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Monday, March 05, 2012

How to Decide if Health Trend X Is Quackery

I assure you, you and I have neither the skills nor the time to test each new exercise plan, form of alternative medicine, diet, etc. for ourselves. And let me further assure you that the fact that the founder of a fad is anti-state is a terrible way to determine your diet.

So, what to do? Let the market do it for you. Especially the market most vitally concerned with the maintaining really top-notch health in people: professional sports. For pro sports teams with millions of dollars on the line, it is vital to stay on top of breaking research into health and fitness. They have great resources to put into evaluating these new ideas, and tremendous motivation to use anything that works, whether it is "anti-state" or not!

Is chiropractic care quackery? The fact that 31 of 32 NFL teams employ chiropractors is a pretty good sign the answer is "no."

Are paleo diet and exercise quackery? Well, on a web site promoting things paleo, we find: "NFL veteran John Welbourn preaches the paleo diet to his former teammates on the New England Patriots. Endurance gurus like Joe Friel, who, along with Cordain, co-authored The Paleo Diet for Athletes, urge triathletes to try it."

So, in all of pro sports, there are a couple of guys promoting this stuff? Well, I'm a Kirzernerian, not a neoclassical, when it comes to microeconomics: equilibrium is an ideal construct, not a description of reality, and there are missed profit opportunities all the time, e.g., sabermetrics wasn't picked up on in baseball for quite a while after its invention.*

But me, not being a medical researcher or anything, I'm going to wait. When I hear 31 out of 32 NFL teams are serving paleo food at their training tables, I'm in.

* I have a student working on this issue now, by the way. Oh, and yes, Daniel, I realize that there are neoclassicals and there are neoclassicals, and that the really good ones have always recognized that these things are just models.

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