How scientific an explanation of Paleo reasoning for why this diet works do you need or expect? I have noticed a lot of extremely knowledgable people on this site, with some complicated explanations for why certain ingredients are bad or good, or why a particular form of, say magnesium, works better than another.
This is great, but sometimes I am lazy and content enough to accept someone like Kurt Harris's or Patrik's explanation of something rather than totally 'getting it' science-wise.
How about you?
I look for three things: 1) Would Grok have eaten it? 2) What do the scientific studies say? (I consult Robb Wolf's blog and see what he says. He's science-savvy, and I trust his opinion. Robbwolf.com) 3) What happens when I omit/include it in my diet for a few weeks?
I never look at just scientific studies alone. There's always some zeitgeist for or against a food and who knows how the science will shift in 20 years. Soy has lots of reported benefits, but I don't eat it because my ancestors wouldn't have. Wheat has phytates and causes leaky gut, but I don't eat it because I feel better when I don't. All three questions are necessary.
When I learned I was gluten intolerant I did a lot of research into diet/health. I love to read and research, however I am right-brained, and I do not have a background in science or medicine. A lot of what I read or tried to read was way above my knowledge base. Good Calories, Bad Calories was the deal-breaker for me. Although the book was an extremely tedious read for me, I learned a lot. No, I don't agree with everything written in the pro-Paleo camp. But Taubes book made sense. So the next step was to apply it.
Most people don't have the time or the attention span to read a lot. Everyone wants a quick fix, even some who are into science. I hardly ever recommend Taubes book to the average person who just wants to feel better or lose weight. I usually recommend Kurt Harris' 12 step plan, or Mark Sisson's book. I suggest that they try the diet it for a month.
So I suppose in answer to your question: For me, a non-scientific, but inquisitive person, give me some science and some logic, plus personal experience. When new scientific data comes out, I try to keep up with it, but it's not my field of expertise, so I can't comprehend as much as some do here. But that's cool because the improvement in my overall health and well-being confirms the small amount of science I've absorbed. I hope that makes sense.
Read, consider, try, feel, record, consider, retry, etc. Like quite a few people who have found their way to paleo, I'm dealing with some chronic health stuff that was in all likelihood caused by the SAD, and for which mainstream medicine has suboptimal answers. Finding stuff that might help and trying it, in a way that makes sense, is part of the deal.
Like this: "Hm. Kurt posted something about Vit D. I haven't tried that one, but I dimly recall that a friend of mine has and it worked out for her." read *Google* read "Hm, intriguing results from some of the studies and sound logic, and what seems to be very low downside risk. I'll try 2000 IU a day and see what happens." try "Hm, nothing bad happened, let's up it to 7000." try "Oh hey, I feel better despite weeks of crappy cold gray weather. Win."
I'm happy with it since I've read the supporting studies...
http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com is a good place to get free studies that are often about low-carb. Also, http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com and http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com discuss studies. You can use those blogs to get references.
I like a little of both I have to say. Sometimes my gut instinct says, 'That was not around in Paleolithic times, so therefore what are we doing to ourselves by eating it/doing it?' and other times I really need the science to tell me WHY?
I am not a scientist nor a scholar, I am a mother who has been searching for a very long time for a better way to 'be'. Sometimes it feels like groping around in the dark, like trial and error and the science - in some cases - can be really contradictory and confusing, like 'information overload' when I get into heavy research about something.
In light of this, I like to keep up with what people are saying about it, through discussions like these. Sometimes it can make things just a little clearer and hanging out at a place like this means that I can pick up snippets of layman's science and listen to other people's experiences too. I think reading what other people have been through is sometimes just as valuable as scientific evidence. Together they are a powerful combination and when the experience gets backed up by science, well then that is the EUREKA! moment.
I guess I won't try anything new until I have read at least some scientific evidence on the topic, some anecdotal evidence (discussion or opinion) and some historical /anthropological evidence about how pre-industrialized/agriculturalized people lived. I have to admit that it is the actual historical evidence that usually helps me make my final decision as to whether I accept the hypothesis or not.
But then, after all this I always listen to the last and most important judge - my body - in the form of emotional and/or physical gut feelings. My body is where the buck stops, regardless of science, history or word-of-mouth - period.