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Skewed Views of Science

By November 5, 2012January 11th, 2014Good Reads for the Week, Training Philosophy

I’d like for you to take ten minutes of your time today to watch this video. My friend Charles Staley sent this my way, and it’s excellent. It’s almost as if the person who created this video did so specifically for the strength & conditioning industry. I wish that more of the top fitness professionals understood the information contained in this video, if so we’d be in a much better position to cooperate and progress as a field.


  • jorgen says:

    There is however a big problem that a lot of stuff that is labeled science isn’t. For example, some pharmaceutical companies have made repeated studies and then only released those that support what they want, without mentioning the many failed attempts. In the soft sciences, researchers (I use the term loosely) claim lots of stuff on the scantest of evidence.

    Secondly, what a scientific finding means is often overinterpreted to have a wider meaning han it actually has.

    Thirdly, in a democracy, people are encouraged to have opinions on lots of things. The idea is that the bad judgements will cancel each other out, a la the wisdom of crowds. Having people not speak up because they fear they do not understand is worse thatthe alternative.

    You posted on this blog a couple of months ago a link to an article on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s web site. The article is about that there may now be scientific evidence that you can concentrate on building different parts of a muscle. As I understand it this idea that was common among body builders came into disrepute from scientists, pointing out that there was no scientific evidence for that. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, so the people who criticized the ideas from what they purported was a scientific view, were in fact not scientists, at least not in the true sense.

    Most stuff in the world works without scientific proof, what you can do however is disprove stuff.

    There was an article on slashdot recently (sorry about not having the links handy) that the scientific field is ripe for a clean-up. To much stuff that is not science has crept in under the label.

    • Bret says:

      jorgen – preaching to the choir! Totally agree – people don’t speak up because they fear they don’t understand. And to my knowledge it was the strength coaches saying that you can’t target portions of muscles. I never heard scientists say that…just coaches who were overly confident about their present understanding of science.

  • Saevar Botgarsson says:

    Bret, I must give to you, you are my favourite coach! I´v been training people for 12 years. I´ve been reading books and articles on the internet since I remember and following all the best coaches like, you, Tumminello, Boyle,Cressey, Rooney and many more. You and Tumminello I find my myself agreeing the most and implementing into my coaching. Not to put the others down or anything and they are all great coaches but think you two are the guys that keeps these things in prospective and most down to earth. Keep up the good work Bret I always look forward reading from you!
    Thanks for everything!

    Best regards

  • stephane says:

    I am not coaching but I noticed that some coaches take what they hear and try to make it looks scientific to parents. But a real coach is a scientific and I still try to experiment on myself techniques on what I read (to see the effect on me).
    On working the part of the muscle, I try to experiment the contraction of the upper part of the harmtrings more than the glutes because I noticed that there is no focus on that part and that if you don’t concentrate on this, you compensate par other parts.

    • Bret says:

      We published a study earlier this year that showed that hip extension movements worked more upper hammy whereas knee flexion movements worked more lower hammy.

  • Tom says:

    Love the video. Only comment I would make is that there is always a balance. The author seems to elevate science and scientists to a a lofty level. History is full of sincere scientists that were all in uniform agreement but found to be wrong in the end. Even Einstein lamented his blunder that came from following a bias in the scientific community ( is also a big business and money drives many conclusions so we need a skepticism that is based on reason as the author suggests but doesn’t blindly follow science as though it is a fundamental religion itself.

    • Bret says:

      Tom, to me what you described is the essence of science. Realizing human err/bias/nature, and trying to formulate checks and balances systems to ensure the best possible outcome (peer-review, double-blind, etc.).

  • chelle says:

    Okay,He was just talking in circles to me… however Bret, you and your video clips have been very informative,& full of understanding, why you are doing an exercise the way you are and what the purpose is. Thanks

  • Mick M says:

    Sadly Bret, it doesn’t just fit with those in your field but most of society. Oh well me and the rest of the villagers are off to torch the castle…

  • ole says:

    hi, thx for the video 😀 We have a lot of journalists in norway who thrive on writing about training and whats right/not right with any links to sources,

  • ggs says:

    Loved the video. Its so funny everytime I relay info I have heard from your blogs and videos. I always hear you only listen to him because he is cute. I reply no its because its based on science not bias..Thanks for keeping it real. My glutes appreciate you and your dedication to all areas of health and fitness.

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