I hardly ever look at Facebook anymore. I know that is especially trendy and topical this week, but it’s true. And I don’t say that to brag or lord some sort of perceived superiority over others who do use it. It’s just that a couple years ago I realized I was habitually clicking that link and mindlessly scrolling through the feed. I installed a news feed blocker, and ever since then even when I open the site, I’m met with a mostly blank page, so I go on to do something else. It lost its allure.
Anyway, I preface with that because I was killing time waiting for a flight and I was scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone when I came across this post & thread.
In the, an extremely popular and well respected nutrition expert lays out his case for why he believes, based on the “weight of evidence”, that BCAA’s are totally useless and a waste of money. He’s certainly one of the flag bearers of the “evidence-based” nutrition team, and has contributed a tremendous amount to separating the wheat from the chaff in the fitness world. There’s real value in using the best method we know how to understand the world, the scientific method, to figure out how things work. But, the problem comes when you treat science like a religion.
Here’s the relevant part of the thread (I’ve obscured the names because the point here is not a call-out, but rather to point out the fallacy that occurs over and over again):
You have someone, two people actually, who have by all accounts done the ultimate scientific experiment. They have, over a long timeline and under multiple conditions, experimented with the experimental variable and found that for them there are specific benefits available only under that experimental condition.
And the response by the High Priest is to tell them to buy a magic crystal pendant instead?
This is shameful.
It’s not science. And it certainly isn’t being evidence based. This person is telling you that the most relevant evidence for them, their own data that they’ve gathered under the conditions most relevant to them have led them to a certain conclusion, and the response is to tell them a magic crystal would work better?
This is how the High Priests of Gurudom maintain their power and status as the arbiters of what is right and true, cloaked under a thin veil of scientism.
The reason I’m highlighting all of this for you, dear reader, is because I already know you’re smarter than this and I want you to have the confidence and surety to run your own experiments and to make your own discoveries.
I feel like I’ve written about this ad nauseam but I’m going to have to keep writing about it because everywhere I look there is more and more trust placed in the myopic uber-rationalism of science.
Science is, in a sort of iconically metaphorical way, a microscope. It’s absolutely wonderful for looking very, very closely at something and seeing how the individual parts work and move. A scientist takes the microscope of science and looks closely and carefully and sees gears turning and levers moving, there’s even a tiny pendulum swinging! They conclude they’re looking at a mechanical watch. But then they take the microscope away, look at the entire system, and realize they’ve been studying a Rube Goldberg machine that powers a drinking bird.
On the other hand, you there, standing on the outside simply using all of your available powers of observation, deduction, and reasoning already knew it was a drinking bird.