9

votes

Should the "Grok" be dropped?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 08, 2010 at 9:13 PM

Is using "Grok" as verbal shorthand useful?

Regarding the usage of "Grok", commenters Alex, AllTooHuman and Louisa make some excellent points here.

Alex says:

Can we all make an effort to leave the whole Grok bullshit off of this website and on Sisson's forum where it belongs? I am not knocking Mark at all, I just find the whole Grok thing very grating - it is romantic primitivism of the worst kind and frankly pretty stupid. ...

AllTooHuman cogently responds:

I have to admit that having come to this site from PaNu (and not knowing anything about Sisson) the whole Grok thing still throws me for a bit of a loop. I'm more interested in what the human metabolism seems built to do than any form or primal, tribal re-enactment. I think I've come to understand the Grok thing as a bit of a metaphor, and while it does strike a more romantic and less than scientific tone in my ear as well, I just accept it for what it is: a bit of verbal shorthand as a means to an end.

And Louisa points out:

and there are definitely some people around today who are totally into paleo re-enactment, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

My thoughts:

@Alex -- I am not a huge fan of the "Grok" thing either, however, as AllTooHuman points out, it is simple, catchy verbal shorthand.

So what do you think?

"Grok" is simply, useful and catchy verbal shorthand for all things Paleo? Or asking WWGD encourages gratuitous and meaningless paleo reenactment?

Given my response and the current quote in the header, "Metabolism first, history second." as well as my inclination to make Paleo a bigger tent, you can see where I stand.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on May 11, 2012
at 10:47 PM

Me too. I was enjoying Sisson's book until Grok came along.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on September 21, 2011
at 08:21 PM

You don't grok the meaning of grok? Don't worry, neither does (did?) Grok.

1fc9c11cf23b2f62ac78979de933ad83

(2435)

on September 08, 2011
at 07:28 AM

What about Grokette and Groklings?

4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on November 05, 2010
at 08:26 AM

Absolutely agree! And any catchy term tends to become dated, ultimately causing the concept / movement it was cpined for to seem dated too. And I don't ever want to see "Paleo" look like a remnant from the early 2000's! remember the 60's was called "The decade of Love" or whatever? Imagine 2000 - 2010 being called ' The Decade of Grok"! Let's get Grok buried and done with now, before that happens.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 04, 2010
at 03:48 PM

I see it as mostly a Sisson thing. Not a lot of Grok-speak here. If you read the PB, it has a great chapter with a day in the life of the Grok family versus a modern family. He uses it to drive home quite a few useful points. I feel no need to use it - or to dis' it.

0961069ca7c5921f2b0b3f509eeedef7

(60)

on November 04, 2010
at 02:59 PM

I'll second that.

8e75344356f4a455185ee52da0b90bf2

on April 21, 2010
at 12:46 PM

I agree that this is much ado about nothing. I mean, don't take it so seriously, @Alex. It's just a thing. An easily grasped avatar for Paleo in general. Should we also only say "Paleolithic Lifestyle" rather than "Paleo" (which can mean different things to different people)? Meh.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 09, 2010
at 07:02 PM

I don't think you were a jerk -- maybe a bit aggressive in tone! You make a good point and I wanted the PaleoHackers to have their say too. BTW I am in 150% agreement with you about VoW.

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on March 09, 2010
at 06:57 PM

I totally agree....

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 09, 2010
at 05:26 PM

Oh boy- I think pushing it as far as Grokana and Grokling is a bit of a grok of sh*t. ;-)

5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

(1922)

on March 09, 2010
at 08:18 AM

The issue for me is that I think the term encourages incorrect reasoning. "What would Grok do?" is really immaterial, and if you think that way, you will end up reaching the wrong conclusions.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 09, 2010
at 03:37 AM

Yep, pretty much agreed.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 09, 2010
at 03:35 AM

I think for some/many (?) people, it is very valuable to use Grok as shorthand --- that said, as you can see, I am not a fan of the term for the reasons you state.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 09, 2010
at 03:27 AM

Does that mean I can't have the fur rug after all? LOL

Da9e3c7c4d81dd2c3d84e8b1e0e5cb10

(482)

on March 09, 2010
at 12:46 AM

Patrik, thanks, yeah I was aware of that. Just kinda thought the added context of the hackers definition was interesting!

5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

(1922)

on March 09, 2010
at 12:31 AM

Sure, but how does a confusing and misleading term help solve that problem? Doesn't it just make things worse? Of course, "Paleo" by itself is also confusing in some ways. How about "PaNu" instead?

