Our slow evolution


Course correcting for back pain and “low fat” mistakes

I recently spent some time with the Gokhale Method which aims to help solve the posture problems that so many of us have these days. As I read about the work of Esther Gokhale, and the geo-history behind the issues that our society faces, I started to get a lil angry, just as I did when I read Why We Get Fat.

When someone is doing something knowingly bad to themselves, it is frustrating, sad, and madenning. The next level though is when people think they are doing the right thing and we are sending them down a destructive path.

For nutrition, Gary Taubes highlights the wrongness of the “low fat” revolution, and walks it back to the Nixon administration. A couple of senate committee decisions, and boom…. we now lie with massive obesity problems, and although many actually try to do the right thing, they are not actually attacking the problem. To make low fat work, we see a ton of processed foods, and tricks to hide the taste… normally resulting in a shed load of sugar. Thus, the problems keeps getting worse.

For posture, the lumbar support and expert analysis may not be solving your problem at all. It is quite amazing to see how powerful immitation is, and how our postures have changed, not just due to folks sitting in front of computers.

How much bad science is out there?

As engineers we are used to be able to A/B test and run experiments to prove out hypotheses. We are accelerating the feedback loop and can thus make constant progress.

It sometimes feels like we are in a “modern” world that is using technology for amazing good (groundbreaking medicine) but also takes us away from knowledge that we have collected over our entire existence.

Subtle changes have massive effects. I was reading about “Pepsodent” (excerpt from the Power of Habit book I am reading) and how Claude Hopkins took teeth brushing from 7% to ubiquity in a few years, all through some marketing tricks.

These changes can happen so fast, how can we make sure that mistakes that are bad for us aren’t killed off as quickly?

Or then again maybe I am just forgetting scale. What does “quickly” mean in the grand scheme of things. Maybe I should let evolution take its course.

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