The Will to Survive

I was reading Danny Roddy’s latest post about a fish tank or something (just kidding Danny, I Love You) which I thought was quite good and remembered this thread from a while back.

Gosh, were we all so immature in those days. The growth we’ve all experienced over the years has been amazing.

This naturally brings me to Dr. Peat. I once wrote quite a bit on the Ray Peat Forums, eventually was banned and moved on to grow into addressing problems I deemed more important. The thing that annoyed me with the cult like Peat following was that they reminded me too much of religious people. They interpreted his work as if it was biblical scripture, and when something didn’t fit they would endlessly try to justify their position or just ignore it or say that you don’t truly understand his work. Not much different then groups of church people and their endless interpretations of biblical scripture that pit themselves against each other.

What initially attracted me to Dr. Peat in the early days was his view that energy and structure are interdependent, something which at the time as I was studying mitochondria, struck a chord with me and gave me the confidence that the way I was thinking about things was something worth pursuing. My armchair background in physics and other sciences, and as Danny Roddy put it in his article in so many words, a pursuit for a universal theory, whirl-winded me away from the cult-life and towards synergizing my own ideas most of which aren’t published publicly. There are some people who I confided in and shared a portion of my work with who were also Peat “followers” who said in so many words “that this is the light at the end of the tunnel”, the thing that will bring everything full circle. That was a few years ago.

Such compliments scare the shit out me. And after which, I became reclusive to examine the finer details. Exceptions and outliers are my kryptonite. It is all too easy to generalize and miss something. Which is why to this day I haven’t published my general theory on the nature of nature.

Recently I was listening to the KMUD interview with the makers of “On the Back of a Tiger” and Dr. Peat. There were a lot of good and positive things said. But the one thing that bothered me was that the host kept asking what Dr. Peat thought, asking for an opinion is not a sin, but my impression was that the host wanted verification for the work that others have dedicated the majority of their lives studying, annoyingly so, as if in one swift word Dr. Peat could invalidate their work. I find that mentality troubling.

That mentality is the antithesis of Dr. Peats work. It is the opposite of thinking, the opposite of stimulating the organism. It is authoritarianism.

This might be confusing for some as Dr. Peat is definitely is anti-authority. To illustrate what I mean here is an excerpt from my work about the concept I’m trying to convey:

“Entrenching is not the new idea but rather the aversion to self-confessing an error approaching things in a new way.  The conflict does not arise out of the new idea but arises out of the individual. These individuals place too much power in words and ideas. These people are the real dangers in society—not the originators of new ideas. It takes much more than an individual to do anything with a dangerous idea just as it takes much more than an individual to do something with a useful idea. Ideas have to be stated and different people must implement them to become a useful or dangerous reality.”

In other words, it is the followers the perpetuate dogma. Not the originator of the idea. That is, the state of the sciences and its application is not the result of authoritarianism per se, it is the complacency of people that facilitates authoritarianism. Governments and institutions become authoritative because people are poor consumers. They are poor consumers because they have no self-confidence, have a lack of curiosity, and/or they lack the belief that they can think for and figure things out for themselves. This mentality is self-reinforcing and over time systems in place become more and more authoritative and resistant to change. But the solution is not to destroy, the solution is to evolve. Nothing good really comes from destruction, usually repetitive cycles between the garden of Eden and Doomsday.

Once a follower understands that it is they who facilitate dogma, they are faced with a multiple dilemmas:

“What is difficult for the entrenched individual is not the new shift, but the shift that points to years or a life wasted and genuine interests forsaken. There is a saying: “You can’t teach an old dog a new trick.” Few people are so downright stubborn. But these defining qualities are common enough that most of us are familiar with these individuals.”

