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Todd I. Stark "Cellular Wetware plus Books" RSS Feed (Philadelphia, Pa USA)
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Secrets From the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again
Secrets From the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $12.99

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating account of why diets fail and how fear of obesity is making things even worse, May 3, 2015
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This is a very well written and uniquely informative book in a field glutted with opinions and weak and conflicting advice. It is not a how-to book on losing weight, although it has a few solid behavioral suggestions for making modest healthy changes. This is primarily an interpretation of much of the available evidence regarding obesity and health by psychologist who runs an eating lab at the University of Minnesota and publishes a lot of scholarly peer reviewed work in the field.

Although she is a researcher, Dr. Mann takes pains to distinguish herself from obesity researchers with a public health focus who are motivated to warn people about the dangers of increasing body fat. Her interpretation of the data is often the opposite in some ways from theirs, she sees the growing incidence of body fat and she sees the growing incidence of adult onset diabetes, but she reports that the link between body fat and health problems is far weaker than is implied by the rhetoric of most obesity researchers and much weaker than the popular impression has become. In addition, our efforts to fight obesity have, she concludes, actually become counter-productive because of the manner in which we typically attempt to fight our own biology by restricting calories and exercising in ways that increase our stresses and increase our preoccupation with food, and that both of these things feed back into exacerbating the original problem.

The book starts off ripping into both the commercial diet industry and the focus of a lot of articles by doctors and obesity researchers by announcing that their "3 pillars" are all simply false:

1. That some diets work for losing weight
2. That some diets are healthy for losing weight
3. That obesity itself is deadly

Among the central and most compelling aspects of this book is where Mann observes that our ideal body image often tends to be outside of the range that we can reasonably sustain. And this becomes confused with health concerns and fed by commercial interests. We could transform our bodies potentially through diet and exercise, but at the cost of altering or entire lives in the service of that goal and experiencing extended self-denial and obsession with food.

And the clincher for her argument is that all this self-denial and obsession would be mostly serving our aesthetic ideal rather than actually improving health. She finds that according to best available evidence upon close inspection mortality is not significantly improved by losing weight, unless you are already extremely obese and still have a long life ahead of you. The population in that category is far smaller than the one targeted by both the diet and fitness industries and most obesity researchers.

Mann finds that diets consistently fail in two ways: (1) only a tiny percentage of dieters retain their weight loss, regardless of which diet it is, and (2) even when people lose enough weight to satisfy the goals of improving their risk profile, they rarely lose enough to satisfy their aesthetic preference. This means that according to the person themselves, their diet failed even when for health purposes it succeeds. Our aesthetic goals trump our health goals for the purpose of satisfaction with the diet.

If we should want to attempt small changes that help us regulate our own eating so we can maintain a sustainably lower body weight, Mann offers several well-tested behavioral suggestions along the lines of "nudges" that help us avoid being triggered to eat excessively.

I think her principles seem sound and her use of evidence is compelling. I would say that anyone who wants to lose a few pounds permanently would probably benefit from the sort of cognitive-behavioral suggestions Mann gives in her book.

I do have a criticism of her otherwise superb and unique exposition though.

She argues for a set point model of body weight regulation that maintains our weight within a fairly narrow range but she doesn't really address the obvious question of why people are statistically getting fatter if we are so consistent at maintaining our weight in such a narrow range. She puts most of her focus on obesity not being as deadly as it appears except at the extreme, and she explains why people can't simply diet away unwanted body fat, but she doesn't at all dive into the reasons for our growing bodies.

That's a big topic and it isn't her area of research so I can understand leaving it to others to try to explain, but for me it left a logical hole in her argument that begs to be filled and should have been addressed with at least some general thoughts. She should have touched on the moving of "settling points" that move somewhat rather than implying a single weight range exists for each person. Clearly that range shifts under different clusters of life conditions. That's not just important because we need to explain why we get fatter. It is also important because we need to explain the few outlier cases where people do successfully make the changes needed to lose very large amounts of weight and keep it off for years or decades. They are I think becoming different people in a sense, with different weight regulation settling points resulting from different activity patterns and eating habits and different environmental conditions. She doesn't really seem to allow for that at all. Her insistence that a "diet" doesn't allow for that may give a misleading impression that people _never_ successfully lose significant weight for the long term. That is clearly not true. Playing the odds is fine, and we need to be realistic about what is required, but knowing why the outliers succeed is important as well.

