Hi I’m John Barban and here is some stuff you might find useful/interesting about me and what this blog is all about.
My formal education background is a degree in human biology and nutrition from the University of Guelph (Ontario Canada), and a Masters In Human Biology and nutrition also from U of Guelph.
I did further graduate research and taught exercise physiology at the University of Florida (Go Gators!)
I’ve taken a bunch of personal training certifications, all the usual ones such as the NSCA CSCS, ACE PT, CSEP etc. I was also a certified kinesiologist blah blah, if you’ve taken any of these certifications you know how BS they are…I personally don’t put any value in these certificates because they’re not hands on and just require a simple written test…so yeah I have em’ but I don’t think they mean anything.
I’ve worked in the dietary and sports supplement industry researching and developing sports and weight loss supplements for the better part of the past 8 years and I still currently consult supplement companies on formula and product development.
Some of the brands I have worked with and or created include:
Empowered Nutrition Products
I spent 3 years as a varsity strength and conditioning coach (ice hockey) at the University of Guelph.
I’ve also trained with a world class power lifting team…I got really strong, and all the workouts sucked! I still maintain close contact with the powerlifting team and continue to discuss training experiences and theories with them.
I also keep close ties with colleagues in the biomechanics field. This is how I stay up to date on the latest research in biomechanics and human movement science in general.
I’m currently working on exercise programs and researching solutions to weight loss, muscle building and longevity.
Based on my experience in the supplement industry I can tell you that you’re never going to find an answer there about weight loss or muscle building. In fact the more time you spend reading about supplements and fitness magazines in general the less likely you are to find a useful answer about either. Ironic isn’t it!
So that’s my brief ‘bio’.
This blog is meant to be a place where we can have free thinking politically incorrect and a logical discussion about all things related to human biology, including health/fitness, nutrition, and anything else that affects our well being/health.
Sometimes the path will stray as far as sociology, economics and politics, and other times we’ll end up talking evolution, genetics, environmental science and cellular biology. Our health and well being is inextricably linked to all of these factors and therefore they are all fair game.
No matter where we end up the discussions will always be based on facts, logic and evidence.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
The rules of engagement for this site are simple:
1. I encourage you to comment and put forth an opinion on anything and everything we talk about. Make it good.
2. Any comment is open to criticism so make sure you think your comments through and edit them before you post them. Remember, once it goes up you can’t take it back.
3. Logical Fallacies will not be tolerated. Get to know them in the logical fallacies section. If you post a logical fallacy you will be called out on it either in the comments section or as the subject of a later post. I am also not immune to logical fallacies myself. If you catch me in the middle of one by all means point it out.
4. Anecdotes don’t count as scientific facts and should not be the basis of an argument on this page. This means you can’t come on here and say “I know a guy who did this or that” and make that the basis for your argument, because I can simply retort by saying “well I also know a guy who did the opposite of this or that”…anecdotes just get messy so lets leave them for other sites that don’t care about logic or facts.
5. Sarcasm is encouraged and will be used frequently and liberally.
6. Puns are encouraged and will also be used frequently and liberally.
7. Be respectful of each other.
8. Play fair.
These are the main logical fallacies that are used to make uninformed and erroneous arguments.
Don’t use them on this site. If you do you will be called out on it. If you catch me in a logical fallacy by all means you should call me out on it too.
If you think someone is using a logical fallacy and you can’t tell (this happens often) email me directly and we can discuss. Definitely don’t want to be calling people out who don’t deserve it.
If you use a logical fallacy to make an argument on this site expect a response that points out the # of the Logical fallacy you used. For example if you make an Ad hominem attack on someone I may simply post a reply to you with the following text LF#1. “LF” stands for “Logical Fallacy” and #1 = the first fallacy on our list here which is Ad hominem.
Get to know them, get used to recognizing them.
The media uses these all the time to make spicy headlines and drum up controversy, you’ll also notice that logical fallacies are the only type of arguments politicians every make. For a good example of multiple logical fallacies at play just pick your local news paper or watch c-span or your local congress channel (ugh who would actually do that!)
1. Ad hominem
An ad hominem argument is any that attempts to counter a claim or conclusion made by someone else by attacking the person rather than addressing the argument itself.
Example: Joe says you need to eat less calories to lose weight, but what does Joe know, he’s skinny and never lost weight before.
2. Ad ignorantiam
This is also called the argument from ignorance and the basic premise is that a specific belief is true because we don’t know that it isn’t true.
Example I could argue that small undetectable pollutants floating around in the air are causing obesity, but we can’t prove it.
3. Argument from authority
Stating that a claim is true because a person or group of perceived authority says it is true. Although it is reasonable to give more credence to the claims of those with the proper background, education, and credentials.
Example: Stating something is true because “my doctor says so”.
This doesn’t mean they are always correct and furthermore it doesn’t mean they have any authority to make claims outside of their specific area of expertise.
The truth of a claim should always come back to logic and evidence and not merely the supposed authority of the person promoting it. Credentials and expertise are an indication of the tools needed for a person to be qualified to gather the needed evidence in a given area to make a truly informed claim. For example, I might think I know whats wrong with my car when there is a rattle coming from under the hood, but my mechanic has the credentials and expertise to investigate the rattle and determine what it is for certain. He may not know the answer just by hearing my story about the rattle at first, but he can employ is expertise and education to discover what it is.