“And what follows is a revolution in cultural knowledge to try and rationalize why we did things the way we did in the past and why it is justified to change things for the future. Radicals entrenched in their beliefs usually, but not always, die in these shifts of thinking; literally or sacrificing the personality. Being a martyr for a particular paradigm has never been a personally natural inclination. When the individual is cornered and experience is conflicted with lacquered beliefs, the individual is faced with options of entrenching themselves behind belief or taking steps to evolve in another direction. It is the collateral damage of opposing extreme views in groups of people that often drive cultural evolution. At some point we must put aside belief and continue moving forward. A fight to the death is not a viable option except for the delusional.”

The proverbial foot in mouth is not an easy situation for anyone. Easier for some harder for others. Once somebody is convinced they are on to something and build a model around it for their livelihood they are doomed to confirmation bias. They themselves become the antithesis of life. It is why to this day I refuse to put a price tag on sharing information and ideas. It is crookery. Dishonest. And egotistical. It is what got us into this mess in the first place. It’s like the FDA, maybe the founding intentions were good, but it evolved into a completely different monster, that is the nature of trying to protect people and/or inform them, bias almost always follows, and where there is bias there is destruction.

A lot of people who should be scientists and have the charisma and passion to change things don’t become them because they are disenchanted with the system in place. What cowards. If you want to change something you have to participate and help the system to evolve. You do your small part and help to change things for the future. Being reclusive from that hostile environment only demonstrates the compliant temperament to bowing down to authority.

Being critical and passive demonstrates one thing, it demonstrates the type of energy flowing through you. An energized organism is resistant and resilient to stress, thrives, and has the ability to fundamentally change things, be it themselves or their environment. For example, Dan Wich noted my ability to levitate chairs with large amounts of saturated fat.

For years I thought that avoiding stress was healthy, to my surprise, the opposite occurred and was demonstrated to me over and over again, during the most supposedly stress free portions of my life I suffered from the most debilitating health issues. But as I began to participate in life more and more, confronting adversity, my health, my spunk, my problem solving abilities, etc., all rebounded regardless of my diet, regardless of how much sleep I got, regardless of everything just short of exhausting myself, stress (thinking is stress for example) gives life purpose.

Best wishes,

8 Comments The Will to Survive

  1. Dan Wich

    A small defense of “Peat cultishness”: I think a lot of people on Peat-related groups (myself included) had unexpectedly good results with Peat’s ideas or find him incredibly prescient. That can make it seem like we’re shrugging off contrary evidence, when sometimes it’s just being tired of the health-evidence-debates that historically made us do dumb things :)

    But I see what you’re getting at in the big picture. Now please, Edward, let those poor chairs go home to their families.

  2. Jacob

    One thing that gets me about the “Peat cultishness”, so to speak, is that a lot of times I see “veteran” or “purist” type “Peatarians” misrepresenting his work, or fundamentally misunderstanding some of his basic premises.

    I remember one time someone asked if it was ever a good idea to purposefully decrease one’s metabolism, and a couple long time Peat followers said Dr. Peat claimed that it (slowing the metabolism) would have therapeutic uses, especially when one can’t get adequate nutrition. I found that odd, and asked him myself, and the next day posted his response – “When marooned without food, waiting for rescue.” In other words, no, never. The same things happen with his ideas regarding serotonin, DHEA, and more.

    I particularly enjoy the last paragraph of this blog post. I have found that – despite major health problems – taking things head on and doing whatever I can to approach problems as best I can, seeking novelty, etc. has helped immensely in my current progress in life, wellness, and so forth.