The reason she is right most of the time I think is that it is a lot more work than we expect to be able to do the experimentation and learning and self-observation needed to learn to avoid temptations and prepare our own food in a nutritious way and so on, and as she says, "diet" to most people means eating certain things, not engaging in a challenging ongoing learning process and strategically altering clusters of habits. If you expect to do that sort of thing, then I think it is entirely possible to shift from one "settling point" to another to lose a lot of weight over time and keep it off. She is right that if you do this kind of staged life adjustment to become very lean, you will have a much harder time maintaining it in general until it becomes a developmental change. She is right that this cannot possibly be done in most cases simply by acts of discipline. You have to become smart about it.
Comment Comments (32) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 10, 2015 10:55 PM PDT


The Hardgainer Solution: The Training and Diet Plans for Building a Better Body, Gaining Muscle, and Overcoming Your Genetics
The Hardgainer Solution: The Training and Diet Plans for Building a Better Body, Gaining Muscle, and Overcoming Your Genetics
Price: $4.99

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding contribution in a crowded fitness industry, January 25, 2015
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As the title suggests, this book is very specifically targeted to people who have a hard time gaining muscle with exercise. It is not specifically a strength training program, and it is not a conditioning program. The emphasis is on avoiding the things that work for elite bodybuilders or work best for lifting more weight and on avoiding the mess of internet marketing hype, and instead focusing on the principles that work best for people who gain muscle very slowly and with great difficulty.

The program is based on training the entire body in each workout in a sustainable way to get enough stimulation for muscle development without taxing the limited recovery capacity of the hard gainer.

The way this is approached to go back to basics with the the concepts: (1) muscles are recruited by the nervous system not by the weights, (2) learning how you should feel from training is more important for stimulating your muscles properly than watching for strength targets, and (3) eating properly for gaining muscle is not a matter of bulking up or special diets, it is a matter of getting enough nutrition to recover properly from training.

The way the program accomplishes these basics is by using a strategy of high repetition complexes per body part at a very deliberate cadence to train the entire body in each workout so that you get enough stimulation to encourage muscle growth without exceeding your capacity to recover.

The program allows for exercises to be swapped out with similar ones and for different variations of repetitions and weight progressions within a session, but not varying the overall range of repetitions for each exercise. The specific repetition ranges used and hitting the body parts according to the "peripheral heart action" principle are the central hard rules of the program. The program is not intended for fast results in the short term, it is intended for reliable results in the longer term, and the author suggests a one year commitment to the program. The Kindle book contains lists of exercises, and provides links to a printable PDF for convenience and to videos of the exercises.

This seems like a very solid approach to gaining muscle compared to most of the heavily co-marketed and over-hyped programs I've seen available on the web. This is not a program of magical fast results, fad techniques, superficial sciencey citations, or mixed objectives. This is a program and set of principles very specifically intended to go back to the simple goal of putting muscle on people who have failed at that goal consistently in the past.

The only thing I found to be a negative here was that it isn't easy to actually do this program without a lot of work if you aren't already an experienced lifter or a coach. It will help a lot if you are already familiar with weight training because this is not a primer on how to exercise. There is nothing preventing a novice from using the associated videos to help learn the exercises and the design of the program is all about learning as much as it is about training. But I am hoping to adapt some of these principles to my bodyweight training for example, and that seems like it will take a bit of thought and a learning curve. I think it will be well worth it though.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 14, 2015 8:32 AM PST


Are We All Scientific Experts Now
Are We All Scientific Experts Now
by Harry Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.67
45 used & new from $8.17

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The messy business of scientific inquiry and why it matters vitally to us now, December 29, 2014
This is a truly remarkable little book, full of relevant deep insights into modern life yet accessibly and clearly written. Harry Collins is one of the founding contributors of the field of science studies and gives us a great gift with this stimulating account of his thinking about expertise and how it relates to science and communication about science.

