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Old 12-26-2013, 06:09 AM   #1
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Passing the stink test.

I love this expression and the message it carries. It is about critical thinking and having the skills to determine if information we all hear and read every day is valid. I have come up with a few guidelines for myself but would love to hear how others determine what passes.

1.I always want to know how it works. Is there reliable scientific evidence and logical explanation?

2. What bits of critical information are present or missing. So many studies don't pass the stink test because they have critical flaws especially in nutrition. There are so many confounding factors and one must look for them and see if they were accounted for.

3. Whose making the claims and why. For instance there is a famous tv doctor who wanted to convince his audience that dietary fat clogs arteries and he demonstrated how fat would look in a giant test tube. Really? He even did blood draws on an audience member before she ate a donut and then after and demonstrated that her blood was indeed thicker. But did not seem to notice the donut was 2 things, fat and CARBS!!! That one really didn't pass the test!!

So what are your methods of figuring out all the health 'info' we are baraged with daily?
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"The energy content of food (calories) matters, but it is less important than the metabolic effect of food on our body." Dr. P. Attia

"dumping carbohydrates on your broken metabolism is tantamount to doing jumping jacks on two broken legs" -The Spark of Reason

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Old 12-27-2013, 11:42 PM   #2
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As far as empirical studies are concerned, I always first consider the test subjects. Most of the time they are mice. And mice have always had radically different diets than humans (and hominids).

While "science" claims objectivity, if you were to actually spend the majority of your life at a university as I have (studying and working), you would see that most researchers are extremely biased and draw very subjectively interpreted conclusions, especially the younger researchers who have to "pay dues" to their professor-supervisors. The bias seems to also really show in the organization of the study itself (constructed hypotheses).

Eating is an extremely personal issue; similar to religious beliefs. I think this fact is also what made Taubes quite angry - enough to write a book that is almost as long as the bible.

Most people who choose to work in the field of nutrition science are already very obsessed with their own personally-formed food beliefs. They will devise studies to confirm these.

Last edited by unna; 12-27-2013 at 11:53 PM..
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Old 12-28-2013, 12:05 AM   #3
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I don't mean to bore anyone, but I find it interesting that Plato even held onto his eating-beliefs religiously, without questioning them. Even someone like Plato, who taught that one should question everything one "knew". Plato held many contrasting beliefs about food itself:

1. He believed the Pythagorean diet of milk and honey was the only ethical diet (because it involved no killing).

2. At the same time, he blamed himself for not being able to follow this difficult diet, seeing it as a moral weakness.

3. He interestingly observed in the Timaeus that humans had an unusually long gastrointestinal tract, which he believed should allow them to not have to think about eating all the time like other animals.

4. Yet, he himself found that he was always hungry and never satiated (could be due to his sparse, veg. diet).

Ultimately, he never connected these ideas. He never questioned Pythagoras' diet, he just assumed it was true.... that it was the best way to eat.
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Old 12-28-2013, 05:24 AM   #4
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This is why it takes an 'outsider' to call out the stink! Taubes for instance, as you noted. He talked at length about the horrible science when it came to nutrition. I am still surprised though that it seems that basic grade 5 science principals are seemingly ignored and the rest of the science community (peer reviews) don't seem to catch it.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:03 AM   #5
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I think sometimes the issue isn't so much with the study, but the outrageous claims and leaps made about the results by either the original researchers or others with preconceived notions they wish to prove.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:16 AM   #6
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I agree! Often times it is uninformed media picking up catchy words.

Another thing that is important to consider (particularly as people who practice nurtitional ketosis) is that most of this 'science' is framed around a standard diet. It may not apply at all to us. For instance, the advice we hear about it being important to eat small amount through the day (5x) I think is the recommendation. Well that might be true if one is trying to keep the insuling (b.g.) swings in check but I don't have that issue and eating that often would be a burden. None of it applies.

There is a ton of other stuff that have 'standards' set that may not apply to n.k..
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Old 12-30-2013, 07:38 AM   #7
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This is a huuuuge pet peeve of mine. Blogs like Hyperlipid (Peter), The Poor Misunderstood Calorie (Bill Lagakos), and The Ketogenic Diet for a Health (Amber and Zooko) are like breaths of fresh air amongst bro-science, superstition, ethical narratives, and just plain bad logic.

That, and a steady supply of worthwhile low carb/keto books like Bernstein/Taubes/Atkins/Rosedale/Phinney/Volek/Jaminet, etc. They don't all agree on every point, but there is clinical and laboratory data in spades to back up their assertions, and it passes the stink test already mentioned.
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Old 01-02-2014, 04:48 PM   #8
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Science for smart people by Tom Naughton found on YouTube is excellent and entertaining.
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