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Don’t Always Believe the Science

Don’t Always Believe the Science

Science has given us some amazing inventions over the centuries. Personally I’m a big fan of the light bulb (thanks Thomas) and the Wright brothers were certainly having a good day when their flying machine finally took to the air at Kitty Hawk all those years ago. But I guess the scientific breakthrough at the very top of my list was created by that little-known inventor, designer, engineer and scientist… Ogg.

    Who would have guessed all those millennia ago when Ogg emerged from his cave to invent the wheel that not only would he make his and Mrs Ogg’s life a crap-load easier but all these years later my favourite toy (my motorbike) would be totally dependant on his neolithic creativity and invention.

    So thank you Ogg from the bottom of my high-octane heart.

    Science impacts on virtually every part of our lives. It is something we consider, negotiate and benefit from every day. It’s also something which misleads us and confuses us from time to time. Ask five experts one question about nutrition and your head might explode from the variety of answers. Ask ten conditioning coaches or exercise scientists one question about training and we might find you two days from now sitting in the corner sucking your thumb. Or visit ten medical experts with one condition and you’re likely to get numerous diagnoses and more prescriptions than you can poke a stick at.

    Part of the problem with some scientific ‘facts’ is that they aren’t facts at all; they are scientific theories.

    Every day somewhere in the world another scientific ‘fact’ bites the dust. It is exposed for the fraud that it is. I could give you a hundred examples of this but I don’t want to put you to sleep, so instead I’ll give you a few things to chew on which might be relevant and of interest to you.

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    1. Height/Weight Charts

    To say that a person should weigh a certain amount because they are so many inches tall is not only misleading but potentially dangerous. Stupid in fact. At best, these charts are vague indicators or guides of what may be a healthy weight range for some individuals. We have a rugby team here in Melbourne, Australia called the Storm. If you were to compare the weight of the individual players against the ‘scientific weight recommendations’ for their height you would discover that close to one hundred percent of the team would be classified as overweight or obese. And therefore all fall into the high health risk category. When in reality the only immediate health risk to the Storm boys is getting their heads ripped off by some unhappy neanderthal opposition players. According to ‘science’ I should weigh somewhere between about 12 kgs (26lbs) and 22 kgs (48.5lbs) less than I do right now. My body fat as I write this is 16% (healthy). If only I was seven feet tall… my weight would be perfect!

    2. BMI

      BMI stands for body mass index and it is a scientific formula used to classify people on a scale from underweight to obese. The equation is:

      Your weight in kilograms divided by your height (in metres) squared.

      Here’s my BMI equation

      91 kgs divided by (1.78m x 1.78m) = 28.72.

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      This result tells me that I am significantly overweight and borderline obese. Hmmm.

      This science doesn’t factor in how much muscle individuals have.

      Check this out:

      Subject one:
      Male
      Height 180cm: (5’11”)
      Weight 100 kgs: (220 lbs)
      Actual Body-fat: 12% (low)
      BMI classification: 30.9 = FAT!

      Subject two:
      Male
      Height: 180 cm (5’11”)
      Weight: 80 kgs (176 lbs)
      Actual Body-fat: 25% (high-ish)
      BMI classification: 24.7 = NORMAL!

      Scientific crap.

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      3. Girth Measurements

        The other day I was chatting with one of my trainers who asked me what my waist measurement was. She wanted to see how I rated on the scientific table which estimates my health risk (potential for disease) based on my waist measurement. According to the ‘science’, blokes with a waist measurement over 40 inches (101.6cm) are in trouble and girls with a waist measurement greater than 35 inches (88.9 cms) are at much higher risk also. Fortunately I’m a fair way under the danger zone but this science is flawed also. It’s vaguely indicative but by no means absolute as it doesn’t factor in the height of the individual. Surely a 40 inch waist on a guy who’s 5’4″ can’t be compared to a 40 inch waist on a guy who’s 6’7″? Well, apparently it can. And then we’ll call it a health risk assessment.

