#20: Nick Tumminello – BS Detection & How To Think

Nick Tumminello of Performance University

This is episode 20 of Evil Sugar Radio. In this episode, we interview Nick Tumminello. We had planned to talk about general strength and fitness concepts, but Nick dropped a bomb on us with this “How to be scientific” interview. This is seriously better than anything we had planned, so we let it roll.

This interview basically covers how to detect bullshit. How do you evaluate scientific claims? How does the scientific method work? What are the major problems with health and fitness claims made by gurus and how can you challenge them?

As always, if you’re enjoying the show, please rate us in iTunes.

Episode 20 Overview

Here’s an overview of what we’ll be talking about in this episode:

  • About Nick Tumminello and Performance University
  • How do we detect bullshit?
  • How do we know who to trust with so much conflicting and confusing info? How do we filter the good from the bad?
  • It’s not what you think but how you think
  • Good reasons and bad reasons for believing
  • Why do you believe what you believe?
  • In science, there are experts, but no authorities
  • Is there a hierarchy of reliability in information?
  • How do we assess information?
  • Burden of proof
  • Falsifiability
  • Negative evidence
  • Logical consistency
  • What about scientific consensus?
  • Is the person claiming to have secret knowledge that no one else knows?
  • How does this claim line up with our knowledge of reality?
  • Find out “How can I be wrong?”
  • Do people need to read studies and the references?
  • Is there an underlying element of human psychology that doesn’t like not having answers?
  • Look for Strength Training for Fat Loss coming in March

Show Notes

Nick Tumminello’s Performance University

Why Smart Trainers Believe Stupid Things

Intro music from Baba Brinkman’s Revenge of the Somatic. Purchase any of Baba’s music at http://bababrinkman.bandcamp.com/

Let us know what you think in the comments


  1. Nick, do you have a riff with Eric Cressey? You seem to retort things that can be found in EC’s blog quite a bit. What’s the deal there…a respectful competition amongst peers or a real rivalry? Care to explain?

    • Hi Chris,

      Many thanks for taking the time to listen to the podcast.

      To answer you question: I have absolutely NO personal “riff” with anyone in my profession as this what I do; it’s not who I am. And, on a personal note: Eric C is a personal friend of mine.

      That said, when I apply the tool of critical analysis – the tools I described in this podcast – I find unreliable conclusions that both myself and my colleagues (including those who are my personal friends) have come to to about certain things, and, in doing so, I also find reliable conclusion have been made about other things.

      I’m glad you’re already using the intellectual tools discussed in this podcast because your comment demonstrates that you’re already connecting things you’ve heard (in this case stuff Eric C has said) to the rules of reason, skepticism and science. And, when you notice that they don’t lawfully align with one another, there is certainly a “riff.” A riff between a claim(s) made and the evidence to support it.

      If you go through my own site, I can assure you that you’ll find these types of riffs. In fact, I recently dedicated a entire post to some of My Mistakes: http://nicktumminello.com/2013/08/exploring-my-errors-stuff-i-was-wrong-about/. And, that post was nothing personal to myself :-), it’s called being intellectually honest and acting as a true professional should.

      You see, we are all human, and, therefore subject fallibility in our everyday reason, which can lead us all to make unreliable conclusion from unreliable epistemological processes. And, we only make collective progress when we 1) understand the difference between personal attacks and challenging ideas because 2) people deserve dignity; ideas do not deserve dignity (i.e. no sacred cows). And, when we can’t separate personal attacks form challenges to our ideas, we become irrational because our we’re reacting from a place of emotion, instead of replying from the basis of evidence – that’s what children do. Not to mention, when we do that, we become the embodiment of “closed-minded,” which allow ourselves to continue to hold (false) beliefs that we may not have good reasons to hold.

      So, the take away from this is:

      – The best tools we have for sorting out the good ideas from the bad one are evidence and argument (i.e. critical analysis).

      – When we find that a claim or idea given by someone doesn’t hold up to critical analysis, we must show them the respect to point this out so they don’t continue to go on holding a false belief. And, they must also give us this same respect in return.

      – We must be mature enough to understand that challenges of ideas are NEVER personal attacks – if we cannot be mature enough about this, then we belong at the kids table and aren’t worthy of holding any professional position – and humble enough to welcome challenges to our ideas, and rational enough to admit when we were wrong when provided the evidence to do so.

      Note: When we look at challenges to ideas as personal attacks, we only create false equivalencies (e.g. all ideas are not equal based – some used reliable epistemologies and some didn’t) (i.e. an astronomer vs. an astrologer: the astronomer uses reliable processes, the astrologer does not, so they don’t provide equivalent views on space), also we allow ourselves to dismiss the criticism without meeting the burden of addressing them, which make it much easier for bad ideas to flourish.

      Good luck with your training and with using the intellectual tools!
      Skepticism is a virtue!


  2. A great interview. I look forward to the possibilities of working together in the future.


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