Your tribes are killing you.
No one is immune. And it’s critical you discover your biases. If you don’t, they could lead you off a cliff.
It’s important to me as a thought leader because I want to create lasting positive change. Like everyone else, it can be easy to see what I want instead of the truth.
Fortunately, I’ve learned to spot bogus studies and pseudoscience code words. I’m not perfect, but I know the first step is being humble and embracing new evidence.
I come from a morbidly obese family. I was always the skinny one. But over the course of twenty years, I packed on 70+ pounds.
Since then, I lost 44 pounds in 44 weeks and kept it off. I did it without diets, gyms, or supplements.
I wish everyone knew the simple tricks of filtering out truth from the dumpster of lies. The good news is it’s not that hard. I’ll even throw in the real secret to weight loss and healthy living.
Be warned. If you hate controversy or don’t like change, stop reading.
If you want to know the truth. If you want to change, read the whole thing. This is the one article you don’t want to skim.
Are you ready to take the red pill?
If you’ve ever watched an infomercial for a miracle cure or browsed a landing page for vitamin supplements, you’ve seen a fake study. Don’t let phrases like “scientifically proven” or “doctor approved” fool you.
Studies add credibility. Most people don’t bother to check. That’s why they’re so dangerous.
Some are more insidious than others. They can be completely fabricated or non-existent. They can also lack the rigor required for robust scientific research.
So what do you do?
- Check the link. If there isn’t one or there’s no more information about the study online, it could be fake.
- Examine the science. Look for a large sample size, a control group, and a study published in a peer-reviewed journal.
- Read the study. If the positive data is barely outside the margin of error, that’s a problem. Minor faults can skew the outcome. And researchers could’ve cherry-picked the numbers until they found the desired result.
If you’re still confused, examine where you first saw the study and who published it. You’ll get a better idea about the bias of its supporters and the credibility of the publishers.
Pseudoscience infects all industries, but it’s especially rampant in health and nutrition.
The good news is the labeling required by the FDA forces product manufactures to use specific words that are easy to spot. Snake-oil promoters use vague words to imply cures without actually saying it.
Look out for these claims: Supports. Boosts. Improves. Maintains. Detoxifies.
When you see any of those words, it means they lack scientific evidence to support their claims. If they did, they’d either be in clinical trials or FDA approved. Instead, replace the code words with the word fake.
Natural doesn’t equal safe
Plutonium is natural. Arsenic is natural. Death is natural.
Natural remedies are nothing more than unrefined drugs that vary in purity and concentration. They interact with medications like any other drugs. You can overdose. And…
They can kill you.
It’s true historical tribes used naturally occurring herbs. But science has isolated and refined the best of those into our existing basket of legal drugs.
Modern medicine allows us to provide pure drugs in proper concentrations. Technology also kills germs and pathogens that used to kill people in the millions.
Unless you like your milk fortified with food poisoning or your salad with a side of Hep A, thank modern systems and processing.
Old doesn’t mean effective
Lot’s of things are ancient, things like slavery and hatred. They’re still just as terrible today.
Just because something’s been around for centuries doesn’t mean it’s good.
Marketers use age like an ancient testimonial. What it means is they haven’t been able to find scientific evidence it actually works.
If you believe something will work, you’re more likely to feel it does when you use it. That’s called the placebo effect. It’s more noticeable with general symptoms. Things like moderate pain, anxiety, and energy levels.
Pseudoscience pushers rely on that fact. They’ve gotten wise to the skeptics and even attempt to promote the benefit of placebos.
The problem arises when moderate symptoms are a warning for a serious condition. Those people could have received treatment for a curable illness given enough warning. That’s when pushers of fake medicine contribute to thousands of the deaths.
Wouldn’t you rather use what actually works?
Don’t fall for magic
Disease is real. It’s not caused by a “subluxation” from a misaligned spine.
Actions and the environment can aggravate or reduce those symptoms. But bacteria, viruses, parasites, injury, and genes are what cause disease.
The global conspiracy
There’s no global cabal to hide cures.
Health professionals can overprescribe drugs, but most doctors would prefer to heal instead of treat.
Some argue about why “disease is exploding.” The reason is that people live longer and science is better at diagnosis. This can give the illusion that certain ailments are increasing.
Short-term factors can cause a temporary regional increase in acute illness. Think Flint Michigan. But modern communication and the internet make long-lasting, global conspiracies nearly impossible.
In stores is no guarantee
Pseudoscience is pervasive in all aspects of society. You can’t hide from it.
Presence in a store, pharmacy, or even a doctors’ office doesn’t mean a product works.
Recently, promoters of fake science have infected hospitals, universities, and governments. It will likely get worse before it gets better, so do your homework.
If you read a claim that smells fishy, research before you buy. And don’t use the same website that’s promoting the product.
Research the active ingredient behind the health claims. Look up the company promoting it.
