Dogma Is My Co-Pilot
A few months ago, I wrote a post on my visit to the The Carb-Sane Asylum. It was one of the first anti-LC sites I found and at the time, the posts were pretty vitriolic. The tone of the site and the blogs from the author, Evelyn, made you feel like you were a complete idiot for not understanding how and why low-carb eating was so wrong and immediately rejecting it out of turn – without consideration of any evidence except that which disproves why eating in such a way would provide any healthful benefits.
Evelyn has an impressive background as a research scientist with degrees in Biology (BS, RPI) and Materials Science/Metallurgy. Predictably, the author has a strong following of regular commentors who support her viewpoint and equally bash all those opposed to it. The author’s about page makes it clear that she wants to exercise every opportunity to skewer health gurus and pseudo-science – which is a noble intent – but her constant cries of “wrong” do get a bit wearisome after a while. Yes, LC and Paleo are evil lies. Yes, Gary Taubes has no idea what he’s talking about. Yes, Mark Sisson is only in it for the money. Yes, Jimmy Moore is a sign of the coming apocalypse. We get it – really, we do. Can we move onto what might actually work for those of us who cannot seem to lose an adequate and maintainable amount of weight through calorie restriction alone? What should the person who’s eating 1600 calories – all low-fat and health grains – do if their triglycerides, blood sugar, liver functions, HDL, etc… are become worse instead of better? Carb-Sane is short on insight here but very quick to poke holes in LC research – which is fine, when the research is flawed. But even if the studies or results are flawed, there is always the possibility that some element may be correct or at least warrant further examination. Unfortunately, Carb-Sane is very black and white on these things – you’re either right or you’re a money-grubbing, “pseudo-credentialed practioner [sic]”.
Part of me wants desperately to believe that intelligent individuals like Carb-Sane will realize that they need greater analytical (and interpretational) flexibility to deal with a growing body of evidence that suggests some form of carb restriction (and certainly highly-processed carbs) is beneficial for at least some individuals battling metabolic disease.
Then again, there were those who continued to believe the world was flat and the moon was made out of cheese well after it was proven to be otherwise…
“Reading (Wooo’s) posts is akin to binge-reading JAMA articles written by cats with anger issues, whilst popping speed like there’s no tomorrow.”
On the flip side of the debate coin is another interesting site I stumbled across: The Scribble Pad by ItsTheWooo. Wooo bills herself as “one extremely disrespectful zealot” and, well, that’s pretty damn accurate from what I can tell. Imagine a cross between the rant Jay (of Jay and Silent Bob fame) took at the end of the movie Dogma but written in the style of Icanhascheesburger? and you pretty much have Wooo’s blogging style. Wooo’s posts range from “Vinegar/zinc cures GI dysbiosis”, “Neurons and enegy [sic] substrate; a potential therapeutic impact of even mild ketosis.” and “Useful tip for luteal phase dysphoria~ Melatonin, acetyl l carnitine!” to “I now have Disqus. If you are a troll, I will ban your ass” and “In case everyone forgot: Paleo is stil shit”. Yes, every day must be a colorful one in the world of Wooo. Reading her posts is akin to binge-reading JAMA articles written by cats with anger issues, whilst popping speed like there’s no tomorrow. I don’t need to go to the gym to release stored energy, I read Wooo’s posts and the FFA’s my neurons (correction, astrocytes) burn takes inches off my midriff. And I mean that as a complement.
Wooo is a nurse and her posts have a decidedly medical slant. This appeals to me because I’ve always had a love of all things medical (and forensic, in particular) but it’s also appealing because she’s fairly clear on where her science is coming from – particularly where she’s citing other’s work. She also has a nice tendency (when citing others) to provide her own interpretation of the material (sometimes including the occasional crudely-drawn picture) which allows a reader to figure out if they are following along as readily as they should be.
Wooo’s site lacks an “about” page so you actually have to read many of her older posts to start to piece together the puzzle of Wooo. I’m still not sure I know what motivates her to blog or what her site’s goal is for its readers – but I’m not sure that’s even relevant given the diversity of her posts.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these bloggers is that there appears to be a long-simmering war of words between them. Despite both being intelligent and articulate individuals, they continuously engage in disingenuous rants about one another, each attempting to dispel the other’s claims with mostly ad hominem arguments. Each feels completely slighted by the other and each feigns disinterest in continuing to engage in discussion even though neither will resist throwing a thinly-veiled barb at the other. It’s a vicious cycle and it can’t be stopped but it is quite delightful to watch unfold.
For the average person who spends a fair amount of time trying to make heads or tails out of the latest research for combating metabolic issues, it’s sites like Carb-Sane’s and Wooo’s that show not only how much there is to learn (and how apparently easy it is to dispel) but also how entrenched people become once they believe they’ve found an incontrovertible truth (or can debunk one). Truly, dogma is their co-pilot.
I’m not saying that there isn’t something to be learned from both sites. In fact, I’ve learned a considerable amount reading posts from both of them. However, you must examine each site within the context of its purpose. Carb-Sane self-admittedly dispels the claims of others that she considers pseudo-scientists or passing bad data. This puts her in the (perhaps) unenviable position of taking other people’s ideas and explaining why they are wrong and not offering to much else. Wooo, takes other people’s ideas (as well as her own) and compares them to her own experience. She’s like a continuous n=1 experiment – maybe not always successfully demonstrating cause and effect but providing interesting information nonetheless.
So both have merit even though they think the other is wrong – it’s a shame they can’t see that. For you, the person seeking answers to your metabolic dilemmas, all I can advise is keep an open mind. Try to view both sides of the coin and in the end, go with what works for you. This isn’t confirmation bias. Rather, I encourage you to try things you have some reasonable evidence will work for you and then run your own tests to confirm.
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy as these two opinionated powerhouses do battle on the Internet!