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Helpful Information or Confusing Opinions?
Are the "everyone must decide for themselves" health educators doing you a service or a disservice?

If you haven't noticed, there is a wealth of information out there regarding diet and lifestyle practices, and much of it is contradictory. Health educators fall into two basic categories: those who want to uncover the truth (though the heavens may fall) and want to share that empowering knowledge with as many people as they can, and those who want to gather up all the viewpoints, opinions, and philosophies and present them to as many people as they can, saying, "The bottom line is that you've got to decide for yourself".

But when you think about it, the first category – health knowledge seekers turned health knowledge educators – aren't implying that you must follow their teachings (well, at least not the sincere ones anyway); they feel the same way as those in category number two, that the final decision is your decision, and nobody can or should make it for you. The difference between those two categories of educators is: one is honestly interested in getting to the truth of the matter, and one is not. One cares more about helping to lessen the plague of degenerative disease that has been thrust upon many of us, and one cares more about amassing a huge email list.

This may sound like a harsh criticism, and there may be those who simply want to report the opinions of people in the health-creation community, just as an objective, dispassionate, unbiased news reporter would. But if doing so leaves you thinking, "I am so darned confused now; one minute I think vegan is best, but then it looks like I should start eating organic animal products, and I'm not sure if they should be raw or cooked, or if high-fat and low-carbs is best or if low-fat and high-carbs is best... What do I do?" is the "reporter" in this case doing you a disservice by presenting you with information that is so conflicting, and therefore confusing, that it is impossible to make sense of it from the information given? Maybe a "reporter of news" is not what you want; maybe the findings of an investigative journalist are what would serve you best.

Yes, there are a lot of people who would love to listen to tons of debates and conflicting info so they can weed through it all – as a good researcher would – so they can come to an educated decision on how best to live their life (this was me 30 years ago). But what about those people who don't have the wherewithal to do this; the folks who need to hear the opinions of sincere, well-educated health advocates whose mission is to unearth the realities of health, and to present them in a clear, down-to-earth, and fathomable fashion. Aren't those people often confused into indecision by all the contradictory information? And considering that a confused mind usually maintains the status quo, and that the status quo usually leads to a diagnosis of a serious disease down the road, I think we need more sincere investigative journalists in the health creation arena, and less entrepreneurial marketing-oriented folks.

Truly objective investigative reporters try to ferret out the truth. So you would think that those health educators who bring you contrasting viewpoints will wrap up their reporting by saying one of two things: "The reason there are so many differing views on diet is because there is no one diet for everyone; everyone has different dietary requirements." Or that they would say instead, "The reason that there are so many different dietary recommendations is because of human nature's tendency towards personal preferences, biases, hidden agendas, believing what we'd rather believe, believing what sounds good to us, accepting misinformation as the Gospel truth, erroneous conclusions due to misinterpreted results, and believing what we've learned from others who we like and admire... none of which necessarily gets you to the truth, which is that all human beings are designed for the same diet, but that we may simply need to transition to that diet as individuals." But this means that, at the very least, the investigative journalist would need to have an opinion as to whether or not there is one correct diet for all humans, or that we all need different diets based on our genetics, blood type, hair color, or metabolism. And to say to their viewing public, "You decide" does a disservice to all those who are looking for answers, as demonstrated by all the "I'm more confused than ever" comments, like the one mentioned above.

And there is another thing to keep in mind when listening to investigative journalists. What if the investigative journalist, after being exposed to tons of contradictory information regarding diet, decides to tell you that there is no one diet that is correct for everyone, and that everyone should do whatever works for them? That would be great if, in reality, this was true. But what if it wasn't? What if this is incorrect? What if this investigative journalist has an agenda that you don't know about. He or she may sound very sincere and well-intentioned, but if the conclusions drawn by this individual are influenced by "marketing forces", this can be worse than listening to a news reporter who presents you with all the information and leaves it up to you to decide what's what; you may come to the correct conclusion, and therefore following it, you'll be the better for it. But if you embrace the incorrect conclusions of an investigative journalist, doing so will not be in your best interest.

For more information about dealing with conflicting information and controversies, treat yourself to the article at health101.org/art_conflicting

In your quest for knowledge, it is good to look to many sources of information. But to avoid confusion, these sources should resonate with a singular philosophy that supports your health creation goals. The approach I use, called Natural Hygiene (the study of the science of health), is the closest thing I've found, not just to true and correct information, but to a way of looking at life from a perspective that allows maximal creation of health, optimal healing, and above all, fosters an intellectual atmosphere that allows you to distinguish the info that makes sense from the non-sense.

And in your quest for knowledge, it may help you to know how best to parse all the information that you will run into. I'd recommend that you take in the info as a researcher and not as a student. Researchers don't merely accept what is said as the Gospel truth; researchers seek to verify what they hear, and they ask questions. Students ask questions too, but they are usually questions of clarification; students do not usually question basic premises or question their instructor, in general they accept what they are taught. This is fine if 100% of what is being taught is accurate, but what if only 90% is accurate? A researcher can separate the true from the untrue. But if being a student is the best you can do right now, at least be a researcher when it comes to finding a teacher.

So if you experience confusion, take that as a sign that you are standing at the gateway of freedom, and that the clarity you seek is now within your grasp. Talk over your confusion with others who are on the same path as you, and eventually a light that makes perfect sense will appear out of the disordered darkness. Keep perseverance close at hand, and keep moving forward with your quest for the truth.

Additional Reading:

Do What Works For You?

Knowing vs Believing

All Things Considered


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