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Silent evidence?

Paleo is still on the fringe, though it’s getting more and more mainstream media play.

Still, by now Paleo has its own canon, its own version of conventional wisdom. I was thinking about this the other day, when Dr. Eades tweeted a link to this Wired article by Jonah Lehrer. Lehrer points out that experiments often result in unexpected data that scientists can’t explain and subsequently don’t report, because

“Modern science is populated by expert insiders, schooled in narrow disciplines. Researchers have all studied the same thick textbooks, which make the world of fact seem settled. This led Kuhn, the philosopher of science, to argue that the only scientists capable of acknowledging the anomalies — and thus shifting paradigms and starting revolutions — are ‘either very young or very new to the field.’ In other words, they are classic outsiders, naive and untenured. They aren’t inhibited from noticing the failures that point toward new possibilities.”

Dr. Eades’ point was that the phenomenon illustrated in the article is probably behind low-carb’s lack of acceptance in academia. No doubt this is the case. By the same token, we Paleo practitioners also need to remain skeptical and keep our minds open to new or contradictory evidence. Says Richard Nikoley of Free the Animal,

“Here’s the thing, folks: falsification. For any hypothesis, you need but one observation that contradicts it, and you’re done. For hypotheses like ‘saturated fat causes heart disease,’ every single hunter-gatherer and other non-industrial population that has been studied directly contradicts it. Game over.”

I’m not saying there’s been any evidence that refutes the Paleo principles (quite the opposite), but we should be vigilant and keep considering evidence even when it seems contradictory.

For instance, what can we make of this? (Thanks @madMUHHH for the link!) I’m not saying Matt Stone is right or wrong, but if you read through his site, you’ll find a trove of anecdotal evidence from people who claim to have ruined their metabolisms by following low carb, Paleo diets.

These are the people who have for the most part dropped off the Paleo forums, because their experiments of n=1 have “failed.” Yes, I realize that the evidence is all anecdotal, and from unverified sources living lives fraught with uncontrolled variables. But perhaps this is enough to at least suggest further investigation, perhaps a study or experiment to see just what is up with that, as the kids these days say.

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