Bad Science, Shrinking Brains, and Open (Yet Questioning) Minds

“The idea is to try to give all the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another”

Richard Feynman

So when we put all of our eggs in one basket — say, judging a particular question solely by the outcome of the published “science” related to that question, rather than approaching the question from multiple disciplines (intuition, common sense, empirical evidence, etc.) — we severely limit the possibility of finding the essential truth of the matter.  For example, “established science” held firm — and is yet holding firm —  to the notion that weight management is simply an extension of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, namely the “calories-in/calories-out” idea.  Those of us who allow ourselves to think without restraint now realize how ridiculously flawed this reductionist thinking is.  In fact, to the extent that I did, at one time, believe this to be true is…shocking to me.

We currently have battles raging withing the Physical Culture arena — gladiator “absolutists”, if you will — representing various training methods as being the end-all, be-all.  Is it really as easy as finding the lone “correct” answer?  Well, I say that all we need do is take a good look around to see how ridiculous this notion is.  For every Dorian Yates, I can offer a Bill Pearl; for every Mentzer, a Gironda.  The list goes on and on; for every fabulous athlete employing a certain training method, we can find examples of similarly proficient athletes doing something entirely different.  All methods work for some, no method works for all, and the method that currently works wonders for an individual likely won’t produce results in that same individual 6 months from now.  Some see training as purely science, I see it as more analogous to the culinary arts; replete with scientific underpinnings to be sure, but the creation of a great meal is a hell of a lot more complex than the simple co-mingling of those simple, disparate, underpinnings.  Just call me the Alton Brown, then, of Physical Culture.

A slight diversion: now I’m no linguist by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s my understanding that there is no single Sanskrit word for “truth”, but rather a number of words that hint at the truth of  an idea as colored by the strengths and limitations of the approach.  In other words, ideas can have “truths” revealed in a philosophical/emotional sense, a spiritual sense, and, yes, a scientific sense.  We in the west tend to put a premium on the scientific “truth” behind and idea at the exclusion of all else.  This, of course, leads to a dead-end trap of stagnant thought.  Again, quoting Richard Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” Good words to live by, from a brilliant man.

And so with that “question authority” mindset nicely stoked, let’s reconsider, for example, the vaccine-autism link that was all the rage not so long ago.  Again, my point here is not to imply that all science is shoddy — far from it — my point is simply to maintain a questioning attitude even in the face of supposed scientific “proof”.


The notion of a continual decline in humanoid brain volume over the past 20 kyrs or so is not exactly earth-shattering news to those of us who make it a habit to keep up with the musings Art DeVany or John Hawks; it is interesting, though, to reconsider this phenomenon through a more conventional lens.  Was the advent of the agricultural revolution a cause, correlate, or just a simple coincidence to the onset of this pattern?  For me, the evidence clearly indicates causation; always the epistemocrat, though, I remain open-minded to alternative theories.


Much thanks to Robb Wolf (and his merry band of pseudo-science co-conspirators) for creation of the all-things-Paleo Forum, which will be a great resource for everyone dedicated to this Paleo/Primal/EvFit/Ancestral Fit journey.  We at Efficient Exercise intend to use this valuable resource as another educational tool (along with the Paleo Solution Quick Start Guide)  for those involved in our 10-week Project Transformation: the Efficient Exercise Solution.  And needless to say, we always recommend The Paleo Solution as the definitive go-to source for clients interested in pursuing the Paleo way.   Between Robb’s wesite, forum, podcasts, blog and book, anyone who has a mind to can accumulate a PhD-level education in the Paleo way from this single, convenient, root source.  Thanks again, guys, for all the free, selflessly-given, information.  Stunningly generous.

By the way, if you’d like to check-in on the happenings with Project Transformation, be sure to “friend us up” over at our Facebook page.  We’ll be kicking the program off on January 18th, with a wide-ranging demographic of “subjects”.


My workouts this past week were all of the organic, non-documented type save for yesterday’s (1/8/11) heavy T-bar swing and weighted dip combo.  Ahhhhh, T-bar swings; Tim Ferriss would be proud 🙂

T-bar swings: 100 lbs x 20, 20, 20, 20, 20

weighted dips: bw+90 lbs x 6, 6, 6, 6, 4

Kept the rest between exercises and between rounds to a minimum here.  Just out of curiosity, I checked my pulse immediately following the 2nd round of swings — 165 bpm.  Pushing fairly hard, but certainly not a red-liner by any means.

An all-day squat-fest:

Okay, so here’s an example of an impromptu, situationally-driven “workout”: on Thursday (1/6/11), it occurred to me that I hadn’t performed a bread-and-butter, bilateral back squat in quite some time, as usually, if I’m going to squat at all, I’ll opt for a unilateral version — a RFESS, say — or maybe a front squat.   Anyway, I also saw in the day’s hand the (sweet!) opportunity to get quite a bit of short-burst fixie-huckin in.  What better to mix with that quick-burst leg burn than some good old back squats?  Yeah, I thought so, too — so I repeated this basic set-up time and again throughout the day.  And hey — shouldn’t I get credit as well, for all the plate loading and unloading?

(A1) full ATG squats: 135 x 12, 225 x 6

(A2) thighs parallel to the ground: 315 x 4, 4, 3, 3

(A3) quarter squats to full ankle extension (explosive): 405 x 8, 8, 8

(A4) fixie sprint

This is just an example of one round.  Sometimes I did much less volume between rides (diving right into the quarter squats, for example), and other times I just bounced around with the ATG stuff.  The point is, I did whatever the hell I felt like doing with no “need” to hit a pre-determined number of sets or reps at a calculated load.  The lone constant here was intensity — when I went at it, I friggin’ went at it.  At times there was a full 3 hours between rounds, and other times maybe a half-hour.  Again, no rhyme or reason.   So was this “play”, “physical activity”, a “workout”…or what exactly?  I definitely pushed myself, especially in the later rounds — and I certainly felt the results the next day (soreness, off-the-charts hunger, etc.) — but how would something like this be classified?  More to the point (and from my body’s prospective) does it even need to be classifiable to be productive?  Well, of course not.  The only problem with this scenario, from a “guru”prospective, is that I can’t sell you a cookie-cutter programming guide for this — you’ve got to figure it out for yourself mt friend, n=1 fashion.  Not much of a business model, I know — but hey, what the hell do you expect from a guy who dropped (like a fracking rock, no less!) his only business-related college class (accounting…ugh) after 3 sessions due to total and utter (drooling!) disinterest? 🙂  I mean, why waste time with that nonsense, especially when I had a whole Howard Zinn-inspired Poli Sci department full of courses to choose from?  🙂


And last, but certainly not least — introducing the newest arrow to my quiver:

That makes 3 bikes now — and I still have but one ass  (as Meesus TTP has deftly pointed out)   🙂  All you cycling aficionados out there understand, though — I’m sure of it! …right??  🙂

In health,