14

votes

[Meta] Anyone else bothered by "need more ammo"?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 26, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Hey folks,

I'm not directing this at anyone in particular, and some of the people who've used this phrase are people whose posts I really respect. So no disrespect meant here.

In the past few months, I've seen a number of posts with a phrase like "need more ammo to debunk this claim/study."

This really bothers me. Does it bother anyone else?

It bothers me because the feeling that I get is, "I believe very much in Paleo/high-fat/whatever and this study says that something else is better. Can you give me some evidence that will reinforce my beliefs?"

Now, I KNOW that some of you do not mean it this way. But that is one way it comes across, especially online when I don't necessarily know you, and it may well come across that way to newbies who stumble onto this site.

If you've ever gone to the 30bananasaday site, you'll see posts like "Here are some blog posts critiquing the China Study. We need volunteers to debunk them!"

It's exceedingly rare (as far as I can tell) that any of them will ever say, "You know, I'm vegan and I have my reasons for it, but scientifically, the China Study is a bunch of garbage. Come on, guys."

This strikes me as very sad.*

Yes, there are some of us for whom Paleo is dogma and religion and it is sacrilege to eat potatoes or green beans or fermented grains. But I think the rest of us got into Paleo not because we wanted to believe in something, but because we realized that evolutionary biology is a damn good framework through which to examine human nutrition and health.

So, I would strongly prefer if we'd stop saying things like "help me debunk this stupid study, since it's obviously wrong (because it's not pro-Paleo)!" and start saying things like "Hey, I ran across this study that says that red meat causes cancer. Any merit to this study at all? Any criticisms of the analysis/methodology? Does it challenge any of our leading hypotheses about human nutrition and health? Is there any way we can use this to refine our knowledge?"

The difference is subtle, but very important.

Am I making a big deal out of nothing, or is this important to anybody else?

  • [Edit] There's no doubt in my mind that if a pro-Paleo study came out, but it was poorly designed, PaleoNu, WholeHealthSource, Robb Wolf, et al. would be the first to jump all over it with their critiques. Similarly, if some new info comes to light that makes us question our most cherished assumptions and beliefs, they're always willing to say "I learned something new, and I was wrong before."

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on September 13, 2010
at 03:16 PM

Thanks. It would appear that you are the exception that proves the rule, so to speak, but if you know of other vegans who feel that the China Study is junk, please let me know.

Cc93847bfa820f0f2da654060b401fa5

(746)

on September 13, 2010
at 02:00 AM

I haven't read The China Study so I can't comment on it, but some of the reviews I've seen basically showed it to be cherry-picked junk science. I eat only plants and have one reason for it, but in my experience most of what veganism says about animal products is fearmongering.

7df8f3cc7f1475c3ecbbd4a4feb87d04

(514)

on August 27, 2010
at 04:30 AM

I agree completely, and would add that Paleo should be an individualized guidepost as well. Maybe on person should eliminate dairy while another would benefit from adding more cream, cheese and yogurt into their diet.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on August 27, 2010
at 02:44 AM

Didn't take it poorly and thank you

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on August 27, 2010
at 02:25 AM

Some populations probably had access to more fat than others. Those that were good hunters probably got a lot of bone marrow. In polar regions, blubber is a staple.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on August 27, 2010
at 01:56 AM

Exactly. I've seen you use it and I didn't ever think that you meant it in a dogmatic way, but I still didn't want other people to get the wrong idea. Hope you didn't take this as an accusation. In fact, you were the person I had in mind when I said I respected the poster who said it.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on August 27, 2010
at 01:41 AM

I really don't mean to chastise. Just trying to call attention to something that's been bugging me for a while. I also took a peek recently over at a few pro-vegan sites, which reinforced my impression that it's very easy for people to "believe" in a certain diet, and that's really NOT what most of us want to accomplish here.

1a8020e101199de55c1b3b726f342321

(1973)

on August 26, 2010
at 10:37 PM

I agree, it sends the wrong message. Not sure we can do much about it without training these peoples to have the tools they want. Best thing might to keep the discussion intellectually sound even with the poor wording, perhaps chastise those who take this approach.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on August 26, 2010
at 08:02 PM

Chris, I completely agree. I think in most cases, people are using it just a shorthand way of saying "If you're qualified/knowledgeable, pick this apart for me, please!" My worry is twofold. 1. Even the best of us fall prey to confirmation bias on occasion (thanks gilliebean for the reminder). 2. "Need more ammo" may send the wrong message to newbies and visitors to this site, even if the original posters did not mean anything intellectually dishonest by it.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on August 26, 2010
at 06:12 PM

We all need to be award of "confirmation bias" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias).

