Spotting Bad Fitness Articles: Dinosaurs Go Extinct

Posted on 17 Feb 2010 01:10

The last post in the series discussed what we assume and how we must assume. In this post, I want to talk about what we know.

What do we know?

We don't know a whole lot. If we are willing to take the time and do a little Critical Thinking we can come close to the best conclusion based on the state of knowledge at the time. Knowledge is not static. Evidence is not static. So here is what to look for:

Author's recommendations and viewpoints never seem to change

As you peruse the internet you will come across fitness and strength writers who have written a great many articles or at least whose opinions are freely available in some form. Chances are you'll find someone who was writing articles in the year 2000 and is still writing them today, in 2010. Pay attention to the dates. Pay attention to the evolution. Ten years is a long time. Heck even five years is a long time and for me one year is long enough to turn my thinking on a subject one hundred sixty degrees.

You may find that our hypothetical writer is saying the same things now as he or she was in 2000. That is a bad fitness writer, my friends. The state of knowledge has changed too much for anyone to still be saying the same things.

This statement out of all that I've made thus far may be the hardest for many to accept. Experience tells me that most people view those whose opinions never waiver as having more authority. Someone who seems more sure of themselves and their opinions will be viewed as more of an expert than those who don't always take a concrete stand (another article?). They have less because they have simply stopped learning. Stopped thinking. Stopped applying.

Do not attach yourself to dinosaurs and sticks in the mud.

Not a day goes by that someone does not ask a question, get ten contradictory answers and wonder, rightly so: "Who do I listen to?". The purpose of these posts are to help those very people. The beginner has very little foundation on which to proceed. They are very prone to falling victim to those who shout, rant, and rave rather than reason, discuss, and LISTEN. Well, those who pound their fists are those who have little voice.

So here is a simple research tool. Take some time and examine the history of your information source. The ones to avoid are the ones who never seem to change on anything. They say the same things through the years, albeit louder and louder. It's alright to be wrong. As a matter of fact, the next time a writer proclaims, I WAS WRONG, in an article, mark them down as a go-to source.

But all that is just about researching and learning. We need a specific practice or habit to serve as a spot for our bad fitness article list. Well, these writers will tend to discuss everything as if it's "for sure". Phrases such as "it's been proven" or "we have known for a long time" will be prevalent. Other favorites are the appealing to common knowledge or common practice. Everybody knows this or everybody does this. Some writers will be so blatant as to say things like "I am right about this and nothing anybody can say will make me believe otherwise. In fact, if you think differently you are not even worth listening to. So the spot is:

The author talks about what he KNOWS rather than what he THINKS.

Above I brought up old articles versus new articles. I want to be clear that I am not making a value judgment about new things being superior to older ones. An older article can still be valid and educational. The point is to compare the evolution in one author's thinking and not to say that old articles are not valuable. Just because an author changes their stance often does not make them right or wrong. That should be obvious. But if they never change their stance then you can bet they have much fewer chances of ever being right, or at least as right as anyone can be.

This page created 17 Feb 2010 01:10
Last updated 19 Mar 2018 04:19

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