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Coping Systems for Nutrition and Medical “Science”

re: gears of the machine
re: seed oils
re: follow the money and ethics in medicine and unsettled science
re: ‘Replication crisis’ spurs reforms in how science studies are done
re: Sebastian Rushworth MD: How to understand scientific studies (in health and medicine)
re: Sebastian Rushworth MD: How Well do Doctors Understand Probability?
re: Ioannidis: Why Most Published Research Findings Are False <======

re: Vegetable" Oils aka Seed Oils aka PUFAs: the Most Damaging Food to Your Health of the Past 100 Years?

Real science is never settled, and anyone who has certainty is not qualified to discuss it — Lloyd

Are “vegetable oils” akaseed oils aka PUFAs toxic over time? Debate will take decades to resolve. I’ll be dead by then. You?

Ditto for every other other nutrition and health matter of population-level importance.

In life you must make decisions based on low quality swiss-cheesed information. Actually, you make a decision, and then justify it later, but that’s another topic.

For example, position-papers aka “science” along with whatever sewage is spewed out by the “news”. A gauntlet of vested-interest misinformation, driven by money and deployed to the populace by professionals who are intellectually incompetent to cover it. That’s our system.

Coping Systems

Uncertainty makes us uncomfortable. Thus we naturally seek out certainty, and typicallly we do this by joining a Team. Hence religion, politics, health matters, etc.

By structurally incorporating a belief system and Our Team into our brains, the uncertainty can be safely sequestered, and life settles down to our satisfaction. Hence cognitive blindness that aggressively seeks to avoid cognitive dissonance should something shine light onto cognitive commitments hidden in dark recesses of the mind.

Indeed, this essay itself is likely to trigger cognitive dissonance because it saws-away at how one fell into (“decided”) on a coping system: namely that any thought at all was given to the Coping System. I was a sucker for this most of my life (eg “trust medical authority”). Not any more.

My argument is that the most rational Coping System is one that is least subject to cognitive dissonance. Namely, that only by embracing uncertainty can one maintain some semblance of intellectual rigor.

Coping System: trust authority

Cognitive dissonance risk: low, until it is extreme

A tried and true way to cope is to do what everyone else does, the old “if everyone is doing it, it might be right” approach that makes so many societal things “work”. The herd mentality, collectivism, societal norms, etc. A lot of good and a lot of Bad.

Accepting the Truth from an authority eg a medical association* is a big win for most, so easy and straightforward, so comforting, life is good!

This Coping System entails a low risk of cognitive dissonance because cognitive blindness blocks-out intellectual threats using all available pyschological mechanisms. However, if and when breached, severe discomfort up to and including all manner of outbursts and evasions and complete brain reboots can be observed. But the wall of protection is robust, and will never be breached for most.

* Bought and paid-for by Big Food and Big Pharma, etc.

Coping System: trust an “independent” expert

In what I say here, I am not condemning experts; I do think that most at least start with a good faith effort at what they consider objectivity. However, I do think that is impossible to maintain over time, that all experts are subject to bias, even when efforts are made to resist it. And money warps everything.

Cognitive dissonance risk: moderate to high

A variant of this is outsourcing The Truth to an “expert”, nominally at odds with the Food/Medical Industrial Complex, but really is part of it in having accepted its core premises. That is, one who trusts and analyzes the “research” and then provides distilled wisdom to the Ignorant. Take Peter Attia for example (apologies to Peter, but I need an example!), who as a statin promoter and apologist makes me not trust him. Which does not make him wrong (I’m sure he’s right about many things), just that he has biases like everyone else. And based on what I consider corrupt science.

Such brilliant people actually believe that “the science” bears analysis, indeed that meta analysis is science (it’s not). Or do they? IMO, Attia in particular is massively compromised, albeit in a slightly different way. That is, high $$$$ boutique services per person per year amount to a lucrative and growing fortune. Follow the money: Mr Got the Science Right has a huge personal stake in what he is selling (his expertness).

It would be awkward to be wrong, eg having slowly poisoned your clients with statins for years, which some evidence suggests. What happens when viewpoints and evidence undermine that brand? No one wants to sense uncertainty, so certainty is delivered as the Product after much “analysis”—which equates to little more than one more thing like everyone has, built on a scientific house of cards.

No one is capable of knowing which science is correct. All you’ve done in trusting such a person is outsource your own thinking to someone with their own interests and fallibilities and biases, based on questionable “science”. By all means listen/hear them but don’t outsource your brain to one expert. Yes, you might on the whole do better than mainstream. But you’ve only changed in degree not the nature of the beast. For every expert there is another one with an opposing view. What does that tell you?

This Coping System potentially enjoys a lower risk of cognitive dissonance, but it all depends by degree on just how objective the expert is and how strongly comitted to an idea, plus how committed one is to that expert.The risks range from moderate to extreme, depending on those particulars.

Coping: embrance uncertainty, maintain an active mind

Cognitive dissonance risk: low

The hardest road is to embrace uncertainty. The “I could be wrong” approach.

It is not feeling helpless or defeated or moving to a sense of futility. Rather it means a constant reassessment, knowing that knowing requires effort until The End.

Doing one’s level best to make sense of it all, while knowing full well that some takes will turn out to have been incorrect. Correcting errors is strength, not weakness.

Accepting that mistakes will be made, mistakes that sometimes have negative consequences. But this is OK, just part of the journey. You do your best, while paying attention to your own body and mind.

And of course, it means skepticism for “expert” advice based on “science” in which any monetary interest is involved. Skepticism means posing questions, not rejection out of hand. Something are going to be accurate after all. But too many things will be nonsense.

Coping: you’re on your own

Understand the Coping Systems, and actively engage your own brain.

PS: I am not an authority, that would be one of the mistakes discussed above!

DWHAD — do what humans always did

Here is my outlook on nutrition and diet.

First, humans evolved for millions of years. A few thousand recent years have done little if anything to change that, which is why IMO eating grains is a terrible idea, which teeth and jaws from thousands of years seemingly demonstrate. But that’s another topic.

Axiom: respect the way the humans evolved*: eat whole and unprocessed foods. Exercise every day, sleep in cycle with daylight whenever feasible. Get sunlight but not too much.

From this naturally flows the “avoid processed foods” mantra. Ditto to not eat food with pesticides/herbicides/heavy metals. Ditto for nutrient depleted food. None of these are easy in the modern world, and few of us can procure our own food. Do your best.

* Granted, even what humans ate is a source of debate and ideology,but it surely varied a great deal. But not debatable is that whole unprocessed foods were what we evolved to eat.

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