You Think Facts Will Save You?

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November 29, 2014 by Darlene McC

This morning during my habitual daily spin of Facebook I stumbled upon this post at Mother Jones about the way facts that corrects our misconceptions only make them stronger. The study referenced in the article focuses on politics, but it immediately drew a parallel for me to our strongly held beliefs on fitness, nutrition, and our own bodies.

In working with clients and new trainers I often run up against big misconceptions that run parallel with “pop wisdom” and contrary to science. But as this article points out, when presented with hard facts against a strongly held belief, most people double down on that belief. In my (purely anecdotal…sorry) experience this is all about trust. If the client or trainer has come to trust me over time I can start to reframe their belief slowly. Rarely do I find someone with a strongly held belief who can change on a dime without a catastrophic event (cancer, other illness, etc). Basically, they’ve built a stronger trust with Doc Oz & Women’s Health Magazine than the trainer in front of them.

But that’s what makes the bias toward profit and misinformation from someone like Dr Oz that much more heinous. If he’s now our culturally trusted source, but he’s there to move product, his conflict of interest is only deepening the problem.

Social research like this puts the onus on clients and wellness pros alike. The “public”, desperate to understand what they’re supposed to do, has to have an open mind and be willing to hear they don’t know what they’re talking about. Trainers, it’s on us to not expound on topics we know nothing about. If you’re uncertified in a topic, refer your client to a trusted source. Be willing to know your limits.

In The 4 Agreements (a book I reference more and more in my life) the fist agreement is to Be Impeccable With Your Word. Here’s one more reason why.

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