One of my favorite websites for resources on ancestral living is Mark’s Daily Apple. Mark Sisson is a 63-year-old former long-distance runner with the body of a Michelangelo sculpture animated to compete in the Olympics (the original ones). He has a very engaging and humorous writing style, and he is no slouch in the research department. On top of this, his “Primal” approach has always seemed to emphasize a traditional approach to life, emphasizing raising children according to ancestral principles—most importantly, getting them away from iPads and screens. This combination has always made him my go-to guy for interesting research on dietary specifics, like rice comparisons, varieties of sweet potatoes, and resistant starch.
Let me cover some of the good points of his exemplary website before I utterly destroy him. There’s a lot of great information on there from several solid years of pure enlightenment before this year’s sudden turn to the darkside of progressivism, corporate apologism, and now transhumanism.
Mark’s Radical Take on Cardio
Some of my greatest inspiration and deepest convictions about ancestral health have come from his unconventional advice against chronic cardio. One of his greatest ‘HIITs’ was this article called “A Case Against Cardio,” which I’ve referenced several times in my attempts to derail what I call “the Cardio Conspiracy.” Mark gets a lot of flack for this advice, and he’s even walked (or jogged) it back a bit over the last several years since his first article on the subject, now conceding that steady-state cardio in small amounts is alright.
His points can be summarized as follows (from the original article):
The benefits of low-level aerobic work (walking, hiking, cycling, swimming):
– increases capillary network (blood vessels that supply the muscle cells with fuel and oxygen)
– increases muscle mitochondria
– increases production of fat-burning and fat-transporting enzymes
– more fun, because you can talk with a partner while doing it
The benefits of interval training (sprinting in short intense bursts)
– increases muscle fiber strength
– increases aerobic capacity (work ability)
– increases muscle mitochondria (the main energy production center in muscle)
– increases insulin sensitivity
– increases natural growth hormone production
The costs of chronic (repetitious) mid- and high-level aerobic work
– requires large amounts of dietary carbohydrates (SUGAR)
– decreases efficient fat metabolism
– increases stress hormone cortisol
– increases systemic inflammation
– increases oxidative damage (free radical production)
There is some discrepancy even in his own writings on what constitutes “chronic cardio.” In his article encouraging low-level activity, he does allow for up to “a medium cardio workout at the gym.” It seems people in his comments and fellow Paleo gurus like Robb Wolf often try to run with this and are suddenly reinstituting the tyranny of the treadmill jog as “a solid low-level base” for higher-intensity activity. I much prefer the philosophy of Dave Asprey, who has no desire whatsoever to put you on a treadmill in his streamlined and appealingly “lazy” biohacker approach to fitness. Dave would even say you don’t have to work out. That dude is hardcore.
I know it might seem ridiculous for me to favor someone who identifies himself as a biohacker over someone who promotes “Primal” living. The reason I do so is because I have heard Dave say that he will not incorporate technology into his own body, he strongly supports an epigenetic approach to health, and is quite opposed to GMOs according to all of his interviews and blogs. All of this while being known as the Silicon Valley “biohacker” guy. Pretty impressive, whereas Mark’s approach is supposed to engender all things natural and organic, yet he drops articles like this and doesn’t even hold sacred what you would remotely expect him to.
Here’s Dave’s first interview of Mark Sisson:
I’m more inclined to take the extreme view it seems Mark presented in the original article, because every time I jog for more than 2 minutes, my heart does weird things and my back starts to hurt. I’m prone to inflammation. It’s just that particular movement—where you try to keep your heart rate in a “target zone” for a specified amount of time—that I have a real problem with. It’s a mentality based on bad science, which Mark laid out so well in his chronic cardio series. I don’t feel bad advising against it even if I end up being wrong about it someday, because the benefits you can get from a 15-20–minute “safe” jogging session are surpassed four- or fivefold by a brief, intense HIIT session. Also the benefits from the enduring movement of a jogging session are most likely matched or exceeded in a low-impact walk, bike ride, or hike of a distance of your choice. And for those activities, if you decide to track your heart rate, I would try and stay on the low end of the 55-75% target. Then you can really start to tear it up with some sprints or weightlifting once or twice a week—HIIT style.
