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We Deserve Tim Ferriss
August 28, 2011 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Every generation gets the self-help guru that it deserves
posted by vidur (141 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
While the link quote is taken directly from the article (which is certainly interesting), the title is pretty strongly editorial.
posted by lumensimus at 11:10 PM on August 28, 2011


Most of you may deserve him, but I like to think I'm better than that.

And you'll see why when I publish my book: "Lie, Cheat and Steal Your Way to Success"*

*a title I stole from here
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:19 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


*get off my lawn*



*not my generation
posted by infini at 11:19 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like the title. It's provocative, and if you take offense to it then it is successful.

Ferriss is a huckster, who has the good sense to seem like an interesting person even if he is just a schill. I'm curious how he will be perceived (or if) in 20 years.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:21 PM on August 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Let me talk to you about 7 minute abs...
posted by arcticseal at 11:24 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Farce is strong with this one...
posted by chavenet at 11:26 PM on August 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


The 4-Hour Workweek was a decent read, but it breaks down like this:

1. Start your own successful business
2. Outsource the shit out of it
3. Move to Zanzibar

I'm all for 2. and 3., but 1. is a bitch.
posted by bardic at 11:27 PM on August 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


Wow. Ferriss comes off as a raging dickhead.

Is that really what our generation deserves?


(probably)
posted by guster4lovers at 11:30 PM on August 28, 2011


Less that Tim Ferriss and more this Tim Ferris
posted by symbioid at 11:31 PM on August 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


And it recommends funding all this by discovering a “muse,” which Ferriss defines, as Seneca did not, as “an automated vehicle for generating cash without consuming time.”

I'll get right on that then.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:33 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The article does less with more.
posted by LarryC at 11:36 PM on August 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


That was interesting, thank you.
posted by subdee at 11:44 PM on August 28, 2011


I have outsourced all my MeFi reading to my sockpuppet.
posted by arcticseal at 11:49 PM on August 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


I've outsourced all my MeFi commenting.
posted by dobbs at 11:50 PM on August 28, 2011


I suspect the article grew from this one sentence.

Nor need they necessarily incorporate into their regimen Ferriss’s method for determining the effectiveness of controlled binge eating: weighing his feces to find out exactly what kind of shit he was full of.
posted by zippy at 11:52 PM on August 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


~request the 3-point or 7-point Jackson-Pollock algorithm~

crying
posted by chronkite at 12:05 AM on August 29, 2011


Hey, the oligarchy has made the people of the world into mindless consumer zombies. If you can tap into their unfeeling mass market with promises of a zombie cure then you're like hot cake vendor in a four hour traffic jam.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:08 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I discovered that Reid Mihalko, who runs a sex-advice Web site called reidaboutsex.com—“What Tim Ferriss does for stuff, I do for sex”—has incredibly warm hands.
It's the little details that really make the article.
posted by delmoi at 12:08 AM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


For those who don't deserve Tim Ferriss (sorry about the editorialized title, I was trying to be clever), the article offers you plenty of choices:
In 1937, at the height of the Depression, Napoleon Hill wrote “Think and Grow Rich,” which claimed to distill the principles that had made Andrew Carnegie so wealthy. “The Power of Positive Thinking,” by Norman Vincent Peale, which was published in 1952, advised readers that techniques such as “a mind-emptying at least twice a day” would lead to success. By the seventies, Werner Erhard and est promised material wealth through spiritual enlightenment. The eighties and nineties saw management-consultancy maxims married with New Age thinking, with books such as Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” In the past decade or so, there has been a rise in books such as “Who Moved My Cheese?,” by Spencer Johnson, which promise to help readers maximize their professional potential in an era of unpredictable workplaces.
Take your pick.
posted by vidur at 12:11 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that self-help, by definition, doesn't require a third party at all.

I do wish people would stop thinking they invariably need someone else to sort themselves out. And that includes therapists, priests and management consultants just as much as "gurus".
posted by Decani at 12:15 AM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I work four hours a week. I also am desperately scrambling for cash, so looks like I missed step 1.
posted by maxwelton at 12:19 AM on August 29, 2011


Every New Yorker reader gets the self-help guru article they deserve.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:29 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Every MetaFilter reader gets the self-help guru snark they deserve.
posted by salvia at 12:52 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The coming generation deserved better elders than it's got.

sorry
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:59 AM on August 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


Thanks to that article, I finally get the one joke I was missing in Tom Lehrer's "It Makes a Fellow Proud to be a Soldier." (He likes the deep philosophers like Norman Vincent Peale.)
posted by Hactar at 1:02 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I discovered him via Metafilter. He sounds like a complete dickhead.
Fine. But then his four-hour work week is merely semantic. Because everything Tim does he turns into what the rest of us would call work, and he calls it not-work. For example, tango. If you want to be world-record holder, it's work. It's your job to be special at dancing the tango. That's your big goal that you're working toward. How you earn money is probably just a day job. So most weeks Tim probably has a 100-hour workweek. It's just that he's doing things he likes, so he lies to you and says he only works four hours. He defines work only as doing what you don't like.

It's childish. It's a childish, semantic game. And it reminds me of him winning the Chinese National Kickboxing Championships by leveraging a little-known rule that people are disqualified if they stop outside the box. So he pushed each of his opponents outside the box to win.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:02 AM on August 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Take your pick.

I will resist the temptation to FTFY, because it's a bad thing to do and also because simply inserting a character doesn't work that well visually.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:12 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I tried to outsource the reading of this article, but all I got back was "tl;dr."
posted by crunchland at 1:26 AM on August 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'll tell you what strikes me as odd about Ferriss: this aside in his bio.
formed his life philosophies under Nobel Prize winner Kenzaburo Oe
You'll notice that this is carefully phrased, such that it remains technically true even if he just read a book by Oe once. And who knows, maybe he really does know Oe. I won't pretend to be able to rule it out, or to have any kind of special connection to Oe myself. But...

