So there’s this thing called “Inductive Reasoning”. It very basically means that you make future predictions based on your past observations. So, I observe my neighbor walking his dog every Wednesday morning at 7am, so I assume that next Wednesday he will walking that poodle.
I’ll bet that without trying very hard you can figure out the problem with using this as a basis for making predictions. It doesn’t matter how many Wednesdays in a row that I am awakened by the yappy little dog, it is absolutely no guarantee that I won’t be able to sleep in next Wednesday.
Mid-18th century philosopher David Hume put it very gracefully: “No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion.”
Knowing this massive weakness, the argument for the continued use of inductive reasoning is that it corrects itself overtime as we add new observations and study new phenomenon, thus bringing us closer to the truth.
So, if a scientist observes the first black swan, she starts to question all of her assumptions and conclusions about swans and she begins to ask questions: Why are they black? How many are there? Is it possible that they actually outnumber the white swans? Can we turn the black swans white? Can we turn white swans black? and on and on.
This is important to me, you see, because I am a black swan.
The conclusion that fat is unhealthy is, at best, inductive in nature. Studies show unhealthy fat people, no causality can be found, but based on observation, scientists conclude that fat is unhealthy, thereby making unhealthy fat people white swans.
And yet there are perfectly healthy fat people. Like me. Black Swan – right over here.
So, since we’ve known about the problem of inductive reasoning since at least the mid 1700′s, upon hearing that there were healthy fat people, of course all of the doctors and scientists immediately stopped making broad-based assumptions about health and weight and started studying these healthy fat people to see where they had gone wrong in their assumptions.
Apparently to modern science, that’s just crazy talk. Rather than question assumptions about weight and health because those assumptions have been proven untrue in many cases, modern scientists found a loophole in the fact that all humans die. So just say that all fat people will be unhealthy someday (you gotta love a good VFHT) and keep promoting the OMGDeathFatIsComingForUsWontSomebodyThinkOfTheChildren mess.
Why this happens is a subject for another blog (Sixty Billion Dollar a Year Diet Industry I’m Looking at You), but what is important to know here is that people who want to run around telling us that they know for sure that fat is unhealthy are wrong based on concepts that have been clear for over 300 years.
I personally believe that if we want to stop the ridiculous obesity health panic that is used to justify a culture of fat hate, it’s time to call it what it is: embarrassingly bad pseudo-science.