kung fu muay-thai, boxing — but they all seemed to required beginners to immediately be able to do side-splits, acrobatic flips (I'm in NYC, so maybe the quality of beginners was much higher).

I'd recommend yoga in combination with weightlifting or HIIT training.


It's not a gatekeep. It's just easier to do in group by following the teacher/group.

The "have to be fit to join" is a myth. You can go whatever your fit/fat levels are.

The mindset is "do what you can" and improve step by step.


BJJ could be one to try if you have patience left?


I don't think there's a need to gate-keep exercise.


Start with walking and fast-walking in bursts.


This is an impressive change you are making, congratulations!

If you're not already doing this, I'd like to suggest journaling this effort in detail. This will be an amazing journey to look back on. And in the mean time, when things are tough it's always nice to be able to see all your accomplishments thus far.


Good on you brother. I underwent a similar effort recently. Cutting back or eliminating adderall/coffee/alcohol/marijuana/twitter/facebook/reddit/instagram/bullet chess ( my addictive game of choice )/more I'm probably missing.

I made it about a month clean before I had a drink which pulled me back into everything else. I'm trying to clean up again. I want to re claim my attention and be able to mindfully focus my time on more productive and helpful things.

One day at a time, I guess.


Read Hesse and discover moderation, it sounds like your personality seeks extremes.


I don't know you, but I'm so happy for you. You have done such incredible work.


Lol I have a new food fast, but you don't have to stop eating.

You can:

* eat your normal breakfast while fasting from food

* engage in your normal lunch routines with friends while fasting from food

* have a hearty, family style dinner with your loved ones while fasting from food.

Why does this person require abuse of the term "fast"? Fast means to abstain, but the entire list includes point for point the opposite of "abstaining" from dopamine. Exercise releases dopamine. Learning and creativity release it. Helping others release it. It's not a fast, and anyone who calls it that is just lying (or abusing our language in a very doublespeak 1984 kind of way, "eating is fasting" kind of way)

This comes across as a ridiculous fad with better branding than substance.


Yeah, this whole notion of a "fast" seems like it's based on the usual one-dimensional view of dopamine as synonymous with excitement and pleasure. There's a lot of evidence that dopamine is far more subtle than that; it seems to play a huge role in anticipation and sensory gating, for example.


Perhaps dieting would be a better term - it's most similar to a whole foods/avoid simple carbs diet.


> Leading (helping, serving others)

Helping and serving others is not leading at all. And leading is not helping and serving others.


If you're ever in a management position, I hope for your sake -- and your subordinates' -- you outgrow that notion.


You can be helping and serving without having any leadership impact or role. Completely. Overwhelming majority of people who help others or server others are not leaders. Helping and serving others will not put you into leadership position nor proves you are capable of leadership.

And while good leaders help on occasions, they are not serving not the bulk of that role does not consists of helping and serving.


The concept you are looking to read up on is servant leadership. It's entire thesis is that a leader serves those "below" them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership


Necessary but insufficient.


at a minimum, a nice jewish boy from a podunk town in a roman backwater province vehemently disagrees with you. He went pretty far, too!


Cam, I say this as a fellow Psych PhD: shame on you. Your approach is not evidence-based and apparently has little or nothing to do with your publication history, which from what I can tell largely consists of studying behavioral interventions for diabetes prevention (which is an important area!). You are abusing your credentials in order to sell snake oil, and there's no way you're not aware that you're engaging in quackery.

To the rest of you: beware the PhD who insists that everyone call him "doctor". It's a huge red flag.


Beside the personal attack, could you elaborate on your rebuttal? Here's an excerpt from his original article: Dopamine fasting is based on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the gold standard treatment for compulsive behaviors like internet addiction. Specifically, it uses the behavioral technique of 'stimulus control' to restrict use to specific time periods, because abstinence models are not practical with the internet. Researchers generally agree; in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, they state: "Clinicians have generally agreed that moderated and controlled used of the Internet is most appropriate to treat the problem"

Is he being misleading?


Shame on you for making baseless accusations while hiding behind your pseudoynm. If you have an issue with CBT for behavioral addictions, then criticize the approach, not make ad hominem personal attacks.

For the record, I have all my clients call me Cam and only use the honorific online and when being introduced to speak. Step up and tell us your name, instead of being an anonymous coward.


CBT is great. It’s a broad therapeutic framework that can be applied to address a wide spectrum of mental illnesses. Unfortunately, you are using both “CBT” and especially “dopamine” as meaningless buzzwords. One could just as easily substitute in Willhelm Reich's "orgones" wherever you mention "dopamine" and the substance of the article would be essentially unchanged. Pro tip, Cam: science is conducted in peer reviewed journals, not on LinkedIn and Medium.com


Thanks. I needed something that addresses the weird end of the NY Times article when he refuses to speak to someone - I thought that the goal is the exact opposite - more "real" human contact and experiences and less of things that directly push your addiction circuits.


