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Thread: Opponents to primal? Trying to beat confirmation bias page

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    Mqrius's Avatar
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    Opponents to primal? Trying to beat confirmation bias

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    I've been reading a lot about paleo and primal the last few days. There's a lot of information to be found, lots of people claiming it worked for them. However, I'm only looking at sites which advocate primal/paleo. So yes, of course I'm going to find 'supporting evidence'.

    This, in a nutshell, is a form of confirmation bias. You can try to prevent being biased by trying to disprove your idea, and by not disregarding evidence saying something different. In an effort to do that, I've been looking for sites which voice an opinion against primal/paleo, but they're rather hard to find.

    I have found these:

    http://www.60in3.com/2010/12/02/what...leo-lifestyle/
    But his arguments are based on a misguided view of what paleo entails. I've posted a comment to his blog attempting to explain it a little better.

    http://paleovegan.blogspot.com/2010/...-gurus-is.html
    Yet he is contending the wrong point. In fact, I've never even seen a paleo follower making that point. I've posted a comment there as well saying roughly as much.

    http://thelabelsayspaleo.com/2009/12...d-the-curtain/
    More of a 'bad experience' type blog post. Not much to go on. Her friends seemed to improve from paleo.

    http://www.supplecity.com/articles/diets/paleodiet.htm
    Actually a semi-proponent of paleo, with a reasonable view of what it's about. He disagrees on a few points, saying saturated fats are bad, beans are good, and some minor other points. His points seem well thought-out, although there's not a lot of convincing power for either side of the discussed points.


    So, I'm wondering, does anyone know of any other sites criticizing paleo/primal? Was there something that made you seriously question your ideas?


    As for personal experimenting, I'm currently trying paleo for the first time. I'll keep it up for a month. If I see improvements, I'll keep it up for another month. If I have 'stabilized' to an improved state, I will try eating paleo + bread + pasta for a month, to check if it was caused by cutting out the grains, or if it was the general improvement in eating healthy. I figure that should give me a fairly convincing grasp of what causes what.

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    jammies's Avatar
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    I don't have any sites to point out to you, but your links were interesting. I like the idea of trying to find evidence to disprove your theory - it is something we do in the lab too. Personally, I did not find any of their perspectives convincing. Even the person who tried and did poorly may just not have spent enough time troubleshooting problems.

    I have read about, tried, had doubts, been convinced, and failed on MANY other diets. For some reason, when I read about PB, it just felt right to me and I dove right in and never looked back!

    Good luck on your search. I hope you find what you are looking for.

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    The Wikipedia article on paleo summarizes criticisms.
    Ancestral Health Info

    I design websites and blogs for a living. If you would like a blog or website designed by someone who understands Primal, see my web page.

    Primal Blueprint Explorer My blog for people who are not into the Grok thing. Since starting the blog, I have moved close to being Archevore instead of Primal. But Mark's Daily Apple is still the best source of information about living an ancestral lifestyle.

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    I read the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. He says that you should eat only vegetables and fruits and says eating meat is bad for you. He gives examples of studies and all that. When I read that book a couple years ago, I thought I had to become a vegetarian and gave up meat for a while. But then I learned about Gary Taube's research and that just made so much more sense. It was scientific and based on fact and mechanics of the body. Also, it made me realize that the studies in Eat to Live were not really looking at sugar and carbs with saturated fats and meat.
    But it is a book that definitely will balance Paleo and give the "other" side. But Paleo wins, in my opinion.

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    I see a lot of criticism of the paleo diet being that it really isn't what grok ate. This is true to a degree.

    The whole "cavemen ate it, that means we should" argument was never meant to hold scientific weight. It was just a nice neat summarizing argument that can be used for a subject that is so ridiculously complex that we really know so little about. I think a few people need to realize this fact in the paleo community. Eating medium-rare steak with garlic sauce is NOT paleo. Eating a plate of insects or a raw rotting carcass of an animal is.

    The paleo diet is essentially a name for a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet. It just so happens that there are many studies that prove that this type of diet is good for you.

    We probably will never know how our ancestors lived, however we can take pretty good guesses of what they did and didn't do. (They did play, hunt, forage, they didn't sit in a desk all day drinking soda). Using the term caveman/paleo/primal diet/lifestyle encompasses a lot of this, so it's an incredibly easy way to explain the diet, but it shouldn't be the scientific reasoning of the diet.

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    Moochy's Avatar
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    60 IN 3 Is just plain ignorant, obviously he has not read very much. His first two points: "If you assume that cavemen ate a lot of red meat, that’s just plain wrong. You can’t hunt big animals without tools and tools are not part of evolution." Ummm, are you kidding me? World's Oldest Spears. "Speaking of that steak, cavemen didn’t have fire. Unless fire starting is some kind of evolved trait then you better start eating your food raw". Cooking is verified back at least 250,000 years and suspected to go back even further.

    Careful of who you select as your "guru" many people find magical thinking very appealing.


    PS. I lifted this guys article, [Dr. McArdle is a vegetarian and currently Scientific Advisor to The American Anti-Vivisection Society. He is an anatomist and a primatologist.] and went looking for links to add more info to it. Check this out.

