I’ve had a few little tidbits kicking around my brain the last few days that don’t warrant an elaborate post, so I thought I’d toss them together into a “random thoughts” kind of deal. Who knows, maybe it’ll become a regular thing. All I know is the one-a-day thing is way too much for me. I guess that’s inevitable when you’re a full-time college student, but it still makes me marvel at guys like Eric Cressey who not only produce something every day, but almost always produce something interesting and informative. Hats off to you, sir. And now, on to the content.
1. If you didn’t catch it, I announced at the end of my last post that I will have a guest post on Mike Reinold’s blog this
coming Monday. Mike has been extremely kind, encouraging, and insightful in working with me on this, and I appreciate it a lot. I wanted to highlight one bit of advice he shared with me in an email I got this morning.
In explaining why I should soften some of my terminology to create a less “definitive” tone, he wrote: “Your opinion will
likely change over your career many many times.” This is something I had never really considered and, looking back, something that I have been regularly guilty of. I know I’ve attempted to qualify everything I say and write about with the old “I’m not an expert, I’m just a kid who reads a lot!” But if I then go on to speak in authoritative language, it creates a contradiction that leaves some ambiguity: do I actually respect the fact that I am not nearly as well-versed in the science of some of these topics as many experts in the field (plus the consideration that the science is always changing with new research, etc.), or am I some hotshot know-it-all who thinks his word is law?
I’d like to dispel that ambiguity right now: the answer is the former, and just as Mike has advised, I’m going to make a conscious effort to make sure my language and tone are in agreement with that moving forward. That is how true scientists, researchers, and evidence-based thinkers operate (shout-out to Bret Contreras and Dr. Jonathan Fass!), and since I’d like to eventually be able to consider myself a member of this group I might as well get started now.
Note: One of my biggest offenses was the post (technically posts) I did on glutamine. Granted, I wrote those two years ago and my knowledge base has expanded considerably since then, but I still don’t like the ambiguity created by my tone in those pieces. Not to mention the links are all messed up. I have been meaning to compound and update them for a long time, but in light of Mike’s advice I’m hoping to do that by the end of the month. Stay tuned.
2. I stumbled onto this piece (via @thatpaleoguy’s Twitter feed–thanks Jamie!) discussing the state of diagnostics in breast cancer and prostate cancer, as well as the “Pink Ribbon” culture that has taken America by storm. I’ll give my really, really brief CliffsNotes version, but I highly recommend you give it a full read.
-increases in detection/diagnosis have only minimally (or not at all) translated to declines in rate of death
-craze over “early detection” may create a feeling in young women that their breasts are “ticking time-bombs”
-current diagnostic methods often catch diseases that are non-life threatening, in addition to those that may be malignant, meaning that a lot of unnecessary testing may be increasing costs for no good reason
-focus should be on more selective diagnostics that would reduce the necessity of testing, not just push mammograms/PSA screens like they’re going out of style
This specific piece doesn’t discuss other components of battling cancer, but I also believe that increased attention should be focused on prevention. I see ads touting statistics that people are more likely than ever to survive cancer, but the
statistics also show that you’re just as likely as ever to get cancer. Want to reduce medical costs and avoid putting people through miserable treatments that can totally destroy their lives and bodies? Stop it from happening in the first place.
3. Stephan Guyenet tweeted two pieces, a poll and a study, that really got me thinking about the interaction between the different factors that contribute to obesity. Many will argue that nutrition, or exercise (or lack thereof), or sleep, or genetics, or various other things is the single biggest concern when it comes to combatting the obesity epidemic. These particular pieces would seem to indicate that exercise is of vital importance, but I could also dig up research that would suggest that the other things I mentioned play a large role as well. As usual, I suspect that the interplay between all of these factors is complex, and we are far from completely figuring it all out. This is why I am often skeptical when I see people championing slogans like “sugar is causing the obesity epidemic” or “HFCS is making us fat”. What we need to do is take an integrated approach with the information and science we do have at hand and not hang our hats on one single component.