Is Your Expert Really an Expert? The Problem of Inappropriate Expertize and Name-Dropping in the Fitness Industry
I've been making a lot of statements about expertize and experts lately. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, critical thinking and skepticism has become as popular as frozen Margaritas in Mexican restaurants, and just as bland and weak. Usually, these excited new thinkers invoke science. One of the secrets, it seems, to being scientific, is to go on and on about how you should be wary of experts and go around refuting them.
The fitness industry is made up of in-groups and out-groups. Of course, whatever group you are in, is the in-group as far as you are concerned. Some groups have more social power than others, however, and are able to draw more members. So we have something like minorities in the fitness world.1
Continue Reading » Fitness Insider Groups and the Ultimate Attribution Error
I find often that people who talk about rational thinking and skepticism a lot do not seem to think very hard at all. I was reading an article about skepticism in which the author made the point that you can still think rationally about a subject even when there is not a lot, or no, scientific evidence concerning it. This I agree with and it's a point that needs to be made given the constant shouting about evidence…even when you have it, your brain is not supposed to shut down.
Continue Reading » The Time to Think about Evidence Is NOW: Before You've Seen It
Strength training and fitness in general brings on reams of discussion as to what it means to be an expert. They also bring on droves of people who play at being an expert on the internet and, increasingly, on television. Recognize that I cannot hope to define expertize without it tending to align with my own interests and biases. However, I do think that the non-expert may be distinctly recognizable!
By Eric Troy
I've read a couple of journal papers here and there. And I've also published a fair amount of them here on Ground Up Strength, if permission was given to do so. One thing that you may have noticed about journal articles these days is that they are full of tables and supplemental attachments. Some of them useful and essential and some of them ridiculous fluff. You may even have noticed that I routinely leave out many of the tables in these journals. That is because they look particularly useless, adding nothing to the content or readability of the paper and serving only to create noise and distract the reader, taking up his or her precious time.
Continue Reading » The Data Dump in Fitness Information: Time to Get Back on Track
Or not. One of the most prevailing habits in this industry is to take isolated pieces of information and run with them, making sweeping conclusions with little to no consideration of other factors. Information is nothing in and of itself. It's what you do with it, or, how you apply it in regards to the BIG PICTURE. Probably one of the biggest drawbacks of the information age is unlimited information with limited background. Limited background makes facts interchangeable with knowledge. I discussed this often misunderstood difference between knowledge and facts in my post: Facts, Knowledge, and Reasoning Skills
Continue Reading » You Too Can Lift A Car!
Popular strength coaches, and bodybuilding coaches who talk about strength training as well, are always inventing little aphorisms and catch phrases designed to get across some central philosophy or concept inherent to their way of viewing training for strength. Problem is with catch slogans and aphorisms, is that they are designed to sell a concept rather than to teach a concept. An aphorism is only as good as the qualifications you give it when you explain its underlying rationale. With most of these statements, it is the style that sells them, more than the content. One of our members called this type of thing a fallacy by slogan and this is an apt way to put it. A good aphorism is catchy like an infectious rash: Everybody spreads it around and it does more harm than good.
Continue Reading » The Deadlift is not a Deadlift and Other Infectious Aphorisms
Instead of listing out twenty tips in an obviously deceitful display of "yeah right you gullible fool," all I really need to say is this: Pick twenty random things from around your house that can be smeared on a burn, poured on a burn, etc. And you have your twenty home remedy tips.
Soy sauce. Mustard. Vinegar. Hey, take some chewing tobacco, chew it up real good, and spit it on your burns. I swear, it works wonders. My grandmother used to swear on it for bee stings, too. The point is it doesn't matter what I say, there is someone who will believe it.
Continue Reading » 20 Home Remedies for Treating Minor Burns: Not!
I wanted to make a quick post about the review, The Role Of Soy In Vegetarian Diets. After reading this, what I want everyone to notice is just WHAT the concerns about soy are centered on and what they are not. The concerns about soy have been centered on its isoflavone content as you can read about in the article. Mercola and many others seem to want to "shift" the debate to organic versus non-organic soy crops. This is called a "red herring" and is a signal that these writers want to deflect our attention. It's misdirection.
Continue Reading » Organic Versus GMO Soy, Isoflavones, Red Herrings and Junk Science
As a continuance of my assault on the misleading ideas about "natural" food, this is yet another follow-up to a series of blog posts where I discuss chemicals in foods and the concept of natural. In the last one I talked about the difference between chemicals as nutrients and chemicals as pharmacologic agents. I explained that some chemicals in food do have a physiological affect beyond their basic biological functions. Others, such as compounds in herbals used for medicinal purposes simply have no function as a "nutrient." All of these, though, have one thing in common and that is summed up by saying that "The poison OR the remedy is in the DOSE." This is important in helping us recognize the difference between nutrition information and alternative medicine information.
There is a myth out there in webernet land: You must be balanced and consider all opinions and arguments. You must weigh them all equally. If you don't you are not thinking "critically".
I deal with this all the time. "Is this program any good?," I am asked. "No," I say, "It's crap."
"Why?" They say. "Why don't you ask me why can't dogs fly?" I reply.
Continue Reading » All Opinions are Equally Valid: The Myth of Balance in Critical Thinking
There has been a lot of support for Michal Pollan's books for the last few years (he was on Colbert ) and his books "In Defense of Food" as well as his earlier book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" are both very popular. I even saw Mike Boyle singing the praises of Pollan while imagining he knew more about nutrition than "nutritionists" by virtue of having read Pollan's books. Even though, strictly speaking, Pollan is not a nutritionist but a journalist. But hey, I've also seen Mike Boyle and others sing the praises of Mercola, so go figure. I would hesitate to get my nutrition information from a strength coach or a journalist. That is not to say that I would not take their advice, but only that I would hesitate to consider that advice as seriously as I would consider the advice of someone who is a nutrition specialist.
Continue Reading » Natural and Processed Food, Nutritionism and Pollanisms
Recently I published some information on homeopathy from the 10:23 Campaign. This is a group that has staged some public mass homeopathic drug "overdoses". Don't worry it ain't no Jim Jones thing. It's a simple demonstration of the fact that no amount of a homeopathic drug can harm you because there is simply nothing in it but water and sugar.
Continue Reading » Homeopathy is Not a Drug and Other Babbles
Once again, I just came up against one of the most useful words in the English language. Useful because it can be instantly tweaked and expanded to fit the needs of the person using it. Natural is one of those words that is not defined by what it is, but simply by what the person using it thinks it isn't! And I hate it, I tell ya. I cringe even when I let the word slip out. It happened to me not long ago when I realized that I had used the word "natural" in this article about Paradoxical and Diaphragmatic Breathing. It is so easy to fall back on these muddy words and I beat myself up when I do it. And so should you, my fair readers.
Continue Reading » Natural, That Darn Word Again: Let's Strike it From Our Vocabulary
So, yes, my titles are weird and not creative. But those two things, strength training concepts and cranks, I will relate to each other. You just wait and see if I don't. I got to thinking about this when a new member came on the forum to introduce himself. He was saying that the concept of the "relative max" from the Singles Scene seemed oddly familiar and reminded him of concepts from Bulgarian weightlifting training. I don't know much about Bulgarian training but I thought, well good. After all I didn't invent it and I can't have been the only person to understand it's importance. That would not be good, you see. That would be bad. Because if I'm the ONLY person to actually think a certain concept is really important, it probably isnt. Because I ain't that smart. I'm average at best but I strive to do above average work.