5

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Do we want paleo people to have a unified front, or do we want to split into functional groups?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 30, 2010 at 1:31 AM

As we 'paleos' grow to be a larger and larger group, at what point will we become our own enemy?

Please read or skim http://shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html to see what i am talking about.

Will 'paleo' split along high-fat / low-fat party lines?

What other splits and hiving-off await us in Paleo family feud?

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on May 20, 2011
at 05:26 AM

I'm not sure where zero-carb fits in to a history of paleo; I don't really think it's a paleo offshoot, nor is it really a low-carb offshoot. Most of the "first-generation" ZCers I know of were heavily influenced by Owsley "The Bear" Stanley, who owed allegiance to no big names in either movement (well, Stefansson maybe, so maybe that's paleo...hmm...). And at least in the case of ZC, I think the isolation is largely two-way; the "mainstream" paleos and LCers don't seem to like us very much, lol. Interesting to think about, Katie; I'm glad you put this out there.

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on May 20, 2011
at 02:53 AM

I think it generally varies based on personal circumstances, flaws, activity levels, etc. Those who actively "test" different methods will ultimately find what works for them. Those that just accept what others say and write will probably flail. I think there are some general properties that probably apply to everyone and that most Paleo followers will agree to. The best thing a person can do is to use him or herself as a test dummy.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on January 02, 2011
at 08:52 PM

I completely agree with this sentiment. And what is often not considered is that paleo can mean a lot of things, and not one time period or one place. Our tropical ancestors were not eating the same foods as those living in more northern climes, and therefore, I think it's important to consider that the diet that might be perfect for me from an evolutionary standpoint might not work at all for someone else. To me, this is all about determining what works best for me in the most natural ways possible in our current paradigm.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on December 30, 2010
at 05:33 PM

^ Oh and the above should read "because they just like discussing details and optimising (hardly surprising given the high geek population)" rather than what it does say- I didn't mean to imply that geeks would be likely to get stuck progressing towards their goals!

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on December 30, 2010
at 05:20 PM

As a corollary, I'd like to add this diagram of people who do and do not 'Get it' :) http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:cxsXj70YG6vDJM::decentralyze.com/category/uncategorized/&t=1&usg=AFrqEzfJHf1yAOhaVW-Z05Nv4ZED4_pntQhttp://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:cxsXj70YG6vDJM::decentralyze.com/category/uncategorized/&t=1&usg=AFrqEzfJHf1yAOhaVW-Z05Nv4ZED4_pntQ

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:21 PM

personally I thought I had a problem with all fructose, but with further testing, berries are fine, im not sure what the variance is... frustrating not knowing everything yet. I do not personally believe its all about insulin anymore.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on December 30, 2010
at 03:15 PM

... they're genuinely worried or because they've got stuck progressing towards their goals (hardly surprising given the high geek population) or because they just like discussing details and optimising. Either way I don't view this as a "division," the people who just want to know whether to take fish oil can quickly visit that thread and go off to buy some and then those who are interested can debate into the small hours about how many g/kg are optimal.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on December 30, 2010
at 03:12 PM

I don't think I would agree with this characterisation of the two groups (which I agree exist) as the 'fun, vibrant and healthy' group versus the 'more difficult than necessary' group. The paleo diet philosophy is very simple and very inclusive (everything from virtually all carb to virtually all fat). If we wanted the simplest info to allow people to be healthy we could have shut down paleohacks within about 2 days, once we'd added some footnotes to PaNu's 10 steps. The very fact that PH is still running, shows that lots of people do want to think about the details, either because...

1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

(6550)

on December 30, 2010
at 02:34 PM

Yeah, there's definitely some of that brewing with respect to fruit/fructose.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:22 AM

I agree with Melissa above. I don't worry about the details of my daily diet, I just follow Cordain's guidelines.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:19 AM

Agreed. As I said in my answer above, "low fat paleo" is still fattier than what the CW dictates we eat.

