Thursday, June 02, 2011

Paleo and Rewriting Reality

By Benjamin Skipper

The fallacy of rewriting reality, as identified by Ayn Rand, is the fallacy of formulating a theory or idea divorced from reality and then continuing to maintain it after observing that it contradicts actual facts or else claiming that reality itself is somehow in the wrong. This has given rise to infamous sayings such as "It's good in theory but bad in practice," and so on, where a person will maintain a set of ideas even as they're concretely proven to be false or damaging. In regards to living a Paleo lifestyle I've noticed that some people commit this error when juxtaposing my lifestyle to its effects, and some have even bizarrely changed their evaluations and interpretations of my health after noticing a benefit and then learning how I obtained it.

For instance, after learning of Mr. Nikoley's no soap and no shampoo experiment I tried it for myself and had great success, particularly for my hair, which became very velvety and moisturized with no noticeable odor. About a week into the experiment I visited my hair stylist and she was very impressed with how smooth my hair had suddenly become. She asked me whether I use various hair care products, such as niacin shampoo, and after I denied even using so much as a bar of soap she stared around incredulously. Suddenly her evaluation of my hair had shifted: She noticed that it was thinning -- even though my hair has been thin all my life, including every session I've had her -- and stated that my hair was going to get dirty, even though it was perfectly clean that day, a week in without shampoo. It was like she never noticed anything positive about my hair at all.

Another example would be a certain person who kept panicking about all the ill health effects I'd experience from my high-fat diet while they recognized my increasing health at the same time. She would chuckle about how fattening all the foods I ate were, and then would later compliment me on my svelte figure, which I obtained after losing about thirty pounds on this diet. She would squeal about how high my cholesterol must be, and then disregard the fact that my total cholesterol decreased and lipids improved when I was eating about six eggs and lots of bacon everyday. The disappearance of my acne and elimination of frequent sickness was invisible to her. When she spoke to others about my diet, she would say I eat very healthy, "lots of vegetables," and ignore entirely that I eat a greater portion of fatty meats, thereby making me out as a vegetarian. When I noted all the positive effects of my lifestyle she would point out how often I exercise, even though my health status stagnated for years with my walking and jogging routine, and she ultimately chalked matters up to my "youthful metabolism," which makes for an awful big coincidence that it kicked in at the precise period I went Paleo. She simply did whatever she could to aviud acknowledging the positive benefits caused by my lifestyle, whether it was making me out to be a vegetarian to others or warning of my eminent demise in spite of contrary evidence.

In short, the fundamental evasion behind both of these examples is that these people either changed their interpretation of my health results after learning of their means or even outright ignored the means and gave dishonest interpretations about my lifestyle even as the evidence was right before them. I am unmoved by any of these people's pleadings since I've experienced first-hand the drastic improvement of my well-being since adopting new standards -- great skin, whiter and cleaner teeth, a comfortable scalp, better hair, improved sleep, the virtual elimination of illness, sufficient energy all day, etc. -- and these people are doing what they can to deny the reality of it, whatever will allow them to continue maintaining their previously adopted beliefs, such as shampoo being necessary and saturated fat being bad. In confronting reality, these people are rewriting it in their theories and discarding any contradictory evidence. It's immensely annoying to deal with such people given the impossibility of convincing them of alternative theories. The person concerned with my bodily health eventually resorted to ignoring my eating habits altogether, rendering my diet invisible. To anyone who faces these people it is important to always keep your first-hand knowledge and experience as the determinant of what you judge to be true, as all their distortions and daydreams won't change the actual: What truly exists.

To spark some discussion, I'd like to know how many of you have had similar experiences like these, where someone at one point or another would recognize your good health and then either switch their interpretation of the results after learning your means, or contradictorily disagree with your means while still acknowledging the benefits. Have you had any confrontations with your family and friends? How about people you deal with business-wise, like at the grocery store or barber shop? How does your doctor respond to you?

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