Recently, the folks at Maintenance Phase and Iron Culture both did deep dives into Jordan Peterson and the so-called Carnivore diet. And while a person could listen to either conversation independently, I highly recommend you download all four hours from your platform of choice to get the full and glorious(1) picture of this latest version of patriarchy and White supremacy posing as dietary wisdom.
What I like about these two contrasting points of view is that the folks at Maintenance Phase give us the cultural and personal narratives that informed the creation of the Carnivore diet, and Iron Culture (with April Fool’s Day guest-host Eric Trexler replacing Eric Helms) focus mostly on scientifically addressing some of the claims behind the Carnivore diet. If you only were to listen to the Iron Culture conversation, you would miss out on the discussion of personal philosophy that allowed for the creation of this sham of a dietary plan, and if you only listen to Maintenance Phase, you get less nutrition-based context that can arm you against falling for this sort of scam in the first place.
After listening to both conversations, I also found myself thinking about how the two podcasts have naturally very different main audiences and how that clearly changes the tone of the discussion. Mike and Aubrey at Maintenance Phase have no problem laughing at the ridiculousness of the Carnivore diet–of course it’s bullshit coming from left field by a mentally unhealthy person. They can freely discuss their skepticism as that is the whole point of the podcast and their audience welcomes critiques of popular and harmful dietary trends. Whereas, Eric and Omar at Iron Culture tread a lot more carefully, as their audience likely includes plenty of bros who bought into the Carnivore diet or at least find themselves “Carnivore curious.” And so they do a lot more dancing around it–not saying you can’t be healthy following this diet, but it isn’t superior to other dietary patterns.
And these two styles reflect the bigger challenges we face debunking pseudoscience and misinformation today. How often do we create a safe space to commiserate and connect with our like-minded people and how often do we try to reeducate and bring in folks who are falling for harmful ideas and half-truths? On this blog, I’m mostly interested in the former. I want a safe space for folks to share ideas and to buoy ourselves against the rising tides that make being a minority in the world of lifting or other athletic pursuits so difficult. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish to help folks who are sticking their toes into harmful ideas and hope to bring them back to shore. However, if I’m being honest, that’s not my primary goal because I don’t have a lot of faith that folks will change their minds when given new information. I do think people change their minds over time, but I’m not convinced that any one conversation is likely the thing that does the trick. Does that make me part of the problem? I really don’t know. I’d be interested to hear what you think about it. Give these two episodes a listen, and do let me know whose tone you think hits the mark, if either!
(1) Or, maybe not so much glorious as it is impressive, like how you can talk with someone who seems level-headed and reasonable but then you realize that they believe things that simply cannot be true, and it leaves an impression upon you. . .