Keto and expertise, part 2.

In my previous post, I rambled on about my previous experiences with the Keto diet. I did this because I am toying with it again. I wrote these all at once, so do read the previous one if you’ve not yet.

And now we get to the philosophy part of this blog post.

I have another friend who is much smarter than me. They got a PhD, and as I mentioned in the opening of my previous post I respect expertise. She doesn’t work in her PhD, and her PhD isn’t in nutritional science, but I have been through enough of the academic ringer that I can respect anyone who has done one. And I know this person well enough to just recognize their intelligence generally.

That is a heuristic. I am fine with that on some level, but I also recognize that it is a poor foundation for knowledge. If you reread the previous post you will find that it is up to the gills in poor foundations of knowledge. As far as epistemology goes, it is about as poorly argued as it comes.

Let’s review:

Recipes seem excessive. This is my uninformed opinion.

Recipes have loads of fat. Keto is based on some science that says that fat isn’t really the problem we thought it was.

Recipes are all the same. Deal with it, or branch out and stop being a baby.

Meat consumption is bad for the environment. One actually valid point. Go vegetarian and stay keto.

Don’t know any good keto vegetarian recipes. Refer to point above.

Carbs are cheap and I am poor. Potentially a good argument, but here is a counter-point: what is your health worth to you?

I like to get drunk. I am not even going to questions your intelligence by pretending that this is an argument that deserves an answer.

I am worried about the health risks. Potentially a good point, but now things are looking are looking circular. One of your reasons for questioning the keto diet’s validity is built on a sentiment. Is the sentiment valid.

So I should jump into this feet first, right?

For those of you who want to beat me to the punch line, yes, I probably will. But the plot will thicken slightly before I get there, so stay tuned.

Here is the issue. I google ‘Keto diet linked to’ and four of my top five results were negative headlines. I don’t have a lot of faith in all that comes out of the googlebox, but this does establish a baseline of skepticism. I look at the articles (however briefly), it isn’t like what they are saying seems to be counter-intuitive. They also seem to link to legitimate research. So… now what do I do?

This is also a heuristic, so now I have two.

Here is a review of events:

  • I heard about this diet from some YouTube videos.
  • It was seconded by a colleague.
  • I tired it and it worked towards weight loss.
  • I was poor and living in America so I couldn’t drop by a doctor and see if I were killing myself.
  • I became skeptical that parts of the diet could truly be helpful to some aspects of my health.
  • I gave it up for other reasons.
  • Another friend has recommended it to me.

So most of those are heuristics, and poor ones at that. Most of them are being buttressed by other facts that are assumed (the colleague knows what she is talking about, the YouTuber isn’t an idiot, etc.) The friend who suggested it lately is currently studying it. I have faith in her, and she has faith in what the experts she is studying are saying. She does this despite the fact that it largely goes against the grain of the older expertise. I am fine with that for dietary science, but when it comes to the Erik Van Daniken’s of the world, they don’t get the same courtesy. We live in an era where we see the consequences of people living by believing whatever the fuck they want. And we should in most of the cases The epistemological daisy chain has broken down at some point, and I am starting to see that some there are beliefs that are held in some kind of functional similarity to the faith of others.

I am not happy about this.

This is the story of my life. Some people have existential crises as they reach middle age. I am convinced I have had something significantly worse: a full blown epistemological crisis that has lasted at least a decade, if not more. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that that word (epistemology and its variations) comes up a lot. Well, now you know why.

I have heuristics, but I don’t have any knowledge. What I can’t seem to get comfortable is the understanding that I never will have knowledge. Not in any real sense.

I could do the actual fucking research. The friend I mentioned at the beginning of this post did the damn research. But there is a time cost to this shit, and life only has so many hours. It would be one thing if my life consisted of playing video games and watching a bunch of tv shows. But I have other aspirations. I write fiction. I read big fat philosophy books. I read novels. I teach myself foreign languages. I pretend to work for eight hours every day.

Frankly, I always wanted to be one of those people who seems to get it all done, and I am failing magnificently. I could endeavor to add ‘expert on nutritional science’ to my massive fuck off to-do list. But I don’t want that as much as I want the other things.

Therefore, heuristics will have to do.

People want to die standing up. Not literally, beds are fine. No, what I mean is that if we have to go, we want some agency in our going. It’s why those movie scenes of people sacrificing themselves for the greater good feel so compelling. What makes a death like being on a crashing airplane so horrific isn’t the death itself (I imagine being set on fire is worse), but the helplessness of the situation. I think there is an analogy there to what is going on here. I don’t want to suffer consequences of a diet because I was misinformed of the consequences, even if that misinformation come from well intentioned people. I would rather the consequences of my actions be my own.

But life outside of risk is not possible. At some point dice just have to be rolled.

I will start the damn diet. However, I will tread cautiously with it. I no longer live in America, and therefore have health insurance, so at least after six months of I am being an idiot a doctor can tell me so.

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