Baloney Detection – How to Distinguish between Science and Pseudoscience [A Short Guide]

Baloney Detection - How to Distinguish between Science and Pseudoscience [A Short Guide]

Introduction

“When we’re growing up (!and, often in adult life) we tend to be pretty credulous. We just believe almost anything that people tell us, especially if it comes from authorities, experts, textbooks, politicians, television, Youtube, and the Internet. I mean, there’s just this sort of sea of information coming at us. And how can you tell the difference between: it’s right or wrong? How do you know?!” Michael Shermer (emphasis mine)

There’s way too much misinformation ‘out there’. And some of it is on purpose – disinformation. Whether it happens on the Internet or within your circle of friends, family and acquaintances, you (and I) are being bombarded with non-sense ad nauseam.

Filtering through, to get some valuable information, whenever that’s possible, is not easy. For this purpose, Carl Sagan and Michael Shermer formulated what they call: a baloney detection kit.

It started with an essay written by Sagan a long while ago [2]. In it, Sagan advises people on how to avoid logical and rhetorical fallacies. Acknowledging the value of this manifesto, Michael Shermer devised a more accessible and easily readable format of Sagan’s words [1].

Pure, raw information is of immense value today. Most information that reaches your senses is coated with personal filters and prejudices; it is distorted, manipulated, or modified in one way or another.

Here, I want to reignite awareness on Sagan and Shermer’s advice, hoping that it will help us better filter through this mountain of non-sense and also help us stave off the bad influence of malicious parties.

June 2016 – Physique Update [+ Current Protocols IF, CT…]

I took this video circa mid-June 2016.

A few words about my current protocol

To get some context, please read this short journal first.

  1. I managed to return to my April (2016) weight (my weight before the 1 month perturbation experiment) with a few days of overfeeding. Water retention from creatine intake may have helped.
  1. After 1 month of almost no IF (intermittent fasting), I resumed ~daily IF 20-4 (20 hours of fasting, 4 hours of eating), 2 meals. I time my meals between 2-6 P.M. most of the days.

The Hallmarks of Cancer – Insights from Decades of Research

The Hallmarks of Cancer - Insights from Decades of Research - 1

Introduction

Cancers are complicated. Many people try to envision and promote simple, one-shot approaches towards better management. Others engage in magical thinking by saying it’s a conspiracy not to cure it. Cancer physician and Pulitzer winner Siddhartha Mukherjee makes a compelling case for the complexity of cancers in this recent NYT issue (long read).

Even though each cancer has its unique characteristics – at least from a genomics point of view – there are a couple of similarities that have been observed in most forms of cancers.

Published in 2000 and updated in 2011, The hallmarks of cancer [1, 2] is a paper that has gathered more than 20,000 citations according to Google Scholar.

Rare Things happen all the Time – Another Example of Deception

Rare Things happen all the Time - Another Example of Deception

Introduction

Far from the intent of teaching deception, I’m writing this to bring awareness to some of the practices of dubious entities towards the gullible masses. Most of what you’re going to read is not my original thought. It is from a recent book that I read. I will do my best to add some personal interpretation whenever I find it appropriate.

Perturbations in my Lifestyle – Letting go of Limiting Beliefs [A Journal]

Perturbations in my Lifestyle - Letting go of Limiting Beliefs [A Journal]

Introduction

I’ve been away from home for a month or so. As I left, I decided to alter several of my lifestyle factors to test which of them hold true. I want to be more flexible; I want to have more degrees of freedom and I want to steer clear from rigid strategies and fixated thinking. I want to be able to change things instantly without a significant negative impact on my wellbeing. Anti-fragile is a keyword.

Moreover, I am suspicious of several of my former held beliefs – some of which I’ve been following unquestionably for the last 2-3 years. My own lack of education could be the culprit. I took for granted different assumptions coming from conventional wisdom, from ‘experts’, or from self-entitled ‘gurus’.

Some of these strategies led to improvement in my life. But I really don’t know which. So, I’ll keep testing, stop holding beliefs, and start asking more questions. On to the point.

