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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Too Much Information

This is just my opinion (as if anything on this site is anything else?!), but I feel that, at least for the average Johnny or Sheila hoping to get fit and/or pursue athletic ambitions, the athletic/health science industry is doing more harm than good.  The fact that at our fingertips rests such an immense wealth of information isn't always a good thing.  It makes us believe that there is a right answer.  And when we believe there is a right answer, we often feel compelled to find it and follow it.

The problem is though, that the right answers aren't always clear, aren't always easy to follow, and in the absence of our ability to follow this 'correct' course of action in it's entirety, we often opt to do nothing.

Look, I'm a scientist by training and I recognize the tremendous benefit the field provides.  But science, at least to the non-scientist, can be misleading.  It produces claims about benefits of one course of action over another that while perhaps technically true, can (and maybe should) pretty much be ignored.

Supplement X performs better than Supplement Y, and both are shown to provide benefits as compared to a control group that didn't take either.  Better go get supplement X, right?  Training regimen A produces a greater increase in VO2 max than regimen B, so looks like I need to go and change the way I'm training now too!  Well, not so fast.  In truth it is likely that while supplements X and Y do produce statistically significant differences in some measurable characteristic of health over the control group, it is very small difference. It might also be that you are not similar to the control group at all!  And if you don't actually know what statistical significance is in the first place, then maybe you should research that before you google any more Brand X's or Program B's.

It comes down, again in my opinion, to a bit of a need for external validation.  Sure, it's good to do research and learn about whatever you are interested in, but it is FAR more important to develop an intuition about your own body and mind--what works and what doesn't.  A genuine internal confidence in whatever you decide to do will pay the kind of dividends that can't be paid for, no matter how slick the sales marketing might be.

Eat good food and move regularly.  Spend time with people you care about and care about what you do with your time.  Now that's not too much information, is it?

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