Epic but predictable “Fail”
Sunday, July 21, 2013
I’ve been lurking a bit the last few days. That may be a permanent condition, I don’t know at the moment. You see, I committed the unforgiveable: I shared personal experience and nutritional information I’ve gleaned from various sources with the open membership here at Spark.
I should have known better, and stayed sequestered in our “alternate” group forums. But I didn’t. I am interested to hear what people are saying in general. For those of you who are acquainted with me through my posts, you know I am very concerned for people who are seeking and failing in their past (and maybe current) diet plans. When someone asks a question, or expresses a concern or confusion which I have either experienced myself, or have some information to impart, I offer it to them. I never *recommend* a thing to anyone, or present it in a way which might be considered a directive… not “advice,” per se. If I am quoting a resource I’ve been able to corroborate from several (reliable) sources, I will give it a bit more weight… but I ALWAYS qualify anything by stating everyone should do their own due diligence, research it themselves, check it with their healthcare team, and NEVER just adopt my individual regime without taking responsibility for their own health.
Be that as it may, I got a smart “slap-down” on an open forum for posting a reply to a person who was concerned and asked a specific question that I also had, and have done some information mining upon, and thought I might be able to join in the discussion she opened. My mistake. I’ve cut-n-pasted a bit of the interchange here…
“I just got the results of a health screening back and my cholesterol levels were off. My total cholesterol was actually a little below the healthy/normal range... Any tips on what I can eat or do to raise my HDL without raising my LDL? “
I responded with my experience, and cut-n-pasted the exchange I’d gotten from the alternate site, since another respondent on the thread here seemed dubious about what I’d said. After I’d done that, yet another poster offered up a long commentary about what to eat, what will reduce or prevent this or that… a long list of what certainly felt like directives – at least to me. I don’t mind such things in general; I’m capable of taking information like that and following up on it to see if it holds water or if it’s just a knee-jerk reiteration of CW (which I think is more common and less wise… but that’s a topic for another day). So whatever others have to say is fine by me. I welcome alternative viewpoints. It gives me a reason to explore and find more “proofs” to bolster my own.
But then, I get this:
“There is some misinformation on this thread that needs a little clarification.
…there are several statements that are not backed by scientific research.
This site is not about being an experiment of 1.
The goal of this site is to help our 12 million members achieve and maintain a healthier body through evidence based, peer-reviewed published research on nutrition and fitness.
I am not aware of any research evidence the shows long term usage of coconut oil to boost HDL level.
I am not aware of any research evidence that shows that long term usage of a high fat diet boosts HDL level.
While you may share what you are personally doing; we do have guidelines here at Sparkpeople asking all members to use evidence based research data when sharing nutrition and fitness content.”
NOW I take exception.
In the first part… I never offered a statement which was unfounded by current science. I am a medical professional. I’ve been in my field for over 30 years. I know “fluff” from substance, and I don’t rely on ANYthing unless I can cross-reference it. Does it always agree with CW? No. Is that a bad thing? Maybe. Maybe not. If we never questioned CW, we’d still be afraid of falling off the flat plane of the planet (Those forward-thinkers were ostracized as heretics, too).
Very many of my researched topics come from Google Scholar™. I mention this to people occasionally and they don’t even have an idea what that IS, much less use it. I have subscriptions to several medical e-journals and research-reporting sites. A couple of them I pay for, even though I’m retired and don’t have to have them. I also use the standard Google™. I also use blogsites from groups aligned with whatever concept I’m trying to get information about – unless I get a feel that it’s biased or has conflict of interest, or else isn’t doing any independent thinking other than to reiterate what’s been “sold” to them. I can read that original from the original. I don’t want to just hear a repetition because it’s something to say without engaging any brain cells. I didn’t think forum posts had to conform to MLA standards, so I haven’t been citing or footnoting every word I put in a comment. Again, my mistake.