The Priming Effect – Your Thoughts, Friends, Environment = Future You

The Priming Effect - Your Thoughts, Friends, Environment = Future You - 2

Introduction

With my head stuck into Thinking Fast and Slow, the voluminous book by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, I started becoming more familiar with the field of behavioral economics. Kahneman discusses extensively about cognitive biases and automatic (unconscious) mechanisms that drive human behavior (unconscious to you and me of course – unless you are actively aware of them).

Such mechanisms may allow deceitful/scheming/manipulating entities to exploit us for different purposes.

Other biases may provide rationale behind personal development babble. One of them, the focus of this write-up, is the priming effect. It caught my interest and it made me read a few scientific papers about it. Over the last few decades the priming effect has received a cocktail of appraisal and criticism on behalf of the research community.

In short, “priming is an implicit memory effect in which exposure to one stimulus (i.e., perceptual pattern) influences the response to another stimulus.” (more)

The Ketotic Brain compared to the Glycolitic Brain [Studies and Anecdotes]

The Ketotic Brain - Differences Compared to the Glycolitic State - 1

Introduction

I’ve briefly touched the subject of ketotic brain metabolism in some of my past posts. I’d say there’s much more to this subject than what I wrote before. Here I will discuss additional research findings along with a few personal experiences (anecdotes). My focus is on GABA and glutamate mediated effects.

I’ll begin with some personal reports:

Ever since I started experimenting with ketosis back in 2013 I noticed a dramatic shift in my mental condition. Prior to ketosis I was following a normal diet (glycolitic). I remember experiencing post-meal energy crashes that would last for a few hours and would render me mildly mentally incapacitated (exaggerating claim). If I were to engage in cognitive tasks of any kind, it would not have been easy to get through.

How to Manipulate Statistics in Research – A Short Guide to Bad Science

How to Manipulate Statistics in Research - A Short Guide to Bad Science

Introduction

Today I’m not gonna teach you how to deceive. But, I’m gonna show you how statistics can be deployed for wrongdoing. In particular, I’m going to discuss a few methods that are often applied to research studies so that desired results are more easily attained.

The untrained eye (at least 90% of us) is unaware of such practices, mostly because of the lack of education in critical thinking, logical fallacies, math, and statistics. Hopefully, this will help.

I have learned about these strategies while reading Bad Science, a sobering and, at the same time, funny work by Ben Goldacre [1].

Goldacre shoots at the field of ‘nutritionism’ (or: over-complication of simple and sensible dietary advice) and at those who package sophisticated strategies – such as complex diets, detoxes, light therapies, the worship of one food or another, promotion of, so called, super foods, etc.

If you want to improve your health, things should be fairly simple: eat clean, exercise, sleep. This will get you at least 80% closer to your end goal. Then, you can use other fancy strategies to get even closer.

My Belly Fat Progression by DXA – [2013 – 2016]

My Belly Fat Progression by DXA - [2013 - 2016]  - TFM

Those of you close to me are familiar with the details of my fat loss experiment, which I underwent between ~October and December 2013. For those who don’t know, I posted the details here.

To increase the accuracy of my approach I used a DEXA scanner. I wanted to measure the progression of my body composition. I got kindof captivated with the device, which is why I continued doing DEXA scans every few months ever since.

Almost three years later, I decided to make some sense out of the pile of papers (DEXA scans) in my drawer. So, here is some data on the dynamics of my abdominal fat (see top graphic).  

Step-wise Approach to Improve your Thinking Skills – 7 Books

Stepwise Approach to Improve your Thinking Skills - [7 Books]

Most of us assume we are reason-driven creatures; we assume we hold the power to each and every decision we make; we assume we are highly cognitive. I know I lived my life with these automatic assumptions until not so long ago. But as I learned more about the way our brain works physiologically and as I became aware of its inborn flaws and fallacies I gradually stepped away…

Daily life is mostly driven by habits. Little consideration is put to active, careful decision making. Metacognition (thinking about thinking) is something that mostly nobody is familiar with. Logical fallacies rule our lives. No, this is not the most pessimistic scenario I’m trying to paint here. This is something that we must be aware of.

For now, I’ve put up a list of seven books that should initiate you into the process of becoming a better thinker, of improving your cognitive abilities. These books help me tremendously; and I have a feeling they may serve you to the same purpose. This list is not exclusive as I may add more titles in the future.

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