We use the term expertise to cover a multitude of things, from the way we certify people as high priests of specialized obscure knowledge to the simple basis of doing something well. The delight of this book is that Collins has bridged those uses beautifully by breaking expertise down into a number of different forms based on the ways we acquire it, the environment in which we acquire it, how long it takes, and how much effort it takes. He has also drawn some extremely critical inferences about what we need to be thinking about in order to be doing science well by thinking of its actual processes realistically rather than in terms of ideals and fairy stories.

This is a mixture of philosophy of science and philosophy of expertise that paints a picture of our shifting understanding of science in the 20th and 21st century in terms of 3 waves:

(1) idealistic deference to science focusing selectively on fairy tale versions of its history and overly focusing on the heroic successes,

(2) cynical deconstruction of science as nothing special and decloaking of experts by adopting a symmetry of explanations regarding what is true and what is false, making science just another storytelling activity and focusing selectively on failures and controversies and social and political influences on science, and

(3) a more realistic wave that accepts the messy processes of doing scientific work and the requirements for doing it well along with the ethos that makes sincere inquiry into nature legitimately special. This is where we need to be now in his view, and I agree strongly with him.

There are two important models in this book that characterize and summarize Collins' view. One is his chart of the different kinds of expertise. The other is his layered view of how people interact within science vs. how they communicate about science as they become more distant from the core details of the work.

The expertises chart illustrates: (1) the central significance Collins attributes to tacit knowledge in expertise in general, and (2) the critical distinction he makes between expertise that results from exposure and reading and listening vs. the specialist expertise that results from interacting closely with a community of existing experts and apprenticing with them for an extended period. The latter seems to roughly coincide with the distinction that the expert performance literature makes when it emphasizes expertise as a result of coaching, good feedback, and deliberate practice. They imply a social dimension that Collins is making explicit. Collins also distinguishes the common expertise we mostly share in the same cultural environment, which he calls "ubiquitous expertise" and gives some interesting insights into what we commonly call commonsense and how it is learned. The ability to judge experts, which he calls metaexpertise, is usefully divided into factors within the domain requiring some varying degree of expertise in that domain, and factors outside the domain such as gathering background information about people and evaluating their trustworthiness or knowledge in various ways that don't involve being a specialist expert in their field.

There is a heavy line drawn in his chart between mere expertises and specialist expertises, reflecting the finding that many expertise researchers echo when they observe that expertise shapes cognition and even perception, and that experts organize their knowledge differently than people merely familiar with the work they do.

This has important implications for how non-specialist experts, and even specialist experts in other fields, communicate about the science. Not sharing the same tacit knowledge of specialist expertise, they have to defer to some degree to differences in understanding the details of the work and how to interpret it.

The picture is further complicated by what Collins calls "experimenter regress" where differences in how the same experimental situation is being interpreted creates a difference in viewpoints that can't simply be resolved by making a new observation because the details of how to make the observation and what it means aren't agreed on. This is where social and political influences on science make their presence most strongly felt.

The other important model besides his chart of different kinds of expertise is his layered view, represented as a target with scientists in a field in the center, showing how these sorts of technical differences between scientists within a domain of work are often amplified (or transmuted as Collins artfully calls it) to make policy decisions, providing an additional opportunity for motivated reasoning to shape they way we use science for policy making. This is captured in the phrase "distance lends enchantment" as a reminder of how our understanding of the science and our decision making about it becomes more idealized and often polarized as we move away culturally from the people actually talking about their own work.

We are all ubiquitous experts but we are not all scientific experts in the sense that not only are we not all domain specialists in the fields we want to think about but we don't even widely share the ethos of inquiry that is common to scientists. Even specialist scientists vary in how highly they value aspects of that ethos.