OTOH… I have to say that I’ve not seen anyone else writing in MLA style, either. Most everyone who has a link to share will do so, as do I. But citations? I’m not sure I’ve EVER seen a post with a citation or footnote. Perhaps I’m just oblivious.
On the second point…
This site is EXACTLY about “being an experiment of 1.” We’re all sharing our personal experiences. It’s in every single post, on every forum, and is considered by many to be the very most valuable asset they gain from SP. We share our trials, our successes, our fears, our hopes, our “experiments” with our eating choices… every person posting is “an experiment of 1.” Even those who aren’t prolific posters are still working toward their own particular goals singularly. We’re not a hive of bees.
On the third point…
I’m unimpressed to have numbers thrown at me. The fact that more people believe a thing carries absolutely no weight whatsoever with me… unless to make me more suspicious of it.
For the administration personnel to bow to that pressure is expected. Advice given from an “authority” is always subject to dispute or objection, and in that light, SP *officials* simply have to stay within guidelines. Perhaps they would still do so in an unconstrained environment – eg, personal conversations… or perhaps they might not. In any case, it isn’t possible in a public forum where they’re perceived as experts and could possibly be taken more to heart than even the members’ personal healthcare teams. I get it. But the line is drawn when it’s expected for that same membership to adhere to the business practice and standards guidelines that the administration has to follow. We’re sharing, not dispensing, information and experiences.
On the fourth point…
I can hardly be held accountable for the fact that a trained expert is “not aware” of information that is readily available to unbiased enquiry. Can they recommend it? SHOULD they recommend it? well, probably not. See point 3, above. Is it recommendable? *I* believe it is. I’ve seen enough repetition of some of those topics online, in print, via research, and from personal experience, that I feel confident enough about it to share it with others and to incorporate it into my own health plan.
As a credentialed medical professional, I am required to maintain my qualifications by attending continuing education to the tune of a minimum number of contact hours per requalification period. If I fail to do this, I will lose that credentialing and have to start “from zero” by sitting again for the examination. This puts a minor fear in me, naturally. But I also feel that if I’m going to give myself a title, I need to have competency in it. Not only that, I love my field. I WANT to know what’s happening, and to be cognizant of new thoughts and corrections in old ones. Keep in mind, I AM RETIRED. I don’t need to do this! And yet, every recertification period, I typically have twice to three times the number of requisite hours to submit to the authorizing committee. So… why is a similar medical professional “not aware” of the massive amounts of new information being promoted in the field? *I* am aware of it (and it’s not even in my field!). I actively search for it. And yes, I throw out a fair amount of it as simply not credible… or else having questionable science behind it. I’m not just swallowing every likely-sounding tidbit I happen across. I am discriminating, although I’m also not refusing to consider possibilities. “Not aware?” No. I don’t think I’m not aware. And I’m not sure I’d admit to it if I was.
And on the last point, I simply have neither time nor inclination to compose technical dissertations, complete with citations. I suppose that means I am barred from any posts, since members are admonished “to use evidence based research data when sharing nutrition and fitness content.” As a result, I suppose I won’t be able to join in as many discussions as I’d like to. I can’t reach out to others struggling for understanding or support. I guess I should say, “I shouldn’t,” because there are, no doubt, going to be times I simply can’t help myself. I offer some concern to you on the same subject. I guess we can’t just talk with each other. Get the MLA Style book.
I’m mostly despondent about the whole ordeal. I feel excluded and singled out. I feel strongly discriminated against. I had respect for SP and the service they provide. But now it’s overshadowed by the squelching of independent thought. I am grateful for the benefit I am having with the Nutrition Tracker. I suppose, since this is a free site, that they can simply block your membership any time the whim takes them. I don’t want to lose access to the one resource remaining to me here, so I have to find some way to break myself of sharing in the community give-and-take. It will make my journey much more difficult. I see no alternative.
Those of you who can still help others groping along here have my envy and admiration. Please put my good wishes alongside yours where you can!