A "philosophy" of embracing the techniques of global capital and exploiting your born-on-third-base status as a cashed-up citizen of the first world to increase your leisure time — and feeling pretty damn good about it, thanks! — doesn't jibe with any Oe I've ever read. And a "philosophy" that throws around words like "übermensch" and advocates the "hacking" of one's body for better abs seems so crassly at odds with the well-known facts of Oe's life and work that it's hard to believe it isn't intentional satire.
posted by No-sword at 1:35 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Equating himself to Thoreau or Seneca, please. Self-absorbed, self-entitled arsehole for self-absorbed people who wish they were more self-entitled.

The idea that history will have any opinion of him is hilarious. He's as unique as a cold-sore, and whilst just as irritating, lacks the staying power. Tim Ferris will evaporate faster than rubbing alcohol, and leave even less of a mark.

The fact anyone quaffs his faecal-flavoured kool-aid is a testament in the fallibility of human decision-making and a testament to our belief in myth and stories to explain challenges and problems.

Unfortunately for Ferris, our age has a thousand more eloquent, observant chroniclers and emblems. Not so much a touchstone, as a blarney stone, methinks.

Pro-tip: If self-help books worked, you'd only need to read one.
posted by smoke at 1:41 AM on August 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


Do you ever try to imagine what your special room in Hell will be?


That party sounds like mine. A bunch of squeaky, self absorbed assholes talking about how AWESOME they are.

I have talked to that kind of person before. I have encountered them in the wild, individually and in groups. I have even gotten to know some of them.

What I have found out, in most cases, is that all their talk of their amazing accomplishments is bloviating. Exaggeration, if not outright lies. They are toxic parasites and no matter what they promise they will leave you less than they found you.

The best that happens is they annoy you and waste your time. Heaven forefend you have something they really want, be it talent or assets; they will promise you a bunch of bullshit, use their "techniques!" on you, do what they can to get their back-barbed talons in you and take what they want while giving as little as possible in return.

Really amazing people aren't like that. They surprise you. They are too busy doing incredible things to waste your time. Conversations enrich you and make you curious. When they do drop a me-bomb, it's full of cool, and it's genuinely inspiring.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:49 AM on August 29, 2011 [38 favorites]


As reluctant as I am to propagate anecdata, I will say that the 4HB seems to be working for some friends of mine. Particularly the slow-carb diet. I tried it briefly, and I did lose about 2KG pretty rapidly (I gave up because I found it hateful to practice, so can't comment as to whether I would have kept up that rate. I suspect not). Another friend has lost a really major amount of weight on it and is looking great.

The four hour work week on the other hand I skimmed and found objectionable, so haven't read in greater detail. It smacked of Charlatinism 101.
posted by DRMacIver at 1:52 AM on August 29, 2011


If I had previewed, I might have used a term other than "self absorbed asshole" just to avoid redundancy, but it springs so readily to mind for some reason I can't quite put my finger on oh right it's the blinking neon sign that hangs over his head that says

..................I AM A...............
SELF ABSORBED ASSHOLE
***ASK ME ABOUT ME!***

posted by louche mustachio at 2:04 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


winning the Chinese National Kickboxing Championships by leveraging a little-known rule that people are disqualified if they step outside the box. So he pushed each of his opponents outside the box to win

I find that act so pathetic and repugnant I will never be able to respect anything that guy does. blea.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:46 AM on August 29, 2011


Tim is hot, fit, successful and probably really interesting to listen to. He just doesn't seem very fun. Also, not the kind of person you could do absolutely nothing with and not feel guilty about it, despite all this 4 hour, 15 minute, twice a day compartmentalizationregimentation.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:02 AM on August 29, 2011


Whenever I read writing advice that talks about self-promotion, all I can picture is this guy, coupled with a crippling fear of BEING this guy.
posted by Scattercat at 3:19 AM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I suppose self-help experts are always expert at helping themselves to everything -- just having the nerve to grasp what you want will always be the basic route to worldly success -- but this guy looks like the sort who might crash a wedding reception, find a way to sell tickets to the open buffet, get a 15 percent cut of the gifts, grope the bride while he's toasting the groom, and get out with a bridesmaid and a bottle of the best before anyone cracks his skull. If that's who people want to be, they aren't going to get it from a book or presentation or daily affirmation. You just can't transfer that sort of energy, brazenness, and love of self.
posted by pracowity at 3:25 AM on August 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


Self-help for the $7 cupcake generation.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:43 AM on August 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


When professional "nice guys" talk about the assholes women choose instead of them, this is who they're talking about.

(What the nice guys miss is that guys like this probably are interesting to date--for about four hours.)
posted by maxwelton at 4:04 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, my generation doesn't deserve this guy.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:12 AM on August 29, 2011


For all the Ferriss hate in this thread, the diet as described in the 4 Four Body book works like no one's business. It's close to mindboggling, seeing how effortless and easy to maintain it all is. 10 kilograms gone in under two months, all expectations exceeded by far. The wife swears by it as well, and I will actively evangelize it in the future to anyone who I hear complaining about not being able to lose weight in any reasonable timeframe or with reasonable effort. Yes, I'll be That Guy, and they'll thank me after trying it.

Sure, the diet is "just" an aggregation of ideas and techniques from diverse sources, but that aggregation still needs to be done by someone and documented in a readable, understandable fashion to save the rest of us a bunch of time and trouble. And he's done just that. For that alone, there is value in what Ferriss does, no matter how you personally might feel about him. (I haven't yet dived into the other stuff like the muscle training chapters in the book, but if it works half as well as the diet does, I'm in.)

