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(Simplicity vs. Complexity in Diet: Where Do We Find Truth?--continued, Part D)

How the most idealistic view ends up
being more complex: examples

The framework of looking at "what is" by accepting the world in its messiness, whether in the realm of personal experiences or scientific investigation, is actually a demonstrably less complex one in terms of conceptual approach. Let's now explore a number of examples to illustrate. Ask yourself the following questions, and see if the answers you would give are as simple as you think.

These, then, are some of the core simplifying principles that underlie our approach here. In most cases, they are demonstrably simpler than the utopian approach, and in the minority of cases where they are slightly more complex, it's because there is very good reason: Dealing with the complexities consciously eliminates still other complexities and problems that arise if we try and ignore them. Which in the end is actually still simpler. Of course, that might not be as simple as we would prefer in an ideal world, but we're talking here about this world--the real one.

Is simplistic certainty in the face
of uncertain knowledge smart?

A concluding observation that follows directly from the last principle mentioned just above is to ask: Is it not a considerably better strategy in life to remain uncertain if we can't be sure about something, and to be fully alert as a consequence, rather than to be erroneously certain? And to be aware of the details that make us cognizant of just where the uncertainties lie, rather than to live in a dubious or false certainty that makes us oblivious to certain crucial things which would otherwise be obvious?

The fruit of false certainty. One critical example of this, as we have said, is that most people don't succeed long-term on utopian, totally raw or 75%+ fruit diets. And they run considerable risk of damaging their health if they pigheadedly persist past the point where things start going downhill for them. If one wants to talk about things that are unnecessarily complex or detailed, then the kind of rationalizing that obscures an observation like this is one of them. Because this is something relatively simple to see which could save some people literally years of futile experimentation and/or potential long-term health consequences.

Complexity's role. What is complex to understand and explain (as is attempted on this site) are the specific underlying reasons why or whether a so-called ideal diet does or doesn't exist, and what that might be, along with all the scientific or research-based evidence to truly answer the question. (Unless you are willing to just say "people are different"--or its opposite, that "people are not THAT different"--and leave it at that, of course.)

And that's another conflict here: dietary idealism would like to keep things simple, but if you also want bona fide evidence that is scientifically verifiable, you have to embrace scientific methods which involve detailed research. That's of course not so simple because such evidence has to be concerned with the actual biology, anthropology, evolution and genetics, and verifiable clinical results of things. None of which are or can be satisfied with being the kind of simple philosophies (simplistic or oversimplistic would be more accurate) that dietary utopias are.

The real issue is this: How hard do we really want to look at things, and how much "truth" do we want to risk? Perhaps even to the point of realizing we have to live with some uncertainties as part and parcel of life? This implicit price in being free from oversimplistic dogmas that don't serve us well, however--and being able to then respond, even if imperfectly, to a more clearly perceived if somewhat uncertain reality--is well worth it.

Uncertainty leaves you alert and primed for new vistas of discovery. Far from being a bane, it is the uncertainties in life that actually make it an interesting challenge, worthwhile, and even exciting. It's the very tentativeness of uncertainty that leaves you open, primed, and flexible, whereas being too certain dulls awareness and makes you closed and rigid. Uncertainty is a spice that makes you eager for new information that might even change the way you think, and can repeatedly open up new vistas of discovery for exploration. And that's what's exciting about it.

Once you get a real taste of the process--how it stretches you to use all aspects of yourself in equal measure including logic, intuition, and the feedback of results, plus every useful tool available including detailed evidence--you simply can't go back.

--Ward Nicholson

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