Episode 33 - Nick Mailer tightens nutrition’s loose philosophy screws

by Break Nutrition | Podcast

Show notes:

  • Nick Mailer’s blog http://skimmed.cream.org/ and his Twitter @bokkiedog
  • Check out Nick’s latest guest-post on hyperinsulinemia for https://baby.botherer.org called Sugar Sugar Baby, Get On Down The Line, Part 2
  • Raphael asks Nick where his interest in nutrition comes from and why he ‘cares’ to call out bad science. Nick explains that his radical skepticism is largely to blame as well as his own self-awareness regarding his behavior around food.
  • Raphael asks Nick if he knows the Very Bad Wizards podcast that explores this common misunderstanding well; that philosophy and to a lesser degree psychology do not yield practical tools in the real world.
  • Raphael says the complexity of the biology inherent to the scientific study of nutrition is such that there may well be things about it that we simply will never be able to grasp. Nick links this argument to the ‘limitations’ of inductive logic being the basis of empirical science. Nick explains that science proceeds by generating falsifiable hypotheses and that this is crucial to our trust in results.
  • By way of example using the design of his Master’s thesis experiments, Raphael illustrates the importance of an experimental design created to falsify well-defined null or alternative hypotheses – and what this sounds like in a scientific document.
  • Nick explains what null and alternative hypotheses are. Nutritional studies could be better served by defining these better and designing their studies accordingly.
  • Nick asks if the story told about mitochondria in a cancer cell, that they no longer function, has any truth to it? Raphael explains that they aren’t *all* broken. but on average their aggregate profile is very poor when compared to that of non-cancerous cells.
  • Mid-roll ad for HealthIQ
  • Nick asks if the conventional cancer theory explains the poor mitochondrial health of cancer cells as a result of cancerous mutations? Raphael explains the Somatic Mutation Theory says yes, but that he himself is of the opinion that no, broken mitochondria are rather upstream of cancerous mutations.
  • Nick brings us back to the practical application of philosophical thought; he’s astounded by how many brilliant scientists with exceptional technical ability he encounters that unfortunately cannot spot core fallacies undermining their otherwise good work (e.g. disregard for falsification)
  • Nick hopes he’s an ‘equal opportunity disparager’ !
  • Nick explains how the CICO hypothesis of obesity (‘calories in – calories out’ is the fundamental cause of obesity) is often argued in such a way that it’s unfalsifiable. Furthermore, it’s a descriptive narrative, not an explanatory hypothesis.
  • Raphael brings up Gabor’s example where it’d be absurd to talk of a fever in terms of ‘heat balance’ – it has a pathogen origin. The change in heat simply follows. Yet, talking about the causes of obesity in terms of ‘energy balance’ or ‘fat balance’ is the norm – a ludicrous double-standard!
  • Raphael brings how Richard Morris of 2KetoDudes was extremely motivated and disciplined when exercising whilst obese, and that it’s disgraceful to imply fat people are fat because they’re lazy or undisciplined.
  • Raphael can’t resist bringing up Nick’s tweet-storm destroying absurd claims by the British Dietetics Association about low-carb or ketogenic diets being amongst the worse diets you could eat. Of course, he also points to their corrupt practices that includes Belvita Biscuits’ junk-food sponsorship. See their other sponsors with massive conflicts of interest like Danone

Raphael asks Nick to explain what ‘science accountancy’, ‘appeals to authority’ and ‘garbage in = garbage out’ mean and why they’re common incarnations of bad scientific practice or argumentation. Raphael further triggers Nick asking him to comment on why the scientific ‘evidence pyramid’ is dead wrong.

Nick will be back for a round 2 – more fallacies to explore!

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