Why The Hell Should I Care About… Logical Fallacies

Hey Chris, isn’t this meant to be a site for serious trainers? For those who want to get strong, muscular, or really lean? Yes it is dear reader, but we want to arm you with the tools you need to make great choices. I realise that YOU know all this but I’m afraid the majority of people are suckers and if I can help one or two of them start thinking more critically then I’ve done my job.

 

Tony Robbins, the King of NLP (that will upset some I’m sure, although I am being a little ironic here) says “ask a better question and you’ll receive a better answer”. With critical thinking I would say “identify the logical fallacy, then ask a better question and potentially save yourself a load of time, effort, or money!” If you’re not interested now then go back to watching daytime TV.

If you are interested then I would recommend listening to episode 16 of the Mighty Cast where Nick and I discuss some of our favourite logical fallacies, and relate them to strength, fitness, and nutrition.

 

I would also recommend reading the following article by Steven Novella –

How to Argue

 

This article, entitled “How to Argue” is really about how to think. Recognising logical fallacies isn’t only good for shutting up the bigot in the pub, or on Facebook but also the one within our heads. Much of what goes on between our ears is internal argument, so identifying our own logical fallacies can help us cut down on the crap that goes on in our brains.

 

Please allow me to use an example which I used in the aforementioned episode of the Mighty Cast.

 

I was called at the gym I run (not Darkside) a few months ago; probably in January because it was about weight loss. I was informed that this concentrated fruit juice would be great for my weight loss clients! Now I won’t go into the rest of the discussion here, needless to say it wasn’t a long one.

 

All you need to know is contained in her statement “this concentrated fruit juice will be great for your weight loss clients”; this logical fallacy is called a “Non-Sequitur”, which is Latin for “does not follow”. In this rather obvious case it’s easy to ask how can a concentrated fruit juice be good for weight loss as it’s a very calorie dense way of consuming fruit. The one absolute concerning weight loss is calories in need to be less than calories out; drinking concentrated fruit juice is not going to help with this equation.

 

If the lady had said this special concentrated juice is good for health then she might have had a point. On completion of the call it occurred to me that she used this spiel because she probably hadn’t been challenged on this before; you’ll undoubtedly be pleased to know that she has been now.

 

The point of mentioning all this is that if you have no critical thinking skills then you’ll believe anything. Now you can accuse me of being close minded but I’m the kinda guy who likes to see some evidence; as the great Carl Sagan said, “it’s good to be open minded but not so open minded that your brain falls out”.

 

In my book “Becoming Mighty” I have a chapter on “The Baloney Detection Kit in Relation to Strength, Health and Fitness”, which is a tribute to Carl Sagan’s idea of the same name. In the accompanying video the excellent Michael Shermer explains the concept –

YouTube Preview Image

 

The bottom line is you’re prepared to invest time, effort, and money to improve your body then why not take a little time to improve your mind.

The chap who wrote the “How to Argue” article I mentioned earlier also has an excellent podcast which he does with 2 of his brothers and a couple of others. It’s called “The Skeptics Guide to the Universe” and it comes out every week and lasts 80 minutes. Just by listening to this for a few weeks you will begin to think more critically. –

The Skeptics Guide Podcast Archive

 

So that’s 2 podcasts per week you need to listen to; that and the Mighty Cast which is the Skeptics Guide to Muscle, Strength, and Fitness – where did we get that idea from?

 

Be Mighty,

Chris