Are we being taken advantage of?

Answered on November 15, 2014
Created November 14, 2014 at 3:36 PM

     I think the 'Paleo' movement has definitely attracted both great people and great lines of inquiry that are important to have in the modern day (i.e. checks and balances for preexisting recommendations). But what I worry about now is that practioners of 'Paleo' are taking advantage of us due to our inability to extricate ourselves from this 'magic solution' mindset. 

     In the beginning, learning about the follies of cholesterol and saturated fat causing heart disease really sparked our curiosity as it resulted in the collapse of preexisting pillars of common knowledge. But as this movement has progressed, I think the essence of it has been reduced to something somewhat unappealing to most folk: eating unprocessed foods, staying active, and sleeping well. And I believe that practioners such as Chris Kresser have taken advantage of these bland, but honest recommendations to turn a profit by making these reboots (e.g. 14 four)and other services that act as another 'magic solution'. I know he recently mentioned having over 1400 people sign up for his 14four plan, which given the ~$40 sign up results in over $50k revenue. 


Anyone else think that these practitioners are taking advantage of us (i.e. people who have had medical ailments unsatisfactorily treated by mainstream medicine) to make money? Even when the recommendations have boiled down to very simple, and maybe unremarkable life choices that require commitment and work, these individuals are taking advantage by promising 'resets' and 'reboots' for many of us when they promote their true intentions as beneficence.


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on November 15, 2014
at 07:02 AM

Well yes. But I give Taubes and Attia credit for trying to focus the effort at a higher level. Substantiating the claim requires testing not more overthinking.

IMO Paleo wins on incremental advantage over other methods for weight loss, but all approaches require the discipline to stay with the program forever. For longevity I'm uncertain, but favor Jack Lalanne over Atkins approach. 

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3 Answers


on November 14, 2014
at 04:06 PM

You are completely right. The Paleo Diet is a valid concept and started as a great hypothesis that proposed an answer to the question: "What would be an optimal diet for human beings which would result in the best health outcomes?". And given that evolution is a proven scientific concept, The Paleo Diet hypothesis was built upon it.

Now the great thing at the beginning of the Paleo Diet was that it functioned very scientifically, as it had a great dose of skepticism of conventional wisdon regarding diet. Skepticism is always healthy as it promotes debate and the refining of any current beliefs that might be held. Unfortunately, this caused a polarization, whereby people looked at the conventional wisdom with skepticism (which is great) but started accepting everything that was contrary to conventional wisdom as absolute truth (not so good).

Once this happened, the woo woo (pseudoscience) started to become dominant and a bunch of quacks started to infiltrate the Paleo community. It all went downhill from there.

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on November 15, 2014
at 07:05 AM

Science but also history. Cordain's approach is ancient diet. We became what we ate. And did.



on November 15, 2014
at 06:21 AM

I'm participating in the 14Four program out of professional curiosity (I'm a paleo personal chef and nutrition educator).  At $47, the program's a great bargain, not a rip-off.  Chris and his contract staff have invested what seems like thousands of hours into this program to provide information, support and structure to beginners in the Paleo lifestyle.

Further, even if every one of the alleged 1400 who signed up follow through, i.e., don't ask for a refund, Chris and his contract staff deserve every penny.  $50K is peanuts divided among the 3 principals who've worked their asses off to develop the program.  Don't forget, each one of those people went without income for every hour they spent developing this program.  Chris sees patients only part of the week, so he can research, write, and develop training programs for other medical professionals.  That's also an investment of time without renumeration. Also, the two contract staff RDs also provide support to the FB group. That's more time that they're going without income from clients. Unless you believe that people shouldn't rewarded financially commensurately with providing a product that people need as well as want, these folks aren't cheats.

Any movement that gains momentum will attract snake oil salesmen; paleo's no different.  But Kresser provides solid, research-based information, both in his writing — free of charge — and podcasts (also free of charge).  So do people like Robb Wolf, Zoe Harcomb, Katy Bowman, Dr. John Briffa, Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe, Laura Shoenfeld and Kelsey Marksteiner (Kresser's contract RDs), and yes — even Mark Sisson.  So please consider the entire universe of people on the paleo scene, and focus on the good ones. 



on November 15, 2014
at 03:16 PM

I have exactly one paleo tome - Robb's book. I know a lot of paleo folks go out and buy book after book, but the information is all the same. You don't need that. Heck, even the paleosphere gets boring and repetitive after a while. 

I don't think anybody is being taken advantage of. Either, folks want to read what Kresser has to say (again?) or they simply want the info for the first time. 

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