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Sustainability: Moving from Common Sense to Common Practice
2016 International Conference
Leesburg, VA - National Conference Center

September 18th - 21st

Anecdotes and Anxiety: In Search of Logical Understanding in the Nutrition Industry

Michael Round - Founder, Center for Auto Socratic Excellence

The presentation will analyze the state of the nutrition industry relative to unsustainable health care costs and increasing disease rates, and how mounting evidence threatening to overthrow existing nutrition paradigms clashes with the status quo. The change-matrix cloud will be used to understand apparent irrational behavior. The works of Thomas Kuhn will be used as a model to understand how paradigms shift – or not, and how a lack of scientific rigor can be the driving cause of fear – not of change, but of uncertainty. New insights into the "System A / System B” distinction will be explored, and how "blame” can be an acknowledgement of "cause-effect” reversal.

A "Little Logic Book” will accompany the presentation, going into great logical detail on the history of the nutrition movement, the operation of the body and the proper nutrition necessary for that operation (and any accompanying boundary conditions), and the causal connection between improper nutrition and burgeoning diseases.

Two billion people in the world today are either overweight or obese. In the United States, 30 million people have diabetes, 86 million more are pre-diabetic, and 20% of our health care expenditures is spent caring for diabetes and associated conditions, despite frequent updates of dietary guidelines and an increased awareness of how the body functions.

This epidemic is self-inflicted, we’re told: despite knowing what to eat, we don’t; and despite knowing exercise is good for us, we prefer a sedentary lifestyle. The twin vices of "gluttony and sloth” lie at the foundation of the life-style epidemic threatening to overrun the medical profession, bankrupt nations, and lead to a declining life expectancy.

The outbreak of obesity in the United States (tripling since 1980) coincides not only with the US Dietary Guidelines’ recommendation of a high-carbohydrate and low-fat diet, but with our eating patterns actually changing consistent with those guidelines! Can adherence to the guidelines, rather than disobedience, be the actual cause of the health crisis? Historical evidence and recent studies suggest the possibility.

Given the extent of the crisis and the growing body of evidence in support of this thesis, one would expect the medical community and policy makers to marshal resources to either explain these studies and data as outliers, or to identify them as evidence undercutting the existing nutrition paradigm. On the contrary, physicians, academics, and other professionals who are proponents of change are ostracized, ridiculed, and subjected to legal harassment.

What explains this gap between expected and actual behavior? What are the causes of inertia, and under what context do paradigm shifts occur – and not? And most importantly, what can the Theory of Constraints offer to facilitate change, not only in this context, but similar domains where mounting evidence threatening to undercut the existing paradigm are discouraged and discarded.

Learning Objectives:

  1. A simple system change can lead to inevitable consequences – good and bad. Evidence of the latter is when System A behavior is exhibited, though in fact it is simply an effect of System B change; 
  2. When outside forces are integral to the establishment of a paradigm, paradigm shifts are not only difficult, but nearly impossible. The honest completion of the change-matrix cloud is an opportunity to break inertia; 
  3. A scarcity of logical rigor is a contributing factor to the contradictory data masquerading as proof. 

Michael Round is the former USA Director of TOCFE, owner of Rational Systems, Inc., and founder of the Center for autoSocratic Excellence. Mr. Round has spoken at – and written about – economic, education, and business issues at conferences sponsored by TOC, Deming Institute, General Semantics, A New Kind of Science, and many others. He also operates =EQUALS=, a math, science, programming, and critical thinking club that meets monthly. Mr. Round is also an actuarial / statistical consultant in the insurance field.

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