As is to be expected, people who have never met Ferriss are still forming strong opinions about him with very limited information. MeFi threads excel at this sort of thing, always preferring the negative voice if there is a choice to be made between that and a neutral-or-better-if-applicable one. You do know there's always the option of remaining neutral, not forming and voicing opinions based on certainly incomplete, possibly inaccurate information, right? Or is it that important to always contribute your two cents? Are your feelings about the character of a man you've never even met really worth sharing?

Inb4 feelings about my character get contributed
posted by jklaiho at 4:29 AM on August 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's close to mindboggling, seeing how effortless and easy to maintain it all is.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:56 AM on August 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm going to email him and ask him if he'll come be my personal trainer and life guru for free. Hey, he says to be bold, right?
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:18 AM on August 29, 2011


I'm always amused by the self-help industry and how its exemplars prattle on over the airwaves, perched on Oprah's couch, about how they've discovered the simple secret of living successful, attractive, healthy, joyous, secure, spiritual, et cetera (insert your own pie-in-the-sky idealized cartoonish state of satori here) lives, and then publish a series of three hundred page books, audiobooks, DVDs, subscription websites, motivational t-shirts, and so on, to share that amazing, simple secret.

The world of self-improvement should be a venue for wry pamphleteers, not these guys.

I've got a fair number of friends and associates who are devotees of the Getting Things Done™ cult, and there's some great thinking behind that work, and a lot of golden tidbits that really do make work faster, easier, and less stressful. I'd read a lot of capsule versions of the concept for a while, then bought the book, slouched purposefully in my seat on the commuter train, and started to read.

Thing is—there are golden tidbits everywhere in there, but they're swallowed up in the theater of GTD, and holy crap, that book just goes on and on about things when it really just takes a decent flowchart to sum it up in a way that makes it easily understood and practiced. There's just this cultural imperative that simple things need to be validated by the magical blessing of volume.

Five years ago, I lost about seventy pounds.

"Wow, you look great," they'd say. "How did you do it?"

And the thing was, I looked up the formula for determining my caloric needs, figured out how many calories it took to maintain my weight, and ate less, keeping an index card in my pocket on which I wrote down every calorie I ate. For every 3500 calories under that number I ate over time, I lost a pound. That's it. That's the whole secret to losing weight for someone with a normal metabolism and no particular health issues. I lost the same amount of weight whether I ate candy bars for my allotted calories for the day or lean roasted chicken (the candy bars made me sugar crash, but that's the reason not to try to do it with candy bars unless you can afford to nap in the middle of every day).

Losing weight is easy. Doesn't need ten thousand books and inspirational videos. Keeping it off is another thing, but that's not that complicated, either. I kept mine off for four years, changed careers, and put thirty-five back on. That's not a failure, or a self-esteem issue—my caloric needs changed and my time management went a bit haywire, so I ate wherever I could, in the gaps between teaching myself how to run a pair of aging arts facilities. I'm losing it again, having made the adjustments I need to make, and it's all fine. I'm okay as a fat person, and I'll be okay as a somewhat less fat person. Fine.

It's just one of those odd things, though, in how we're such a short attention span society, but that we feel like we need the credentialist validation of all this self-help madness. When a tiny book would do, literally a couple dozen pages long, we distrust what isn't backed up by a big fat book and a big fat system, and build our own deluxe failures on that extraordinarily complex foundation.

This is, however, not a problem of our generation, or even the generation and a half that follows mine. Previous generations had the Bible, or How to Win Friends and Influence People, or The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, or any number of things trotted out on Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Donahue, Oprah, Jenny Jones, or whatever plug-in drug we were plugged into at the time. We love this shit, and throw money at it instead of reading a simple list of simple ideas and just meditating on it and letting it soak into our bones. Bone-soaking takes time and we're people on the go!

The best self-help advice I ever got came from Pema Chödrön, and it was this: You can't become a better person. There's a hostility inherent in the language of "self-improvement," and if we're hostile to ourselves, we can force ourselves into action, but that hostility is going to be there, just under the surface, in all our successes. The impetus to become "better" persons is the problem. You can live better, eat better, exercise better, love better, and empathize better, but you're already okay. Just be okay, right?

In the end, gimmicks don't work, complicated systems don't work, and motivating ourselves by self-disgust and shame doesn't work, except in the short term. Why does every generation need to read a million pages of thinly disguised advertising for self-help authors to get this?

Don't be a dick, to yourself or to others. Simple.

Why do we need all the elaboration and theatrics?
posted by sonascope at 5:37 AM on August 29, 2011 [99 favorites]


Ferriss is sort of hatable but there is good advice there. And I like a lot of the philosophy of the four hour work week even though, unfortunately it is a bit too much of an all or nothing thing. I've worked jobs that I didn't like for not much money where I am seldom doing anything useful but am prevented from doing anything interesting. That's a common situation and a shitty situation. I've had jobs where I make money, not a ton of money, but money that just seems unfair given how often I am idle. I would be happy to trade some of that money and give up the life consuming effort pageant. Unfortunately if you work for someone else that's pretty much impossible to do, but if you work for yourself I could see how you could do exactly that.

There's a lot of talk about how our culture is diseased by the pursuit of the quick fix. I can see how that can be true in plenty of contexts but I think the greater disease, ubiquitous to near invisibility, is the work ethic. Work is bad, accomplishing things is good. Work can teach you patience, or make you stronger, or create a valuable end product but it is not a virtue in a vacuum. We have technology that allow us to meet our needs more easily than any time in history but we still work about as much as ever before. Because we've invented pretend needs and pretend work. Ferriss sort of gets this.
posted by I Foody at 6:07 AM on August 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


He's as unique as a cold-sore, and whilst just as irritating, lacks the staying power.

