Discussing The Pre/Trans Fallacy Applied to Diet/Exercise
Normally, I start a post with a snazzy picture as a means of attention; instead, I’ll define what the pre/trans fallacy is. Ken Wilber developed when referring to the path of enlightenment and how cluttered and mistaken people can become:
The idea is simple: since both pre-rational and trans-rational are non-rational, they are easily confused. And then one of two very unpleasant things happens: either you reduce genuine, trans-rational, spiritual realities to infantile, prerational states; or you elevate childish, prerational seniments to transcendental glory.
While Ken applies this to human development, referring to stages of consciousness, I’ve been looking at how it might apply to diet and exercise. My philosophical concern with being involved in the paleo community is that references to what grok did could turn into a pre/trans fallacy. In other words Grok didn’t eat paleo because he knew it made him healthy; it ate that way because he had no choice.
The notion of returning to the earth, the backlash against modernity and the disease it has wrought upon us, the loss of wisdom gained from ourselves and our experiences is not unlike the Romantic movement of the 1800′s:
Precisely because the German tradition strove so nobly and so mightily for Geist and Spirit (which is to its everlasting credit), is was open more intensely to confusing prerational bodily and emotional enthusiasms with transrational insight and awareness. Blood and soil, return to nature, and noble savages flourished under the banner of a Romantic return to spirit, a recapture of the lost Ground, a return of the hidden God, a revelation written in blood and etched in the flesh…
So how do we apply this idea to eating and exercise? An example of grok being healthy, as I noted above, has nothing to do with some sort of cellular, inherent wisom, just as the narcissistic naivete of children does not mean they’re enlightened little buddhas. The flip side of the coin is that there are genuine scientific discoveries that are being reduced or ignored. ASP, GH not meaning dick, nutrient timing…I’ve seen discussions of these reduced to, “those are nice, but as long as we’re eating like Grok, they don’t matter.” There are fat low carbers, and there are lean carbos who aren’t distance runners…and there’s everyone in between.
So how can we integrate this all? Perhaps thanks to the economy, tech junkies are starting down the other sides of the mountain, getting more from current tech rather than throwing on more tech. So, we know whole food is good and we can’t have health without the majority of our diet being from this, but we have science that shows us how our body works, why Grok was healthy, and how we can manipulate these hormonal reactions/states to our advantage, even if that means using some sucrose post-workout, or learning that you likely won’t need extra carbs if you’re not trying to get more muscular or are an endurance athlete having depleted glycogen.
As an expansion (really, I awoke the next morning fired up the finish this and full of ideas) let’s look at training, specifically training modalities across a large population. First, here is a bog standard bell curve:
Notice that the outliers, the 2.1% on either end of the graph have a roughly even distribution, or visually, the shape of the graph is the same. When one starts training to get into better shape, what is the advice given? Usually something along the lines of, “Train total body, mostly compound movements, get stronger.” So that’s the start and improvement occurs; a little strength, a little muscle, maybe a little fat loss. Improvement slows as you end up in the middle 95% of the curve…you’ve reached a “rationality” of fitness like the majority of the individuals who train. The advice becomes more complicated: split routines, specialization for sport, programming, mobility work, intensity techniques, “Do concentration curls to peak your biceps”… some of this is great stuff, and some of it is crap (namely the peaking bicep nonsense) but you gain immense amounts of wisdom through experience. If paying attention, body knowledge is gained, knowing which exercises are productive, which techniques help, and what to leave behind. If diligent enough, one eventually slides down the opposite side of the curve, ending in the last 2.1% and how might this person be training? It will resemble beginner advice, namely basic compound movements. The difference here is that this person has experienced every level of training development, so the reasons why they train like this look nothing like the reasons why the beginner might train this way, save for one thing: the movements are productive.
I can see someone pre/trans-ing (sure I’ll use it as a verb) this, missing the point, but that’s why I expanded upon this. It is easier to discuss gross-body aspects of this when talking about training, as feelings are the feedback. The diet portion deals with levels of information and trying to balance new discoveries and “ancient wisdom” on no particular line. This is mostly because nutrition is rather infantile at this point, but I like to talk about it anyway.
So, how else can we apply this? Did you find this helpful or thought provoking? Would you like an expansion upon these ideas?