Let’s take a look
This is the part most everyone has down to some degree or the other. One thing I found of interest over the last week of promoting the package of various products and services I was promoting is that a number of sites doing the best in sales were basically food blogs. That is, they don’t delve into any other aspects of the whole sphere I call paleo or Primal.
These folks just cook decent and appealing food, take pictures, and put up a post now & then—or often. A perfect example is young George, at Civilized Caveman Cooking. He’s built quite a substantial following over the last two years basically just pumping out food. One thing you might notice is the variety, along with plenty of baked good & “”paleo treats.” Yea, that sort of thing gets critiqued and criticized (sometimes rightly so—I’m a bit down on entire cookbooks that are nothing but sweet indulgences). On the other hand, why ought it matter for a blog that has it all? Seems like a little something for everyone and a lot for some.
Perhaps more importantly, if someone can’t get away from the treats, it’s better they be made with things like real eggs, real dairy, nut flours or butters, etc.
In the even larger scheme of things: meat, fish, fowl, vegetables (starchy too), fruits & nuts (and dairy if it works), get it yourself and prepare it yourself. And that’s it. Just let nature take it’s course in terms of health, well being and body composition.
There’s also the element of fitness using the gym or whatever other means one uses to train or condition. Plenty there as well. For some, that’s their focus, with food being a means to that end. Just another approach for folks to consider depending upon their stage of life.
Unfortunately, most of the attention here focuses on things that are equally related to the body, i.e., the mind-body connection or integration. Think things like getting good sleep, mediation, relaxation, proper posture, standing more and sitting less, watching Teevee less, some cold exposure, even barefoot walking and running.
That’s all fine, but my chief complaint is what seeks to pass for critical thinking. Even worse, the absolute sloth I see often touts itself as the epitome of scientific correctness (SC) you should be striving for. Even more worse, in some circles, this attitude reaches dimensions where its entire raison d’être is to dis-integrate the work or thinking of others for the purpose of unbridled deconstruction, smearing, tearing down. This usually takes place over various nutritional, health, or weight loss plans, ideas, programs. The method is to ignore at all costs the larger picture in order to focus in on some obscure metabolic process or cycle. It’s endless disputes over carbohydrate levels, what sources they come from, blood glucose levels, insulin levels, various hormonal levels, body temperature, cholesterol levels and and on & on.
But like Angelo Coppola says: “humans are not broken by default.” What that means to me is that the vast majority of people ought never need concern themselves—much less obsess—over all these various measurements unless they have clear and specific clinical reason to do so (diabetes being the classic example). Food is medicine. The first and foremost medicine.
In short, so much of this is so worthless on so many levels. Equally, pill popping, to me, is in itself a related, enormous exercise in deconstructionism when taken to the extremes so often now, where people sit around and compare notes on what prescriptions they’re under. As I’ve written before, such deconstruction has its various highly valuable places—antibiotics, various drugs of all sorts in emergency and trauma situations, and the handful of chronic conditions where people need to be on lifelong meds.
Back to the subject of the deconstructing nit-picking for the purpose of smearing and tearing down others, it far from strikes me as anything more than an attempt to parasitically prop one’s self up above the generally good work of others. It’s almost never constructive critique for the purpose of helping improve the overall value of someone’s work while concurrently examining one’s own assumptions or beliefs.
David Brown emailed me this, which began the inspiration for this post: Excerpt from an essay by John Stuart Mill entitled Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion.
There must be discussion to show how experience is to be interpreted. Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument; but facts and arguments, to produce any effect on the mind, must be brought before it.
Very few facts are able to tell their own story, without comments to bring out their meaning. The whole strength and value, then, of human judgment, depending on the one property, that it can be set right when it is wrong, reliance can be placed on it only when the means of setting it right are kept constantly at hand. (norms of rational conversation are allowed to do their work)
In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all that can be said against him, to profit by as much of it as was just, and to expound to himself and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was fallacious. Because he has felt that the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion and by studying all modes in which in can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of the human intellect to become wise in any other manner.
The steady habit of correcting and completing his own opinion by collating it with those of others, so far from causing doubt and hesitation in carrying it into practice, is the only stable foundation for a just reliance on it; for being cognizant of all that can at least obviously be said against him, and having taken up his position against all gainsayers – knowing that he has sought for objections and difficulties instead of avoiding them and has shut out no light which can be thrown upon the subject from any quarter – he has a right to think his judgment better than that of any person, or multitude, who have not gone through a similar process. [emphasis added]
“…Correcting and completing his own opinion by collating it with those of others.” I call that synthesis and dot connecting. It’s rare. It’s always tear down Taubes, Moore, Lustig, Wolf, Eades, Colpo…rather than saying something like “all these people seem to have significant parts of an overall, greater picture. How about see what can be put together, related, one to another? Nope. “He said a toxin.” “There’s an anti-nutrient in that chapter.” Toss it out and while we’re at it, let’s smear him so he becomes less enthusiastic about offering any ideas at all.
Now guess what? Those who make an exclusive practice of tearing down and smearing others over perceived errors, or approach, or practice will be the first to read that Mill quote above and interpret it as justification for their destructiveness. Therein lies the problem.
My larger bugaboo, and the principal subject of an upcoming book in a paleo / Primal context. More on that at a later time as things develop. In the meantime, here’s a basic practical approach to my views on society, my 18 minute presentation at last year’s Ancestral Health Symposium at Harvard: paleo Epistemology and Sociology.
Richard Nikoley—Paleo Epistemology and Sociology from Ancestral Health Society on Vimeo.
A more in-depth treatment here on the blog was my 9-part series on Anarchy Begins at Home. I’ll give you a thumbnail sketch.
- Rather than worrying about national and international politics and geopolitics, who “Teh Next President” is going to be, how about take a look around where you live?
- You’re part way there with your emphasis on pastured animal products, wild caught seafood, and organic produce from small, caring producers you trust, maybe even know on a personal basis.
- Wanna be involved in politics? OK, again, instead of worrying about your next president, how about worry about who your city council members are, the mayor, the county supervisors? How about the board of directors of your homeowner’s association? How about a neighborhood or even a block committee to keep a watch on things, encourage certain standards of behavior and educate accordingly, instead of trying to use the force of the State?
- Want pooled health insurance? How about community pools of say, 10-20,000 people, where health practices can be better encouraged, instead of trying to scale to 300 million people you will never know or influence in any way?
- See a small neighborhood near you that manages its affairs better than the one you live in, and your efforts to improve things chez vous have not yielded much result? Move there! Go where the good people are, and stop trying to force everyone to live by your standards wherever you happen to be, or to make the world at large your back doorstep.
That’s just a primer, but I would like to see paleo folks discussing societal structure a bit more, and without resorting to the shortest route: forcing people. Rather, find ways to identify common ground in your relationships and form smal communities where the values and actions of other individuals can actually be accounted for and even influenced with a little meaningful effort.
It will get you way, way farther than a voting booth and writing your Congressman ever did.