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Posted by on Oct 27, 2013 in Skepticism | 0 comments

Critical thinking and seductive pseudoscience

Some of you in parts of the world other than South Africa might not have heard the name of Tim Noakes before, though I’m sure many have. He’s enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a sports scientist, but has recently been in the news fairly regularly thanks to his advocating of a LCHF (low carb high fat) or paleo-type diet. Locally, he’s the most prominent evangelist for it – and the word “evangelist” sometimes seems appropriate, in that it sometimes seems as if the message of this gospel seems more important than the argument for it.

After the recent publication of a study of his, in the South African Medical Journal, I posted something expressing dismay that both he and the journal in question thought it worth reporting 127 self-reported anecdotes, as they did. He subsequently responded to that post, and I’ve written a follow-up in response to his comment.

Those of you interested in scientific reasoning, and the extent to which basic principles of critical reasoning can and should be applied to it, might want to take a look. The posts in question are:

Lessons in bad science – Tim Noakes and the SAMJ

More lessons in bad science (and reasoning) from Noakes