As long as no one ever says something like this about me, I will know I am doing things right.
posted by Forktine at 6:08 AM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Bad generation! No biscuit!
posted by tommasz at 6:19 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


My association with self improvement obsessives was short, 2006-2007 when I first moved and didn't really know anybody when I moved to my new city. The one most excellent datum I took was this one: in a seminar where everybody worked for ten weeks on a project of our own design, the leader told us that nearly everybody in the seminar (~ 120 people) was working on one of the following two projects:

1. get more money, or
2. lose weight.

From this I datum I share with you freely the tentative conclusion that if your body and your finances are in shape you have tested out of ever having to pay for a self improvement book or a self improvement seminar!
posted by bukvich at 6:26 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ferris' book The 4 Hour Body is not bad, and (unlike The 4 Hour Workweek) it generally remains true to it's name because most workout regimens fall into a range of about four hours a week anyway. So instead of providing a semantic game like in his first book, he offers up a self-evident tautology. Obviously the guy is prone to speaking in half-truths sometimes.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:44 AM on August 29, 2011


It should be noted that most of the facts, "facts" and anecdotes in this article come from Ferris' books and other profile pieces on him and, in my opinion, should be taken with an even more giant grain of salt than the article presents.
posted by ejoey at 6:53 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Count me in with people who find Ferriss kind of insufferable, but who can't really dismiss 4 Hour Body. It makes me feel great and it flattened my abdomen. It's not well-written though, and it can be frustrating to try to weed through the proclamations and epigrams and attempts at wit to get to the (grass-fed, organic) meat. Then you remember this guy is also a bazillionaire from the books he's written and want to cry a little.
posted by padraigin at 6:55 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


As is to be expected, people who have never met Ferriss are still forming strong opinions about him with very limited information. MeFi threads excel at this sort of thing, always preferring the negative voice if there is a choice to be made between that and a neutral-or-better-if-applicable one. You do know there's always the option of remaining neutral, not forming and voicing opinions based on certainly incomplete, possibly inaccurate information, right? Or is it that important to always contribute your two cents? Are your feelings about the character of a man you've never even met really worth sharing?

Scott Adams? Is that you?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 6:59 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


So someone want to spoil the ending of "4 hour body" or do I have to suffer through even MORE of this guy and his self-satisfaction to find out?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:02 AM on August 29, 2011


Following on from Sonascope above, if you need more proof of the timelessness of this form of idiocy go no further than William Gaddis' The Recognitions (1955). On pages 497-503 there's a wonderful ripping up of Dale Carnegie, who is a bit of a running joke throughout the book.
posted by chavenet at 7:04 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


“What Tim Ferriss does for stuff, I do for sex”

...outsource it?
posted by adamdschneider at 7:35 AM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


The world needs more Sonascopes, and fewer Tim Ferrisses.

But, really, I don't hate Tim like many do here. I look at him with a skeptical eye, and roll my eyes whenever a tall/affable/smart/charismatic child of privilege with an ivy-league education claims to have found the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

However, he seems to actually have dissected his own success with some degree of scientific rigor (don't get me wrong -- a lot of his "ideas" are completely nuts, but unlike most self-help gurus, he seems to have tested them and figured out what works). Ferriss's self-help books may not be great, but they do seem to be a small step above the rest of the awful tripe in the genre.

Also, his quote that “You can’t have the four-hour love life” lends him a bit of credit in my book. It's also refreshing to hear an American author speak out against the "success is only achieved through many hours of hard work" mentality that has pervaded American culture for ages. It's wrong, it's killing us, and it will be our downfall if technology continues to enable us to work less and less.
posted by schmod at 7:39 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The self help industry, indeed the entire concept, is rooted in anxiety - maybe Wellbutrin in the water supply could take care of that.

As for the diet? I am surrounded by evangelicals and yes, it seems to work. But it also seems numbingly repetitive and that same eerie vocabulary thing all diets have around them and I end up thinking " you know millions of people all over the world enjoy a varied healthily diet at a reasonabe weight without resorting to absurd theatrical flapping about."

How about my diet, loose weight by becoming just incredibly picky and over critical of food. I call it snob your way thin.
posted by The Whelk at 7:44 AM on August 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


This sounds like a GREAT IDEA for everyone that has tonnes of reliable money, doesn't want to build long-term relationships, and prefers to dislocate from local commmunity building social justice issues.

Hey wait...
posted by Theta States at 7:50 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ugh. Ferriss is has made himself into the ultimate tourist in every single world he encounters, including his own body.
posted by hermitosis at 7:53 AM on August 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also: the bit about weighing his turds?

Is that documented and peer reviewed? Because my first glance response is I do not believe that for a second.
posted by bukvich at 7:57 AM on August 29, 2011


It ain't a perfect world, so if someone says we deserve Tim Ferriss, I'm looking on the bright side. I'm happy they didn't say we deserve Rhonda Byrne of "The Secret".
posted by storybored at 8:11 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mmm, douchebags become self help gurus.

This Reid about Sex site is pretty delicious. You don't even have to get past the front page to find some amazing quotes.
Be the change you want to see in the bedroom
Sexual Superhero Recommendations for Burning Man!
Reid's Safer Sex Elevator Speech
The Sexual Superhero at Burning Man is pretty dull, more about staying hydrated than any amazing sexual antics. You'll be glad to know he is about avoiding going to jail for rape.
Always ask permission and get a verbal “yes” before touching someone. (Trust me on this one!)
Always say “Please” and “Thank you” ‘cause people being generous with their genitals is a gift, and Burning Man is a gift economy kind’a place!
Is Burning Man overrun by bros now?
posted by Nelson at 8:13 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reid's Safer Sex Elevator Speech

Rule #1: Don't call your elevator speech an "elevator speech".
 
posted by Herodios at 8:28 AM on August 29, 2011


I'm a bigger fan of Paul Crik's Killin' It! series.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:46 AM on August 29, 2011


So someone want to spoil the ending of "4 hour body" or do I have to suffer through even MORE of this guy and his self-satisfaction to find out?