    PPS: Don't mean to be rude but I hope your not trolling here.
    Last edited by Moochy; 01-17-2011 at 12:25 AM.
    Primal/Paleo is not for everyone, it's for those who have committed to understand.
    READ THE BOOK! ...as Robb Wolf says: "Trying to convince people to save their own ass will burn you out."

    Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for -- the pure enjoyment of food. Anthony Bourdain

    and yes, calories DO count my little piggies

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    jammies: It could of course be that I don't find any convincing counter-posts/arguments. But from a scientific point of view it's better if I do, and then do an experiment to see which of the explanations/arguments is correct.
    Quote Originally Posted by jammies View Post
    Even the person who tried and did poorly may just not have spent enough time troubleshooting problems.
    That's dangerous thinking; if you think like that, you're inclined to disregard evidence not supporting your theory. (Confirmation bias again )
    Your empirical evidence of trying a lot of diets and failing, and then trying paleo and liking it is worth something though


    Quote Originally Posted by Hedonist View Post
    The Wikipedia article on paleo summarizes criticisms.
    Ah nice, that's a good one I totally overlooked. It seems that mainly the evolutionary logic of paleo is disputed there. It might be that those premises are wrong; I don't know enough about evolution to make an informed decision on that. There's nothing keeping me from trying it for a while and seeing if it actually works, though. If it works, I have something that works, even though I cannot prove why it works.


    Quote Originally Posted by eelnus View Post
    I read the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. He says that you should eat only vegetables and fruits and says eating meat is bad for you. He gives examples of studies and all that.
    Hmm, sounds sensible... I kind of don't want to buy books though, since I can get most of the info from the internet anyway... Scientific integrity vs keeping money in my wallet. Tough decision :P


    Quote Originally Posted by paleo_rob View Post
    I see a lot of criticism of the paleo diet being that it really isn't what grok ate. This is true to a degree.
    The whole "cavemen ate it, that means we should" argument was never meant to hold scientific weight.
    Agreed. When this argument comes up from someone, I usually summarize paleo as living in the modern world with modern luxuries, eating food that our body can optimally process. Coincidentally, that food is what we've evolved to digest over a million years of hunter/gathering.


    Quote Originally Posted by Moochy View Post
    60 IN 3 is just plain ignorant, obviously he has not read very much.
    Agreed, and I said as much in the comments of his post. Also, his logic is turned around. He thinks paleo claims we evolved to eat meat, and then ate meat. But actually it's "our ancestors were eating meat, and thus we evolved to optimally process that". His claims about fire and tools not being "evolved" show that. He says "fire and tools weren't evolved, so if you're eating according to evolutionary guidelines, you clearly shouldn't use fire or tools. So yeah, eating raw meat should be the way to go for paleo followers, and I think eating raw meat is stupid". If his logic wasn't reversed, you would get the paleo viewpoint: "we've been using fire and tools for over a million years. Our bodies evolved to process food caught and processed with fire and tools, and that inclination is retained to this day." (For a more elaborate explanation, check my comment: http://www.60in3.com/2010/12/02/what...#comment-93493 )

    Quote Originally Posted by Moochy View Post
    Careful of who you select as your "guru" many people find magical thinking very appealing.
    I don't "select gurus". I read what someone has to say, and I read his argumentation about it. If that makes sense, then it makes sense. If not, then I will disregard the conclusion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moochy View Post
    PS. I lifted this guys article, [Dr. McArdle is a vegetarian and currently Scientific Advisor to The American Anti-Vivisection Society. He is an anatomist and a primatologist.] and went looking for links to add more info to it. Check this out.
    Good article in a quick summary; it argues convincingly that we are and were omnivores. No statements are made to discredit vegetarianism/paleo/whatever, it just refutes the single idea that humans were plant eaters.
    One thing he does say at the end though, is:
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. McArdle
    There is no basis in anatomy or physiology for the assumption that humans are pre-adapted to the vegetarian diet. For that reason, the best arguments in support of a meat-free diet remain ecological, ethical, and health concerns.
    Ecological & Ethical reasons, okay. But I don't see how being vegetarian can be justified by health concerns, really. Would have been nice if he had talked about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Moochy View Post
    PPS: Don't mean to be rude but I hope your not trolling here.
    I'm not trolling. You seemed to have missed that I don't take everything I linked/read as absolute truth though. I'm just trying to objectively look at things.

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    elorajade's Avatar
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    Well, you could start by reading early anthropoligical records detailing traditional diets and what the introduction of the "western" diets do to these people over a period of time. That will require digging.

    Read the China Study, and all of the backlash surrounding it.

    If you want to get a big picture view, those are two awesome places to start. From there though, you have to do what works for you specifically.

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    PatrickF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mqrius View Post
    In an effort to do that, I've been looking for sites which voice an opinion against primal/paleo, but they're rather hard to find.
    You could try http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm - it doesn't mention primal/paleo but it argues for different kind of diet. Some arguments they use to argue for their positions are arguments against paleo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mqrius View Post
    I'm not trolling. You seemed to have missed that I don't take everything I linked/read as absolute truth though. I'm just trying to objectively look at things.

    Well if you are a troll I would like to know if there is room under your bridge 'cause I'm moving in.

    There needs to be more people like you who can think objectively instead of opening The Word by Taubes and recite a verse out of context.

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