Those Who Cannot Remember The Past

“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana

“Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.” Ditto

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill

“A man may sin by omission as well as by commission.” Marcus Aurelius

In the previous post was mentioned the error of confusing coincidence and causality.

Another step in the chain of error or propagation of errors is to use a false proxy or surrogate in analyzing the situation.

Frequently the next error is made in using the proxy to attempt to prove causality in studies not only using the false proxy but also insufficient controls for the many other possible contributing factors and variables.

For example, in the 1950s and 60s with increasing rates of death by heart attack, the medical studies focused first on what factors and indices were correlated with heart disease. Remember that association is one type of correlation but not necessarily cause. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the  diet and in the subjects’ blood both showed positive significant correlation. At the time other types of fat, and the blood fat carriers like LDL and HDL, were not well known and the lab instruments were not precise enough to distinguish omega3 and omega6 lipids. There followed a massive and costly campaign to eliminate cholesterol and saturated fat from Western diets. Our health system is still not fully recovered from this wild goose chase.

Another example. Around the same time, 1960s to 70s, two Swedish physiologists published the results of studies and their book, Textbook of Work Physiology, which showed a correlation between high carbohydrate, lower fat and protein diets before exercise and prolonged or otherwise better performance in the subsequent running or bicycling trials.

So-called carbohydrate loading was adopted by runners, cross country ski racers and bicyclers who seemed to be happy with the results, and later by a few mushers like Harris Dunlap (a marathoner at one time) and Bob Bright (a road racing, marathon and triathlon organizer) who were not happy with the results seen in their sled dogs, such as general soreness, tight muscles, tying up, blood or other muscle damage debris in the urine. David Kronfeld, a veterinary nutritionist, was enlisted to rescue them.

But it is like a zombie that won’t die! Carb loading prior and post exercise for dogs spawned muscle glycogen repletion products like glycocharge and other glucose polymers. I have never yet seen any study that shows muscle glycogen to be a valid proxy for performance in sled dogs, especially in endurance and consecutive multiple day and heat events.

I told my sponsors, a dog food company whose nutritionists and marketing people urged me to use glucose polymers, that this was equivalent to putting diesel fuel in a gasoline engine for no better reason than the greater energy per unit volume of the fuel.

I wonder if they are surprised to read the recent research showing that high carbohydrate food post exercise suppresses Growth Hormone secretion/release for an extended period afterward.

To be continued…

Richard Taylor and Arleigh Reynolds study diets

Hydration and Arctic explorers

Alpha vs. gamma tocopherol and tocotrienols

ARA and gastric ulcers and healing

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