I got this one, here is the gist of the book:

Diet: Don't eat any carbs 6 days a week. On the seventh day you rest, and by rest I mean do a forced binge of whatever you want. Eat spinach and protein all the time.

Supplements: Take a fistful of pills every day. I forget exactly what was in the "PAGG stack" he advocated but it involved green tea and garlic.

Exercise: Do one set to exhaustion of four specific exercises that together target the whole core. Do this a couple times a week and do it less frequently as you get stronger. Also, kettlebells, swing them frequently.

Sex: Very slow and very gentle extended direct clitoral stimulation.

Lifestyle: You should be in an ice bath about 22-23 hours a day.

There, now you don't need the book.
posted by cirrostratus at 8:48 AM on August 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


sonascope: Losing weight is easy

I think you mean "simple", in that the underlying idea -- eat less food than you burn -- is easy to express. But actually doing it is not easy. Sitting there being hungry and wanting something to eat is not easy, especially if you've spent a lifetime acting otherwise.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:00 AM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sonascope, are you holding any workshops soon? Where can I buy your book?

No seriously, that was a brilliant comment. People come to me asking about weight loss, bringing years of frustration over failed diets, pills, the trauma of past failures and humiliation. And basically, I tell them exactly what you said. It's fucking easy, this is exactly how it works. The hard part is figuring out why you haven't been doing this. You might have really good reasons -- your job is crazy, too many family demands, you lack basic nutritional education, or something else -- but all the books and classes and seminars are just tricking you into adhering to the weight loss formula. Don't focus on someone else's plan, figure out what's stopping you from doing this very simple thing that needs to be done, and address *that*.

Re: Ferriss. I doubt very much he's a huckster. I believe that if people want follow his advice, they will become significantly more like Ferriss and that's great for them. Me, that's so clearly not what I want for myself. I don't enjoy conversations with people who talk at me. I don't enjoy viewing everything in my life as a challenge, something to be conquered or mastered. I've known many people like this and what they have is hedging on a personality disorder.

What's funny about it is that it is totally a self-replicating loop. One day, I anticipate some event will happen in Ferriss' life where he'll understand how alone he really is, that treating human relationships as tools to achieve an goal, has left him without any true intimacy with anyone. He'll then move to India to meditate and volunteer at an Ashram for a year where he'll "discover" what real empathy is. He'll come back and write his masterpiece, "The 4 hour Empath: Using Outsourcing to Efficiently Develop and Maintain Meaningful Relationships"
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:08 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I met Tim Ferriss at a conference where he was keynoting. I'd already read (skimmed) 4-Hour Workweek and found it distasteful: that he made his fortune selling near-literal snake oil was offensive. I was surprised that many of my friends looked forward to hearing him speak; it turned out not a single one had read the book or knew why he was qualified to keynote.

I slept through his morning talk and only met him later, when he was recounting how he weighed his poop and slept in a hyperbaric chamber, only to realize as he went to hail a cab to the airport that he'd lost his wallet like a normal doofus.
posted by nev at 9:23 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there such a thing as a dieter's fast food chain that sells things by the calorie? Like the opposite of Supersize Me? When you go in, you could stand on a scale (to remind you why you're there and maybe give you feedback based on what you've been eating there and how much progress you've made) and use a touch screen to place your order while you're standing there. Select how many calories you can eat for that meal and any special restrictions (meat, vegetarian, high carb, no carb, etc.). Then it makes suggestions based on how many calories you have already selected and you try to make a meal you like that comes in under the limit. Use a customer card to keep track of cumulative totals (weight, calories, foods eaten, etc.). I bet you could get a lot of calorie counters to eat two or three meals a day there and take more home just because it's easier and faster to have it all measured and cooked and tracked for you.
posted by pracowity at 9:51 AM on August 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Is there such a thing as a dieter's fast food chain that sells things by the calorie?

That would be great, but it's such a niche thing that the business probably wouldn't survive.

What we need is a fast food chain that sells healthy cheap food as its only option. I humbly propose my own diet recipe, which I call "chicken bowl": Black beans, corn, chicken, and salsa, served warm in a bowl. This will be the only option on the menu, and it will cost $2.00 for an adult-sized portion thanks to economy of scale and simplicity of preparation. I would go there every day, and if it's cheaper than Burger King, so will lots of other people.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:07 AM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I bet you could get a lot of calorie counters to eat two or three meals a day there and take more home just because it's easier and faster to have it all measured and cooked and tracked for you.

People who want to eat like that will go with one of the services that delivers all your food pre-portioned. People eat out to be indulged, it's not particularly convenient or time-saving to eat out, certainly not as compared to tucking into your shrink-wrapped nutrisystem pouch at your desk. So all you'd be adding is inevitably paying more since it has to be served to you in a structure. I don't think you could sustain a whole restaurant on it.
posted by nanojath at 10:08 AM on August 29, 2011


Don't know about dieter's fast food, but there is dieters food delivery: you sign up for a couple of months, and you get everything you're supposed to eat delivered. Actually very reasonable for people who work (you can get your lunch delivered at work), don't know how effective it is though.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:09 AM on August 29, 2011


The phrase "3-point or 7-point Jackson-Pollock algorithm" convinced me to read the article. I am disappointed.

Someone explain to me why it is a fat-measurement thing. Something called a "Jackson-Pollock algorithm" deserves to be much cooler than that.
posted by RobotHero at 10:42 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The hatorade is strong with this one..

People are more than the way they make us feel when they first walk into a room.

The great thing about Mr. Ferriss being or not being the kind of person I want to have a beer with is the fact that that gut feeling has no bearing on the value of his work.

I probably DO want to have a beer with Mel Gibsom, but I don't want to be married to him. I want to see him in movies like Braveheart & Conspiracy Theory, but I don't really care to have a religious discussion with him. Actually, even that may be interesting- I just don't need to re-watch the Pain & Death of JC.