4. Argument from Personal Incredulity
I cannot explain or understand this, therefore it cannot be true. It is not a valid argument to assume something is not true simply because you personally don’t understand it.
Example: Not believing that antibiotics can help get rid of an infection simply because you don’t understand how an antibiotic works in your system, and therefore because you don’t understand how an antibiotic works it must not be possible and not work at all.
5. Confusing association with causation
This is the assumption that because two events are correlated that one must have caused the other.
Example: Many women who are fit and go to the gym regularly wear lululemon pants, therefore lululemon pants make you fit and go to the gym.
6. Confusing currently unexplained with unexplainable
Assuming that any phenomenon that is currently unexplained is by nature unexplainable. This is a very limited way of thinking. Science is always uncovering new insight and information and most unexplained phenomenon will eventually be explained with enough investigation.
Example: We currently cannot explain with 100% certainty why some people gain weight easier than others, and therefore we will never know.
As with any scientific field of research we are always investigating and finding more information. Just because we don’t have the full answer today does not mean we will not find the answer tomorrow.
7. False Continuum
The idea that because there is no obvious and definitive difference between two extremes that there is no difference between them at all.
Example: Claiming that all carbohydrates are ‘bad’ for you and assuming that white refined sugar can be classified the same as the ‘sugar’ you get from a fruit or vegetable.
8. False Dichotomy
Erroneously and arbitrarily reducing many possibilities down to only two.
Example: if high sugar foods can contribute to health problems we must never eat sugar at all.
It is clearly possible to avoid health problems and still eat some amount of sugar.
In Latin this term translates to “doesn’t follow”. This refers to an argument in which the conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premises. In other words, a logical connection is implied where none exists.
Example: Eating too much fat is bad for you and therefore any foods that contain fat are not meant to be consumed by humans.
10. Post-hoc ergo propter hoc
This fallacy follows the basic format of: A preceded B, therefore A caused B, and therefore assumes cause and effect for two events just because they are temporally related.
Example: You had pizza for dinner last night and woke up with a headache today, therefore the pizza must have caused the headache.
11. Reductio ad absurdum
In formal logic, the reductio ad absurdum is a legitimate argument. It follows the form that if the premises are assumed to be true it necessarily leads to an absurd (false) conclusion and therefore one or more premises must be false. The term is now often used to refer to the abuse of this style of argument, by stretching the logic in order to force an absurd conclusion.
Example: If carbohydrates are bad for us (as the low carb people would say) then that means all fruits and vegetables must also be bad for us and therefore we should never eat any of them.
12. Slippery Slope
This logical fallacy is the argument that a position is not consistent or tenable because accepting the position means that the extreme of the position must also be accepted. But moderate positions do not necessarily lead down the slippery slope to the extreme.
Example: Eating less sugar cannot be the correct answer for weight loss because that would mean we would have to change the fundamental way we process food, shop for food, subsidies crops, cook all baked goods, and could never eat at a restaurant ever again.
13. Special pleading, or ad-hoc reasoning
This is a subtle fallacy which is often difficult to recognize (and one of my biggest pet peeves). In essence, it is the arbitrary introduction of new elements into an argument in order to fix them so that they appear valid.
A good example of this is the ad-hoc dismissal of negative test results.
Example: You may claim that you can lift more weight than me, and we test your claim and determine that you in fact cannot life more weight than mean. At this point you begin with a series of excuses why on the particular day of the test you weren’t wearing the right shoes, and the weights weren’t calibrated correctly, and it wasn’t the correct humidity in the room etc…these are all arguments from special pleading in order for you to maintain your claim that you are still in fact stronger than me even though we have completed a test which proved otherwise
14. Straw Man
Arguing against a position or claim which you create specifically to be easy to argue against, rather than arguing against the real position and claim held by those who oppose your point.
Example: I may state that weight training will make your muscles stronger, and you may argue back that everyone who goes to a gym won’t get stronger. In this case you would have replaced my statement about ‘weight training’ with ‘everyone who goes to a gym’. Clearly people go to the gym for all different kinds or workouts, and many of them do not do weight training at all.
Tautology is an argument that utilizes circular reasoning, which means that the conclusion is also its own premise. The structure of such arguments is A=B therefore A=B. It may not be immediately apparent when this fallacy is being used because of the way the argument is stated.
Example: Eating too much sugar makes you fat, therefore if you’re fat you must have eaten too much sugar.
16. The Moving Goalpost
A method of denial arbitrarily moving the criteria for “proof” or acceptance out of range of whatever evidence currently exists.
Example: You say that a study of 100 people showed that exercises 3 times per week for 1 hour did not help people lose weight, and then I say “there weren’t enough people in the study, if they studied 1 million people it would show a different result”
It is easy to move the goal posts on any argument to make a claim seem false or to maintain support for a false claim.
17. Tu quoque
Literally, you too. This is an attempt to justify wrong action because someone else also does it. “My evidence may be invalid, but so is yours.”
Example: Someone sells you a placebo sugar pill and tells you it can help with weight loss, and when challenged on this practice they point out that other pills don’t do anything either.
18. Unstated Major Premise
This fallacy occurs when one makes an argument which assumes a premise which is not explicitly stated.
Example: Stating that we should label food that is low in fat because many americans are overweight. The unstated major premise is that 1) Simply labeling foods as low fat foods can help reduce the rate of overweight americans 2) That being overweight is unhealthy 3) That eating high fat foods themselves are a contributing cause to overweight.
I welcome your comments, but you have to play by the rules.