Our Intellectual Hubris

How challenging our assumptions can change our mindset, save us money, and make us healthy!

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Today I wanted to tackle a tough subject. Challenging our thoughts and beliefs, specifically when it comes to health and wellness trends. This is a tough subject because it requires us to admit we are wrong, and sometimes our ego’s just can’t handle it. However, it’s an essential requirement for us to grow as people. So lets take a look at how challenging our assumptions can change our mindset, save us money, and make us healthy!
Know That You Don’t Know
Science is constantly evolving and informing us of new and exciting things. Because what we think we know today will inevitably be challenged tomorrow by some new research. The key to keeping up is to not get dug in on any “one true method” of doing things. This can be tough because our mind hates uncertainty, and randomness and needs to make connections even when there are none because it has a need for order and control. So when you get all of your information from one source, there comes an asymmetry of input (what you believe versus what you choose not to) that creates ‘gaps’ in your knowledge. Your brain automatically fills these gaps based on your prior learning andBOOM you get suckered into a cult. So lets take a moment to “snap out of it.”
Step 1 Take Responsibility – When you start taking responsibility for your own goals (learning, health, fitness, etc.) you also give yourself the power to make changes. We consume the outputs of scientific inquiry like we consume everything else: through a filter of emotion, bias and personal connection. So as long as it’s somebody else’s fault, (i.e. “Dr. Oz said so, so it must be true”) you’re going to keep making excuses to justify why you’re doing, or not doing, things.
Step 2 Call Yourself Out – You need to call yourself out and make sure that what you’re saying/doing isn’t just some nonsensical story you’ve crafted to avoid the hard things in life. There is no magic bullet. Fat burning pills won’t make you skinny. What you learn today probably won’t be true even a year from now. This means you need to recognize your biases, as seen in the picture below, to be able to make a move in the right direction.
Step 3 Be Authentically You – Not being afraid to be you, the real you. Not some manufactured ‘me-too’ edition of somebody else, so you can fit into some arbitrary clique you’ve been told you should be a part of. Don’t assume that doing what everyone else is doing is going to make you look, feel, or be like them. Doing what the bull (e.g. a body builder) does, won’t change the fact that you’re a llama (e.g. a runner).
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When to Build, When to Burn
We determine the importance of information quickly and subconsciously, rather than through a conscious process of deliberative and slow reasoning. So it’s inevitable. You’re going to realize that because a snap decision was made years ago, a person, book, method, or way of doing things is no longer the golden nugget you once thought it was. For instance, we used to KNOW that eggs, fat spreads, potatoes, dairy, and raw nuts were bad for you. However, we now realize that all foods fit into a healthy diet, and perhaps more importantly, enthusiastic consumption of one particular “superfood” can be worse than consuming a so called “food villain!” What I’m getting at is that we all need to take a look at what bridges need to be burned and to start building new ones to the right places as more information comes to light.
The question now becomes “how do I separate the wheat from the chafe?” This is a toughy because you have people out there like David Wolfe, the Food Babe, and Dr. Mercola who spew nonsense but appear to be legit. The keys to their success are that they look “good,” they communicate well and are charismatic, they’re marketing machines, they seem knowledgeable, and they seem experienced. But being scientific and fact driven are not high on their priority lists. Here is how to recognize their pseudoscience garbage:
Translate their message into ordinary language, thereby assuring that what the claim asserts is a logical concept, rather than just a collection of jargon.
In doing this, you will know whether you have been taught an idea or you have only taught a definition.
Practical Application
The goal of this post is to get you to challenge your current belief system, and know how to look for good information. Because knowing what science is will truly benefit us all. What we know today is a reflection of what we have learned and experienced in the past. The problem here is that our memories suck! We all have a distorted and constructed memory of a distorted and constructed perception, both of which are subservient to whatever narrative our brain is operating under. Our malleable memories, combined with confirmation bias, are a key factor in the Dunning-Kruger effect, the inability to perceive one’s own incompetence in a given area.
So here are key takeaways to attaining competence.
 – Challenge what you know, because not even the practice of washing your hands isn’t immune from scrutiny. So if you’re going to read junk like The Grain Brain that’s completely fine. Just be sure to challenge that view by reading The Gluten Lie.
 – Don’t just read the words, understand the meaning behind them. This means that just because something is labeled as “organic” don’t automatically assume that it’s better, or even good, for you. Translate the message (in this case “organic is better”) into ordinary language to fully appreciate the value.
 – Ditch the dogma. I hate the term “clean eating.” It’s an over-hyped theory, an absolutely meaningless term, and can actually be detrimental. It’s a term used in many dogmatic diets and is used by many knuckle head guru’s.
 – Be reasonable, don’t retaliate. People squabble over the silliest of things. So instead of digging into your position, be reasonable and take a firm look at the opposing argument. Yes, reasons can be given as to why insulin will cause obesity, but research shows there’s far more to it than that, and that it’s simply not true. Sure slow and steady weight loss has been shown to be very effective for keeping off weight, but rapid weight loss can also work under the right circumstances. Don’t agree? Find out why these statements might be right before you go saying they are wrong.
 – Don’t just go along with the herd. Our actions are largely influenced by those around us. So do your best to break away from the herd to take a closer look at what’s going on. Because starving yourself won’t help you get skinny, weight loss “hacks” aren’t always helpful, and thatexpensive grass fed beef everyone is raving about isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

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