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5 Answers

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7
1a8020e101199de55c1b3b726f342321

(1973)

on August 26, 2010
at 06:24 PM

As someone who has responded to a couple of these questions:

Most of the people who ask questions like this do not have access to the full text of the journal article, or the tools to read and comprehend it at the level they would like.

What they are looking for is someone to do a detailed analysis, like they've seen on paleonu, wholehealthsource, etc of the methods/limitations/conclusions of the study.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on August 27, 2010
at 01:41 AM

I really don't mean to chastise. Just trying to call attention to something that's been bugging me for a while. I also took a peek recently over at a few pro-vegan sites, which reinforced my impression that it's very easy for people to "believe" in a certain diet, and that's really NOT what most of us want to accomplish here.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on August 26, 2010
at 08:02 PM

Chris, I completely agree. I think in most cases, people are using it just a shorthand way of saying "If you're qualified/knowledgeable, pick this apart for me, please!" My worry is twofold. 1. Even the best of us fall prey to confirmation bias on occasion (thanks gilliebean for the reminder). 2. "Need more ammo" may send the wrong message to newbies and visitors to this site, even if the original posters did not mean anything intellectually dishonest by it.

1a8020e101199de55c1b3b726f342321

(1973)

on August 26, 2010
at 10:37 PM

I agree, it sends the wrong message. Not sure we can do much about it without training these peoples to have the tools they want. Best thing might to keep the discussion intellectually sound even with the poor wording, perhaps chastise those who take this approach.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 26, 2010
at 06:28 PM

yes, we have to keep an open mind and be willing to revise our ideas when new evidence potentially contradicts them. that is why it is important to listen to people who have problems on paleo and not worry that somehow they are giving paleo a bad name (i came across this sentiment in a comment earlier). the more we share our experiences, the more we can learn from each other.

1
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on August 26, 2010
at 09:12 PM

I think the predominant use of the term and idea is not to instantly debunk, but rather to help us better understand specifics. The more we understand the minute details the more likely our friends and loved ones will come around to healthy eating.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on August 27, 2010
at 01:56 AM

Exactly. I've seen you use it and I didn't ever think that you meant it in a dogmatic way, but I still didn't want other people to get the wrong idea. Hope you didn't take this as an accusation. In fact, you were the person I had in mind when I said I respected the poster who said it.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on August 27, 2010
at 02:44 AM

Didn't take it poorly and thank you

1
6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on August 26, 2010
at 06:20 PM

There is so much conflicting information out there about diet it's mind boggling. We don't have to just talk about the wide gulf separating us from vegans, this is also true even within the "paleo" community. I for one subscribe to a strict paleo diet of the Cordain variety, which I think puts me in the minority in this community. Maybe Sisson and Harris are right and you can eat all the (good) fat you want, and this is even the ideal human diet. I just don't think paleolithic humans had access to all the fat they wanted (and needed), which is why we crave it. If correct, this puts Sisson and Harris closer to New Atkins than to paleo.

But who really knows? I think the disagreements, discussion, and churn will ultimately bring us closer to the truth(s). And that's a good thing. Now if we could just get the scientists to start taking the evolutionary biology framework seriously, and use it as a guide for new studies of human disease and nutrition. Maybe if we keep spreading the word, and the ideas, they'll go mainstream and the scientists will start to directly study these ideas. I see all this chaotic churn as an important initial step in a wider, longer process.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on August 27, 2010
at 02:25 AM

Some populations probably had access to more fat than others. Those that were good hunters probably got a lot of bone marrow. In polar regions, blubber is a staple.

0
Af842c68e3d07fa0e35b4274f3acaeec

on August 26, 2010
at 11:50 PM

Paleo, in my opinion, should be simply a starting point, a paradigm to guide and pose questions about nutrition. There may be things about it that need to be changes, like nuts and seeds are definitely paleo, but then we find they have some deleterious substances, and O3/O6 imbalance, and so it might be best to limit them. Same with fruit! It's definitely paleo, but it has its downsides as well. Paleo should be a guidepost, NOT a strict ruleset.

Well at least that's my opinion, any thoughts?

7df8f3cc7f1475c3ecbbd4a4feb87d04

(514)

on August 27, 2010
at 04:30 AM

I agree completely, and would add that Paleo should be an individualized guidepost as well. Maybe on person should eliminate dairy while another would benefit from adding more cream, cheese and yogurt into their diet.

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