The Selfish Pursuit

“I have to admit that, objectively, my paleo way is a little more than an absorbing hobby.”

That’s a quote from Keith Thomas in an interview over at Conditioning Research. I think to a certain sense this is true; in fact I think most of the health and fitness pursuits that we engage in add up to little more than a hobby. First, let’s define hobby:

A hobby is a regular activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure, typically done during one’s leisure time…Engaging in a hobby can lead to acquiring substantial skill, knowledge and experience. However, personal fulfillment is the aim.

I think that sums it up nicely. I make no bones with my own clients that I got into what I do because I enjoyed it first and foremost: it had to be of benefit to me before it would be of benefit to them. Part of what might be cognitive dissonance with regards to so much of the paleophere nonsense, which is no different than any other part of the health and fitness sphere or hell anything in life sphere, is that people have differing aspects that they find enjoyable about the pursuit. Sure there are some people who are amazing marketers and sales people, the Mark Sissons of the world, but I find that rather frustrating. No other hobby do we attempt to market why we find it valuable to us and why it might be valuable to others. I’m not on the bus trying to convince the person next to me that they should take up basketball because I find it enjoyable and it will increase the expression of their Type IIAC muscle fibers. I’m also not on the bus.

I think this is maybe why Art De Vany went behind a pay wall: there is a huge amount of religious/woo nonsense involved in all of this and it’s much less frustrating to be an attractor than a promoter. To me, a pay wall is a way of saying “here’s what I do and if you want to learn more you can come find out,” rather than attempting to convince people through marketing day after day. Promoting T’s you up for people looking to troll; being an attractor allows more of your mental energy to go toward why you started this whole thing: the selfish pursuit of very specific things that are directly interesting to you. If you are able to help people who seek more information, all the better!

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5 thoughts on “The Selfish Pursuit

  1. Skyler, a long time ago I was critical of De Vany and you (or someone claiming to be you commented on it http://praguestepchild.blogspot.com/2010/12/is-body-really-chaotic-system.html). Twin studies aside, what I was really annoyed by was his willful or ignorant misuse of chaos theory and the butterfly effect, really basic physics in my opinion, combined with his presumption of expertise.

    Sure there’s a lot of woo and a lot of trolls and bullshit around, now more than ever, perhaps, but there are ways around that, a registration system, ignoring them, whatever. Crouching behind a paywall with fellow believers is not conducive to critical thought and De Vany’s woo-ish use of chaos theory is proof of his arrogant tone-deafness, IMO, despite his pioneering in the field of nutrition and health.

    • Sean,

      That was me and I didn’t find your comments critical of me per se rather than being critical of the limitations of such studies. I think I was on an epigenetic kick at the time and skipped right over your main point of that article.

      Understand that I’m not agreeing that a pay wall is the way to go for all of the reasons mentioned rather that its easy to see how, if you’re doing this for yourself, the less nonsense you have to deal with the better. Now it quickly runs the risk of turning into a site of dittoheads which is nice for the ego, bad for actually trying to figure anything useful out.

      I’ve seen your critique of De Vany’s use of chaos and I also recall Kurt Harris making a similar critique, especially of the fractal heart notion. Maybe he’s using it in the context of things explained in this (rather silly looking) powerpoint?

      • Heh, well epigenetics IS a pretty fascinating subject.

        That powerpoint link is interesting. I’d no idea unhealthy hearts were more linear than healthy ones or that Parkinson’s sufferers walked in a more linear fashion than non-sufferers. Shows how much I really know about chaos and biology.

        Non-linearity is basically the norm for the real world, so I remember most of my physics and engineering profs being rather unimpressed by chaos theory which was pretty trendy when I was in college (although not as trendy as AI which has shown itself to also be overwrought). Of course there’s an important difference between something that can be linearized and modeled effectively and something that can’t (such as weather) and being able to distinguish between the two. Which I believe was the most important thing to come out of chaos and complexity theory.

    • I also like how the energy drink example isn’t chaos at all: it’s called rebound hypoglycemia and there’s nothing magical about it. It does quickly run the risk of turning into Deepak Chopra attempting to use the mystique of quantum mechanics (as far as the layperson is concerned) to sell books, which only gets his ass handed to him when an actual quantum physicist is at one of his talks to correct him voraciously.

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