Monday, May 8, 2017

Danger! Danger! Danger!

I asked my undergrad class last week to whom should we attribute the quote, "Danger! Danger!  Danger!"?  they quickly identified Steve Irwin, the Australian Crocodile hunter.  I asked them about that quote because I was about to talk about using the WWW to do research on devising new measurements.

The WWW is a boon to information.  The WWW is a bane of information.  The WWW makes tons of info available, and tons of MISinformation available.  The problem is that is very challenging to know the difference between the two!!

Some of the information on the WWW is about my own field of study, exercise physiology.  Let me assure you, the ratio of good information to bad information may be <1.0, which is to say, there may be more bad info than good on the web.

I speak only for my area of expertise, but the bad thing about the MISinformation is that it usually has a grain of truth from which a misconception, misunderstanding, or deception arose.  One of my favorite WWW red herrings is one titled, "Your Cardio Routine is making you fat."

Don't believe me, go to:   and check it out.

It was written by best-selling author, Jim K.  It is mostly baloney, but there is a shred of truth on which it is based.  The truth is:
  1. We tend to lose muscle mass with aging, for a few reasons, but it does happen,
  2. Our total muscle mass chiefly determines our resting metabolic rate, and,
  3. Our resting metabolic rate accounts for the majority of calories we burn in a day for most of us, even if we exercise pretty hard.

So far his logic is sound.  BUT, then he jumps to the conclusion that lifting weights will cause all of us to add enough muscle to cause us all to go into a net negative caloric balance every day.  His start was sound, his leap to his bias caused his downfall.

What he failed to recognize was:
  • Not very many people can add substantial amounts of muscle mass without the use of illegal drugs
  • He ignores that it is much easier to burn a substantial number of calories in cardio compared to weight lifting
  • Most real working people are extremely limited in the time available to work out.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the #1, or #2 killer of Americans, and weight lifting doesn't help this very much.

But, if you die of a heart attack whilst lifting weights, hey, your weight loss problem is instantly resolved.

Just think, if he were correct, wouldn't the majority of weight lifters be slim and trim?  (Don't confuse weight lifters with body builders who starve themselves for contests.)

Don't get me wrong, I am a strong proponent of lifting weights, but for most Americans, I am a stronger proponent of cardiovascular exercise.  I am the strongest proponent of doing something to be physically active!!

I am not going to start blogging on exercise and weight loss; hopefully we have a book coming out in a year or so that will do that.  Instead I am warning you that it is NOT just the whack articles that are whacko.  Even articles by "best-selling authors" can lead you astray.  In fact, a key way to gain readership is to simply go against what the conventional bona fide experts recommend and propose some elaborate conspiracy theory.

So the question we ALL need to ask ourselves is, "I read this on the WWW.  What are the chances it is true?"

The chances are lower than we think... and you just read that on the WWW.


  1. Danger! Danger! Warning! Warning! Will Robinson

  2. What these types of experiences underscore, for me, is the need for better critical thinking skills. Will Bill Gates really give me $1,000 for passing along an email? Is President Obama really *trying* to destroy the country? Will eating like a caveman really make me healthy?

    Fortunately, I teach media classes so we don't have to worry about misinformation.

  3. Hey Wes, your check for all that Beta testing for Mr Gates is IN the MAIL!!! Yes eating like a caveman means you have to hunt and kill lots of mastodons, which could make them extinct and make YOU very healthy!!

    I know cause I read it on the... never mind.

  4. Yeah, when I can't find data on the Internet to support my beliefs, I just make up a quote and attribute it to one of my mentors (one in particular).