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18th October 2021

Your New Superpower: Clarity in a Sea of Mass- & Mis-Information

By Dr Daniel Owens, PhD SENr

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to pull together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."

- Edward O. Wilson

What is the big picture?

As we invest more time and resources into ways to improve our health and wellness, the supply of educational products continues to grow. For instance, in 2021 the digital health space has seen revenue in nutrition apps projected to reach US $126.88m (GBP £92.7m). The overarching aim of these apps is to help people adopt favourable nutrition habits to subsequently improve their overall health and performance.

Whilst access to more information has the potential to empower us, poor quality information can have the opposite effect. As such, there must be clarity on what this information is actually doing (is every piece of information really benefitting you?).

Information and choice ‘overload’ can leave us feeling more confused and frustrated than it can empowered. At The Edge, a core part of our mission is to provide truth, clarity and simplicity in nutrition.

We combine our scientific expertise with our experience of supporting Champion athletes to empower others; helping you feel more in control of your nutrition choices through better understanding the information you read and how you can make best use of that information.

Why do you need to know about this?

Research suggests that we seek out information when we feel it will help us make better choices. Also, when we think the information will help us feel good and make sense of the world around us.

If you’re reading this blog, the chances are that you’re seeking out credible nutrition information that will help you make better decisions, make you feel good and ultimately help you to feel empowered. You’ve probably read other blogs, watched YouTube videos, downloaded apps or listened to podcasts for the same reason, however you may find the information you get from one source contradicts that of another. This begs the questions..

  1. How are you supposed to know what is right?
  2. Where should you get your information from?
  3. How do you know whether it is credible information?

It’s also important to know what information we wish not to receive so that we don’t unnecessarily complicating things. These are all important questions that we’ve likely asked ourselves, but many times we come up short.

Being aware that there is too much information out there is the first key step to refining how you receive your nutrition advice. Sometimes, it’s more beneficial not to keep seeking out more information, particularly if it doesn’t really serve any purpose. As I write this, I think of the times friends and family have asked my advice about niche areas of nutrition and fad diets but can’t tell me how they’re doing the basics correctly. They’d be much better off limiting information to trustworthy, impartial sources that educate and provide clarity on the fundamentals of healthy and sustainable nutrition habits.

The second key step is to be critical about information. The Edge approach is to filter and limit the information we consume in order to best inform our own decisions and those we take with our clients.

We empower those we support to make intelligent choices about their nutrition, health and performance by using a science based and research informed approach. We do this because our professional training has taught us that science allows us to make the most accurate recommendations built on the best information we have right now. With this approach, we provide information with a known level of certainty.

It might sound complicated to take a science and research informed approach but if done correctly it makes things much simpler. You will find that many sources of information simply don’t pass the ‘BS filters’ thus leaving you with fewer but higher quality options that you have more trust in.

What can be done about this?

As you navigate your way through the nutrition, health and wellness sphere, we encourage you to keep some simple questions in mind. We’re not suggesting that you sieve through peer-reviewed scientific journals but suggest to proactively question the information that you are consuming.

This will take some practice, but in the long run, it's time well invested in ‘your future self’ (and the future self of your significant others).

  1. Who is telling me this? Whilst credentials don’t always mean the information is accurate, a writer with recognised qualifications in their subject field and from a reputable university, research institute or business will likely be trained to write in a critical and balanced way.
  2. Is the information balanced? Does the writer simply give an opinion or is it a balanced perspective that is supported by science? Is it clear where the author sourced their information? High-quality posts will cite the original source of information. You’ll often see this in brackets following a statement (we use hyperlinks to take you directly to thesource of our information).
  3. Where is the information posted? If you found your information on social media, remember that social media is not regulated. Sadly, false information is likely to spread quicker than factual information, so it’s more important than ever to track down the original source of information. If you have clicked it on social media it’s good practice to check who wrote it and what the motive was for writing it (the perfect segue to our next point).
  4. What is the purpose of the information? It's easy to assume that there's no alternative motive than to provide trustworthy information that helps you live better. But consider that some authors intend to sell a product, an untested theory or idea that can distort the quality of their advice.

Instead of trying to make sense of every piece of information that comes your way, invest more time into finding high quality information sources. Through filtering the information you remove the junk. By removing the junk, you increase the quality. By increasing the quality you fast-track (favourable) impact.

Dr Daniel Owens, PhD SENr

Dan is our Lead on Strategic Development, Research and Innovation. He has worked as an academic for several years and published over 25 research articles in world-leading journals, alongside several book chapters. Dan’s primary role at The Edge is to develop innovative nutritional strategies that fuel winning performances; whether that be on the playing field, in the boardroom or within the home / family environment.

 

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