The conclusion is that it is vital to both protect the scientific ethos and have a more realistic understanding of the kinds of expertise and the messy processes that make it work and cloud our communications about it when we go to make decisions from scientific work.

This kind of nuanced, important thinking about science and expertise is a wonderful gift from Collins that I truly hope we don't squander.


The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self--Not Just Your "Good" Self--Drives Success and Fulfillment
The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self--Not Just Your "Good" Self--Drives Success and Fulfillment
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $12.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making best use of all of your resources, December 12, 2014
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This is one of those books that really hits the mark. Both in the sense of making some important and useful points that aren't well known about the psychology of human performance and in the sense of the superb execution of the book. The thesis is that we have a rich set of emotional responses to all sorts of different kinds of situations, and we can learn to make good use of the full range. This is very different from the more common emphasis on how to be happy and how to suppress negative emotions because of their deleterious effects on other people and so on. Anger, fear, and sadness can all serve us very well if we learn to shape these responses appropriately and this book offers many specific examples of why and how that principle is true. Our temptation to avoid discomfort can betray us, facing it can often ultimately lead to far greater benefit. This book will give you very good reasons to rethink our dependence on comfort, some specific suggestions for making better use of a fuller range of emotions, help you appreciate a wider range of human differences, and give you a new appreciation of the difference between being happy and thriving.


The Knockout Game, how to avoid becoming a victim
The Knockout Game, how to avoid becoming a victim
Price: $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good basic tactics and concepts but very poorly written, December 12, 2014
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This book seems to have been intended mostly as a tactical treatise in dealing with urban ambushes, and it addresses that superficially but reasonably well. The author speculates on the sociology and psychology of where this particular kind of ambush attacks come from, and then derives tactical suggestions from the psychology, and finally technical ideas from the tactical suggestions.

The sociological analysis is very superficial and has mostly to do with addressing the reality of the ambush attacks and the author's perception that they are often not being reported because of uncomfortable political implications, That analysis leads into a psychological analysis of the attacks as mostly group initiation activities where young men are trying to show their courage in front of their peers. That framing of the motivation leads the author to assume that the attackers are very much looking for a true ambush and are generally not looking for a fight, and would be in most cases reluctant to conduct the ambush if the victim is aware and looks like they might be able to block the attack at all or fight back. That leads the author to make some very specific suggestions such as to use body language to let potential ambushers know they have been recognized. On the other hand, he also indicates that groups are often territorial and that making your awareness look like a challenge would likely provoke a fight, Also he recognizes that even though confidence can sometimes deter an attack, pretended confidence can equally encourage an attack.

For all of this theorizing about the psychology of this kind of attack, the sensible advice just boils down to recognizing when there is danger looming and finding a way to avoid it rather than engaging it, Essentially the same message as Gavin deBecker's "Gift of Fear" and other good treatments of self-protection.

Since you can't always recognize or avoid the danger, the author offers a few suggestions on ways of preparing physically for ambush attacks. He gives a brief list of weapons that he feels can be valuable (he doesn't recommend lethal weapons in general because of their life-altering consequences, especially not for the novice in self-protection). Some of his suggestions seem better than others. Using keys sticking out of your hand as a weapon for example doesn't seem terrible reliable to me. He also recommends some exercises for making yourself less vulnerable to a head shot knockout and offers a couple of very basic defensive movements for getting inside a punch and controlling an attacker. He builds on the concept of defensive space and being either too far or too close to be hit effectively with punches. The influence of Helio Gracie's jiu-jitsu is evident in the descriptions of physical defensive tactics.

There are a few examples of cues to look for to notice when an ambush is most likely or when someone is about to start an attack. and these are some of the most valuable tips in the book so it is disappointing that there is so little about these. The situation awareness discussion relies heavily on the assumed psychology of the ambush attacks: (1) they are unlikely in a crowd because the attacker wants to get away cleanly, (2) they are unlikely if they are detected early because the attacker wants a clean shot at you and not a fight, (3) they are unlikely to be executed by a lone person because they would have no audience and no one taping the event, and (4) they are unlikely if you look like you might be capable of fighting back if something goes wrong.