When Things Started to Get a Little Weird on “the Apple”
What I always feared about this movement—this Paleo/Primal/natural health/ancestral health thing we do—is that the leaders and luminaries in it would lose their vision. That somehow all of these visionaries, canaries, prophets, and gurus basically telling you how you’ve been lied to all your life—that butter’s actually good for you, and grass-fed red meat is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet—would suddenly partner up with Monsanto and start telling you to go back to McDonald’s, count your calories, and get back on that treadmill. What a nightmare scenario.
Well, that hasn’t happened, but by little increments and little betrayals, it happens all the time in the alternative health world. There are actual shills out there that are trying to undermine the message of this radical upheaval in nutritional awareness, who claim to be trolling you in the name of science, reason, and peer-reviewed studies. Now I’m not saying Mark has whole-hog signed up for Monsanto Shillbucks or anything, but there have been some potentially shill-level offenses he’s been having a dalliance with lately.
Recently, Mark Sisson posted an article “revisiting” the question of GMOs called “Is Conventional Wisdom About GMO Safety Correct?” He starts by applying the term ‘conventional wisdom’ to the general opinions and talking points on GMOs commonly shared in the alternative health community. Already my shill sensors are starting to chirp. If it’s the ‘alternative’ crowd, it’s automatically not conventional wisdom, Mark. When you say something like this, you’re just generalizing your subculture and trying to set yourself apart from it (perhaps in an attempt to be edgy?)
He then went on to go point for point expanding in a very intelligent “Mark” way on each and every section of the Monsanto shill talking points playbook. I know these talking points very well, because I had run-ins with several carbon copies of these biotech apologists when I did a 24-hour Twitter-based troll of Monsanto with the hashtag #trollMonsanto (look in the comments section for some of the angles they employ). My plan with that was to fight fire with fire and just inundate them with memes and Truth about their harmful products. At first, I thought I was going to get some serious friction, because they started coming out of the woodwork on the page where I posted my plan to troll, and then again on Twitter a couple days before.
On game day, none of the trolls came out to play, and nobody really joined in the fun from our camp either. Probably a good strategy on their part just to ignore it. But during the pre-game tweet volleys, I learned a lot about their repeated tactics of defeating the major “anti-GMO lobbyist” arguments against cloned food, as well as how they demonize Big Organic and dismiss them as competitors that employ their own misinformation. It was literally like being on the line with an outsourced customer service rep for Monsanto reading from a manual on how to deal with a peeved customer’s specific complaints.
So, needless to say, it really hurt me to see Mark go down this path, partaking in shenanigans like equating the traditional practice of selective breeding to the nufangled use of cross-species gene transfer. He also pished the concern of genetically programmed Bt toxins in corn that Mercola and pretty much everyone else in the organic-adhering community had established. The only concession he made in the “anti” column was as follows:
I worry about the Roundup-Ready gene allows farmers to spray willy nilly. I worry about it ending up in my food and, ultimately, my body. More than anything, I worry about the effect it might have on my gut bacteria.
To me, this is simply not enough for someone who is supposed to be an example, a leader in the natural health movement. Drastic measures need to be taken against a company that willy nilly incorporates dramatic shifts in the very nature of our food supply, on a global scale. I have personally been extremely harmed in the gut department by GMO corn, wheat, and soy, so I take immense issue with this particular epic fail from Mark’s Daily Apple.
Perhaps this explains why Mark’s Primal Mayonnaise made me feel so bad. Though it’s quite delicious and doesn’t use soybean/vegetable/canola oil, it also doesn’t use purely organic ingredients. Since he seems to have no compunction consuming GMOs himself, why would he be concerned with incorporating cloned food into his own products? If I were you, I would steer clear. What a ridiculous move on the part of someone involved in a community of individuals who with good reason are increasingly educating themselves and rightly concerned over the insidious dangers of GMOs.
Mark Runs Interference for Corrupt Telecomm Industry (EMFs)
Furthering his journey on the train to full-blown skeptard, Mark Sisson came out in defense of EMFs. He managed to point out some areas of concern, but from what I can tell he generally cherry-picked studies that introduced “doubt” of the harmful effects of EMFs on humans.
To his credit, he did concede a few concerns about cell phones based on the studies, and suggested limiting their use in the following ways:
- Check the amount of radiation your phone emits. Get one with a low rating if you’re worried.*
- Put your phone on airplane mode when it’s in your pocket or up against your body
- Don’t leave your phone next to your head, or up against your body when you sleep.
- Pregnant women, keep the phone away from your belly.
- Use earbuds, headsets, or the speaker to talk.
- Take breaks.