We love to make all these lovely, pointed criticisms of the people thrust (or thrusting themselves) into our periphery. "Oh, this guy loves hucking his great ideas for money, so he's a complete douche-bag. I'll never listen to anything he says." This is nonsense. Do we hate educators, trainers, & coaches? They aren't doing it for free, folks- maybe less money than Ferriss makes, but the paycheck is a motivator for most. If we're going to criticize, criticize the work. Criticize his book because the diets are dangerous and don't work. Criticize him because prolonged genital stimulation wasted hours of you & yours time without the guaranteed payoff. Criticize him because you followed his workout & didn't get stronger. But to criticize the guy because "he sounds like a jackass" is puerile. We need jackasses like him because the non-jackasses amongst us who figure out how to lose weight in a reasonable fashion aren't ever going to tell us about it.

Howabout this? Howabout Ferriss is the kind of person who wants to hack himself, make himself better (his term & his desire, btw. It doesn't require self-loathing to recognize that you are good at something but could better. I love playing soccer, but I'm not a reliable goal scorer. I'd love to get better & be able to more reliably put points on the board. I don't hate myself for being the level of player I am, I'd simply like to be a stronger player, to have helped to score goals in those games we lost by a point or two. Yes, this is a parenthetical digression, but I take great offense to this sensibility that "I'm ok, you're ok, and anyone who wants to be better doesn't realize he/she is ok." I'm ok, thank you very much. I'd like to be better at some things, too.) and is actually generous enough to want to share what he's found? Sure, he wants to make a dime in the process, but he could easily keep the information to himself & be an ubermensch alone. The fact that he promotes himself is completely separate from the notions he promotes.

Fine, hate the people who put themselves in the public eye. The problem is, we can't all be Socrates, doing the good work while our devoted follower Plato writes down our every utterance. Most of the Socrateses among us will die with their wisdom. It's the loud & self-promoting that get their voice heard, & I for one would rather gain a few nuggets of truth from the lips of the obnoxious than have to struggle to figure out how to do everything myself. I simply don't have the time.

And for fuck's sake. Read the god-damned book before you start spouting its worthlessness. As many of you have been quick to point out, Sonascopes regiment for losing weight is successful & simple. Also, it's practically verbatim to an anecdote that Ferriss shares in the book. He makes a point to explain that, ultimately, the fact that we're focused on an end goal is often the only thing necessary to achieve the end goal. Another anecdote involved a guy who did nothing to change his diet whatsoever- he did nothing but MONITOR his eating & he lost weight.

Anyway.

I love this community to death. This is the only blog I frequent & a large part of that is thanks to the discussion that (usually) takes place above the fray. The one criticism I would levy is this: the ad hominem needs to stop. Sure, snark a guy all you want while you make your on-topic point. But please, please do so while elevating the discussion.

By off-hand comparing this guys work to every other charlatan & snake oil salesman ever, you've effectively Godwined the thread. We're better than that.
posted by narwhal at 11:10 AM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: you've effectively Godwined the thread.
posted by reductiondesign at 11:56 AM on August 29, 2011


I'll simplify things for those who can't understand why everyone finds this man repellant: he's a bullshit peddler.

There is no 4 hour work week. Even the guy telling you about the four hour work week does not work a four hour work week--quite the opposite. I don't think anyone here is opposed to Tim Ferriss improving his life and the lives of others, if that were his goal.

However, if he was a little more honest, he'd be selling you a book called How to Get Filthy Rich by Peddling False Promises. He's a scratchoff lottery ticket in the form of a human being.
posted by Nahum Tate at 11:58 AM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is there such a thing as a dieter's fast food chain that sells things by the calorie? Like the opposite of Supersize Me? When you go in, you could stand on a scale (to remind you why you're there and maybe give you feedback based on what you've been eating there and how much progress you've made) and use a touch screen to place your order while you're standing there.

They do have this in an episode of Aeon Flux. The joke is that no matter what any of the measurements say, each person is given a cabbage to eat. Since the eating is done in a private stall, nobody sees what everyone else gets, so they assume the cabbage has been custom selected just for their dietary needs. Since the show takes place in a dystopian future, the implication is that the government is only interested in creating the illusion of public health initiatives, or else maybe that's all the food that happens to be around at the moment.
posted by hermitosis at 12:02 PM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


My take on self help authors is that if you find someone who has figured out how to make themselves happy and have a good life, that person would not be writing self-help books, they'd be doing something cool.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:09 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is a great screed there narwhal but you do not speak to my complaint, I believe.

I do not know Ferriss and I do not hate him. I do know a lot of people who are enthusiastic about this type stuff and I do not hate them either. I do dislike their enthusiasm for this type stuff. It gives me the creeps, and it does not bother me at all to see a bunch of metafilter comments critical of Ferriss, his ideas, his clothes, his taste in music, or his college.

I don't believe he weighed his turds. To me that is the most important issue regarding the man's ideas.
posted by bukvich at 12:20 PM on August 29, 2011


For all the Ferriss hate in this thread, the diet as described in the 4 Four Body book works like no one's business. It's close to mindboggling, seeing how effortless and easy to maintain it all is. 10 kilograms gone in under two months, all expectations exceeded by far.
Like sonascope, I lost a lot of weight on my own. I didn't even look anything up. All I did was keep track of my calories on a spreadsheet, and then later a simple MySQL DB with a PHP fronted I wrote (So I could access it 'in the cloud' :P).

I also worked out regularly on an elliptical. Those two things combined will make you lose weight. You don't have to do anything complicated. In my experience, it doesn't really matter what you eat, and I ate plenty of 'junk food'. It may be that certain foods give you more satiation per calorie, but the thing is eating junk food is just easy. You just buy cheap crap and you don't have to worry about cooking (and cooking means cleaning up afterwords).

