las

Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Science Code

From Matt Metzgar

Scientific habits of mind, or the scientific process, can be succinctly summarized as the use of evidence and reason to arrive at conclusions. This sounds simple but it’s a demanding code: Take nothing for granted, form conclusions on the basis of careful observation and honest thinking, and be willing to modify those conclusions in the light of new experience.
Art Hobson, Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Arkansas

I copied this here because I think this is a far better description of what science is, or should be, than the black swanning meme I keep hearing.  By that I mean I get pretty tired of hearing the various versions of the "a good scientist tries to disprove their hypothesis" nonsense.  Any research scientists in my audience believe that?  This is why I've said all along that there was never a need for an alternate hypothesis to explain the obesity epidemic, and further that the alternate hypothesis put forth anyway was never formulated based on observations.  Hobson continues:
In other words: Trust the universe, rather than tradition, emotion, authority figures, ancient texts, or popular vote. It’s a code that has worked surprisingly well for science. It might be science’s most important benefit.
I really like this part because it even takes a poke at so-called conventional wisdom.  However many seem to have taken countering conventional wisdom for countering's sake to the level of Olympic sport.   The "popular vote" rings true with me and can be seen in the comments sections of most posts by the likes of Eades circa 2008-2009.  I don't think I need bother with the appeal to authority, only to point out the double standard with which this activity is often engaged in.  Speaking of authority figures, however, the anti-establishmentarianism (is that a word?) rampant in the greater community continues to astound me.  Lastly his admonishment of trusting emotion is quite fitting.  Many seem to have way too much emotion invested when analyzing or discussing the science.  How you feel about a study, or how the results of a study make you feel, should have no bearing on your consideration of the evidence as presented.  In this regard, the whole n=1 thing is useful to finding what works for you, useful to share so that others might try it and it might work for them too, but totally irrelevant -- especially when unverified -- to discussions of science.

19 comments:

Jim said...

My n=1 experiments might be irrelevant to you as science, but they are the only way I can actually DO science instead of just reading about it, and n=1 experiments are probably the only way you can do nutrition experiments too, unless you are a professional with a budget to buy research subjects.

Thomas said...

"However many seem to have taken countering conventional wisdom for countering's sake to the level of Olympic sport."

So true. I see this everywhere, but especially amongst the anti-medical and paleo/LC crowd as well as the high intensity training crowd (which I like, but not exclusively). Why do they all seem to be objectivist, Atheist, Ayn Rand and Ron Paul devotees (Interestingly, one of these bloggers just bragged about being an infidel)?

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Hi Jim, I've never said n=1 experiments aren't science. Done properly, they are, as you say, the only way you can do science. But if you cut carbs and lose weight for example, that doesn't mean the carb/insulin hypothesis is correct. You don't even have the tools to measure insulin levels. But speaking of n=1, I presume the purpose is to seek methods that work for you. Would you test the carb/insulin hypothesis on yourself by trying everything but lowering carbs?

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Wondering about cause and effect here ;-) Does going paleo/LC make you anti-establishment or to anti-establishment types gravitate toward paleo/LC?

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Forgot to add ... As of this comment, when I click on your name I get an empty profile. Who knows if you're even Jim, or a guy, or whatever. There is too much anonymity on the net to take any of the "I was eating 1000 cal/day for a year and never lost one ounce, now I'm eating 3000 cal/day of fat and protein and lost 100 pounds in 10 days!" claims with more than a grain of salt.

Beth@WeightMaven said...

I joked last year about being an outlier at AHS11 because I was female, older, and overweight. I guess I should have added being a bleeding heart liberal to that list ;).

Thomas said...

You have to admit, anti-establishment ideas are money makers.

It's interesting that many of the Objectivists/infidel (defined as one without faith-see James Steele's most recent blog post at http://jamessteeleii.blogspot.com/)leaning people buy into some of the LC/paleo mythology so readily (requiring quite a bit of faith in those that preach it, I might add).

So, the modern objectivist movement (especially those I read in the LC/paleo and HIT arenas) appears, at least to me, to more about anti-establishment than truth seeking (or the idea that facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears), although there are loads of shades of gray.

bentleyj74 said...

If I had to take a guess it'd be that people who are drawn toward a title/identity in regard to their diet are also drawn that direction in other aspects of their lives. The "mainstream" docs tend to be regarded as either socialist plants or greedy sell outs which makes the ground fertile.

Woodey said...

Good lecture from one of the great minds of our time Michael Shermer on why we believe what we believe.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqAwfv3HYGo

A shorter lecture on self-deception. I think Jimmy Moore could benefit from this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rTgMxiOsFs

Last but not least Michael's bologna detection kit. Essential for good science and skepticism.

http://www.michaelshermer.com/2001/11/baloney-detection/

Anyhow since this thread is about science (good science) I thought it fitting to post these links. I hope they are informative.

Unknown said...

A lot of the paleo/LC/HIT folks are simply contrarians, not skeptics. Modern neuroscience has pretty much debunked "Objectivism", but it sounds better than "egotistical crank".

Woodey said...

I'd be willing to take it a step further and say they are also conspiracy theorists. I think the movement fosters the mentality of the Man is out to get you and can't be trusted. So many times on forums and groups like Fat Head I saw the attitude of "you can't trust your doctor because they re owned by big Pharma."

Even veterinarians couldn't be trusted for your pet's health. I mentioned mine had to be on a special diet and that I would have to consult my vet about this other brand of food the Atkins people where promoting. The first thing I heard was, "Your vet doesn't know anything about nutrition for your dog." But what the people telling me this did know was that Petkins (Atkins for animals) did work and that was what I should have my dog on. So I should wake up and feed my dog a big bowl of fat and protein, because that's what is best for his health, regardless of his special needs.

Moore/Taubes/Naughton seem to foster this "we are being lied to" and continually pump this info to their followers. So naturally anti-government, establishment people gravitate to them.

J-Sant said...

So true!

A lot of pseudo-intellectual individualism and objectivism seems to run rampant in these circles. Ayn Rand seems to be the true apostle, and everything else that is remotely mainstream is evil/guilty/flawed by association without further deliberation or logical deduction. We're seeing the manifestation of an orthodoxy within that sub culture.

Woodey said...

Found this article on the LC craze I thought was fitting to post.

http://www.skepticblog.org/2009/12/14/still-on-that-low-carb-diet/

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I don't like to bring this up because it's water under the bridge and the main actors have since graciously publicly apologized, but there was a time when speculation was rampant that I was some sort of mole for Big Agro to take down Taubes and I probably wasn't even a low carber! LOLOL

Woodey said...

Seriously? LOL wow that's pretty bad on their part. How dare you question in the first place!

Sanjeev said...

at 39 minutes is a GIANT gold nugget.

that fool who compared Chrichton to Copernicus and scientific consensus building to 16th century religious authorities.

all those MORONIC TOOLS who post links to that buffoonery, they really need to listen, especially @ that 40 minute mark.

Consensus building has problems, yes; 100% true.

and dismissing the entire endeavour without trying in good faith to discard the bad & find the useful things it can tell you ... typical of the cherry pickers.

Sanjeev said...

> MORONIC TOOLS who post links to that buffoonery

Don't ask me to stop being shy & to write how I REALLY feel ...

MM said...

anti-establishmentarianism (is that a word?)

Yes, and you don't even need the hyphen. :)
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/antiestablishmentarianism

LeonRover said...

The term antiDISestablishmentarianism was coined in Britain as a reference to those opposing the disestablishment of the Church:

"for the disestablishment of the Church of England, that is, to remove the Anglican Church's status as the state church of England, Ireland, and Wales."

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