It occurred to me last night that major errors in conventional (as well as some unconventional camps) of important subjects, consist of errors of the same caliber, and are produced by the same fault in thinking.
For the purposes of this post, reductionism shall be defined as a mode of thinking that reduces complex concepts and practices, spanning multiple sciences, down to a lesser number of sciences, not for any reason other than such person or group believes that eliminated sciences do not apply to Y topic, concept, or practice — when they in fact do.
The resulting conclusions being at best wrong, and at worst, dangerous.
The first science we will explore is nutrition. Human nutrition specifically. And more specifically, the broad criticism of any diet or individual who states that fat loss is primarily a hormonal and biological event, secondarily a matter of calorie intake reduction (by any number of means), and thirdly, if even considered relevant, calorie expenditure.
The criticism being that this hierarchy violates the first law of thermodynamics. Which, as is commonly accepted when applied to fat loss, means …
- Calories in = Calories out
In other words, fat loss is a matter of reducing the calories you take in, and expending more through “exercise” (which does not mean exercise when used in this manner, but is used as a substitute for any physical activity whatsoever, including sex, walking in circles, and as is my favorite to point out, defecation).
- Eat less + “Workout more” = fat loss
The problem however is that human beings are not rocks. Biology is a proudly ignored factor in this criticism of fat loss as it relates to a living organism.
While I am preaching to the choir here, I would like to point out that this very serious error in thought stems from eliminating biology from the following equation,
- Biology + Physics = Fat Loss
or making fat loss a simple
- Physics = Fat Loss
A la, complex biological events of living organisms are reduced to a matter of physics alone. The simple fact that we are alive, is literally ignored.
The second science we will explore is psychology. Specifically, human psychology. And what is the conventional wisdom in psychology?
That man is an instinct manipulated puppet, free will does not exist, thought is automatic, and man’s life is only the sum of an inconsequential series of mindless responses to stimulus he has no control over.
This grand error is applied to varying degrees — dependent on an individual’s philosophical convictions — across the entire span of human life.
When applied to the broadest and highest degree possible, the conviction that man = an animal is the base conviction and condition being accepted.
Relevant to psychology, this is the reduction of human psychology to that of behavioral psychology.
The psychology of an animal lacking volitional consciousness, completely incapable of conceptual thought and entirely lacking the capacity for reason.
Thus, in conventional psychology, we have
- Physics + Biology = Human psychology
It is a fact of reality however that human psychology is a distinct science. The reality looks much more like this,
- Physics —> Biology —> Psychology
- Physics + Biology + Volitional Consciousness = Psychology
With the “psychology” of animals properly belonging in the realm of biology, not psychology.
This is why “evolutionary psychology” is largely a contradiction in terms when applied to human beings and produces conclusions that are absolutely incomplete.
The psychology of male/female intimate relationships is a subject that this is easily observable in. While it is true that our psycho-sexuality is rooted in the physical construction of being one gender or another, and the subsequent biological consequences this entails in a healthy human being, it is not the sum of the human experience in this arena.
To state such a thing is tantamount to stating 1+1 = 3, and that all male/female intimate relationships are automatic.
But nothing about being human — in the sense of what separate us from other animals — is automatic. Every ounce of what sustains human life is produced by the thinking mind.
Nothing is produced when man refuses to think. And man destroys when he actively abandons his mind and acts in contradiction with reality (and is destructive to the degree he is in conflict with reality, and the range his degree and power afford).
When man uses his mind, he forms positive relationships with the opposite sex that benefit his life as well as the life of his partner.
When man refuses to think, he forms a mindless relationship with the opposite sex that is at best, unfulfilling.
When man actively abandons his mind and makes choices that are in direct conflict with reality, he forms destructive intimate relationships that harm both him and his partner.
Coming full circle to the original and primary purpose of this section, real psychology is destroyed when human beings, capable of volitional consciousness, are reduced to instinct driven animals.
This is the key to how the science of psychology has been undermined: by gross reduction.
The third and final science we will explore in terms of reductionist error is exercise. The error by reduction in conventional exercise science is different from that of nutrition and of psychology. The reduction error lies in the fact of reality that is,
- Nature to be commanded is to be obeyed.
In nutrition, I believe an approximate ratio of commanding to obeying nature, properly, is 20/80.
- 20% commanding, 80% obeying
This is due to the fact that nutrition is mandatory for life on earth. Exercise is not. Exercise — real exercise, not any random physical activity — is 100% optional. You do not have to exercise.
You have to eat, or you die, pretty quickly.
As a result, I believe in exercise, an approximate ratio of commanding to obeying nature, is properly and incidentally, the inverse of nutrition
- 80% commanding, 20% obeying
In other words, because exercise is entirely optional — and not mandatory — a LOT more depends on what you choose to include if one desires to create a successful exercise equation.
Where as with nutrition, a successful equation for dietary choices rests primarily on exclusion — what to exclude — a concept championed by Kurt Harris.
- 80% including + 20% excluding = Exercise success
- 20% including + 80% excluding = Nutritional success
The percents designating the importance of what is to be included and excluded relative to the potential benefit of achieving what is physically possible by personally succeeding in these sciences as a human being (while accepting the fact that the two sciences are not exclusive of and can in fact affect each other, positively or negatively).
Interestingly enough, another paradox (in adherence to reality) can be seen in the following equation,
- Exercise Success = Obeying physical structure (80%) + obeying biology (20%)
- Nutritional success = Obeying biology (80%) + obeying physical calorie intake (20%)
Physics being more important in exercise (expressed as bio-mechanics), and biology being more important in nutrition, relative to body composition (expressed as quality of calories ingested).
The take home point of reductionist error in exercise is that looking to our ancestors for guidance in exercise — by examining and guesstimating their physical activities — is, in virtually all cases, a worthless activity, and in many cases a dangerous course to pursue. The only guidance that can be had from our ancestors is by examining the structural and perhaps biological evolution of our bodies.
The physical activities they were doing, are less than irrelevant. Yet, such is the focus of CrossFit.com, and all variations of activities that are suggested to be “paleo/primal” “exercises”.
So, how our ancestors gave birth, defecated, ran, and so on, might actually be of interest. But their activities that we wish to romanticize as real exercise, are no more worthy than examining a primitive tribe and trying to use that, in any way, as a valid foundation for how governments ought to be designed.
Such ideas are not even worth discussion.
— Anthony Dream Johnson