        Is waist measurement an indicator of potential health risk? Sometimes. For some people. Is it good to use a ‘set figure’ (in this case a 40 inch waist measurement) to evaluate the potential health risk for an entire population? Er… nope. Could a bloke have a 35 inch waist and be a higher risk than another bloke with a 40 inch waist? Of course.

        4. Recommended Calorie Intakes

        Dr. Bumnuts: “Okay, let’s see Mrs Smith… you’re 5’6″, you’re 42 years old, you currently weigh 70 kilos (154 lbs) and you have a sedentary job. Therefore you need 1,650 cals per day to maintain your current weight and 1,150 cals per day to drop down to 65 kilos (143 lbs) over the next ten weeks.”

        This almost sounds plausible. And if Mrs Smith expended the exact same amount of energy every day (1,650 cals worth of energy in this case), then the expert would be speaking the truth. But naturally our energy expenditure (how many cals we burn) can and does vary greatly from day to day. If Mrs Smith spends Saturday hiking, rock climbing and wrestling bears (as she does), she might need 4,000 calories just to break even for the day. But on Sunday as Mrs Smith and her sore muscles recline on the couch for the entire day, her energy needs will be drastically reduced – perhaps to as little as 1,200 calories. Same body – different needs. Bodies requirements vary from day to day which is why I always encourage people to learn to drive their own body rather than just following some generic one-approach-fits-all driver’s manual. The Point? Our energy needs (calorie requirements ) are not ‘set’ so consuming the same number of cals each day is not necessarily smart science.

        5. High carb, Low carb, No carb, My head hurts.

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          I’m not going to explore this debate in detail here but I will say that there are numerous books, studies and experts which (who) totally contradict each other on this subject. The interesting thing is that many of the conflicting theories on the matter are backed up by indisputable ‘scientific fact’. Sound scientific research. Sure. Sometimes scientists are compelled to find a way to support their hypothesis. If you know what I mean.

          6. Australia the Fattest Country.

          A couple of weeks ago here in Australia we were informed by the scientists that we are now the fattest country in the world. Here are two excerpts taken from a leading newspaper Melbourne Herald Sun:

          “AUSTRALIA is the world’s most overweight nation, ahead of the notoriously supersized Americans, according to a new study.”

          ” The report, released ahead of the federal government’s obesity inquiry, presents the results of height and weight checks carried out on 14,000 adult Australians nationwide in 2005.”

          So in a country of 21,000,000 people they tested 0.06 percent of the population which means that they didn’t test 99.94 percent of us! I have two questions:

          1. How do they know that the 0.06 percent is representative of the 99.94 that they didn’t test?

          2. Why would they use an assessment (height/weight chart) which is scientifically flawed?

          Science is an incredibly valuable and necessary part of our existence, survival and development here on the big blue ball and I’m passionate about it. I’m also passionate about not being mislead or misinformed. We can learn and benefit so much from so many clever people in the world of science but like anything that involves humans, it’s flawed.

          More by this author

          Craig Harper

          Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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          Last Updated on January 21, 2020

          The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

          The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

          Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

          your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

            Why You Need a Vision

            Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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            How to Create Your Life Vision

            Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

            What Do You Want?

            The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

            It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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            Some tips to guide you:

            • Remember to ask why you want certain things
            • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
            • Give yourself permission to dream.
            • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
            • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

            Some questions to start your exploration:

            • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
            • What would you like to have more of in your life?
            • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
            • What are your secret passions and dreams?
            • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
            • What do you want your relationships to be like?
            • What qualities would you like to develop?
            • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
            • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
            • What would you most like to accomplish?
            • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

            It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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            What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

            Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

            A few prompts to get you started:

            • What will you have accomplished already?
            • How will you feel about yourself?
            • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
            • What does your ideal day look like?
            • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
            • What would you be doing?
            • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
            • How are you dressed?
            • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
            • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
            • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

            It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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            Plan Backwards

            It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

            • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
            • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
            • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
            • What important actions would you have had to take?
            • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
            • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
            • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
            • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
            • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

            Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

            It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

            Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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