In recent years, new “health discoveries” have begun to occur almost weekly. One week, we hear that eating a half an onion a day reduces your chance of stomach cancer. Next week, the aroma of coffee is said to contain powerful anti-cancer substances. And on and on.

Food industries have discovered that doing research leading to any sort of suggestive results will be immediately picked up by the media. Unfortunately, the media lack the analytic skills to evaluate the scientific basis for these claims and, therefore, slavishly report (and sometimes exaggerate) what they are told. The result is that the public, which equally lacks any sort of scientific conceptual framework, buys and then consumes things such as garlic, bran, red wine, and pasta without any thought that it has been duped.

Unfortunately, most primary and secondary schools do not cultivate students’ abilities to understand, analyze, compare, remember, interpret, or creatively apply scientific information. Most people learn science by rote—if they learn any science at all. Even people with strong scientific backgrounds are surprisingly closed-minded and, consequently, liable to accept the many half-truths and out-and-out misrepresentations offered in the name of science.

The result is that most people rely on “experts” for truth. Unfortunately, the prevailing expert opinion of one month is contradicted next month by another expert. When I express my opinion to others, nothing disappoints me more than the response, “They say that...” I don’t mind being contradicted—that is how I learn. It disappoints me is when others don’t think for themselves.

The problem is that the food and health-care industries have very strong financial vested interests in what we believe and, therefore, consume. Thus, it takes a sustained commitment to being open-minded and willing to sort out what is true and what is not.

How can we determine the truth of contradictory health-related information bombarding us daily? Ultimately, the truth emerges by listening to everyone (including yourself) and drawing conclusions based on a foundation of knowledge and a devotion to dispassionate analysis. Relying purely on the credentials of those who make claims will subject you to periodic reversals of what you think to be true. Worse, you will never develop a conceptual framework from which to evaluate information.

*From Robert Chuckrow, The Intelligent Dieter’s Guide, Rising Mist Publications, Briarcliff Manor, NY, 1997.

©Copyright 1997 by Robert Chuckrow

More Articles on Nutrition and Health

Book on Optimal Nutrition and Weight-Loss

Home Page