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 09, 2010
at 12:31 AM

Hi Anna, I think you are missing a major point of Rick Kiessig's above. We AREN'T or SHOULDN'T be trying to mimic Paleo behavior for the sake of it -- we should be trying to replicate the evolutionary metabolic environment we have been evolved to live in! Make sense? :)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 08, 2010
at 11:09 PM

To understand profoundly through intuition or empathy. So doesn't that imply what we are really trying to do by using the term Grok. We are trying to mimic paleo behaviour by deciding what went on back then and act accordingly.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 08, 2010
at 11:00 PM

I agree with you -- however there are a lot of people for whom that is simply too much to understand -- and those same people could benefit from eating Paleo, no?

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:58 PM

Hopefully, like the Paleo movement has. That is one of my favorite aspects of Free The Animal, is watching how Richard's POV has evolved over the time.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:57 PM

@PortlandAllan, see my comment to Beth about that!

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:57 PM

Hi Beth, the actual definition of grok as in "to understand deeply" comes from Robert Heinlein's Stranger in the a Strange Land. A great book BTW.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:56 PM

What is grok the Heinlen-verb? Do I need to Google?

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:55 PM

Glenn, I think you and I are of the same mind on this. I'd prefer not to institute any hard and fast rules, and thus far allowed Paleo self-organizing anarchy to flourish under my watchful eye. Keep your fingers crossed that everyone continues to place nice.

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18 Answers

15
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:57 PM

Aw lighten up- to me it is a tongue in cheek short way to describe the paleo way of eating and living in a back to the basics kind of way.

It doesn't even bother me that Grok is probably a guy and there is no equivalent term for a girl grok.

8e75344356f4a455185ee52da0b90bf2

on April 21, 2010
at 12:46 PM

I agree that this is much ado about nothing. I mean, don't take it so seriously, @Alex. It's just a thing. An easily grasped avatar for Paleo in general. Should we also only say "Paleolithic Lifestyle" rather than "Paleo" (which can mean different things to different people)? Meh.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 04, 2010
at 03:48 PM

I see it as mostly a Sisson thing. Not a lot of Grok-speak here. If you read the PB, it has a great chapter with a day in the life of the Grok family versus a modern family. He uses it to drive home quite a few useful points. I feel no need to use it - or to dis' it.

1fc9c11cf23b2f62ac78979de933ad83

(2435)

on September 08, 2011
at 07:28 AM

What about Grokette and Groklings?

14
5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

on March 09, 2010
at 02:26 AM

To me, the Primal Blueprint, Grok, etc. represent Paleo Light -- a watered down version for the sake of broader appeal.

I come from a science/technology/engineering background as I'd guess many others here do and, as such, I'm comfortable with the nitty gritty science. The Grok stuff can get a little grating at times and I'm personally more comfortable arguing about the specifics of some study than arguing about what Grok would've done.

However, not everyone comes from such a background and stuff like Grok is a great way of conveying the principles in a very straightforward and memorable manner (though I've always liked "naked with a sharp stick" from NeanderThin for those conversations). The elevator pitch is useful for spreading ideas and Grok can be part of a great elevator pitch, particularly when you're talking to a family member, old high school buddy, etc. who isn't at home with the chemistry, math, etc. required to get this stuff at the low level.

It's your site, Patrik, but I like the "big tent" approach. Mark's blog is immensely popular and I suspect we'll be seeing people coming here who learned about the whole Paleo thing through his blog and who are used to the Grok concept. I don't see value in taking an elitest approach and shunning them because of that.

As a side note, I doubt that anyone really gets confused by the Grok analogy. The people who retort with the "so where's your loincloth?" comments are being intentionally daft and are going to have a similar response no matter how you frame the concept.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 09, 2010
at 03:37 AM

Yep, pretty much agreed.

0961069ca7c5921f2b0b3f509eeedef7

(60)

on November 04, 2010
at 02:59 PM

I'll second that.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on May 11, 2012
at 10:47 PM

Me too. I was enjoying Sisson's book until Grok came along.

6
Df0f9a6fb28a833f21e4dc12d7875158

(65)

on March 08, 2010
at 11:50 PM

Its easier than saying "our paleolithic ancestors..." every time you want to discuss the evolutionary basis for a concept.

5
5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

on March 08, 2010
at 10:02 PM

I think the term Grok is confusing and misleading.

The driving force behind dietary choices should be using science to support the metabolic environment that we evolved under--which happened during the Paleolithic era. It's not about historical recreation of primitive conditions.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 09, 2010
at 03:35 AM

I think for some/many (?) people, it is very valuable to use Grok as shorthand --- that said, as you can see, I am not a fan of the term for the reasons you state.

5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

(1922)

on March 09, 2010
at 12:31 AM

Sure, but how does a confusing and misleading term help solve that problem? Doesn't it just make things worse? Of course, "Paleo" by itself is also confusing in some ways. How about "PaNu" instead?

