Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lewis Maharam - bullshitter of the week

And the bullshitter* of the week award goes to the medical director for the New York Road Runners, yes that one, the one that directs the New York City Marathon. Dr. Lewis Maharam won this prestigious award for this gem: “In 95 percent of the population or higher, running barefoot will land you in my office”. And what evidence does Dr. Maharam have to make this claim? None that is published. I suspect it was a gut feeling. The distal part. From the male of the species Bos taurus.

*"[a bullshitter's] eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose." - Harry Frankfurt, in his treatise On Bullshit.


  1. Technically, I think he's right. 95 percent of the population or higher (in the US at least) would get injured if they jumped straight into barefoot running.

    We spend our entire lives atrophying the muscles in our feet. If you are going to go barefoot, it's best to start easy and build up and not just jump into it.

    Of course, if they are smart about their build up, then they'll have much better luck and will do a better job avoiding his office.

  2. Technically, he's not right at all. It's an opinion based on an interpretation (not necessarily right or wrong) of some biomechanical data and some very simple physical models (hard=bad, soft=good). But it is an opinion backed up with zero, at least published, data.

    Ditto for your opinion. The whole entire life story makes sense but that's it. It's no basis for stating what sounds like a quantitative fact. Sadly for my profession (physiology), lots of stuff that sounds good and makes sense, turns out to be false.