Ranting About Hucksters
I was in a ranting mood recently and posted the following after hearing yet another ridiculous claim about how some new gadget is going to revolutionize the fitness industry, forever change the way people exercise, and give you rock hard, six pack abs, and is totally different from anything that has come before it, because it’s called something else and is sold using totally new pseudoscientific jargon and marketing buzzwords.
The majority of the fitness industry are idiots and hucksters who are more concerned with their ability to sell you programs and products than whether those programs or products have any merit. These people are not looking at the science, thinking critically about existing methods and exploring or experimenting with better ways of doing things and asking, “How can we come up with a way to help people get better results, more quickly, more efficiently, and more safely?” Instead, what they are asking is, “How can we come up with something new to sell?”
I have nothing against anyone wanting to make a profit, but it must be by offering people something of equal value for the price, not convincing people to give you money for bullshit with fancy marketing.
Most of the claims of innovation and breakthroughs are nothing but hyperbole. While progress is being made, it is generally being made in very small steps by numerous number of people communicating and sharing information, and usually not the people who are making lots of noise and claiming to be doing so. Very rarely does any one individual or small group make a huge discovery or revolutionize a field, and we haven’t seen anything in exercise that compares to what Arthur Jones did with the invention of the Nautilus machines four decades ago since then, no matter what anybody tells you.
I would love to say I am an innovator, that I’ve come up with some breakthrough method or program, or that I’m revolutionizing the field somehow, but that would be bullshit. I am simply trying to organize what I know and continue to learn into practical systems and present it in a way people find useful.
More often than not, I’m not teaching anything new so much as I am debunking the constant output of bullshit from the rest of the industry.
Considering just how much of what passes for expertise in this industry is bullshit, it is prudent to assume everything you hear about exercise and nutrition is bullshit until proven otherwise. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is claiming to have come up with a breakthrough program or device, demand proof.
My son has the following excerpt from the book Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide For Young Skeptics, by Dan Barker framed and hung on the wall of his room, and I think everybody would benefit from keeping these in mind when confronted with claims about exercise:
“Whenever you are trying to decide if something is true or false, remember these Rules of Science
Check It Out: Don’t just believe what you hear or read. If something is true, you should be able to check it out for yourself.
Do It Again: If you check it out once, you should be able to check it out again. If you do a test or experiment, you should be able to repeat it.
Try To Prove It Wrong: Don’t just try to prove that something is true. A good scientist also tries to prove that it is false.
Keep It Simple: Sometimes there is more than one way to try to explain something. If one way is complicated and another way is simple, scientists usually choose the simple way.
It Must Make Sense: If something is true, then it should not be confusing. It should be logical. That means you should think about it very carefully to see if it makes sense.
Be Honest: Everybody makes mistakes, and good scientists will admit their mistakes right away.”