If you don't want to do it on your own you might want to look at the Hacker's Diet which is supposed to be the 'scientific' diet. There are spreadsheets and software that goes along with it. It's more complex then what I did, but the same basic idea of looking at total input and output. And no poop weighing, as far as I know.
posted by delmoi at 1:21 PM on August 29, 2011


@no-Sword, Ferris studied East Asian language at Princeton, where Oe was a visiting lecturer in 1997-- I believe Ferris would have been a Junior or Sophomore that year.
posted by cell divide at 2:02 PM on August 29, 2011


How did the New Yorker think it was OK to simply skim over the fact that he made his original money by selling worthless diet supplements and outsourcing all the labor involved? There's one sentence in the entire piece about the fact that his whole plan for working four hours simply means paying other people badly to do the actual work and not caring at all whether the product is helpful or harmful.

This is the definition of unsustainable. It's kind of like making money selling workshops on making money; if everyone could succeed at it, no one would. What a sickeningly glib piece.
posted by Maias at 2:03 PM on August 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm the Jazzercise of kettlebells.

Just wanted to clear that up.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:17 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


And no poop weighing, as far as I know.

There goes my motivation ...
posted by krinklyfig at 2:25 PM on August 29, 2011


So someone want to spoil the ending of "4 hour body" or do I have to suffer through even MORE of this guy and his self-satisfaction to find out?

The 4HB covers a few different things but the slow carb diet part is simplified into a few aspects of eating that are behavioral modifications rather than specific about diets. Here's the basic outline:

1) Avoid white carbs
2) Eat the same meals over & over - because you're more successful with what you know you can eat rather than making guesstimations for every meal
3) Don't drink calories - because it's easy to lose track of the calories in soda and fruit juices but he's a huge wine drinker although I'm not sure if he meant to include protein drinks here.
4) Don't eat fruit
5) Include a cheat day - a big reason for this is to give yourself a "break"

Include lentils, spinach and onions in your daily meals. He also thinks 3 to 4 eggs within a half hour of getting up is a good way to start the day. A daily side meal of one of these: Kimchee, Sauerkraut, or Natto with a helping of Vitamin Rich Butterfat is... helpful. Fermented Cod Liver Oil is a helpful fat additive, as is Macadamia oil.

The workouts were kind of a mish mash of different but basic ideas. He's a fan Charlie Francis and Pavel Tsatsouline who are a couple of really insightful strength coaches. He likes Kettlebells, as he should because they are a fantastic tool. He supposedly did a month of HIT and gained a ridiculous amount of muscle, which is the only part of the book that set of bullshit detector but I have a pet theory on how he managed to that*.

The sex part broke down to about four things: Everyone should do Kegels, back and forth over the clitoris and not in and out, G-spot stimulation with the fingers, and a non-orgasmic goal of very very very very light clitoral stimulation with a finger on the upper right quadrant (one o'clock).

*He was probably in the mid 180's and in shape. Spent a year tango dancing which caused him to lose 40 some odd pounds. He then took a month out of his life and did nothing but sleep, eat protein, rest, and workout. He gained back 35 pounds of muscle. Even with that theory I'm not sure if i believe he actually did it within a month.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:43 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


"If I’d known my assistant was so hot, I'd have met you a lot sooner!"

Stay classy, Tim Ferriss.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:55 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sex: Very slow and very gentle extended direct clitoral stimulation.

No - he just found the G-spot.

Reid is a fantastic sex educator and would teach you about the G-spot in a completely non-douchey way.
posted by bikergirl at 3:02 PM on August 29, 2011


No - he just found the G-spot.

No, that's not it at all unless you're counting the clitoris as part of the G-spot. There's a whole section about this in the book. Which isn't about an end point, but more about orgasm control.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:13 PM on August 29, 2011


I do not know Ferriss and I do not hate him. I do know a lot of people who are enthusiastic about this type stuff and I do not hate them either. I do dislike their enthusiasm for this type stuff. It gives me the creeps, and it does not bother me at all to see a bunch of metafilter comments critical of Ferriss, his ideas, his clothes, his taste in music, or his college. posted by bukvich at 12:20 PM on August 29

If I didn't address your particular flavor of Ferriss disdain, allow me:

You're critical of people's enthusiasm for a diet that might work without having to give up quantity or even quality (one cheat day a week), for a workout plan that is only 4 hours per month (not per week as alluded earlier in the thread), and for pieces of advice that might help to improve one's sex life?

It gives you the creeps that people would seek advice on what to eat, how to train, and what to do in the bedroom?

Like I said in my screed: criticize Ferriss all you want for his ideas, his clothes, his taste in music, and his college as a snarky aside to your on-topic discussion. But please don't dismiss out of hand a book that, by the accounts of people in this very thread who have actually read it and applied it, just might work. It does nothing to serve the discussion, directly, nor does it help anyone to arrive at any greater truth, which, I presume to be, does this stuff work? Is it viable? Is it snake oil?

Unless you have insight into THAT, I don't understand the vitriol. Attacking a person for being a different kind of person than you would like to be is nonsensical and completely beside the point as well. I don't think anyone here, I don't even think Ferriss himself, would say "be like Timothy Ferriss." The advice is to eat differently, work out differently, and approach sex differently.

Obviously, there have always been people who are capable of out-of-box thinking. I would imagine that Metafilter has a higher percentage of those people amongst its faithful than your average lot. I'm sure there are others who will never take any supposed authority's advice on anything that they haven't personally investigated. Those people probably don't read many self-help books. If you've already tried eating differently, working out differently, & fucking differently, congratulations: you win. You already knew this stuff or you know something different than what Ferriss discovered that's even BETTER! Great. This book isn't for you. Move on. Registering your disdain for the man doesn't help anyone who might be curious as to the validity of the material vs. the integrity of the presenter.