No, it's so that they can work even more, because "they can't allow themselves NOT to work on weekends".


That's my point - the reasoning in Sepah's article (comment above) is very different from what's portrayed in the NY times article (OP).



The bar chart in the rebuttal is pretty damning, though - just look at the gigantic confidence intervals. The real effects can plausibly be negative for all factors but "Healthy Daily Activities".

Note that I neither defend the news media here, nor argue against news fasting. This particular study just isn't the final argument in the matter, in my opinion.


The 17% reduction in depression was statistically significant. Healthy daily activities was p = 0.057. I agree it's not the be-all & end-all study, but its promising.


Statistical significance is almost meaningless in this case (or necessesary, but not sufficient). One can calculate the necessary sample size to guarantee stasticial significance before the study even starts.

I just calculated it for this study: With an estimated small effect size (0.1), 95% confidence (α=0,05) und 1 degree of freedom you have guaranteed significance at n=197. Phase 2 of the study at hand had n=167, so almost guaranteed significance from the sample size alone.

The problem is that the confidence intervals are huge and their range covers the negative space, too. In other words: It is quite possible that a reproduction of the study would show negative results.


I find that graph of media consumption outrageously hard to believe. The average person spends 11 out of 24 hours every day consuming media? People average 4 hours a day watching TV and 1.75 hours a day listening to the radio?


Well, something like 20% of the population are in the transport sector, and many of those probably listen to radio 8 h a day while driving.


Instagram/reddit/Snapchat/tik tok/forwarded whatsapp videos/hacker news/audio books/music are all media. And with a device that enables 24/7 consumption literally on a person 24/7, I don’t doubt it.


If you look at the graph, internet usage is a relatively small percentage of media usage. TV + Radio have roughly 2x the consumption of internet based media according to that graph. Which strikes me as odd, although the idea of people in transportation skewing the radio numbers is interesting


It's on the upper end of estimates I've seen. Other sources say 2-2.5 hours of social media for the average American. It think it's because that source used all kinds of different media sources like radio. That definitely increases my "screentime" hours when I leave Spotify/YouTube music on my phone.


I suspect that may be device level consumption accounting as opposed to actual focus (which is hard to measure) at best. At worst it is human memory which is even worse.


Seems absolutely plausible.


Your advice seems sensible, but I don't see anything revolutionary about it. It's basic common sense, but I believe that your "sin" was your attempt at rebranding a simple concept, a framework to moderation and withdrawal, into a click-baity term: "dopamine fasting 2.0". It makes it look like yaf (yet another fad) and yaf is tiresome. Yaf is also easy target and an opportunity to sell paper.


I don't claim it's revolutionary. CBT is a lot of common sense--but as I like to say, "common sense ain't so common."

The original sin of the controversial title is what made it go viral, so it's the price to pay to get it to help more people.


Yeah... but I can see how the name "Dopamine fasting" can get people confused


Read the original guide, it's pretty clear: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dopamine-fasting-new-silicon-...


Just FYI, mocking the term "Toxic Masculinity" shows you either don't understand what it refers to or think those things are good, either of which makes me much less interested in anything else you might have to say because it sets a bad precedent.

Toxic Masculinity does not mean being male is toxic (i.e. harmful). It refers to specific ideas about what it means to be male or how men should act that are toxic. Like not sharing emotions other than violence, not asking for help, never admitting weakness, etc. If you think those things are silly and we shouldn't be doing them: great! But many people (especially men) hold onto these notions and that's what the term refers to.


From you explanation, “toxic masculinity” sounds like a label for being overly “reserved”, “self reliant”, and “hiding weaknesses”.

If it is the case, it looks like an attempt by some groups to shame and to dictate men, who value those qualities, that they must adopt the views of those groups on the male character and behaviour - seen, as usually, as only acceptable and morally superior.

I thought toxic masculinity is more about seeing men superior to women, telling sexist jokes and remarks, expressing an explicit sexual interest to female colleagues, etc. Anyway, it is a misleading and confusing term in general.


I've only seen it as a gendered slur used condescendingly to silence and shame men, as your post did.


How did his post shame men?


Somehow people who think "toxic masculinity" is a man-hating slur tend to miss the fact that I may be a man (I am, btw).

I don't "hate men" either. I neither hate myself nor do I hate other men for being men. I do however hate that some people (including men) have very harmful ideas about what it means to be a man and that they mock and bully men and boys who don't conform to these ideas for "not being real men".




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