5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

(1922)

on March 09, 2010
at 08:18 AM

The issue for me is that I think the term encourages incorrect reasoning. "What would Grok do?" is really immaterial, and if you think that way, you will end up reaching the wrong conclusions.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 08, 2010
at 11:00 PM

I agree with you -- however there are a lot of people for whom that is simply too much to understand -- and those same people could benefit from eating Paleo, no?

4
0961069ca7c5921f2b0b3f509eeedef7

on November 04, 2010
at 03:11 PM

Whatever the crap is decided, "Grok on!" HAS to be banned.

4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on November 05, 2010
at 08:26 AM

Absolutely agree! And any catchy term tends to become dated, ultimately causing the concept / movement it was cpined for to seem dated too. And I don't ever want to see "Paleo" look like a remnant from the early 2000's! remember the 60's was called "The decade of Love" or whatever? Imagine 2000 - 2010 being called ' The Decade of Grok"! Let's get Grok buried and done with now, before that happens.

3
Fcaeaac15cf6568f2825b230731d5a7d

(529)

on March 08, 2010
at 09:56 PM

I understand the complaints, on many levels, but I don't think we need to burn Grok at the stake. Let him die a peaceful, natural death, much like we all might wish to do.

How do most of us respond when someone uses a hackneyed phrase around us? Usually tepidly, but not rudely, and if the other person has much sense they will see this. No need to berate them.

3
03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on March 08, 2010
at 09:29 PM

It doesn't bother me, although I certainly see how it can wear thin, and I don't use the term myself.

Stepping back, I like the fact that this place seems to run pretty well without rules, so I would hate to see standards and guidelines about acceptable word usage, etc. Richard likes dropping F-bombs on anti-paleo idiots, Stephan and Kurt and Don like combing through controlled clinical trials, Mark and his fans find the Grok term to be useful/helpful. Is there room for all these approaches here? (Minus, maybe, the f-bombs... hehe)

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:55 PM

Glenn, I think you and I are of the same mind on this. I'd prefer not to institute any hard and fast rules, and thus far allowed Paleo self-organizing anarchy to flourish under my watchful eye. Keep your fingers crossed that everyone continues to place nice.

2
Be4b60059db3511771303de1613ecb67

(1137)

on March 08, 2010
at 11:31 PM

I have no desire to return to an earlier time and I really don't care what Grok did or thought. I just want to learn more about how our current eating habits influence our health. Any term used repeatedly will certainly wear thin. Except in the case of Heinlein, of course. :-)

2
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:53 PM

Perhaps "Grok" will evolve... ;)

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:58 PM

Hopefully, like the Paleo movement has. That is one of my favorite aspects of Free The Animal, is watching how Richard's POV has evolved over the time.

2
5740abb0fa033403978dd988b0609dfd

on March 08, 2010
at 10:12 PM

I'm with you Patrick. Grok can be a useful metaphor at times. However when it crosses the not so fine line of metaphor to religion, in my opinion those people should give it a rest.

If you are finding yourself asking yourself "What Would Grok Do?" in the course of your typical day, I might suggest you take some time off the internets and attempt to regain a little perspective. Or, at least, get your own blog.

PS. While agnostic on 'Grok' the Sisson-noun, I have always been fond of 'grok' the Heinlein-verb. :-)

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 09, 2010
at 12:31 AM

Hi Anna, I think you are missing a major point of Rick Kiessig's above. We AREN'T or SHOULDN'T be trying to mimic Paleo behavior for the sake of it -- we should be trying to replicate the evolutionary metabolic environment we have been evolved to live in! Make sense? :)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 08, 2010
at 11:09 PM

To understand profoundly through intuition or empathy. So doesn't that imply what we are really trying to do by using the term Grok. We are trying to mimic paleo behaviour by deciding what went on back then and act accordingly.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 09, 2010
at 03:27 AM

Does that mean I can't have the fur rug after all? LOL

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:56 PM

What is grok the Heinlen-verb? Do I need to Google?

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:57 PM

@PortlandAllan, see my comment to Beth about that!

Medium avatar

(19469)

on September 21, 2011
at 08:21 PM

You don't grok the meaning of grok? Don't worry, neither does (did?) Grok.

1
A27774151362c5e398adbe70e5de657d

(288)

on March 09, 2010
at 06:51 PM

The problem with Grok, imo, is that it paints with a black and white brush. Listen to the first interview he did with Jimmy Moore after the book was released comparing the Korg vs. Grok family. It's not that simple and there are shades of grey. Many, many shades.