The lack of illustrations in the Kindle book are fatal for his descriptions of any but his simplest physical movements. When he describes physical defensive tactics, he relies heavily on some recognizable basics from Helio Gracie's system but only one or two of the most basic movements are actually decipherable from his descriptions, things like stepping inside a punch and using a neck clinch. I don't think any of his even slightly complex movements are recognizable from his descriptions without pictures, even if you already know the movements he is describing.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this book is the superficial treatment of the most critical part of his discussion, how to recognize clues to danger and how to train to recognize those and respond to them better. I think the author has some real knowledge and experience to share on self-protection, but this book was poorly executed unfortunately. This might serve as a very cursory introduction to unarmed ambush attacks and how to prepare for them but it is neither detailed enough regarding preparing for the specific kinds of ambush attacks the author is focusing on, nor general enough to apply very well to other kinds of attack. For the self-protection novice, I think this is definitely worth a buck though.


KONA French Press ~ Best Coffee Tea & Espresso Maker with 34-Ounce Heat Resistant Glass, Black ~ Perfect Present Idea for Birthday Gifts
KONA French Press ~ Best Coffee Tea & Espresso Maker with 34-Ounce Heat Resistant Glass, Black ~ Perfect Present Idea for Birthday Gifts
Offered by Idylc Homes
Price: $25.98
3 used & new from $19.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy feel, very comfortable handle, November 18, 2014
I usually use an electric coffee system for speed and convenience, but when I have some spare time and want something special for breakfast I like to use a coffee press. I like it both for the experience of making the coffee by hand and the quality of the coffee. The coffee comes out smoother and richer than from the electric coffee maker and has a nice little touch of foam. Also compared to the other presses I've tried, this was feels the sturdiest and the handle is especially well designed for comfort. I was sent this press in return for consideration of review, and so far I have been very happy with it.


Forever Fat Loss: Escape the Low Calorie and Low Carb Diet Traps and Achieve Effortless and Permanent Fat Loss by Working with Your Biology Instead of Against It
Forever Fat Loss: Escape the Low Calorie and Low Carb Diet Traps and Achieve Effortless and Permanent Fat Loss by Working with Your Biology Instead of Against It
Price: $9.99

90 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb summary of the obesity research and very credible strategy for weight control, July 13, 2014
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This is a gem of a book: inexpensive, brief, and truly useful. If you spend an afternoon with this book I think you will learn more about what is currently known about the causes of obesity than almost any other armload of books on the subject. And most likely, that means you will know more about how to deal with it as well. The thing that distinguishes the approach in this book is that the author neatly sidesteps most of the usual politics and economics of food, the bizarre fanaticisms of the fitness industry, the various diet cults, and the well-meaning but useless advice usually given out of frustration by physicians. Instead, he simply reviews the current state of the research in obesity and its causes, and offers a simple high-level counter-strategy based on that review.

The core findings the author reports are relatively uncontroversial among obesity researchers:

1. Quality and length of life are significantly impacted by metabolic diseases
2. Obesity is a significant driver of metabolic diseases
3. Chronic overconsumption is the primary driver of obesity statistically

Then we get to the part that makes a difference:

4. Chronic overconsumption is in turn driven primarily by high reward, high variety availability, disruption of circadian rhythms, and adverse metabolic changes caused by being sedentary.

And the remarkable and important implication, supported by the low success rate of calorie restriction and calorie burning focused strategies:

5. The things we do to lose weight in the short run by far most often make things worse in the long run: we forcibly restrict intake, we systematically restrict particular macronutrients, we take on unsustainable calorie burning regimens and in general we rely on strategies that go against our biology and force us to constantly rely on our limited willpower.

I think all of this is entirely plausible and is a reasonable explanation for why we tend to fail with diets in general in the long run.

