Where’s The Science?

Every lifestyle expert claims to have more, or the best, science as a justification of their position, product, or service. So do the charlatans and scam artists.

My dog doesn’t need anyone to teach her to hang out at my feet while I’m preparing food. She doesn’t need anyone to explain the theory of gravity to know that any morsel of food that escapes my control becomes her’s. She only knows that hanging out at my feet serves the most important goal in her life.

We will never solve our health crises—both the collective crises and the individual one—with more science. Right now, every lifestyle expert claims to have more, or the best, science as a justification of their position, product, or service. So do the charlatans and scam artists. And you still can’t tell the difference because you’re not a scientist.

Science can be, and is being, high-jacked, impersonated, interpreted, and dummied-up for the sake of selling health solutions every minute of every day. That will never change. Is more, or even different, science really what we need? How about this instead: the average 10-year-old knows things about creating human health that most adults have yet to do. Why not try what the 10-year-old knows first? You may just be amazed at the results.

Quality Of Life is actually very simple, and hard. We complicate it as a means of avoiding the hard parts. And we are addicted to that strategy.

One of the things that trumps our desire for health is our desire to avoid things that are hard. That’s not complicated; but you have to acknowledge it before you’ll ever move beyond it. And all the science in the world won’t make it any less true.

This site will often point out that one of the major obstacles to both our practice and understanding of health is science. Consider this: if we believe we need science to explain how health works, it is evidence that we have made it far more complicated than it really is. Health is actually very simple, but very hard. We complicate it as a means of avoiding the hard parts. We claim we want to be healthy, we just don’t want to be inconvenienced by the process. A common strategy of the mind in an effort to avoid something unpleasant is to just pretend we don’t understand it.

Interpretation is what everyone does except for the actual people who conducted the study. That isn’t you.

I am a big fan of science; good science will always be trustworthy. But you and I don’t know good science from bad. What most of us do with science instead of really understand it is to trust somebody’s interpretation of it. If you’ve ever experienced the “dueling science” scenario you have experienced this first hand. Dueling science appears as a single study that is claimed by independent parties to support both sides of an argument, or multiple studies of the same hypotheses whose conclusions appear to support entirely difference positions.

This can only happen with interpretation. Interpretation is what everyone does except for the actual people who conducted the study. That isn’t you. So, what most of us do then is adopt the interpretations of scientific results that suit us; i.e., the one that we want to believe the most by virtue of giving us permission to do what we already wanted to do.

Also important to know is that we universally exhibit a slavish over-reliance on science as a guide to healthful behaviors. As we now know, interpretation means that it is not actually the science that we are relying on, but rather someone’s opinion of how we should live. As a practical matter that means that we are putting our faith in a person, not science. I don’t think that most people would admit that this is what they are doing.

99% percent of the time that the word “science” is used to justify the validity of any health-related concept, it is essentially useless information.

When you understand that, you begin to see the huge opening that gives for profiteers to reach into your wallet. That is why they put actors in lab coats to pitch all manner of health-related products on TV. They want you to believe that the person is “qualified” to be making the claims. It is, as are most claims of science, an illusion of credibility.

The appropriate attitude about anything called “science” is to, first, recognize that you are not a scientist. The simple reality is, what makes science good always involves facts that we don’t know first-hand; eg., the conditions under which the science in question was conducted or if it was conducted at all, and specifics of the raw data from which conclusions are drawn. The bottom line is this: 99% percent of the time that the word “science” is used to justify the validity of any health-related concept, it is essentially useless information. At least, it is useless to you; and you are all that matters.

I realize that good science will always be good science, and it will support the truth of what we seek; most of which we already know. If you truly understand how to properly interpret science, and you don’t mind waiting around for good science to happen, then science will serve you well. But, if you’re like me and all but a relative handful of humans on the planet, self-preservation dictates that you seek another path. That is where innate wisdom becomes relevant. Neither government nor science is in the business of innovation. Only people innovate.  This is about people; about putting you back in control. Here’s how it does that:

What science wants most is to understand why something works, not merely that it does.

For us non-scientists (including my dog), the ‘why’ is superfluous. We only need know that it achieves the desired outcome. We may “want” to know, but we don’t “need” to know. And, there is a massive benefit to admitting that it is a “want” and not a “need”. Then, if we are willing to create strategies based only on what we need, we are no longer a slave to adopting only that which has endured the rigorous and lengthy process of scientific study, while others that have based their strategies on innate wisdom have been doing the very same thing years earlier. They will have adopted those strategies the instant they knew of their efficacy.

Given that the scientific process can take 20 years or more to complete (and that is only after someone has agreed to pay for it), think what that means in terms of your life span and quality. It is sometimes the difference between life and death. Every day that goes by illness is taking over our bodies unless we are taking aggressive action. This process accelerates as the years go by, so every day becomes precious in our search for longevity and quality of life. We will never get that time back. Health delayed is health abandoned.

