Sunday, August 4, 2013

Common Belief Vs The Truth

I saw it on TV. It must be true!

People still believe you can spot burn fat by doing isolated exercises. For many their workouts are running and crunches. So why aren't there more fat people with skinny legs, 6 pack abs, but fat everywhere else?

In ads you see people who got ripped abs with crunch machines. So how did the rest of their body get so ripped then? Popular belief is not the same as truth.

Common Belief - belonging to or shared by members of one or more nations or communities; public.

Popular Belief - prevailing sentiment.

Truth - That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.

Just because something is a common idea or a popular sentiment does not make it true.

Can you handle the truth?

I once had a client who was highly educated, who was arguing with me about the dangers of sugar. We were talking about Dr. Robert Lustig and his work on sugar. His main stance is that sugar has a major role in obesity and diabetes. My client's stance was that if his arguments were true, it would be common belief. She actually used those terms. She said it was all due to genetics and excess calories and dietary fat, and that was the truth because that was common belief (this was several years ago and even common belief has changed since then).

Many believe, especially in law, truth is the belief of the common prudent man. That makes sense, since she is a lawyer. But instead of doing our own research, we base many of our beliefs on the beliefs of our peers. Our peers are not experts in the field and the common belief of many of the experts are completely different now than the belief of the common man, especially in health.

Many of us are completely unaware of how advanced our technology truly is, or how much more research or new tests there are than in the past. A lot of people's beliefs on genetics was formed prior to the human genome project and still hasn't changed since. Before, we held certain beliefs because we didn't have tests to prove things otherwise, now we can test blood and DNA quite inexpensively.

Maybe in the future Robert Lustig's work along with the work of many researchers on dietary sugar and glycemic load will all be debunked. But to base your belief of what is true on what is common or popular makes no rational sense.

But without common and popular belief, we would have no misinformation, mythology, urban legends, or terms like "contrary to popular belief."

Truth is completely independent of what is common or popular. It is evidence based. A lot of people base beliefs on no evidence, it's why health and diet becomes so dogmatic and religious. Actually a lot of common beliefs about health stems from religion. The last thing we need in health, fitness, and exercise is dogma.

Once someone on Facebook asked me what they should have as a healthy snack, I asked them it depended. This was already in the early evening. I asked her if she had lunch, she did 2 hours ago. I asked when dinner was, she said in 2 hours, I asked why she needed a snack, why she couldn't just wait? It made no sense to her and some of her Facebook friends attacked me for promoting starvation. You could starve to death in 2 more hours? The common thought is we must always succumb to hunger or that we should be eating every couple of hours? Therein lies a big part of the problem. The culture itself. Even the ideas about health are unhealthy. My question is why is her hunger so powerful after just a couple of hours? The common belief was we must always keep our blood sugar up. Which is what makes us get so hungry, we get addicted to the sugar.

I've actually heard people argue against prevailing science, much like my client did with common belief, but also people who use analogies instead of research, or reasonings based off of "the ancients said so." Shake my head.

To quote Astrophysicist Neil Tysone deGrasse,
"The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it."
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