Critical Thinking


Food Label Zealots Hate Chemicals Unless They're in a Supplement Bottle

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 effect 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.

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All Opinions are Equally Valid: The Myth of Balance in Critical Thinking

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.

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Natural and Processed Food, Nutritionism and Pollanisms

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.

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Natural, That Darn Word Again

Let's Strike the Word NATURAL from Our Vocabulary

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.

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Cranks and Crackpots in Strength Training and Beyond

I got to thinking about familiar seeming strength training concepts 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 its 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 isn't. Because I ain't that smart. I'm average at best, although I do strive to do above average work.

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Fitness and Strength Training: It's A Process

I am in the process of transferring some old posts from the old "GUStrength's Blog" to here. This post was written in August 2009 and like many of the posts over there was never really seen. I think it is a good one and worth having more visibility, but I'll let you be the judge. It concerns a subject that we often discuss here at GUS, which comes down to the question of being a "task-oriented" or "outcome-oriented" person. This has been mentioned in numerous forum discussions and articles, so we must think it is a fairly important distinction. Here, I am trying to clear up just why that is.

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Asinine Expectations in Strength Training

I have noticed something curious in the strength training world and in the fitness world at large. Strength training and fitness professionals need to be less "me" oriented and the public needs to be less "other" oriented.

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Case Studies Versus Anecdotal Evidence in Strength Training and Bodybuilding

Scenario: Guy comes on to a bodybuilding board and posts a thread about how such and such a supplement or program put 20 pounds on him in a month and grew two inches on his arms. Ignoring the obvious conclusion that the guy is bullshitting, the board members hit him with one of the following answers: "Anecdotal Evidence. Doesn't prove Anything." Or, "Case study of one. Doesn't prove anything."

Supposing it is 'evidence' of any kind which is it? Anecdotal evidence or a case study? It's anecdotal evidence. Guys coming on to bodybuilding boards talking about their new guns don't do case studies.

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The Paradox of Choice by Dr. Barry Schwartz

Confession. I'm a real geek for Ted Talks (although they sometimes present some real crap). I particularly love this talk by Dr. Barry Schwartz. If you don’t relate to most of the things Schwartz talks about in this video then you may have already discovered the secret to happiness!

Schwartz is a sociology professor at Swarthmore and author of "The Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More". In the talk he makes a great case for how the abundance of choice in our affluent Western society is making us miserable. The story Dr. Schwartz relates about buying a new pair of jeans made me laugh because that is ME. I want that pair of jeans too…the kind that used to be the only kind.

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They Are Not Smarter Than You: Facts, Knowledge, and Reasoning Skills

Never assume that your authority figure is smarter than you. I constantly see trainees accepting everything a certain person says because they simply feel that they are not smart enough to apply any thought to it so they must simply absorb it as gospel.

I was looking around for Mel Siff items on the internet and came across Tony Gentilcore’s “Resource Page”. After the entry on Mel Siff’s book “Facts and Fallacies of Fitness” Gentilcore wrote:

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The Other Side Of Dogma - Alternative a Euphemism for Untested?

My last post about strength training and nutrition dogma dealt with the downside of the popular and untested beliefs that we cling to in the face of little to no evidence. Even so I pointed out that not all beliefs which appear to be dogmatic are "bad". Well, it just so happens that I think there are worse things than dogma.

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Strength Training, Pain, and the Regressive Fallacy

You're going to wonder why there is a psychology lecture on a strength training blog, I'm sure. Well bear with me because I'm not even going to talk about psychology, even though that is an interest of mine. Listen to the lecture by Dr. Paul Bloom of Yale University and get with me on this because it relates to some of the points I've been making in my posts here and many comments and articles throughout the site.

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Going to the Heart of Things: Break the "Advanced" Mess Down to Its Essence

I complained about the misuse of quotes in fitness articles in my first Bad Fitness Article post. While writing the last post in that series I was thinking about the mess of programs and so-called advanced training techniques and this caused me to go all philosophical. So I wanted to see if I could use quotes in a useful and legitimate way to illustrate some of my ideas in this area. I called on two of my favorites and went from Bruce Lee to Emerson.

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Keep It Simple Stupid: Simplicity Gone Wrong

The following was originally a forum post back when I was using a different system on the site. As such it was buried in a non-active forum category and I thought it important enough to re-post here in my blog:

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Testimonials And Supplements

I wanted to share some of these testimonials I've received. It's great to have your hard work appreciated.

I love Ground Up Strength. If you ever have any stubborn people like me, have them call me. Ground Up Strength is the real deal!

—Edward Smith

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