  3. maria

    I appreciate what you are pointing at… I am guilty of avoiding the very System I want to see changed. Some events in my life that have seriously dampened the resilience of my energy as an organism. To recover, I have studied and have resolved many of my health problems through Peat’s work. I may be guilty as well of overreaching on finding personal equilibrium as some kind of answer while ignoring the System. I don’t think, however, that I am a coward, for holding back and not jumping into changing the system from within. I believe that it makes sense to think very creatively about how to thwart the system at it’s own game and beyond. For example, all the outcry and concern for Cecil the lion, who was recently killed by the greedy dentist, is likely to really change how these animals and other endangered animals are hunted. If you went to school to become a biologist/advocate who tried to work for decades within these bureaucratic countries to protect these animals, you would be helping. But, people who really understand the system see the golden opportunity, in this case, to thrust the cause forward at warp speed via social media.
    My point is that the things that might change the system will come from without, as well as within, perhaps from other disciplines, including the arts, or simply focused social pressure that is brought to bear on happenstance. The lumbering authoritarian network of scientists, schools, doctors, government and for profit companies all working together are too big and entrenched to fight straight forwardly. I’d like to hear more discussions amongst people who are thwarting the system creatively, even using ‘guerrilla’ tactics, and how they are joining in with others to do so from many angles and levels at once. So, while I didn’t become a passionate scientist and feel more at times like a gnat trying to bite an iron bull…I believe that I have raised a few eyebrows, and created a bit of pause, by helping others in my somewhat calculated subtle roundaboutness, to see that outsourcing ones health to experts (paraphrasing Danny Roddy) is done at considerable risk.

  4. Kyle

    Friedrich Nietzsche has a segment in Human All Too Human titled “The Blind Disciples” that seems to reflect almost exactly what you are upset with. It goes as follows: So long as one knows well the strength and weakness of one’s doctrine, one’s art, one’s religion, its power is still small. The disciple and apostle who has no eyes for the weaknesses of the doctrine, the religion, and so forth, dazzled by the aspect of the master and by his reverence for him, has on that account usually more power than the master himself. Without blind disciples the influence of a man and his work has never yet become great. To help a doctrine to victory often means only to mix it with stupidity that the weight of the latter carries off also the victory for the former.

  5. John Morton

    Edward, I totally agree with your point of view. Generally in academic world, and particullary for RP’s community. For the later, I have been thinking about that after hanging around RP’s forum and seeing the degree of blindness, sectarism, narrowness of mind, etc.

    I must say there’s a lot of people in RP’s community who are genuinely clever, helpful, and open minded. But then there’s a legion of fanatics reposting RP’s quotes or trying to explain the universe in terms of serotonin, etc.

    They also remind me all those old religious women that every 10 minutes of conversation they would quote the bible with the exact paragraph number and stuff. Ridiculous. They treat RP like a prophet. They don’t understand there’s SOMETHING out of those small RP boundaries. They’re fanatics.

  6. john

    Hey Edward, it’s John Lushefski–long time no talk. I’m surprised I didn’t know about your website earlier!

    I like this. It’s funny, because Peat is one of my absolute favorite health/nutrition writers. He goes into specifics, but his ideas with higher generality–leakiness, stress, shock, energy & structure–are what make him stand out. If he writes or says something about which I’m skeptical, I simply look into it further or discuss it with others; there’s no reason to “abandon” his work overall or find a new “guru.” However, it’s frustrating to have a conversation with others knowledgeable on his work, because, as you say, too many are fanatic followers. You want to continue learning, but you can’t learn much from people who refuse to question anything he claims.

  7. W.E.

    Amen, brother.


    I mean, yes. The irony of the RP forum is hard to miss. A close minded, chauvinistic and downright authoritarian bunch that has congregated to worship a man who has dedicated his life to studying women and the evolution of thought in a world of political interests. Oh yeah, and despite their guru’s insistence to avoid dietary dogma by prescribing a diet, they have devised one that is bound to restrict calories, increase stress and suppress the metabolism.


  8. Michael

    Edward, I wouldn’t be so quick to blame the RayPeatForum folks for how they act. Nature is aristocratic and it’s only natural to latch onto others greater in ability and understanding than ourselves, even if to a fault. Whom should be blamed are those that had the proper understanding of nutrition, but prioritized material and ego instead. Surely it is not some unfortunate coincidence how rapidly our access to good food has declined and access to poison increased. Just my 2c

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