Monday, March 5, 2018

Guruism: Snack Oil 2.0?

By: Joel Luedke

There has been a lot of reflection going on lately for myself and also anyone that will listen to me talk (i.e. rant) about things.  I went in a little hard on the 'evidence based practice' topic and kind of revolted against it and went with 'evidence influenced practice'.  With more people making solid arguments about the evidence based continuum (EBP, clinical expertise, patient values) I backed off a little bit and tried to be open.  I still struggle with ONLY operating on evidence (not sure there is such as thing) but after more talking/ranting about all of it I came back around to the other side which can be just as dangerous as going to far in on evidence.

That is the 'guru' or 'guru-ism'.  While someone who only believes in evidence, someone who doesn't care about evidence and wants you to trust them and most often times what they are selling implicitly.   That can be a completely different and also suspect proposition.  We talk about it more here.

What is Guruism?
'Guruism' by definition is the state of being a guru.  Ok, what is a guru?  Two definitions: 1. a trust counselor or adviser; a mentor.  2. A popular or influential leader or advocate, as of a movement or idea. The first definition I really like.  Someone you can trust and put your faith in.  Perfect!  Then what is this post is all about?  That is where definition 2 comes in.  This can be where things can go astray and get people into trouble if they are just following along.

Can It Be Harmful to You?
As with anything if some is good, more is not always better.  In the world we live in today outrageous  claims and "insta-fame" seem to be the ways for people to set up their business and fame.  This is where I think a 'guru' can get you in trouble.  Someone who may not have training or real experience with whatever they are trying to sell to you but are able to make the claims that sound enticing and something that could be a 'quick fix' is attractive.  Is it truly good for you though?  Does it have your best interest at heart?

We see this a lot with workouts and diets and that can be harmful.  So many diets start and can't be maintained because they are that hard.  Very rarely can you survived on pills and shakes.  Sure you can lose weight and get started but it is not often sustainable and even as you lose weight you may also lighten your wallet more than you want.  Along with this you have to be diligent in making sure what you are consuming or participating in is healthy for you as the 'gurus' bottom line is not always in your best interest.

What to do About It?
I think the biggest thing is looking at claims that even if they sound amazing is thinking are they really to good to be true.  Do you have to pay to get everything from them?  This can be hard as a lot will entice with just enough information to want to get you hooked and then BOOM, subscriptions or pills or this specific workout and only this workout.

The other area that finishes out the thought above is are they saying only this one thing will cause the results to happen.  The best example is nutrition.  Supplements like pills and powders have their place, we aren't against them, but only in the context of a solid nutrition plan.  Just picking one things and trying to ride it out is a red flag.  Everything is so complex about our bodies that I think we would be naive to think there is only one thing that fits everyone.  Be on the look out.

Is there an Alternative?
Look for credentials and/or history of positive results. There are some people out there that are very smart that haven't gone through the traditional schooling and that is ok but that is where history and the smell test come in.  See what they have done in the past and ask yourself, "too good to be true?".  People that have the credentials don't always make things completely on the straight and narrow but it helps.  Having the experience and research background is a double threat and more often than not, a good one.

Overall we aren't out to attack anyone specifically even though we don't agree with a lot of things that are out there.  We really write these to make sure we are doing our part in trying to save people time, money, bad experiences, or potentially dangerous situations.  We have fallen victim for going in hook line and sinker and feel like we have come out for the better and at the time we feel the obligation to try and help people not make the same "mistakes".  If you ever want an opinion, let us know, we'll happily talk it out with you.

EXTRA: Clinically Pressed Short-Why Do We Go to Extremes?
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