- Limit or avoid screen time for kids
*Not an effective recommendation from my experience. SAR ratings aren’t the issue in my opinion, and they don’t accurately measure how the waves are affecting you.
This list of recommendations is what a hardcore EMF avoider would call milquetoast. Considering the dire implications of an ever-increasing amount of radiation in our environment from the proliferation of these technologies, his tone was far too casual. In general, what his article amounted to was license for his followers to continue blithely using these increasingly dangerous technologies, with little to no recommended intervention for the safety of them or their families. Among things being potentially overstressed in the rich landscape of Paleo/Primal/Ancestral/Weston A. Price followers, EMF from wireless devices is not one of them by my reckoning. If this article urged them to exercise caution in this department, these decidedly more aware followers of Mark’s would most certainly begin to experience much more plentiful benefits in tandem with his Primal-living methods.
The summary of his take on it was encapsulated in this statement: “I suspect there’s something going on. I just don’t think it’s worth stressing about.” Not good enough, Mark. The acceleration of this technology is unbridled, and there are many, many people suffering out there, despite their portrayal as whining luddites afraid of progress.
There is also a clear agenda to “normalize” regulations worldwide on the proliferation of EMFs and their allowable limits. All of the Western regulatory agencies, like the FCC, want the limits to be based on the fallacious concept that microwaves aren’t harming you unless they are heating your tissues. This intentionally misleading assertion is the antiquated basis for all regulations in our country since 1996, while forward-thinking European countries, and surprisingly Russia, are basing their standards on more subtle biomarkers of subjects being exposed to EMFs (heart rate is the easiest one to look at). Some agencies and researchers stateside have been lobbying the FCC for a reevaluation of these standards in the U.S. However, they are obviously not making much headway, considering the assertive declarations of chairman Tom Wheeler about the need for every square mile of the country to be lit up with wireless radiation.
Yeah, because the U.S. needs to be a giant wireless “hotspot.” [sarc]
I’m not going to mince words here. This is nothing short of the completion of a complete technocratic takeover that perfects a grid of surveillance over everything you do, and everything you touch (read: the Internet of things). It will also further undermine your health to a point where you’ll be very hard-pressed to recover without some kind of safe refuge where you can dwell, and most importantly sleep. That’s how radiation, whether it’s Gamma or microwave, works. It doesn’t kill you in a snap (unless of course you have a pacemaker). You generally suffer and die slowly. I’m not completely sure if these higher frequencies (up in the double and triple digits, ~14–200 GHz) will be better or worse, but thus far the levels of radiation created by advancing cell phone and router technology have generally increased, thus worsening the effects on blithely ignorant users of the technology.
Mark has clearly for the most part disregarded these concerns. These are concerns that happen to affect me personally and many individuals I’ve communicated with, on a conscious, immediate level. We feel these effects, which are well-documented, very distinctly. I believe everyone is experiencing ongoing negative effects, too, mostly in lowered immunity and increased permeability of the gut. They just do not realize it, because they have their phone on in their pocket or on their nightstand and with them 24/7. I assure you, just about anyone will notice an immediate difference in their health upon reducing exposure to EMFs in the 900 MHz – 2.4 GHz spectrum. Then flip it back on again for a day and compare how you feel. That’s how I did it.
That said, let me just encourage everyone reading this to keep cell phone use to an absolute minimum (literally only for emergencies), use a wired router in your home, “opt out” of smart meters (though you never opted in), use MapQuest instead of a GPS, and don’t use baby monitors. You especially do not want to expose your poor babies/children to this devastating radiation.
My Response to Mark’s CRISPR Article
Recently, Mark redeemed himself completely [sarc] by writing this article about a nifty gene-manipulating technology which is now available to the public to mess around with on a small scale. In his best impression of one of the “experts” in the world of the classic science-fiction fable Gattaca, Mark talks about the exciting possibility of one day being able “to edit genes so that we never have to exercise, watch what we eat, or worry about our health ever again.” Some criticism of the prospects of such power at our fingertips is provided, but ultimately, for a guy who is the author of “the Primal Blueprint” lifestyle, he seems a little too excited about this burgeoning transhumanist technology.
I responded very clearly how I thought about his article in the comment section as follows:
“What the heck happened to you, Mark? First you’re defending GMOs, then you’re questioning whether EMFs are harmful, and now you’re a transhumanist? Wasn’t it just last year you were telling Dave Asprey that you’re a luddite? I don’t like where your site and your personal philosophy are going. I don’t even think of you as the same guy anymore.
