Phalse Physics

One clue that increased skepticism is needed is when people argue that the physics is definitive. Like Redmond’s idea that there is only one mechanism for climate change, these sorts of viewpoints are gross oversimplifications of complex systems. Diet and obesity is another such topic.

‘Science Based Medicine’ has an example of insistence that energy in must be balanced by energy expended in exercise and that is all that is needed to understand obesity. Gary Taubes found otherwise in doing the research for his book but that research doesn’t count. Physics must be satisfied and that can only be by one mechanism.

The laws of physics are unavoidable. His
demonization of the calories-in/calories-out principle strikes me as a
bit of a straw man argument. He says exercising and reducing total
calorie intake don’t work; moreover, he says they can’t work. Most of us
would argue that they can and do; the problem is not with the
principle, but with its implementation. Simple physics requires that to
lose weight, we must burn more calories than we ingest: that is
indisputable.

The question here is the one Taubes faced. Do you believe the research or do you believe simplifications that have become axiomatic myths? The issue for a true scientist is not to select one or the other but rather to find out how these competing ideas can coexist. Taubes did that. Hariet Hall did not.

The fact is that the human metabolism is not a simple energy thing. Food going in is used in many ways to support many processes. It is a complex system. Treating it as trivial, as Hall does, may be a first approximation but it is not the whole story. What Taubes did was to gain some perspective about how this first approximation fit into the whole picture. In doing so, he accepted the fact that he was looking at a complex system with many more variables that interact with each other. The laws of thermodynamics are not violated. Food does more than just provide energy for immediate utilization.

The sad part of this is that those with the simplistic ‘phalse physics’ views are not open to true science where there is adequate allowance for what is not known and how measure is taken. They know the ‘truth’ and that is it as far as they are concerned – or so it seems from essays such as Hall’s.

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