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:10 AM

I suspect that a great way to fail at most any endeavor is to over-think it. In my personal history, i have done this over and over. I'm sure that I don't want tomb plotting menus based on percentages when i could just add more sat fat, and stop eating when i am satisfied. So far, so great.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 30, 2010
at 04:05 AM

I'm neither. Macronutrient composition isn't and shouldn't be part of the paleo diet requirements. We have no idea what past macro compositions were. I eat whole grass-fed ruminants, so my diet varies in fat composition. I don't really worry about it.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 30, 2010
at 04:04 AM

"low fat" is relative. How many grams a day do you get? I almost guarantee it's above gov recs.

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:03 AM

I see what you are saying about misunderstanding low-fat as a term when what we could use is a '% of daily calories are saturated fat'... Are we running into the problem where there are many people who are not comfortable with math?

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on December 30, 2010
at 03:27 AM

I'm a "low-fat paleo" and not at all driven by political correctness, nor do I have a soapbox.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on December 30, 2010
at 02:32 AM

I doubt it will be a low fat/ high fat split. Perhaps stricter/looser paleo or low carb/ higher carb.

Bc2110309df459e4fd6c8dab58e364ab

(1096)

on December 30, 2010
at 01:40 AM

I think that there will be a split. Likely, it will between those of us who believe they're superior and those who don't. Judgement comes with consequences and enemies. I don't believe that the people with open hearts and minds will every allow themselves to be dragged down by a (pissing contest) feud.

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9 Answers

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4
A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

on December 30, 2010
at 03:13 PM

Why do we 'need' a united front? Why can't we just be a bunch of people that are loosely connected via seeking the best health we can muster using the best science coupled with evolutionary principles?

That article states that a group has a few defining characteristics. One needing 'an external enemy' vegans? Guvmint dietary recommendations? Another is having 'a religious text', this is not so straightforward in our community, we all read different things. But we have become in some instances hypersensitive to trolling, myself included. Debate and contradiction should always be welcomed. How else do you learn?

To illustrate I found myself reading a science blog where they were discussing the IOM recommendations on vitamin D, this was an intelligent debate that somewhat rubbished the need for any dietary supplementation. They may well have been wrong but it highlighted to me how I only tend to seek out things to read that fundamentally agree with my world view, and how there's no harm in having a break from the echo-chamber once in a while. New years resolution is to actively seek out information that contradicts my view.

Can't we be a group that is defined by furiously but respectfully questioning the finer points of health and wellbeing. If this involves disagreements, so be it. We're all big boys and girls and will learn something new from each argument.

The only groups that need to show a united front are cults looking to recruit members. If you live it, and have good results other people may try it, some may not. That's not really our responsibility either way.

P.S. Art de Vany's response on Melissa's blog was a perfect example of how NOT to have this type of reasoned discussion. I personally was quite taken aback by that comment and thought it reflected poorly on his image.

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on December 30, 2010
at 05:20 PM

As a corollary, I'd like to add this diagram of people who do and do not 'Get it' :) http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:cxsXj70YG6vDJM::decentralyze.com/category/uncategorized/&t=1&usg=AFrqEzfJHf1yAOhaVW-Z05Nv4ZED4_pntQhttp://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:cxsXj70YG6vDJM::decentralyze.com/category/uncategorized/&t=1&usg=AFrqEzfJHf1yAOhaVW-Z05Nv4ZED4_pntQ

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on January 02, 2011
at 08:52 PM

I completely agree with this sentiment. And what is often not considered is that paleo can mean a lot of things, and not one time period or one place. Our tropical ancestors were not eating the same foods as those living in more northern climes, and therefore, I think it's important to consider that the diet that might be perfect for me from an evolutionary standpoint might not work at all for someone else. To me, this is all about determining what works best for me in the most natural ways possible in our current paradigm.

9
26f1c6e9fbecc4ac6948f8f395979a81

(503)

on December 30, 2010
at 02:11 AM

I've just recently discovered "paleo" and I've been doing a lot of research on this site and others and I've already noticed a discernible division.

One group simply wants readily usable and medically sound information to work into their lives to be more healthy. Give me the info and let me put it to action.

The other group is the "paleo literati." I've noticed a lot of nitpicking of minutia to the point where most of the concepts of the paleo lifestyle have essentially been contradicted. This really confuses those of us just learning and trying to do something as opposed to being locked up with indecision from contradictory information. (For example, is butter a yes or no?)