1
587538a2db229b2ec884ea04cc3dc75e

(462)

on March 09, 2010
at 05:47 PM

Sorry to have been a jerk. I certainly don't think the Grok thing should be banned from this excellent website. However, I think we should all try to be very careful about basing decisions on oversimplified platonic ideals rather than actual knowledge. Venus of Willendorf is a good example. Our state of knowledge about it is this: it's a carving of a woman and it is about 30,000 years old. Everything else that is said about it - object of worship, fertility cult, goddess, etc. - is speculation. Grok as conceived by Sisson's followers seems to be a fusion of various (generally unsubstantiated) ideas about how people lived in the remote past and Fred Flintstone. I don't think it's particularly useful. Your decisions about how to live and what to eat will probably be better if they are not based on a cartoon. I think that's enough - I promise not to mention it again.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 09, 2010
at 07:02 PM

I don't think you were a jerk -- maybe a bit aggressive in tone! You make a good point and I wanted the PaleoHackers to have their say too. BTW I am in 150% agreement with you about VoW.

1
Eae21abfabb19c4617b2630386994fd9

on March 09, 2010
at 12:15 AM

My vote is no superflous uses of "grok". i.e. instead of asking: "would grok use the term grok?", just ask: "should I use the term grok?" or 3rd person: "Is it healthy to use the term grok?" This is actually more meaningful because you aren't asking about what grok would do, you are asking about what you should do.

If you are specifically talking about what someone did in paleo times, then go ahead. i.e. "I think grok ate honey as evidenced by fossilized bee stings"

This is actually a subset of a more general rule- don't use catchy terms that frame things in unnecessary ways.

1
Da9e3c7c4d81dd2c3d84e8b1e0e5cb10

(482)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:12 PM

I'll come clean. I kinda like Grok as short-hand for referring to ancestral concepts. Doesn't mean that I channel Grok nor ask WWGD? before I make decisions. If anything, I think the biggest baggage it has is that it's like a brand for Sisson's version of paleo. I don't use it in that context.

BTW, I don't know if he had it in mind when he first used the term, but it's kinda cool that it has a double-meaning too. This is what grok means to programmers (via the Jargon File):

When you claim to 'grok' some knowledge or technique, you are asserting that you have not merely learned it in a detached instrumental way but that it has become part of you, part of your identity.

Could be me, but that seems to fit awfully well with modern paleo!

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 08, 2010
at 10:57 PM

Hi Beth, the actual definition of grok as in "to understand deeply" comes from Robert Heinlein's Stranger in the a Strange Land. A great book BTW.

Da9e3c7c4d81dd2c3d84e8b1e0e5cb10

(482)

on March 09, 2010
at 12:46 AM

Patrik, thanks, yeah I was aware of that. Just kinda thought the added context of the hackers definition was interesting!

0
Cf4e7d927a48582cc22adbe59bfd0b2d

on July 10, 2012
at 03:31 AM

I think Grok deserves credit. He's definitely not doing any harm. A lot of people cannot stomach the "science" behind ANYTHING, but in small, tasty doses. Grok is the "spoonful of sugar" that helps the "medicine go down" (not exactly a "paleo" quote, but you get my point). With something that comes off as more personal, I believe it becomes easier for people who are interested in the lifestyle, but not as keen on the science, to understand the concept. Most can differentiate between a romanticized, conceptual human and what it may have truly been like to live in that time. MOST.

0
16846467115e18d283565a19c374ee07

(323)

on November 04, 2010
at 02:47 PM

I think it's kind of silly, too. No big deal, though, the information on Sisson's more than makes up for it. Like one of the previous posters said, it's just a technique used to show us how/what we should be eating/excercising.

0
33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on March 09, 2010
at 04:52 PM

I was trying desperately to find a 'female' grok name term and a 'baby' grok name the other day, I came up with Grokana and Grokling.......

I think Grok is fun and great shorthand if you want to put across an idea quickly, it seems to be something that everyone understands instantly (at least I did the first time I heard it) but it does put across a very masculine, club-welding, wife's hair-pulling kind of ethic which I just think should be expanded a little to encompass the female aspect of paleo.

Grok certainly emulates a masculine, meat hunting and eating ethic, but I think modern Paleo is far from that, there are also the 'womanly' skills of cookery, nourishment and foraging to take into account, plus, depending how deep you wanna go on this one - the tribal unit, which allegedly was woman-centered anyway.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 09, 2010
at 05:26 PM

Oh boy- I think pushing it as far as Grokana and Grokling is a bit of a grok of sh*t. ;-)

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2

(7073)

on March 09, 2010
at 06:57 PM

I totally agree....

0
52cae90a114ca8f0404948e2b7ccb7ef

(1595)

on March 08, 2010
at 11:56 PM

I prefer egroks. Yub yub!

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