DIY CRISPR kits for some kid in his basement? How is this positive? Look what (probably irreparable) damage GMOs have already done to the environment. Unbridled genetic experimentation is going to be a dystopian disaster. You can’t just brush that off because you know a term like cyberpunk. That’s a real concern.”
(This scored me 13 thumbs ups in a 24-hr period btw. 🙂
Some guy named Chris’s response:
Why wouldn’t you ultimately want to embrace technology that could eventually eliminate diseases that cause immeasurable suffering worldwide? Technology and innovation always have the potential to produce horrific outcomes. As tech advances, we’re all going have to put a little faith in humankind that we won’t obliterate ourselves. It’s almost happened before. That’s why there’s a call for an international ethics committee for CRISPR Cas9.
You obviously read Mark’s site. He’s a realist. If you want to live in a first-world industrial society, embracing technology is usually the best approach. You don’t have to live it. But you have to learn to live among it, otherwise the divide between the two groups becomes wider and real problems arise.
DIY kits just further the hacking and DIY community that’s led to some of the best products and discoveries. Who knows what those home DIY CRISPR hackers will discover—perhaps a targeted method to cure cancer…
My Response to Chris
I can give you a million reasons not to embrace technology and gene editing as a cure to “immeasurable suffering worldwide:”
Said suffering was mostly caused by “brilliant technological innovations” such as hits like:
1. Pesticides like Agent Orange, DDT, and glyphosate
2. Abuse of antibiotics and oversanitization that have thrown the human microbiome out of whack (despite their benefits in saving lives)
3. Nuclear radiation from atomic weapons and nuclear power plants (from Hiroshima to Fukishima)
4. Microwave radiation (radar, microwave ovens, cell phones, routers, etc.)
5. Fluoridation of the water supply, among many other pollutants that make tap water unsafe
6. Countless industrial chemicals polluting our water supply, once again making tap water undrinkable and many bodies of water untouchable
7. Countless pharmaceuticals known to kill hundreds of thousands of people a year
8. Genetically modified clones in the food supply that have caused damage to the microbiome and possibly the DNA of humans and animals worldwide
So you think getting in there and jiggering even more with the fundamental code of life is going to fix the damage we’ve done? It’s like a hilarious comedic routine of the kids getting a frisbee stuck in a tree, then throwing a tennis racket to knock the frisbee out, followed by a basketball to unhinge the racket, the neighbor’s cat to free the basketball, a small child to retrieve the cat, and so on and so forth. Or the elderly matron who accidentally ingested a fly? Let’s skip to the punchline: rumor has it she swallowed a horse and well—she died of course.
If you and I are future archetypes of these two approaches, then that’s where the two groups already are inevitably going to diverge. I thought this so-called Primal movement was about reestablishing our original relationship with nature and the environment, and emulating as much as possible the lifestyle that humans have naturally developed to effect the healthiest, happiest coexistence possible with the Earth. But what you’re suggesting is more of the same selfish attitude we’ve had in these last several resource-pillaging and environment-modifying centuries, and it will only effect further separation from it as we appropriate more and more discrete materials from it with ham-fisted tunnel vision focused on our own advancement.
I’m not an environmentalist, either. I’m not saying to put the environment first, really. I just recognize that almost all of the things that are best for humans just so happen to look like environmentalism. I refuse to ignore that any longer.
So I think that just about covers it. Turn for turn, Mark is just disappointing us in the true “Primal” movement by putting out junk like this that involves Progressive ideas—the same pile of rubbish that told us GMOs would “feed the world” (as if the world doesn’t know how to feed itself) and that atomic weapons were a good idea. This mentality is like that human inclination to climb a mountain just because it’s there, but then suddenly having the impulse to take it much further by blowing it up, then hewing it into a robot that does our laundry and grants our wish for eternal life. And then you realize by doing this you’re really screwing up water sources, affecting continental drift, and volcanic activity. Sooner or later, you must realize you’re just messing with forces you don’t understand.
I say let’s stick to the basics and just try and figure out how to replenish the soils, fix leaky gut in millions of individuals with autoimmune disease, and reverse worldwide oceanic pollution from plastics, pharmaceuticals, and heavy metals. We’re getting way ahead of ourselves. Once we’ve rebalanced and established a proper relationship with nature, then maybe we can look into some more ambitious territory. But even that needs to have some serious ground rules and stipulations, among them being an embargo on tampering with the source code that gives us life.