If you are in accord with the argument so far, the obvious question is what other sort of strategy would work in the long run. There are two seemingly reasonable answers: (1) finding some way to make one of the short term effective strategies work better in the long run, and (2) finding a strategy that somehow avoids the things about the effective short term strategies that makes them unsustainable.

In other words, why do all of the strategies we use become unsustainable over time?

Do we: (1) fail at our motivation and start cheating or giving up? Or (2) is there something intrinsically unsustainable about the strategies we are using?

The first answer seems to be the one that is most obvious and most commonly assumed. We need to find behavioral methods or motivational tricks to keep us on track forever.

The author focuses more on the second answer, he suggests that in general we have accepted a "Sloth and Gluttony" model of the causes of obesity, and as a result have focused almost entirely on "starve and burn" strategies, and these simply don't work. The causes of obesity override our natural, intuitive weight regulation and appetite mechanisms and then the solutions we try continue to try to override those rather than working with them. That focus makes sense of the remarkable success of "mindfulness" strategies for weight regulation.

So the reason "starve and burn" doesn't work is that the human body has elaborate mechanisms for regulating our intake and activity based on our biological needs, and these tend to win out in the long run over any efforts we make to forcibly override them. The stimulus causes of obesity are sidestepping and exploiting our natural weight regulation mechanisms by using reward and variety to override our natural appetite mechanisms. This is exacerbated by problems that our modern lifestyle creates with our sleep, our psychological stress levels, and the engineering of foods that differ in important ways from the ones we co-evolved with.

So according to this way of thinking, the way to regulate our weight in the long run is simply to eat foods that come mostly from plants and animals, without the elaborate flavor engineering and relatively less optimal oils that characterize most of the modern supermarket fare, to eat simply rather than exposing ourselves to elaborate tempting buffets all the time, and to move as much as possible as enjoyably as possible. Rather than forcing ourselves to starve and exercise.

It may sound a little like a "romantic noble savage" approach to weight control, but it is far more specific and well thought out than that. It overlaps quite a bit with the ancestral health strategies like "Paleo" and relies on the same general principles at a high level, but it is a lot more flexible than most interpretations of that. It draws more on research and less on attempts to capture a particular version of pleistocene lifestyle. It is essentially the best of what makes the Paleo strategy work, but without the arbitrary aspects that often sneak in based on idiosyncratic anthropological data.

To the degree that any strategy replaces engineered foods with whole foods while still giving us enough protein, and prevents us from being sedentary and lets us get good sleep, it should promote healthy weight regulation. That is, regardless of whether it is low or high in carbs or low or high in fats.

There are no toxic foods or superfoods in this strategy, there are only more or less simple, optimal, natural sources of nutrition that are better simply because they have more micronutrients, are far less "supernormal" rewarding stimuli, and provide what we crave without making us as compulsive about eating them. Also the shift from exercise to enjoyable activity is not just a reframing but a meaningful difference in the kinds of habits we would change. Avoiding sitting all day is a far more important and potentially far more sustainable strategy for activity than trying to keep up an intense schedule of gym workouts, and in the long run, probably even more effective for weight regulation.

I think we have yet to see good empirical data specifically comparing this strategy directly to others, and such a thing may well not be practical, but it seems to me to make a lot of sense. The author draws from research and interpretations of research that I find credible and I think summarizes it very well and his suggestions are about as good as anything I've ever seen. In general, the degree to which we can prepare our own simple, whole food meals and stay active is the degree to which we can regulate our weight in the long run.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2015 5:43 PM PDT


Diet Cults: The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and a Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of US
Diet Cults: The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and a Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of US
Price: $9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why food becomes a moral issue, and how to sort out the conflicting claims, July 2, 2014
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Diet Cults is an attempt to cut through the moral politics of food and find a more effective way of dealing with the mass of conflicting information about nutrition. The author notes that food has historically often been a subject of serious moral agendas and offers some of his own speculations about the ancient origins of this based on various anthropological ideas.

