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Thinking Like a Scientist

Science is supposed to be more about the memorization of trivial. Instead, science is supposed to be about method, about process – most of all, about thinking. Most scientists, sadly, are weak problem solvers.

Scientists amass a great amount of trivia – often life-saving trivia. Few of them amassed that trivia through another other than rote memorization. Scientists learn through an act of brutal memorization. The latest poster boy for scientists as ignoramuses is Dan Carey, Ph.D., an assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

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Pop quiz: Would you prefer 50% of x or 100% of y? Think about it for a minute.

If you answered the question, you’re not thinking. You can’t say what you’d prefer unless you know the values of x and y. For example: Would you rather earn 50% of $100,000 or 100% of $10,000? Cast concretely, the question is retarded. It’s not even a choice. And yet a scientist who receives taxpayer money to fund research - and tells people how to live their lives - proves that he’s not thinking.

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In a New York Times piece about weight loss, Dr. Carey and others seem perplexed that people who exercise at the pace of a snail, don’t lose fat. You’d think that’d be a silly mystery. If there is 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, and a person only burns 200 calories a day “exercising,” how much weight loss would one expect? Yet dogma clouds clear thinking.

There is a dogma is exercise science that one who wants to lose fat should train in the so-called “fat-burning zone.” Here is the logic: At a low intensity (think brisk walk), a person burns mostly fat calories. Therefore, a person who wants to burn fat should train in the fat-burning zone. Here is how Dr. Carey puts it:

“If you work out at an easy intensity, you will burn a higher percentage of fat calories” than if you work out a higher intensity, Carey says, so you should draw down some of the padding you’ve accumulated on the hips or elsewhere — if you don’t replace all of the calories afterward.

Return to the pop quiz. How does the fat-burning zone – in isolation - make any sense?

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One could burn a greater percentage of calories from fat while actually burning less fat. I would rather have 50% of $100,000 than 100% of $10,000, because a lesser percentage is a greater amount.

Now we can see why Carey can’t think. In an hour-long hard workout (where my pulse is continually between 160-180), I might burn 800 calories. What if only 50% of those calories come from fat? Isn’t that superior to burning 100% of calories from fat if I’m only burning 200 total fat calories in his weak workout?

Clearly 400 is greater than 200. Yet Carey, like most scientists, cannot think. Instead, he tosses around dogma – as if saying “the fat-burning zone” does anything other than make the person seem like a fool.

If Carey were just another idiot with an opinion, we’d pass over his opinion in silence. Carey, however, is emblematic of the scientific profession. Why think when you can rely upon dogma?

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Thus you can see that although this is a poster about exercise, it has nothing at all to do with exercise.

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