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Health101.org
presents

Dealing with
Conflicting Information
and Controversies

by Don Bennett, DAS

At a very young age, I realized that there was "the truth", and there was "people's interpretation of the truth". And there were a lot of opinions masquerading as facts. I firmly believed that it was in my best interest to know the truth. So since I had a keen desire to know what was "the truth" (synonymous with "reality"), I had to come up with a way of discerning it.

Here are the criteria I use to find the truth of any given situation:

1. Seek the truth though the Heavens may fall.

2. Use your common sense, not someone else's.

3. Have no biases. Easier said than done, but doable.*

4. Don't have preconceived notions. (see #1)

5. Don't look at things in isolation. Weigh both the positives and negatives, and give them equal attention. Drinking alcohol has positive effects on the body... but on balance the negative ones far outweigh the positive ones.

6. Don't assume letters after someone's name means they are more knowledgeable than someone else... they can only know what they've been taught, and curriculums can have agendas that are not in your best interest.

7. When someone tells you something, ask, "What is that based on?" If they can't give you an intelligent answer, take their statements with a grain of salt.

8. When someone tells you a fact, remember that it may be only their opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but everyone is not entitled to their own facts. Don't accept someone's facts as the Gospel truth in case they are not true. See #9.

9. Keep in mind that people who disseminate information may have erroneous "facts" based on their biases, prejudices, addictions, and/or mis and disinformation.**

10. When you've reached your conclusions, try with equal vigor to disprove them.

11. When dealing with health issues, above all, look to Nature (i.e. how does the body work). Nature always tells the truth. And adopt a philosophy that squares with Nature.

And in general, since no one health program or health educator has 100% accurate information (due to being miseducated, ulterior motives, or arrogance), it's best to take a multi-source approach to your education... if you follow one particular program or person or couple, and they have something less than 100% accurate information, you'll be following some incorrect advice, and that can mean the difference between getting and not getting a diagnosis of something serious years from now. And don't be disheartened when you find conflicting info, be glad, because you now probably have truthful information in your possession.

But WHY is there so much conflicting information?

It also helps to understand the "whys" of conflicting information. For example: There are some health educators who recommend a vegan diet, but it's not the healthiest of the vegan diets. So why do they say that their diet – one that contains a goodly amount of cooked food with an emphasis on starchy foods and/or high fat foods over fruit – is the diet all humans are designed to eat? There are two basic categories:

1) Ignorance and miseducation. (And understand that "ignorance" does not mean "stupid"; it means "uneducated".) The health educator simply has erroneous information or missing information. This often applies to new health educators who are very enthusiastic about teaching what they've discovered (usually because of their own recent positive experiences), but unbeknownst to them, they haven't done their due diligence and have not done enough research yet. Or they haven't applied the ethos of science to the research they have done: Open questioning, no authorities, no biases or personal preferences, honesty, transparency, and reliance on evidence. But ignorance and miseducation can also apply to those who have been teaching for decades, and unfortunately for you, there are some educators who are too arrogant or egotistical to adjust what they've been teaching when it comes to their attention that some of what they are teaching is inaccurate and needs updating. The adage, "Let the buyer beware" applies to health information too.

2) A hidden agenda. These agendas can even be hidden from the health educator's own conscious mind, meaning, they are motivated by it subconsciously without realizing it. Scenario A is an example of this.

a) If a health educator is a staunch vegan, this can color his otherwise good judgment, and he can choose to teach a vegan diet that has the potential to garner the greatest number of converts, and at the educator's core, this is the most important goal for the sake of the animals. The fact that this diet isn't the healthiest of the vegan diets cannot be heard by this person's mind because of their biases and well-intentioned goals.

b) If a health educator's goal is to help as many people as possible because he really cares about people, this educator will usually choose a diet that is way healthier than the typical Western diet, but one that will be the most "doable". And this is usually not the healthiest diet, just a healthier diet. Some people would say that this practice of "deciding for others" is intellectually dishonest, regardless of the educator's good intentions. So why don't these educators simply offer people choices of diets and let the people make up their own minds based on how important their health is to them? One school-of-thought is to not give people choices, but to give them one way to go, and to label it as the "best way" as this will get you the most "takers". Another notion is that if you offer someone something "better" and something "best", but the person gravitates to the "better" one and not the "best" one, this sets up cognitive dissonance in the person's mind, creating confusion, and it's a fact of cognitive science that a confused mind will usually keep the status quo, which in this case is the diet they've been eating, and this goes against this health educator's goal of doing the maximum good.

c) If a health educator's primary goal is to be popular and to garner as big a "slice of the pie" as possible (largest market-share), he will usually promote a diet that in some respects looks to be healthier than the typical Western diet, but the diet is full of "yes you can eat XYZ and still be ridiculously healthy" or it contains some "you can have your cake and eat it too" recommendations. The diet may even be positioned as being "just as healthy as [the healthiest diet]". But these are just sales tactics that deal with people's potential objections and push people's psychological buttons. And "profits-before-people" business practices are alive and well in the health improvement industry, including the raw food sector.

So before being driven crazy by conflicting information, I recommend first thinking about and deciding how important your health is to you. If you're okay with not have the best health possible, you'll have more dietary and lifestyle options, and you won't be as bothered by conflicting information. But if you do want the best health your genetics will allow, and therefore the best odds of never getting a diagnosis of something serious, your dietary options are limited to the diet that humans are best suited to eat, and therefore you'll need to deal with the conflicting information to be able to get at the truth of the matter. And I hope this article helps with that.

 

"What can do you great harm is what you know, that just ain't so."

 

* For this to work, your internal list of priorities must be in order. If it's a health issue you're researching, and health isn't at the top of your internal list of priorities, you may draw inaccurate conclusions.

** disinformation: Deliberately misleading information made public in order to influence public opinion.

 

Additional Reading:

Belief and Reality - Truth or Consequences

Knowing vs Believing

All Things Considered

 

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