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I don't think I have sufficient reason to engage this line of questioning. Have a good day, Kragen.



Well, okay, maybe you haven't published anything yet. That's okay, we all have to start somewhere. But, when you do, here's a tip: your paper is overwhelmingly likely to get rejected if you title it something like “The top 19 myths of 2019 about efficient rank-order filtering.” :)


Context is essential in headline writing. You must consider your audience and the goal. Here, the title of paper plays a very different role to the title of a blog post.

The blog post example is designed to attract a specific audience. Clearly, you are not a member of that audience. However, that does not prevent them from writing articles which would be of interest to you. It also does not mean that the audience doesn't exist, however small you believe it to be.


It seems that you agree with me, and disagree with sachdevap, that not EVERYONE writes dishonest clickbait headlines in order to get attention. The truth of that proposition is not dependent on what audiences I may or may not be a member of.


I do think "everyone" was hyperbole, yes.

However, I'm unsure why clickbait has to be dishonest. In the example the headline was clearly written to attract people with (or susceptible to) a preconceived belief (which the article argues against). Those people are probably more susceptible to the clickbait.

Could you elaborate on the dishonesty?


What, you mean “The top 19 nutrition myths of 2019”? Well, declaring a belief a “myth” is a pretty nasty rhetorical move—it implicitly claims that those who believe it are merely ignorant pagans whose beliefs are absurd, a claim that is only rarely justifiable, and certainly not in this case. And in what sense are these myths “top”? Did they take a poll? Because I don't see any evidence of that in the article. It looks like they just took 19 popular beliefs and made a list. (Why 19? Because odd numbers tested better in A/B clickbait tests over the last several years.) They don't even seem to be in any kind of rank order, with the #1 and #19 items being relatively minor beliefs.

I say “beliefs” rather than “misconceptions” because in fact many of them are true under some circumstances, or still under active scientific debate.

Belief #1, that protein is bad for your kidneys and bones, is true of kidneys in people who are prone to certain kinds of kidney stones https://kidneystones.uchicago.edu/does-too-much-protein-incr... and the debate about bones seems to still be open. Also, excess protein is definitely very bad for you if you have kidney dysfunction, but the danger isn't always specifically to your kidneys in that case. Probably these should have been mentioned in the article, as similar caveats are in items #4 and #6.

Beliefs #2 and #3 are broadly false but an important caveat is that a diet that contains high levels of macronutrients necessarily contains a lot of calories, which are bad for you. There's still a scientific consensus that high-caloric-density foods—things like bread, mayonnaise, butter, and ice cream, as opposed to lean meat and cabbage, increase your risk of obesity and cardiovascular diseases. (Presumably this is because their lower sensation of satiety per calorie results in overeating, but such explanations are still not scientifically solid.)

Belief #6 is correct for people with salt-sensitive hypertension, as the article notes.

And so on. Most of the “myths” are more accurately “oversimplifications” or “overgeneralizations” or just “debatable”, although a few are really without foundation. But telling that truth in the headline wouldn't attract as many readers, so they packed two or three lies into a seven-word headline. They should get some kind of prize for data compression algorithms or something!


You should try reading the full article (the myths article links to an article that expounds on each myth) before accusing us of being oversimplified.

As for the myths themselves - we've received over 50,000 emails from our users over the past 8 years. I'm pretty confident we can state those as myths that remain persistent in the nutrition space.


As I think I said, the article body is fairly decent despite the occasional missed caveat; my thesis was merely that the headline is false, and intentionally so. I haven't read the whole article, but as you can see from my comment above, I did read a substantial fraction of it. That's how I know the falsehoods in the headline are not mere errors.

I did not accuse you of being oversimplified, and I'm sorry that wasn't clear. I said that beliefs like “salt is bad for you” are not so much myths as they are oversimplified, since indeed there is (for example) a very significant population with salt-sensitive hypertension. The thing that is oversimplified is the (broadly incorrect) belief held by many people, the belief you are arguing against. Since it contains an important element of truth, it is dishonest to simply call it a “myth”.

I have little doubt that these beliefs remain persistent. My thesis there is not that they aren't persistent; it is that they probably aren't the “top 19”, as the headline claims, presumably falsely.

I don't expect you to change your headline-writing practices, since clearly the dishonest strategy that produced that headline was chosen intentionally, but I do want to make sure that you don't misunderstand my critique. I think it's kind of a shame that you're throwing away credibility with dishonest headlines, intrusive interstitial newsletter ads, and so on, when the articles themselves are so valuable. But I'm fighting my own battles, not yours.


AhmedF has posted a truly remarkable response to this post, one I think is very relevant to assessing the integrity and trustworthiness of his web site, a response that has unfortunately been flagged into oblivion. It's quoted here in full for the benefit of those without showdead turned on:

Just wow.

> since clearly the dishonest strategy that produced that headline was chosen intentionally, but I do want to make sure that you don't misunderstand my critique.

It's people like you that put a bad name on engineers.

> The thing that is oversimplified is the (broadly incorrect) belief held by many people, the belief you are arguing against. Since it contains an important element of truth, it is dishonest to simply call it a “myth”.

It's a myth if it's preached when it does not apply to a majority.

Yikes. I wonder how fresh and clear the air is up there on your high horse.


I actually write zero of the content on Examine.com because I'm not qualified to do so. Which you would know if you actually looked at the site instead of arguing in bad-faith with a dash of superiority complex.

Unlike you, I try to separate my opinions from facts.


What's your role?




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