Energy Balance Pseudoscience and Causality Hoax (1/2)

(versión en español: pinchar aquí)

Let us assume that your family unit saves 300 euros/month, the difference between the 2000 euros you earn at your job and the 1700 euros that you spend.

Savings = incomeexpenses

300 = 20001700

The above equation is correct, but «maths» tell us nothing about why you’re saving that amount each month. Income, expenses and savings are just numbers I can observe, but unless I know how your family thinks, unless I know your interests and motivations, I will not understand why you are saving 300 euros per month. The real cause can not be deduced from the knowledge of incomes and expenses.

Your savings are determined by your incomes and expenses. If you have no incomes you can not save!

This is a fallacy because it deceives drawing conclusions from conditions in which your behavior would be different. Of course if you have no incomes you can not save, but that is not the situation that we are talking about. We are talking about a situation where your incomes are 2000 euros/month and in that case saving is not mathematically impossible nor unrealistic.

Your  savings are determined by your incomes and expenses

It is typical of pseudosciences to use ambiguous terms (misleading language). These terms are introduced in the arguments with one meaning but, without prior notice, they are used to imply a different one. What you save each month can be «determined» (meaning «calculated«) from the knowledge of incomes and expenses, e.g. in the same way that the expenses can be computed by using a mere subtraction of incomes and savings. But, without prior notice, «determined» stops meaning that and it deceitfully starts to imply that changes in certain parameters cause changes in others. We should notice the difference between the following two statements:

You save because your incomes are bigger than your expenses

What you save can be calculated from incomes and expenses

The first one is correct but the second one is not necessarily so.

Why are you saving 300 euros/month? Maybe it is because your goal is to buy a car in the middle term. Is it possible that without that goal in mind your expenses could simply raise and match your incomes? Is it possible that if you planned to have a big expense in the future, you would accordingly reduce your expenses and increase your savings? The reasons why you save may have nothing to do with the magnitude of your incomes and expenses, unless you think of particular or extreme cases that are quantitatively different from the case under discussion. You normally save for other reasons and you consequently adjust your expenses.

Of course, it is also a possibility for a family to pay no attention to how much they save each month. In the absence of control, in the absence of regulation, the savings would be indeed determined by the difference between incomes and expenses. It is not impossible, but it is just a particular case, one where the parameter of is unregulated. It is only a possibility that may or may not happen, not the will of gods.

Of course I am drawing an analogy with the pseudoscientific energy balance theory. The defenders of this stupid theory believe that their ideas derive from an inviolable law of physics, but the reality is that what they defend is the idea that if suddenly your family starts saving 400 euros/month instead of 300/month, to understand why this change happened what we need to study is what determines your incomes or what determines your expenses. They even build mathematical models based on that stupid idea to try to understand obesity, instead of studying the physiological processes of triglycerides’ absorption and release (lipogenesis and lipolysis). Common sense tells us that the reasons why you save now more money can not be understood by means of studying the symptoms of that change.

The factors that determine the body fat accumulation may have no direct effect on energy intake nor in energy expenditure. A mathematical model of obesity based on the energy balance equation is just pseudoscience.

You visited recently a friend who has been hospitalized and as a result of that experience you changed the amount of money that you save per month. But, according to the «economic balance» theory, that visit can’t play a relevant role in your savings because it barely affected your expenses (a couple of euros of public transportation) and that visit doesn’t affect your salary

Even if we made a very detailed mathematical model of what determines the changes in incomes and expenses, we would be modeling the symptoms, not the phenomenon of interest, that would be the savings and the real causes of its behaviour. That mathematical model would be pure pseudoscience.

An imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure will lead to a change in body weight (mass) and body composition (fat and lean masses). (source)

For example, the incidence of obesity and its co-morbidities has increased at a rapid rate over the past two decades. These conditions are characterized by changes in body weight (mass) that arise from an imbalance between the energy derived from food and the energy expended to maintain life and perform work.(source)

Mathematical models are beginning to provide a quantitative framework for integrating experimental data in humans and thereby help us better understand the dynamic imbalances of energy and macronutrients that give rise to changes in body weight and composition (source)

Obesity could be due to excess energy intake or decreased energy expenditure (source)

for insulin to cause fat gain, it must either increase energy intake, decrease energy expenditure, or both (source)

The fraud of the energy balance theory does not lie in the maths, it lies in the causality. The hoax is not the violation of universal laws, since the energy balance theory does not violate those laws, but the unwarranted assumption that the adipose tissue’s behaviour is passive or not physiologically regulated. Note that we know that there is a physiological regulation of the adipose tissue (see).

Why does no one propose to study muscle hypertrophy by using the energy balance pseudoscience? Is that so because the energy balance theory does not apply to energy accumulated in muscle mass? Is to eat more than you expend the way imposed by the laws of physics to increase our muscle mass? (see)

This is the end of the first part of this article. Read the second part.

Further reading:

  1. Vicente

    If every day you ingest 395 grams of food instead of 400 your body functions with normality.

    But according to the energy balance pseudoscience, if every day you ingest 400 grams of food, your adipose tissue can not decide to store 5 g/d, because it violates universal laws and your body would starve if only 395 grams of food are available for its functions.

  2. Vicente

    –My mathematical model demonstrates that the insulin levels do not influence the fat mass gain dynamics
    –How have you modelled the dependence of lipogenesis and lipolysis with insulin on adipocytes?
    –The model does not consider insulin nor lipogenesis/lipolysis. As I said, they are not important.

  3. Vicente

    Obesity is the results of a chronic imbalance beween energy intake and energy expenditure, which is also the cause of muscle hypertrophy, giantism and a child’s growth.

    The first law of thermodynamics can not be violated.

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