In a nutshell, the groups appear to be those of us that want paleo to be a fun, vibrant and healthy lifestyle as opposed to those that want to argue every single fine point and make the process more difficult than necessary.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on December 30, 2010
at 03:12 PM

I don't think I would agree with this characterisation of the two groups (which I agree exist) as the 'fun, vibrant and healthy' group versus the 'more difficult than necessary' group. The paleo diet philosophy is very simple and very inclusive (everything from virtually all carb to virtually all fat). If we wanted the simplest info to allow people to be healthy we could have shut down paleohacks within about 2 days, once we'd added some footnotes to PaNu's 10 steps. The very fact that PH is still running, shows that lots of people do want to think about the details, either because...

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on December 30, 2010
at 05:33 PM

^ Oh and the above should read "because they just like discussing details and optimising (hardly surprising given the high geek population)" rather than what it does say- I didn't mean to imply that geeks would be likely to get stuck progressing towards their goals!

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on December 30, 2010
at 03:15 PM

... they're genuinely worried or because they've got stuck progressing towards their goals (hardly surprising given the high geek population) or because they just like discussing details and optimising. Either way I don't view this as a "division," the people who just want to know whether to take fish oil can quickly visit that thread and go off to buy some and then those who are interested can debate into the small hours about how many g/kg are optimal.

3
A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

on December 30, 2010
at 03:36 PM

I've been less and less around paleo blogs, not only because I've been swamped at work. I've learned all I needed to lead healthy, paleo lifestyle. And as Paul said above, there are people who take the paleo/primal diet way too militantly, almost like a religion. I take it seriously, but I made it part of my life, not THE most crucial part of it, using it like weapon in paleo crusade. I live paleo, naturally, without even thinking much about it anymore. I stopped over-analyzing, reducing food to its molecules and chemical interactions. I eat that way, because it works, it makes sense, it fits my knowledge about evolution and anthropology (in which I am much more interested than in bio-medical science).

I was put off sometimes by people with "my way or no way" attitude, giving out the stench of superiority, know-it-alls with the one and only correct way to live paleo. I think some of them have simply the zealotry of neophytes, attacking and fighting what they just been themselves not that long time ago.

So yeah, I think there might be a split of the zealots, narrow-minded nit-pickers, and more relaxed, happy with what they do, having fun with science, open to ideas and other people's way of understanding paleo.

3
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 30, 2010
at 02:28 AM

I guarantee you that the low-fat paleos are a tiny tiny minority, only given a soapbox because they are politically correct. And most "low-fat" paleos aren't actually low fat. I've met some of them and I've seen what they eat.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 30, 2010
at 04:04 AM

"low fat" is relative. How many grams a day do you get? I almost guarantee it's above gov recs.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:19 AM

Agreed. As I said in my answer above, "low fat paleo" is still fattier than what the CW dictates we eat.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on December 30, 2010
at 03:27 AM

I'm a "low-fat paleo" and not at all driven by political correctness, nor do I have a soapbox.

2
B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

on December 30, 2010
at 02:26 PM

I'm thinking that there will be splits based mostly on misunderstanding.

Without better communication, one person could be identifying their style of eating high-fat, and another could be identifying their style as low-fat, and they could be eating the same amount of fat AND fighting about it.

Sheeesh.

And dairy will likely settle out to personal preference.

Example: Adam likes heavy cream 'cause heavy cream causes him no discernible side effects and is very tasty.

2
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on December 30, 2010
at 04:04 AM

I see low carb splitting off.

I think lacto and orthodox can agree tho

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:21 PM

personally I thought I had a problem with all fructose, but with further testing, berries are fine, im not sure what the variance is... frustrating not knowing everything yet. I do not personally believe its all about insulin anymore.

1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

(6550)

on December 30, 2010
at 02:34 PM

Yeah, there's definitely some of that brewing with respect to fruit/fructose.

