Here’s the post that came across email yesterday.
After four years of successfully staging annual Ancestral Health Symposiums, we regretfully announce that AHS15 will not be held. We were looking forward to it so much that we began planning for it before AHS14 took place, but despite our jump on the process, we hit several speedbumps along the way that eventually contributed to the event not coming together.
Apparently, they’re looking to ramp up their Journal of Evolution and Health which, frankly, with a single published issue in 2013 is a journal in name only.
I can’t say I’m surprised and moreover, I’ll be surprised if this isn’t really the prelude to the eventual end. Having an ancestral health symposium is a decent idea and I thought AHS11, the inaugural, was really great. I still recall Stephan Guyenet commenting “this is like being in the Internet.”
I also attended AHS12 at Harvard and am particularly proud of my presentaton at that event. It turns out I came within a “cunt hair” of being disinvited. I can’t divulge the source, but long after those events, someone forwarded the entire email thread between those board or committee members charged with the decision (I’d called some women, including Melissa McEwan, a very bad word on Twitter). Ironically, it was Seth Roberts and Melissa McEwan herself who intervened to keep me on the schedule.
That knowledge gave me a bit of added perspective on why, after this post slamming comments by an AHS12 volunteer, McEwan launched a Tumblr campaign against me.
I did not attend the last two symposiums, nor did I submit a proposal for a presentation. Many reasons, but I guess primarily, it comes down to my observation that it was increasingly becoming a giant exercise in lots of confirmation bias, or, simply a get-together where the same speakers, year after year, offer up essentially the same general narrative.
At AHS11 there were really no vendor tables I can recall—just the kind souls at Grassland Beef offering up endless free samples of their wares in the form of beef jerky and pemmican. Contrast that with AHS12 were there were a dozen vendor tables—a good percentage of them were for various “paleo” treats and bars—along with the embarrassing irony of conducting a “safe starch” panel in the other room (hosted by Jimmy Moore) were its tantamount to a potentially taboo subject. Go get your “paleo” bars, but be very careful not to get taken with the idea that our ancestors ever ate a starch granule.
In retrospect, the iron grip control the LC community in general has exercised over AHS is possibly what’s killing it now. And if that’s the case, justice is served.
I looked closely at the program for AHS14, hoping to see lots of presentations exploring the rapidly burgeoning science on the gut biome. Nope, just a few tokens, the rest largely the same old LC schtick that generally ignores the biome.
In short, the ancestral community has evolved past the Ancestral Health Society. Hopefully, Keith and Michelle Norris will integrate whatever lessons they perceive from this in going forward with their Paleo f(x) Conference. I wish them well and in fact, months ago began hearing whispers that lots of people were seeing more value there.