Sunday, 28 March 2010


Sooner or later all 'movements' tend to thrash themselves to death on the rocks. Like all groups that reach a maturation stage, paleo seems to be splintering. It happens in all activities.

Take sports. I like rock climbing. The mountaineers originally looked down on rock climbers (the latter being viewed as preparation for the former). Rock climbers split in to aid climbing and 'trad'. Trad-heads looked down on aid climbers (the 'whack and dangle' brigade). From the trad movement came sport climbing (with bolted routes and rehearsal of moves on the rock). Tradders preferred their own 'onsight' ethic. More recently has come the development of bouldering in to a unique discipline. Route climbers asked how anything so small as a boulder problem could be worthwhile.

In between have come several climbing shades of grey - preinspection of routes/working of climbs/pinkpointing, redpointing, headpointing, use of chalk, indoor climbing (is it 'real climbing' etc...) and competition climbing - which have all served to divide the sport at some level.

It is a natural consequence of maturation. As an idea, philosophy or movement becomes more mature, different themes are explored and ideas are mined to their logical conclusion (if not beyond). Sport, politics, science and religion all suffer from this to some degree.

I can see a signs of a similar split appearing in paleo. As people become more familiar with it, and have their own unique success, we get more gurus. Their way is the only way. Now me, I reckon we are all false prophets.

I don't blame these self anointed 'gurus' nor the more modest contributors who clearly do offer leadership in the paleosphere. There are plenty of people out there who are putting out fantastic information and this should be recognised. But the part of the problem is the desire of people who want to be lead. They want to follow paleo-by-numbers. They want to be told what to eat, when and how much. What exercise, when to do it and how much.

I bloody hate car-analogies. If you are driving a car, let's say some vintage sports car, would you contact the guy in a SUV behind you when to fill up with gas or when to change gear? Nope! You are going to respond to the needs of your own car not his. Your are going to watch your fuel gauge and listen to the revs of your own engine. You know the basics - your car needs gas and oil. Listen to the revs and change gear accordingly. When behind the wheel of your 'classic' don't be asking SUV-guy for details. Like I said I hate car analogies.


Chris said...

Good post.

The way paleo had gone at the moment is a bit weird. I think all the objectivist politics in particular is a bit dodgy.

Asclepius said...

Yep - it is going mainstream and that will bring on the business and money. Then you will mud-flinging of who or what actually is paleo. Someone will copyright it and then it will become as dysfunctional as all the other diet methodologies out there!

I can see it now "Weight Watchers Paleo". It will just become another choice/option alongside their CR diets.

Many people seem to over- complicate 'paleo' and want rigid rules to follow. I can't see why most folk cannot get most of the way there on just a few simple principles.

If you 'go paleo' and don't end up listening to your own body and your own instincts (your own 'instrumentation' if you like), you are doing it wrong. It should NOT be complicated.

Methuselah said...

I agree with you both. I feel much more comfortable with Paleo from an individualist (if such a word exists) perspective and find that the more commercialised it becomes and the more political it becomes the harder it is for people to see it as a truism as opposed to a fad or one of many viable options.

Asclepius said...

I like Cordain's dexcription of the imminent symposum of Ancestral Fitness as the 'Woodstock of Evolutionary Medicine'.

This event has such a fantastic list of speakers...but in the back of my mind I cannot help thinking about what happened to the Hippy dreams of 'societal transformation' that were expected to follow in the wake of Woodstock.

I hope Ancestral Fitness does not go the same way. Without the drugs and as long as it can be kept away from business, then maybe this is possible.