Monday, March 24, 2014

“Ruined by ‘Experts” | Guest Post by Steven Mulraney

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I just finished reading The Art of Teaching by Jay Parini ( amazon affiliate link), and about two thirds in, this one line really stood out. It was:

A whole book could be written on the destructive power of masters, who drew innocent seekers into their orbit, only to destroy rather than enlighten them.”

Too many people, knowingly or not, use their status within a community to impose damaging nonsense onto people who are only just starting out. Whether it’s the “17 year old science guy” (17YOSG) who moderates a forum, and doesn’t understand science, or the older guy who is set in his (erroneous) ways.

The “keyboard warrior” 17YOSG has been given greater status over other people, and an air of authority. So, his positions are given the appearance of greater credence and disagreeing with him might come with negative consequences. This wouldn’t be a problem if he were open-minded, understood the subject-matter or had received the temperament that comes with ageing.

A recent example of this kind of person ruining conversation was when I made a post on a forum saying that a specific dietary supplement makes next to no difference in the long-term(a wildly controversial claim, I know). The resident “expert” came right out of the woodwork to vehemently disagree with me, saying that the (short-term) research done on the supplement paints a different picture.

I pointed out that most people are already very-likely covered as far as what the supplement helps with (a position heavily supported by other research), so it’s likely to yield no real benefit, and that real world observations further supports that claim. A great number of coaches don’t even have their athletes use the supplement, because they found 0 differences in the results… as expected.

The small intra-sessional impact of the supplement didn’t result in noticeably better long-term outcomes, because it only allowed trainees to perform slightly more volume*- something trainees usually do more than enough of already. If the 17YOSG actually knew that, and if he also knew that if something doesn’t line up with core science that it’s pretty suspect and needs further work to be done on it (even more-so if it’s exclusively promoted by a shady industry), he’d probably have the same position as me.

He was fed junk, didn’t have the means to self-right, and worst of all was passing that trash onto other people from his exalted dais. And, needless to say, he still holds his erroneous position as will most everyone else who’s introduced to it by him.

As for the older, possibly more established people, there’re a number of corrosive experts here. The most obvious of which being the snake-oil salesmen, or the “bros“. Those people are easy enough to spot and see the trouble with, so I won’t bother covering them here. Who I would like to cover, however, are the “online coaches”, who seem to be cropping up everywhere nowadays. There are competent online coaches, even fantastic ones, but some are absolute garbage.

Will McKnight, in 90 Days to Success in Consulting ( Amazon affiliate link), has a short list of things every respectable consultant should have, and you can use it as a means to filter out undesirables. A few of those things (if I remember right) are: a website, articles, testimonials, a contact page, and a listing of their credentials. You’ll note, an Instagram profile is not among these. If a coach is only available or known on Instagram, and can only sell their services based on pictures, you’ve likely found a bum.

If they can’t provide: evidence of their competence with ordinary natural trainees, a show of commitment to the profession of coaching, and articles which show their understanding of the subject matter, they should be avoided. Best case scenario: their advice will lead to less efficient progress. Worst case? Increased rate of injury or slow copy+paste responses to questions.

Obviously, there are more out there, but these were the ones I felt like covering today… So, questions? Comments? Other damaging people? Leave them below.

*more volume on particularly light sets.

Note : This post is not written by IG.