I had to dig into an old eZine I had written two years ago this morning, fetching a recipe that will be part of the RBTI Intro Package due for release next weekend. And while I was digging, I took a moment to read one of the articles I had written on the importance of critical thinking – and of constantly seeking out opposing viewpoints to your sacred conclusions instead of banding together with like-thinkers and drifting away to crazy town. Anyway, it made me smile in a nostalgic kind of way, especially in light of the strange new world of the surprisingly-effective RBTI that I have openly immersed myself in over the past three months. Guess I was born to be a guinea pig, cuz I really love this wild world of health and nutrition. So full of surprises. Okay, here it is…
One of the most difficult challenges I’ve ever come across in pursuing health understanding is keeping my own intelligence intact. I have common sense, and I have come across some of the greatest material ever written on the subject of health. That information and common sense combined have shown me, proven to me beyond any doubt, certain fundamental truths. These truths are very basic, such as carbohydrates are not bad. Saturated fat is not bad. Cholesterol in egg yolk doesn’t contribute to heart attacks. Fiber does not cause digestive illness. Strict vegan diets suck. It is unsafe to build a diet around non-nutritive white powders. Cutting calories and over-exercising to lose weight is a futile strategy.
But time and time again, before these fundamentals really became concrete, it was all too easy to get swept away with the latest intriguing theory. I don’t regret pursuing all kinds of ideas, from being a vegetarian for years in my early 20’s, to eating a bunch of gnarly raw foods – from whole heads of cabbage to raw chicken hearts. It was all an adventure. Each brought forth its very own insight, and gave me a rich experience from which to draw upon.
Much of this was done in the spirit of exploration. For many others, it is a very different situation in which they are drawn into the realms of narrow-minded dogma.
Like Lierre Keith, recent disgruntled author of The Vegetarian Myth. Keith followed a strict vegan diet for something like 20 years. Oopsies! An assortment of health problems later and Keith’s vegan education was complete. Vegan score appointed by Keith… F.
Others hear the preacher behind the low-carb pulpit talking up a complicated-sounding storm about how there is insulin and leptin and lipolysis and metabolic syndrome – and if you eat carbohydrates you’re just going to magically accumulate fat because of all that insulin you’re secreting. Sounds good. The theory makes sense. Carbs raise insulin. Insulin stores fat. Therefore carbohydrates make you fat. I mean come on! They feed corn and grain to pigs and that’s what makes them fat. Everybody knows starch is fattening! (or so they claim).
I’ve even had the luxury of dealing with some of the most insane and one-sided folks of all, the raw Primal/Paleo type folks. I’ve been accused of treason for condoning the consumption of “mind-altering cooked foods!” For that special someone, mind alteration could be just the ticket to bring them back to sanity. Yes, there are nutrition cults out there eating massive amounts of feces, drinking their own urine, and using human semen for skin health. A little research and the voice of someone who overcame a serious illness or two is all it takes to get a massive and devout gang of followers.
I guess all I’m saying is that even I, with a great and diverse wealth of knowledge and experience, still get curious. I want to know what people are experiencing on their health escapades. The conclusions that people have come to in their own explorations are always of profound interest to me. I can’t get enough of it, and my mind remains eternally open to new ideas. I cover all my bases to the best of my ability, hoping that nothing goes overlooked, and that I haven’t missed some great discovery that someone else has made. And in doing so, I drift a little in that direction to really give it a fair shot. I allow myself to buy into the ideas and believe, even if for only a moment, that I might have made a tragic mistake in my own health conclusions.
We all will do this, not just in the arena of health, but in all avenues of life. But without checks and balances to keep us from straying into a realm of the totally illogical, it is easy to get lost and do ourselves some harm.
Whatever your beliefs are about health or otherwise, it is important to repeatedly challenge yourself on those ideas. If you think you have all the answers, take your ideas to a place where they will be met with stiff opposition. It is there that you will find good arguments that you will have difficulty explaining away. It is in the face of this challenge and conflict that you will develop a more complex and deeper understanding of the issues you had thought were solved. It’s here that you’ll find what you thought was a neat and impenetrable theory to be, in actuality, painfully oversimplified and blind.
If I’ve found any theme amongst all the health cults that have come to downright retarded conclusions, from vegans to raw chicken-eating carnivores, it is that they are terribly opposed to having their theories challenged and tested. Anyone who doesn’t agree is an idiot or has scandalous motives. Some vegans call the Weston A. Price Foundation “factory farming propaganda.” I kid you not. That’s like calling a group of protesting anti-abortionists “baby killers.”
I comment at blogs and websites preaching all kinds of health sermons, and I typically go to these sites and directly square off with their conclusions. The result is that I get banned. I’m told that I don’t “support their community’s objectives” and need to get lost. They are not interested in conversations. They are not interested in answers or advancing their knowledge because they already have all the answers. They are inflexible. They are blind. They are drifting off into space, becoming ever more isolated and ever more defensive as they collectively fall off the deep end of reality.
So the tidbit of advice I have to give is one that has served me incredibly well, and will no doubt serve me in the future – keeping me constantly honing in on better and more sophisticated answers. That is simply to be a critical thinker. Challenge yourself and others and revel in their assaults on your own conclusions. This is helpful. This is part of the natural feedback mechanisms that are established for every aspect of our existence. We need this. We need both support and challenge to have fuller, more comprehensive perspectives in our many endeavors – be it in health, in religion, in finance, and in relationships. This is what keeps our intelligence intact, and from drifting into deep space where we get lost and find ourselves gasping for oxygen by the time it’s all said and done.
Learn how to RAISE YOUR METABOLISM.