Belief pervades us; in the form of pseudo-science it is ambiguous and takes on interpretation from individuals who have no training and little to no education. It is dangerous because in our world we often sell (and are sold) by superfluous garbage that we don't need that masquerades as well- researched tidbits for life improvement. In no other world is this more obvious than the fitness and nutrition-supplement market. When what we are buying can’t be sold by just its necessity and we need to be convinced by description, then it most likely has not been proven to work or we are embellishing in the “higher model” theory. A sales tactic that has us upgrading a phone for .2 megapixels. We are fooled by our natural instinct to want an easier route. We want the thing that makes life easier or makes a task accomplished quicker but in a language that also allows us to appear more intelligent. If it is touted as breakthrough science, or over-nighted to us before being banned, even better.
The language that is sold to us is not that of science or research, but one of Argumentum ab auctoritate: we are told by an "authority" therefore there is no argument. This seeps into our life so easily that it is next to impossible to catch where it is and where it is not. As children we need authority and our brains are primed to trust those in the right position. Our existence was and is dependent on the utter belief and trust of those in charge. Along with survival we also picked up fables and stories that may or may not be accurate and sometimes we have not sorted the fiction well into adulthood.
I was told as a small child from my very health fanatical grandparents multiple misguided tales. One that I’ll never forget was to "not float my food" by drinking water with meals. The idea is that water dilutes stomach acid and slows the digestive process; there is a whole section of literature written on the idea, probably sold wherever you can get your local wheatgrass shots. Instinctually that sounds correct, until I remember what soup is made of. I won't get into the overkill of dietary supplements, or the glorification of vegetables that went hand in hand with their demonization of meat. After all they taught me to love being active and to eat real food--it only took a decade to dispel the dogmatism.
Wholefoods has an entire homeopathy section dedicated to something we can so easily disprove with real science as brought up nicely in this article
They are still able to sell because of belief. We will continue to buy and listen to new things out of this same belief or maybe even just out of blind hope. For the most part the danger is only in our drained bank account, until our belief becomes a platform from which we “preach”. The parents of America banding together to fight vaccines, the push to remove the teaching of evolution from science classes, are both good examples of digression from rationality by giving the uninformed an amplified voice. It is no longer a stretch to think that the fairy tales we are told early on invade our pragmatic mind later in life. The culprit I find more often than not is one that we are told throughout life to trust.
I've normally been under the impression that your basic instinct, your common sense, your intuition are more often than not an accurate source of decision making.
I'll argue against it now: intuition--especially yours--is a sham. If your senses were good you wouldn't be over-weight, weak, broke, stressed or fucking stupid. Intuition leads us so astray we have countless cognitive brain biases just to enable us to not hate ourselves because of the massive amount of wrongness we accumulate. By reinforcing our own beliefs by only searching out the promotion of common ideas through confirmation bias, and succumbing to the delusional empowering ability of cognitive dissonance, we become our own worst enemy. By accepting new practices in training such as Noakes’ Central Governor Theory it becomes even more valuable to recognize where our gut feeling can lead us awry. I assert often to clients that they need to learn to "feel" the intensity, the weight, the negotiation etc. and I still stand by that cue but that it only makes sense in light of actual real time data. The intensity is “this fast for this long”, the load is “this numerical value”. It's especially important to know at what point we convince ourselves to quit and that can usually be tied to a number of some sort. Time magazine posted a great article here dealing with quitting.
Our intuition is founded in laziness, as a friend once proclaimed: “your legs are fucking lying to you”. It is easier to deal with the things that make us feel better than the things that make us feel bad. I would hypothesize this is a remnant of survival, but not an unmistakable one like “cat-like reflexes” but one born of saving energy. Intuition is moldable like training an animal; conditioning a dog to feel “good” about wanted behavior and scolding for the unwanted. Guilt is a perfect example; you have a gut feeling about things that are surrounded by arbitrary rules. If I was commanded and conditioned for most of my life to specifically NOT do something, later in life when doing whatever that said thing is could cause a sensory reaction that stems from years of conditioning. This might emerge as a “sensation”, but it is all arbitrary, one animal may be conditioned to fear water, the other its reward. We have all been conditioned to fear effort, it should be a plight of ours to make it a reward.
Our brains have rules and guidelines. Training at a level that is meaningful enough to cause adaptation interrupts very core rules and guidelines that are set up to protect our bodies from harm. Although we receive cognitive feedback from the pain in our muscles to the lack of oxygen in our lungs, there are far more loops of information hitting our subconscious that are telling us to stop before we even ask the question. To train effectively we must overcome our feeling to stop, and to be clear we are always trying to stop. It is a million years of adaptation to harsh environments that you battle whenever you press yourself into hardship. This unfortunately can not be done off of a feeling before it can be done with numerical feedback, and I would go further to surmise that the longer the athletic history the more important data becomes to see continual progress. The beginner can make leaps and bounds by just collecting the most basic of information, time spent training, amount of rest etc. The novice increases this with percentages of intensity; meta and micro-cycles, adjusting rest and load. For the advanced most will slip backwards unless intricate data is not only kept but also specifically planned and adapted from accordingly. How long can the indoctrinated trainee advance by feeling? I’ve seen impressive acts on sheer will, but if put into a circumstance an intelligent hard working individual could progress or at least maintain for the time necessary. I find most slip off eventually, mostly by losing the environment, then losing the feedback and in finality the will.
Environment, training partners, weights, speed, time can all just be described as tools; some are just more motivating than others. I am rarely close to home and won’t be for some time, this removes consistent training pressure, I still need a way to progress; my only way is to admit that numbers don’t lie, and to focus on the data from an environment and individuals that allows me to become better. Admitting to yourself that we are a breed of pathetic animals looking for excuses to quit, or realizing we are being advertised and sold an "easier" path can help untangle how we perceive this flow of information. It can help us avoid dogmatic beliefs, be weary of snake oil salesmen and allow us to step beyond our own perceived limitations in order to accomplish what we truly want. By using a third party source of information as opposed to a “feeling”, we hear what our ego’s are truly screaming at us. Some recommend pushing your ego aside, I say use it to overcome what you haven’t for the past decade.