Discover more from Lou O'Reilly takes out the trash.
The problem with over confident health gurus
It's never been easier to fake expertise.
This was the title and subtitle of a recent study summary from Precision Nutrition (PN). And I have brazenly copied them both from PN because they just sum up what I want to say, so well.
Because I am a massive nerd1, I love reading peer reviewed studies, randomised control group results, and information about drug trials. Medical journals are my jam. And so when PN created a summary subscription where they would take big complex nutrition and health studies, and break them down to lay person results, I signed up straight away. The papers I get summaries of bring me joy. It’s my intention to share more of what I learn through these summaries.
This time, the joy delivered to me was on one of my favourite topics.
“People who hold scientifically contrarian views are most likely to overestimate their factual knowledge of the subject”
We’ve probably all known that, but a peer reviewed study to prove2 that many of the self appointed health gurus are actually full of shit is just the chef’s kiss isn’t it?
Dunning-Kruger all over the show, and not the good, humble kind.
It’s one thing to talk a big game and quite another to profit from it. Taking cash from vulnerable people who can ill afford it, especially in the name of health, is a deplorable practice. There’s a reason why the wellness industry is a billion dollar one, eh.
It’s extremely unregulated. Anyone can print out a business card and sell you a bunch of bollocks and it’s always the vulnerable caught out. Exhausted and nervous new parents. Plus size community. Young and impressionable.
You don’t see these nimrod health people selling skinny shit tea to a dietitian.
You don’t see squeaky insta fitness people teaching corrective exercise to a physiotherapist.
They only target people who don’t know any better and it gives all the awesome people and coaches out there, with qualifications, experience, and expertise, those who genuinely want to help, a bad rap and it sucks.
Just today, I saw on Facebook that someone has spent money via Meta to advertise an exercise and nutrition programme for high functioning women. What’s a high functioning woman? Am I high functioning? No one on the post was asking that question or any other question about the qualifications of this person or what the programme was really about. All the questions were around the cost of the programme. “How much is this?” “Please tell us the cost”
People through no fault of their own see a hollow solution to a problem they identify with, and want to throw their money at it, to fix it, to hopefully improve their situation, regardless of what surplus funds the may or may not have.
People who sell rubbish to vulnerable people are deplorable and their business model sucks.
Do better business modelling, deplorable people!
And on the topic of dollar dollar bills..
Let’s get open and honest with y’all.
I wanted to say thank you to the person who despite my warnings of an unpredictable newsletter, upped their subscription to a paid one.
I restarted my newsletter with fewer rules. I wanted a place to share my thoughts, and to practice my writing so I can finally get my book finished. I want to draw attention to things like perimenopause and its related issues. I want to share what things make my life easier and better and healthier in the hope that some of these things might work for you, too. At the end of the day, don’t we all just want to feel good, and rested and happy?
I have a full time job, but 90% of the people who write on Substack, subscriptions are their income. I switched on the ability to pay for a subscription to this newsletter if you want to, because overall, normalising the practice of paying for content is important to me. Paying writers like Emily Writes, and Danz, others who put their heart and soul into their Substack should be paid for their work. Just my two cents on it.
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For a bit more context, PN (Precision Nutrition) is where I did my study 5 years ago. The certificate programme was online and graduation gave me enough credibility to help people get out of an eating funk, help motivate people into exercise, and help people follow a prescription of habit based activities so that they could become “healthy” or more “healthy, or “healthier” - one of those things. I am also a qualified personal trainer (yes, a fat one) and so my quick quals as I like to call them, were useful for my brief three year coaching career.
I aced the programme. I loved the work. I loved working briefly as a nutrition coach.
But the nagging thought that I simply wasn’t qualified enough, put a stop to my coaching. Always happy to answer questions, give advice if asked, but no. I was not comfortable taking cash for consults so I stopped.
Light N, Fernbach PM, Rabb N, Geana MV, Sloman SA. Knowledge overconfidence is associated with anti-consensus views on controversial scientific issues. Sci Adv. 2022 Jul 22;8(29):eabo0038.