He then delves into several popular nutritional strategies or trends and attempts to show how each of them can offer legitimate evidence in its own favor, yet still be skewing its story to distinguish itself from other diet strategies that have good evidence for their value as well. This is presumably because people identify with the group that promotes that way of eating, turning their support into a moral defense as well.

The author then looks for common patterns between the various strategies in order to derive a set of rough suggested categories and a ranking which could be used to create a personalized flexible system for individuals improving nutrition without necessarily relying on a particular popular strategy in its entirety.

Matt doesn't deny the positive motivational value of belonging to a "diet cult," but he suggests that one reason for the high failure rate of dietary interventions is the inflexibility of these strategies, and that a more flexible way of thinking may help alleviate that barrier. Ultimately he comes down on "motivation" as the key factor in success, and helpfully distinguishes that from the useful but inadequate "self-control" capacity. The nature of long term persistence toward goals is a far bigger question than can be addressed satisfactorily in this kind of book, but it is helpful at least that he singles out persistence as the important focus rather than just knowledge or self control or simply finding a particular approach that supposedly is optimal for everyone.

I think he gets a lot right here. Some, including me, might quibble with some of the details of things he thinks are common to all of the approaches, but I suspect he gets more right then wrong there. His list is roughly consistent with the one preventative health expert David Katz suggested when he did a similar analysis recently. Also his thinking about identity shaping our interpretation of evidence has some useful parallels in the work of Dan Kahan, who researches the role if identity in political issues in general. Some of his digressions into anthropology were a little stretched for me, perhaps because I don't see Matt as being an anthropologist and he relies on himself here as an authority rather than citing the work of anthropologists very much. Matt also seems to be leaning quite a bit on his own experience as an elite endurance athlete and that of other elite endurance athletes for his recommendations, and I'm not sure those are entirely general. However just based on my own understanding, again, I think he seems to get a lot right.

This is a very worthwhile contribution to the health and fitness literature in my opinion.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 13, 2014 10:40 AM PDT


Whole Grains, Empty Promises: The Surprising Truth About the World's Most Overrated 'Health' Food
Whole Grains, Empty Promises: The Surprising Truth About the World's Most Overrated 'Health' Food
Price: $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable polemic about the widespread misuse of epidemiology in nutrition research, June 16, 2014
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Personally I often cringe at Anthony Colpo's critiques, they are quite withering and quite sweeping. But I keep reading them because he knows a lot and has done some very good analysis. This brief tract is essentially a claim that many of the standard claims in nutrition science are completely wrong, and for a very specific methodological reason. They are, Colpo finds, time after time, the result of looking for pet theories in patterns in epidemiological data, and then not using randomized trials to test for causality. At first this seemed too big a claim to make, but his examples make a lot of sense and I think it may well be plausible that he is right that this is a huge fundamental error in much of nutritional research. His argument relies partly on his own historical account of how the science was done, is obviously open to alternative interpretation, but he also supplies a lot of provocative detail about what seems to happen to each theory when randomized long term trials are done to test for causality. Time after time the emperor's clothes fall away. The supposed dangers of red meat, the harmful oversimplifications of the cholesterol heart hypothesis, and here the supposed benefits of whole grains and cereal based fiber. Colpo is well worth listening to, I think he is a force to be reckoned with.


An Introduction to Metaphilosophy (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy)
An Introduction to Metaphilosophy (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy)
Price: $14.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very worthwhile introduction to what philosophy is and what it can be, June 4, 2014
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This is a very timely contribution to the question of whether philosophy has unique value for contemporary culture. It explores several views of what philosophy is and what it should be and several views of how it might be of value by virtue of either its products or it's practice. This book is very clearly written and well organized and touches on a wide variety of philosophical questions while not relying on technical jargon or prior understanding of philosophical concepts. Among the critical issues discussed is the relationship of philosophy and science and the modern skepticism of philosophical reliance on or privilege granted to various intuitions. The places I would have liked to have seen more emphasis was experimental philosophy and the potential contributions of cognitive sciences to philosophical practice, but the emphasis the authors chose was deliberate and explicit.


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