Your ability to think critically is the number one skill you will need to develop in order to stop being taken advantage of by people in the fitness / health industry. Simple questions to ask when confronted with an opinion are :
Think about who benefits from a statement :
It’s good to think about who, if anyone, benefits from the statement being made. If someone’s making an argument, there’s a good chance they benefit from it for some reason. 9 times out of 10, people who bullshit are trying to sell you something.
Question the source:
With the internet, sources aren’t always immediately visible, so if something sounds off about a statement, track down where it came from initially before you form an opinion on it.
What is the mechanism by which that works
When someone is proposing a benefit from an exercise – or especially a supplement – they need to detail the mechanism by which it works. This industry is full of hearsay and ‘bro-science’, and usually this is where most recommendations fall flat.
What does the body of evidence say
Just because someone posted a link to a study supporting a claim doesn’t automatically make that claim true. If there are 100 studies saying no, and 1 study saying yes, you have to go with the weight of evidence. When there are 80 old studies saying no and 20 new studies saying yes then you could say: “There is a body of emerging evidence supporting this, but the weight of the evidence still says no.” When there is mixed evidence it is exactly that – mixed and requires further study..
Take Your Emotion Out of It
Rely on reason rather than emotion. Emotion has no place in critical thinking. You will be attached to your beliefs and they will mean a lot to you. When evidence to the contrary is presented it can make you overly emotional because no one likes to be wrong and no one likes to entertain the fact they have been wasting their time believing something that isn’t true.
When discussing a theory with someone, you can tell when they are losing their emotions as they tend to get personal. Watch any Facebook debate with two emotional people and all they do is call each other names.
Some extra tips are :
- Evaluate a broad range of viewpoints and perspectives
- Maintain an open mind to alternative interpretations
- Accept new evidence, explanations and findings
- Be willing to reassess information
- Put aside personal prejudices and biases
- Consider all reasonable possibilities
- Avoid hasty judgments
Open your mind