Fitness myths are prevalent but myths also exist in many other areas. Why so many myths? That is not an easy question to answer and to address it from a comprehensive perspective requires multiple lines of reason and investigation. I have written and lectured extensively about myths in various domains. The most popular seminars I have given directly address myths: claims or beliefs that are refuted by the preponderance of evidence. These claims demonstrate epistemic / evidential irrationality (holding non-evidence based beliefs). Click the links below to read full article.
A Decade of Knowledge and Nonsense
K&N (Knowledge and Nonsense) was published in 2007. Publication of the book had a big influence on my career in the exercise and nutrition industry. The book has been published in Greek, led to the publication of a condensed version (Should I Eat The Yolk: Separating Facts From Myths To Get You Lean, Fit and Healthy) paved the path for many articles (translated to various languages), seminars and internet battles. K&N covers an array of topics, but is best recognized as a myth-busting book. Many of the myths addressed in the book still exist; they refuse to die. I have attempted to lay them to rest on many occasions.
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Brief list of myths:
Fruit should be avoided while dieting- Drinking bottled water is safer than drinking tap water- Bottled water tastes better than tap- Hardcore dieting (consumption of bland foods and no treats) is only way to seriously drop weight- High protein diets are detrimental to bone health- Circuit training is the best way to maximize fitness levels, always- Heavy weight training makes you slow- Weight training makes you inflexible- Practice makes perfect- Certified trainer is synonymous with qualified trainer. full article
Exercise Myths Die Hard
Myth: Heavy weight training will make you slow and inflexible.
When I began boxing, in my teens, it was common for coaches to discourage boxers from weight training. The common belief was weight training would have a negative impact on speed of punches. At that time, a few coaches believed it was okay to weight train, as long as the weight training involved high reps and light weights. The majority of coaches I have spoken with in the past few years use some form of weight training with their boxers. Some of them are still under the impression that boxers shouldn’t engage in heavy weight training. It is not only boxing coaches that express this fear of slowing down and becoming inflexible when using heavy weights. General fitness enthusiasts and athletes from other sports sometimes express the fear that heavy weight training will make them slow and decrease flexibility. full article
The Origin of Myths – Where do they come from?
Myths in the context of this article are conceptualized as misinformation, misconceptions, false beliefs, or erroneous claims. Myths can be found in virtually every field. Sometimes myths can be relatively harmless, while other times they lead to bad decisions and negative consequences. Myths contribute to epistemic irrationality: holding beliefs that are not supported by evidence and sometimes directly in opposition to evidence. Epistemic irrationality may lead to undesired responses including using ineffective medical treatments because of failure to think of alternative causes, poor financial decisions because of overconfidence, misjudging environmental risks because of vividness, acquisition of contaminated mindware of Ponzi and pyramid schemes, being wrongly influenced in jury decisions by incorrect testimony about probabilities, inappropriate goal setting, damage to intellectual vales, and so on (Stanovich et al. 2016). full article
Refutation Text and Critical Thinking
Refutation, as it used in textbooks and lectures, has three key components: the misconception is explicitly stated, the misconception is then identified as being false, then scientific information is given that refutes the misconception (Kowalski and Taylor 2011). An example of the components of a refutation text: misconception: some people believe humans only use 10 percent of their brains; refutation cue: this belief is incorrect; refutation with scientific explanation: Our brains are constantly bombarded with sensory information, and widely distributed brain areas are involved in communication and processing information virtually all the time. Humans use much more than 10 percent of their brains.
It is essential that the refutation text explicitly states a misconception and then refutes it with evidence. Refutation text includes elements of argumentation that are sometimes referred to as being some of the most effective strategies for changing people’s misconceptions. The conditions for changing misconceptions include being highly motivated, the information must be understandable (subjectively meaningful), the alternative concept must be plausible, and the information needs to be perceived as being useful in helping solve problems (Hughes et al. 2013). Full article
We need Scientific Mindware
Mindware (a term coined by cognitive scientist David Perkins) is defined as rules, procedures and other forms of knowledge that are stored in the brain and can be retrieved to make decisions and solve problems (Stanovich 2009). Scientific mindware involves knowledge structures that can be retrieved from memory when making decisions or judgments about scientific information (or information promoted or portrayed as scientific). There are two primary components: scientific literacy and scientific cognition (Hale 2018). In the context of my research, scientific literacy is synonymous with general scientific knowledge. This form of literacy is sometimes referred to as a type of derived scientific literacy (Norris and Phillips 2003). Various forms of scientific literacy are important, as are other science-related concepts. Scientific cognition involves multiple components and sub-components (Feist 2006): philosophy of science, scientific methodology, quantitative/probabilistic reasoning, and elements of logic. Full article
20 Fitness Myths: that should die?
A comprehensive approach to understanding fitness myths involves- memetic science, psychological characteristics and how they apply to formation, belief and spread of myths, need for scientific mindware and refutational teaching in regards to 20 Fitness Myths: that should die. I don’t think this approach has been fully utilized or documented. In a series of lectures/ seminars/ presentations and or in a book or booklet this approach will be applied. At least, that is the plan for now. I am talking with others about furthering this endeavor.