I’m the child of a father who died from AIDS. I remember all too well the disgusting lie that HIV wasn’t responsible. I cry for the deaths of those who would’ve gotten treatment if only the charlatans didn’t bamboozle them.
But most people who’ve bought into fake science aren’t charlatans. And many of its defenders are also victims of tragedy. Sadly, psychology encourages them to dig in their heels when confronted with the truth.
Try telling a vaccine-denier of an autistic child that vaccines are safe. A litany of robust studies won’t convince them. They’ll counter your argument with a list of fake studies you can’t refute without hours of research.
The only thing that might change their mind is a sick child from a disease the same vaccine could’ve prevented.
Most true-believers rely on confirmation bias and correlation instead of hard science. Nature wires your brain to see patterns and fill in the gaps. It’s your body’s natural survival instinct. Unfortunately, that works against you in modern society.
The best way to nudge people’s belief is to lead them to the truth instead of shoving it down their throat. Try this:
Ask leading questions. This encourages people to ask more questions and research on their own.
Lead by example. When people see positive changes in your life, they’ll ask what you did. That’s when you share your strategies.
Don’t disown your family and friends just because they have sacred cows, but you should be aware of them.
In the field of positive psychology and health, I interact with dozens of well-intentioned people. They all have great ideas, but they also have terrible ones.
You can’t escape it. Instead, educate yourself.
It’s okay. You can have it!
If you have another reason besides healthy living for your eating and drinking habits, that’s okay. Just don’t let the latest “superfood” or “one thing that’s killing your health” fool you.
There are valid reasons to take certain supplements or avoid specific foods. If you’re pregnant, have an illness, or are an athlete, you should pay more attention to what and when you eat. Follow your doctor’s advice.
But if you are a reasonably healthy person, you don’t need supplements. And the best general advice is to eat a balanced diet and watch how much you eat. Frequent exercise is an added bonus.
- Processed foods & additives. Just like natural food, processed foods can be good or bad. Nearly all artificial additives in current use are safe. You may hear that experts haven’t tested certain chemicals long enough. But that argument can apply to everything, including basic farming. If someone claims they’ve found evidence a certain chemical is harmful, reread the paragraph on bogus studies. Don’t jump to conclusions.
- Inorganic. If you like the taste of organic food and don’t mind spending extra cash, great! I prefer inorganic because it’s cheaper. If you eat organic because you think they don’t use pesticides, think again. They do. If you prefer organic because you think it’s more sustainable, reconsider once you research the facts.
- GMO. There’s a lot of fake claims on this one. Farming has modified 100% of all modern food staples. That includes your organic kale. Speed is the main difference between farming and GMO. The politics and pseudoscience around this topic slow progress. It stops new GMO foods from saving millions of lives and preventing blindness. If I could have the option to buy only GMO food, I would. Oh wait, I already do!
- Sugar. Sugar is the new fat. Now that research has debunked many harmful health claims about fat, people are attacking sugar as the new villain. Your body needs sugar. It’s an efficient energy source. Just be sure not to eat too much of it, and don’t forget to brush your teeth.
- Fat. When you eat more calories than you burn, your body stores those extra calories as fat regardless of what form it was when it first entered your body. Fat by itself is not bad. It’s necessary.
- Meat. Meat is a great source of protein and nutrients. Your body needs protein to maintain and build muscles. Your body only gets energy from three sources: sugar, fat, and protein. Without them, you would starve.
- Caffeine. Anything can be harmful when taken in excess. Timing is important with this one. It’s probably not a good idea to drink too much caffeine a few hours before you sleep. And while you shouldn’t rely on caffeine as your sole source to keep you going, it has its benefits. Don’t feel guilty about having a cup of coffee. I used to drink it because I bought into the debunked hype about antioxidants. I do it now because I like it. I’m drinking a cup of Kauai Estate Vanilla Macadamia drip coffee as we speak. And it’s oh so good ;)
As with anything, moderation is key. The irony is that by demonizing one type of food over the other, you’re more likely to overindulge in one of them. Go back to basics. Eat a balanced diet, and don’t eat or drink too much of anything.
Science isn’t broken
I know I just threw a lot of information at you, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Despite plenty of fake health claims, science is powerful.
There are several resources you can use to filter out the good from bad, but you can start by listening to The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.
The secret revealed
How quackery peddlers survive is because they bundle fake science with good advice. They’ll say you’ll get better results with a healthy lifestyle.
That means four things.
- Seven to eight hours of sleep.
- A routine with positive habits.
- Eating a variety of foods in moderation. And…
- Moderate exercise.
If you want permanent weight loss, focus on those four things. Ignore everything else. You don't need fad diets, gym memberships, or fake powders.
That’s the nut.
If you want more energy, a slimmer waistline, and a healthy life, I’ll point you in the right direction.
Are you ready?
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