Forward: this post is about science, not politics. I am using political examples to make a point about scientific methodology. If, while reading, you find yourself getting angry and interpreting my points as political, I suggest you stop reading and go brush up on Critical Thinking 101.
Anyone following the election knows that there were some wildly inaccurate projections made in the days before November 6th. For instance:
Why were all these pundits so wrong? Because they were throwing out all the science that didn’t support their world view. They were basing their predictions on two primary (cherry-picked) sources, the Rasmussen and Gallup national polls, both of which showed Romney tied or leading among likely voters. Several of them were overtly scornful of state and national polls that painted a different picture, claiming that those polls were biased and flawed. So they just tossed them out. Listen to them talk, and you’d hear lots of mention of opinions and gut feelings.
And then there was Nate Silver. Nate Silver looked at ALL the polls and subjected them to rigorous mathematical review. He included the outliers in his calculations, but weighted them in the context of the full breadth of scientific evidence. The result of Nate’s methodology was a 100% accurate prediction of the final electoral map.
What does that look like? Oh yeah, the actual election results.
So what does all this have to do with dietary dogma? Most dietary dogma is based on cherry-picked scientific outliers. These gurus will take a handful of studies that support their agenda, dismiss all the other, conflicting, science as biased and flawed, and build an elaborate dietary mythology based on a few outliers. Sort of like Dick Morris and company did with their cherry-picked polls.
It’s true that my nutrition and health views tend to align more strongly with ‘conventional’ theory (conventional theory: primary drivers of obesity and metabolic dysfunction are inactivity and energy imbalance), and there’s three main reasons for that:
1. Conventional theory has WAY more science supporting it
2. When I applied conventional theory to my own health, I lost weight and reversed disease, just like conventional theory held I would
3. Before I applied conventional theory, I tried all the non-conventional theories and continued to struggle
This doesn’t mean that I dismiss alternative theories and outlying science. There’s definitely some value there. The emphasis on food quality and proper rest doesn’t get enough emphasis in conventional theory (although conventional theory doesn’t dismiss either). But I consider those outliers in the context of all the other science. I don’t dismiss all the other science and focus solely on the outliers. Kind of like Nate Silver. You know, the guy who NAILED the election.