Tag Archives: skepticism

Critical thinking and fitness

If there is one thing the fitness world could use more of, it is critical thinking. What is critical thinking? According to Wikipedia: “Critical thinking is a type of reasonable, reflective thinking that is aimed at deciding what to believe or what to do.[1] It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false.”

One of the best ways to improve our critical thinking abilities is to try to remove biases or lapses in judgment that corrupt our thinking. Biases can all too often lead to wrong conclusions, and this can sometimes be dangerous when it comes to fitness or health. A lot of these biases, or “thinking errors” have names to help you identify them.

Here are a couple of examples:

Gambler’s fallacy – the tendency to think that future probabilities are altered by past events, when in reality they are unchanged. Results from an erroneous conceptualization of the law of large numbers. For example, “I’ve flipped heads with this coin five times consecutively, so the chance of tails coming out on the sixth flip is much greater than heads.

Confirmation bias – the tendency to search for or interpret information or memories in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.

Here is a more complete list of the various biases, to help make you a better critical thinker – List of biases in judgment and decision making

You don’t have to learn all of them, but study a few every day and it can help you with not just fitness but with how you approach just about anything in life.

Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit

I believe this is a very useful tool for evaluating all the various health claims you encounter:

Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit

The health world is currently plagued by misinformation and pseudoscience. But with the Baloney Detection Kit, it should be easier to separate fact from fiction.