Friday, March 02, 2012

"Hey, I Thought Batman Doesn't Eat Carbs!"

This is what my kid said when he saw Batman grab Flash's pretzel and eat it. Actually, I think Batman just likes to fuck with Flash.


In my son's five-year-old mind carbs are crap and crap is bad. Yes, I've managed to inculcate him into the LC religion*.

I'm in favor of safe starches, especially for people who are active and five-year-olds are pretty damn active. Kids are notorious for having a sweet tooth, and I doubt this is cultural or the result of advertisers peddling sweets on TV. My kid gets plenty of potatoes or rice along with the meat. Veggies are a problem but that's pretty typical also, I think.

My current take on carbs is basically Perfect Health Diet (which is moderate to low-carb from safe starches depending on how one defines such things). I think LC or even VLC is very therapeutic for people who are obese and/or are having their pancreas conking out.

So my son thinks carbs are things like bread and sugar and packaged crap, he probably picked that up from hearing my wife and I discussing food and diet. I think that's fine for a five-year-old, especially if it dissuades him from wanting to eat candy, ice cream, bread, etc. More nuanced stuff can wait. Right now I just want to stop him from eating crap and to develop healthy eating habits.

This brings me to the debate that is supposedly raging in the paleo/LC/ancestral/real food (man, I'm really getting sick of writing that) sphere concerning starch and insulin and low-carbs and diabetes, etc.

Some people, such as Jason Geary have suggested that "high-brow" paleo folks need to get off their pedestals and present a united front of low-carb consensus for the masses. In other words, any hint of dissension, nuance or conflicting views might confuse the proles who ought to be treated like five-year-old children. AJR comments on Richard Nikoley's blog quoting Geary, and my opinion of such a consensus or united front is further down in the comments.

Geary apparently wrote this (I'm taking AJR's word for it, I've not seen the Mark's Daily Apple forum post):
It appears that Free The Animal, along with many other paleo blogs / authors are trying to turn paleo into a moderate to high carb plan these days based on new “evidence” they’ve supposedly found. And if you’re a low carb advocate, watch out for the gang attack.

Unfortunately, it’s confusing a hell of a lot of people and doing lasting damage to the Paleo movement. That’s why I like Primal. Paleo is different depending on who you ask and that’s bad marketing in terms of the big picture of getting people off SAD and getting them healthy again.

The paleo community needs to stop bickering back and forth and attacking the low-carb advocates. Low carb is proven and for the majority of overweight SAD people, it’s exactly what they need regardless of what high-brow paleo bloggers say otherwise.
I'm just going to expand a bit on the comment I made at FTA.

Diversity in thought is a good thing. For me, at least, paleo-type eating is about adding an evolutionary context to diet and being aware of the burgeoning science behind what's an optimal diet. So it's really all science. And what is science? Well science is just disciplined inquiry. Science is not something that is performed exclusively people with accredited degrees in science. There's all sorts of bloggers out there engaging in science without credentials, and quite a lot of people with credentials engaging in grantwhore bullshit.

Science is not about consensus. It's about being right.

It's about being right. Coming up with the right answer is mostly about banging one's head against the wrong answer and admitting that it's wrong, or at least partially flawed or incomplete.

Diversity in thought is a good thing. I'm not talking about the Orwellian doublespeak of "diversity" that pervades universities and politics in North America and much of Western Europe. Toe-the-line or else, conformity masquerading as diversity. I'm talking about the real thing.

I'm not saying one has to enjoy being disagreed with, or that there aren't tons of stupid or mendacious people that ought best to be ignored. 

I was debating this somewhat with Richard Nikoley about the inclusion of Matt Stone at the Paleo Summit. Personally, I think Stone is full of shit, but the fact that he took the opportunity to launch his anti-paleo book was actually rather clever. I think paleo/ancestral health/etc is better off allowing some contrarian bullshit artists equal time. Surely this is prefereable to shutting out people like Doug McGuff from AHS. Richard Nikoley asked if a creationist ought to be allowed to give a presentation at an astrophysics symposium. My response was that astrophysics sits on a huge mountain of experimental proof and scientific theory that paleo-type nutrition lacks so paleo needs to be more open to dissenting or even wildly diverging viewpoints. But now I'm thinking, why the hell not? As long as they were willing to field questions about their pseudoscience I think it would be popular with the astrophysicists to try and eviscerate a creationist. I've attended a few presentations where someone managed to mercilessly destroy a paper or thesis in the Q&A and it can get rather uncomfortable, but that's science for ya. Of course, creationism doesn't suffer from the weakness of allowing it's axioms to be questioned.

Science is about being right. It is probably more correct to say it is about the methodology of being right, which is really the methodology of not fooling oneself, to paraphrase Richard Feynman.

A less Darwinian sounding way to say this: science is about the pursuit of truth. But it's really the same thing. The "search for truth" brings up visions of selfless scientists toiling away in their labs. Saying that science is about being right gives lie to the idea that science is some sort of team-building exercise or selfless pursuit and the fact that paradigms are shifted by extremely brilliant thinkers such as Newton, Galileo, or Einstein.

What real science has never been about is consensus or providing a united front to the assumed idiot masses.

Or as Nigel put it so succinctly:
If we all come to a consensus, what the fuck will we have to blog about any more?

*Actually when he said that, I tried to explain that there were good carbs like potatoes and bad carbs like pretzels.

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