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on May 20, 2011
at 02:53 AM

I think it generally varies based on personal circumstances, flaws, activity levels, etc. Those who actively "test" different methods will ultimately find what works for them. Those that just accept what others say and write will probably flail. I think there are some general properties that probably apply to everyone and that most Paleo followers will agree to. The best thing a person can do is to use him or herself as a test dummy.

1
6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on December 30, 2010
at 03:24 AM

I was just thinking that a split was coming along high-fat/low-fat lines. I use those terms loosely since I've been repeatedly schooled for using the confusing expression "lean meat." Words mean what people think they mean, and sometimes I think we paleos get bogged down by diction and semantics. For example, Cordain's and Wolf's Paleo is what I am calling low-fat paleo, but it is fattier than what the CW suggests we eat. Most high-fat paleos, on the other hand, seem to go out of their way to eat lots and lots of fats, especially saturated animal fats. This is true even though paleolithic people did not have access to unlimited fats, saturated or otherwise. Which begs the question why is this even called paleo? I'm not saying "high-fat paleo" isn't healthy, maybe it is. It just does not resemble any diet that any paleolithic people ate (with the exception of the rare high-latitude, marine mammal-dependent peoples).

This dichotomy of views regarding dietary fat comes up frequently. See this question. Note that the questioner has attributed Robb Wolf's views on dietary fats (i.e. keep it within ancestral limits) to political pressure, as has Melissa above. Why is it that a divergence of views on dietary fats can only be explained by "politics?" Isn't it possible that we just disagree? It's counterproductive to label those with which we disagree, because at that point we're arguing about the labels instead of discussing the issues.

I am not-so-secretly hoping that this will come to a head soon, maybe at the Ancestral Health Symposium, where this dichotomy of views will be well represented. Maybe the leading lights of Paleo can hash it out, but I doubt it. This is a fundamental and elemental disagreement, with both sides claiming that science is on their side. Personally, I side with Cordain and Wolf, as there is an immense amount of science there, but we all have to make up our own minds about it.

In any case, "high-fat paleo" probably needs a more accurately descriptive name.

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:10 AM

I suspect that a great way to fail at most any endeavor is to over-think it. In my personal history, i have done this over and over. I'm sure that I don't want tomb plotting menus based on percentages when i could just add more sat fat, and stop eating when i am satisfied. So far, so great.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:22 AM

I agree with Melissa above. I don't worry about the details of my daily diet, I just follow Cordain's guidelines.

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

(10778)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:03 AM

I see what you are saying about misunderstanding low-fat as a term when what we could use is a '% of daily calories are saturated fat'... Are we running into the problem where there are many people who are not comfortable with math?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on December 30, 2010
at 04:05 AM

I'm neither. Macronutrient composition isn't and shouldn't be part of the paleo diet requirements. We have no idea what past macro compositions were. I eat whole grass-fed ruminants, so my diet varies in fat composition. I don't really worry about it.

0
13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

on May 20, 2011
at 02:00 AM

I think the focus should be on spirited debate, so long as there is doubt on any given food, supplement or biological mechanism. Granted there's some point you say consensus exists (unified face that radiator fluid is bad for you), but given the amount of discussion on this site, I think we are a good long ways from that consensus on any particular version of paleo.

Seems to me the enduring split is the orthorexic hawk/dove fault. With more research on paleo we might know the trade-offs involved, but that research seems a long time coming. In the meantime, unity is definitely premature.

0
07154e6d8e42065f230d06249700fe5b

(2057)

on December 30, 2010
at 04:01 PM

This hasn't already happened? I think the two major branch offs being zero carb and raw, I'v seen a handful of forums for each sect, they don't seem to mingle much with everyone else.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on May 20, 2011
at 05:26 AM

I'm not sure where zero-carb fits in to a history of paleo; I don't really think it's a paleo offshoot, nor is it really a low-carb offshoot. Most of the "first-generation" ZCers I know of were heavily influenced by Owsley "The Bear" Stanley, who owed allegiance to no big names in either movement (well, Stefansson maybe, so maybe that's paleo...hmm...). And at least in the case of ZC, I think the isolation is largely two-way; the "mainstream" paleos and LCers don't seem to like us very much, lol. Interesting to think about, Katie; I'm glad you put this out there.

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