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Assessing Claims and Credibility
in the Realm of Raw & Alternative Diets

Who Should You Believe?

by Tom Billings
including material suggested by Ward Nicholson

Copyright © 1999 by Thomas E. Billings. All rights reserved.
Contact author for permission to republish.

A TABLE OF CONTENTS linked to all portions of the article can be found at the bottom of this first page of introduction.

The purpose of this paper is to address the relevant questions:

Gaining a sense of the issues involved in such concerns about credibility, and what to believe, is important, as anyone will know who has ever been faced with what can be a bewildering array of choices about what dietary approach to follow in their own life.

An immediate but not fully satisfying answer to the question of this site's approach is to describe it as: an attempt to be realistic; frank and honest about shortcomings and difficulties of alternative diets; moderate, common-sense, sane; and open to new information (even when it contradicts established beliefs of the past). These are the qualities frequently lacking in the approach of dietary extremists.

The context: When science doesn't
have the answer to every question

The role of scientific information

Before delving deeper into the question of credibility in the alternative dietary world in general, it is appropriate to examine the context in which the question arises. For some issues in the raw and vegan world, there is ample, relevant, scientific research that addresses the issue(s), and which provides an answer. Sample issues of this type are:

Some of the material on this site addresses the specific questions above, among others. (By the way, the answer to all the questions listed immediately above is "no," although the answer to the third question may vary depending on your definition of the word "natural.") The above issues, and other issues for which there is adequate scientific research, are important because they provide an effective gauge for determining if an "expert," in general, accepts reality or is in denial of reality.

The role of anecdotal information

However, many important issues in the raw and vegan world have not been the subject of peer-reviewed, published, quality scientific research. Sample issues in this category are:

For such issues, most evidence is anecdotal: personal experience and the experience of others. Hence the question of primary interest here is--when adequate science is not available--whose anecdotal evidence to consider seriously: the evidence presented on this site, or the idealistic views promoted by dietary extremists? That is the central issue addressed in this article.

Structure of this article

The information and evaluative approaches we'll cover are presented in several major sections:

Most of the material is presented in summary form to minimize redundancy with other articles on this site. Site articles that provide related information include Idealism vs. Realism in Raw Foods and Selected Myths of Raw Foods.

T A B L E   O F   C O N T E N T S


(Extremist Attitudes and Dogma in Raw Veganism, Issue by Issue)

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