And no, that’s not hyperbole, but literal truth. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but then (given mankind’s perpetual disability when it comes to things like truth) that really shouldn’t surprise us, should it? As it is with so many other topics addressed here, common sense will usually wrestle conventional wisdom to the ground. Examples abound.
How do you solve a debt problem? With more debt or less debt?
How do you really help the poor and hungry? Give them a fish or teach them to fish?
How do you solve a high blood sugar problem? Eat more or less carbohydrates?
Some things are really dead simple. (Some more dead than others.) But, as most us know, conventional wisdom is often so heavily constrained by what is popularly believed (as intoned by experts) to be merely “realistic” and/or politically correct, that it really does us no good at all. We usually end up only treating symptoms anyway.
We might, for instance, consider that sex education as taught in the public school system – supported as a means to combat rising teen pregnancy and STD transmission – hasn’t really been all that successful. Nor have most anti-poverty campaigns. Nor have monetary stimulus or nation building or progressive taxation strategies. Nor have anti-gun laws, or CAFE standards, or so-called public “liberal arts” education programs, and most (perhaps not all) environmental, drug, land use, energy, financial, banking, capital, food safety, parenting, broadcasting, or labor regulations.
Oh, you can almost always cite some number of examples where the merits of almost any inept plan can be argued. Of course, that stance is always enhanced by the virtual absence of meaningful and comprehensive data to the contrary. Take the government’s claims that their policies have “saved” XXX millions of jobs as just one of the more recent egregious examples. Sure, things would have been much, much worse if we hadn’t shut down oil drilling or bailed out corrupt financial or labor interests.
And, so it is with most of what passes for conventional wisdom regarding diet. Don’t you think it would be appropriate to ALWAYS ask “whose interests are really being represented” whenever the government or other self-appointed experts step up with a point of view?
Afterall, these were the folks who gave us this:
As it happens, the best advice from the ADA is to pretty much follow that “normal” diet along with taking the now “necessary” medications, of course. And, under those guidelines I’d still be suffering – to one extent or another – a variety of diabetes related ailments, all hidden, maintained, mitigated by a cocktail of wonder drugs.
Now, it’s not as if any successful propaganda can ever be completely devoid of truth. And, some of what gets passed along as conventional wisdom will also have at least a sprinkling of it too. But, the challenge for all of us – whether in trying to understand politics, economics, religion, parenting, or basic lifestyle choices – is to first give it the sniff test of common sense and, ultimately, resorting to a reliable foundation of the tried and true.
As many of you know, I really like the Bible as one such foundation, but I also refer to a vast array of other basic references: Thoreau, CS Lewis, Hayak, Von Mises, Burke, Hobbes, Locke, Franklin, and Jefferson, to name just a few who have excelled in the arena of common sense. And, today, I am inclined to add Mark Sisson to these ranks, at least in matters of diet and nutrition.
None of the above, of course, are perfect examples of the union of reason, intellect, insight, and character. That’s a bit much to hope for in any human being. Still, they each bring to the table (pun intended here) something that – against the drab backdrop of conventional wisdom at least, can only be regarded as simple brilliance.
So-called “fad diets” (as compared to the FDA’s pyramid) are often maligned. Some might put Sisson’s “Primal Blueprint” firmly in that class. It is, after all, a significant departure from the “Standard American Diet” (SAD, ha, ha). One friend’s observation: “he’s just trying to sell his book”. I suppose there might be some truth there…just as Franklin’s occasional huksterism served to put “food on his table” too. But, as I’ve argued time and again, you have to glean the nuggets from the tailings where ever you search in this world.
Sisson’s approach is, in my opinion, still somewhat flawed – at least to the extent that it reflects an unfortunate belief in man’s multi-million year’s of evolution as a species of hunter/gatherers. But, in the end, this particular “religious” bias (his or mine, take your pick) doesn’t overturn the essentials of common sense that his perspective brings to the diet/exercise/lifestyle debate. Fortunately, if you spend the time to actually read the data presented on his website (or others) – and I have – you’ll find that, his bias’ notwithstanding, science is actually on his side of the debate almost all of the time.
But, hey, common sense is almost always like that…assuming you can find truly fair science. (Ahem, global warming.) I don’t recommend that you simply take my word for it either, but, rather, take the time to read the literature and the study results that are (now) widely available on the web.
But, today, I will simply resort myself to the tried and true propaganda of the personal anecdote….that is to say, I will report on my own “battle with diabetes”. A few days ago, I received my first “post-diagnosis” blood test results. Here are a few of the highpoints (old/new):