So this innate wisdom becomes a universally accessible tool for short-circuiting this unacceptably lengthy process for the sake of a more timely application of observably constructive health strategies.  It is not instant gratification, there is still a process to it and results have to be observed. However, by simply abandoning our need to know why things work – not only that they do – we have removed a huge bottleneck from this process of creating health.

Being a fan of innate wisdom also means that you are never satisfied with what is already known. The growth process is never-ending.

Those of us that have blazed this trail for many years already have learned a few things that science has yet to – but eventually will – prove to be true. Our findings basically confirm the virtues of a primal-based behaviors in its ability to create measurable quality of life. Put simply, it looks like this:

“If you had to do it 10,000 years ago, do it now. And, if you couldn’t do it 10,000 years ago, don’t do it now.”

Pretty simple, huh? Most of what needs to be added to the above are just the details of the application, not actual enhancements. So, if you are really ready to practice the totality of what is written above, there is little need to read any further. If, however, you’re still not quite sure how this can fit into a modern life, please read on.

Being a fan of innate wisdom also means that you are never satisfied with what is already known. The growth process is never-ending. That means we all have work to do, creating and experimenting (a.k.a., innovating), always with a mind to serving the One Goal of life.

The bottom line of science for those of us who know that understanding why is not a necessity for achievement of the goal, science becomes the systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation only if you are the one doing the observing and experimenting.

Extra Credit Reading: A Primal Irony

One of the great ironies of my field is the paleo/primal teachers who feel the need to justify their concepts with science-speak. Science is clearly one of the most non-paleo concepts of all. If the question is “what would Grok do?”, the answer is never “justify with science”.Quality Of Life is the only concept that needs no science to justify its premise. The justification is in the experience of life. The irony is that is has truckloads of science upon which to lean if needed in the form of a 20,000 to 2.5 million-year case study called human history (depending on how you define “human”), which concluded that is the foundation for our survival, as evidenced by the fact that we’re still here. End of story.

The author of the popular book The Primal Blueprint (a book that I can generally recommend) identifies a guiding principle of health with the words, “what would Grok do”. That is actually a clear, accessible, and relatable summation of living primally, and very much in keeping with QOL principles. But then the author proceeds to load up his blog posts with multi-syllabic kyto-this and glycolitic-that in the hopes (I assume) that you’ll think he’s just a little smarter than you. Of this we can be sure: if Grok were teaching nutrition today, he would not justify it with science. For one thing, he didn’t know any. For another, it hardly mattered in a world where the environment gave you no choice but healthier practices. Yet, that is one bit of guidance from Grok that the author has ignored. To wit from the author’s blog:

“Another study examined how aflatoxin, when fed to a cow, was distributed throughout the animal’s tissues, with particular emphasis on the internal organs. Researchers dosed a 160 kg calf with 52 mg aflatoxin per day for five days, then slaughtered the animal and analyzed its tissues for aflatoxin levels. Aflatoxin was found in all cuts, but it was concentrated mostly in the kidneys and, to a lesser extent, the liver. Lean muscle meat contained 12.9 ng/g aflatoxin, heart contained 16 ng/g, spleen contained 18.5 ng/g, kidney contained 145 ng/g, while the liver contained 47.1 ng/g. So, eating a 100 gram portion of liver from this calf would give you 4.6 mg aflatoxin, which is pretty high. Not enough to kill you (the LD50 for baboons is 2 mg/kg bodyweight) on the spot, but it’s probably enough to cause some problems if you make eating aflatoxin-contaminated beef liver a regular habit. Luckily, commercial cattle ranchers aren’t dosing their cattle with 52 mg aflatoxin per day, and aflatoxin doesn’t occur naturally in pasture. It’s a mold that grows on grain stored in damp, humid conditions. Corn, especially improperly-dried corn stored in tropical or sub-tropical regions, is particularly susceptible to aflatoxin.”

Good thing Grok wasn’t taking his nutrition advice from this author; he’d probably end up at McDonalds out of sheer confusion. Like Grok, I have no idea if the preceding paragraph is true or not. Do you? So, what’s the point? If we’re really taking our cues from primal realities, one of those realities is that there was no science for us to lean on.

Like I said, I respect this author, but the fact that you are impressed with this science gooble-de-gook is a perfect entree for hucksters to impress you also. They too will load up on the incomprehensible science-speak in the hopes that you will think they actually have something of value to offer. And it works. But it works only because it’s a game that otherwise intelligent and credible people can’t seem to stop playing. We have no such problem here at Sage Street.

Here’s what you need to know: If you had to do it 10,000 years ago, do it now. And, if you couldn’t do it 10,000 years ago, don’t do it now.

The rest of it is just playing around with the minutiae that will ultimately prove to be insignificant to the Big Picture of your quality of life.