And seriously: it's pretty hypocritical to dislike people's enthusiasm for this stuff when Ask MeFi's most popular sub-headings include work & money, relationships, health & fitness, you were doing it wrong, & food & drink. It's ok to ask my favorite bloggers for their advice, but if I get worked up about a book that offers the same advice, I'm creepy? Anyone who's willing to make money by illuminating the road for others (even if it's a road someone else managed to figure out for themself) should be tarred & feathered as a peddler of lies & deceit?

Like I keep saying: show me where he's wrong & I'll happily jump on the bandwagon. Creating a bandwagon that implies he's wrong but that only supports itself with witticisms about his stool measuring & maxed out charisma points, however, is absurd.

I expect better of us.

And bukvich, maybe I read you wrong, but it sounds like you're saying that 1) it gives you the creeps that there are people who get enthusiastic about a new book featuring advice for areas in their life that they've been unable to improve on their own, and on account of 1) (being creeped out), it's ok to 2) demean a human being who simply offers advice based on his own unorthodox research?

Ferriss's methods of self-promotion may seem cheesy, but I don't think the guy logs into web forums and talks shit about strangers' character & worth on account of stories he read online. So... at least he's got that going for him.
posted by narwhal at 3:16 PM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


My particular use of the phrase "snake oil" was based on the fake performance supplements he sold prior to writing The 4-Hour Work Week, not his diet book.
posted by nev at 3:39 PM on August 29, 2011


2) Eat the same meals over & over - because you're more successful with what you know you can eat rather than making guesstimations for every meal. ; 4) Don't eat fruit. --- Interesting. These are opposite of what they proclaim with Weight Watchers... Eating the same meal over and over supposedly conditions the body to expect it, and so, over time, your weight loss results lessen. More than that, eating the same thing over and over means you're not getting enough variety in your diet, and more than that, you'll get bored with it, and are less likely to stick to the diet, long term. And as for fruit -- well, the Weight Watchers plan lets you ignore counting all not starchy fruits and vegetables. You can eat as much of them as you need to stay full and satisfied (within reason).
posted by crunchland at 3:41 PM on August 29, 2011


Attacking a person for being a different kind of person than you would like to be is nonsensical and completely beside the point as well. I don't think anyone here, I don't even think Ferriss himself, would say "be like Timothy Ferriss."

He's a public figure known for his self-help books with a penchant for self-promotion. He kind of sets himself up for it.

I expect better of us.

I'm not sure who is the 'us' you're referring to, but clearly you've been visiting some other website. This is exactly what I expect of us, which is one of the reasons I love this place. Nobody is that precious and special. Sacred cows are fine and all but this isn't worth the battle you're fighting. If I write a book like that and come off that douchey, I beg you, please snark. Otherwise I might start to take myself too seriously and come to believe I'm fine with being a douchebag as long as enough people liked my book, which is far worse than the snark.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:42 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm discouraged and bewildered by the bad-mouthing the self-help genre gets on the Blue side of Metafilter when the most popular questions in the Green are usually questions that deal with the very topic, be it exercise, relationships, or mental health.
Hey, maybe Ferriss is a shameless self-promotion machine who's always working and uses misleading titles for his books. This isn't what's important about his work, however. The fact that at least some people have found the advice in the books useful in improving their lives is.

People want to find out how to improve their lives. I think they're more likely to find something useful in the Self-Help section than by consulting a friend that'll just say "Yeah, fuck Self-Help books. I've heard it all before. Self-help gurus are assholes. This stuff is not so complicated, dude. Just be yourself and figure out what's important."
posted by fantodstic at 3:52 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


And yes, bukvich, he really did weigh his stools..

From http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/361262_Ferriss-book-preaches-far-out-fitness.html

---

Except that when Ferriss binges, he endeavors to "have as much of the crap ingested either go into muscle tissue or out of the body unabsorbed."

[...] Ferriss writes, "Rather than debate meta-studies, I simply weighed my poo."


---

The man may be a shameless self-promoter & lay-scientist at best, but nearly everything he suggests is based on very meticulous note-taking & data gathering. His antics are certainly over-the-top enough that he doesn't need to make anything up.

Nev, do you know this? He acknowledges throughout 4HB that the supplement industry is cracked & that you never know what you're getting. He seemed to express real disgust at how anyone in the industry could bottle just about anything & get it on shelves. Perhaps, like Paul on the road to Damascus, he saw the proverbial light & wrote another chapter in the self-help book of life, but it would be very surprising to learn that he knowingly sold supplements that didn't work- especially given his ruthless attempts at isolating the variables of performance in his work on 4HB.

krinklyfig, I'm all for taking people down a notch- I'm not saying we should be exalting the ground this guy walks. I'm saying that calling him the "self-help guru we deserve" and decrying him a phony & snake oil salesman and then patting ourselves on the back for effectively dealing with yet another crackpot doesn't help to create any insight into whether or not the man has actually made some worthwhile discoveries. It doesn't help any of the curious, drawn to this article & seeing that it's garnered so many comments, determine whether or not the shit he's selling might actually work.

If he's a douchebag, he's a douchebag. I keep saying that we SHOULD SNARK but that we should snark in the context of an actual review of his material. Why are we so contented to just hand-wave the douchebag for being a douchebag and completely dismiss the content of his work?

That's what I don't get.

That's where I think we're better.
posted by narwhal at 3:53 PM on August 29, 2011


By off-hand comparing this guys work to every other charlatan & snake oil salesman ever, you've effectively Godwined the thread. We're better than that.

Convince me he's something different than every other charlatan and snake oil salesman ever, and we've got a deal. You're gonna need a hell of a self-help book to get the skills to do that, however. Guys bio =

Relentess self-promoter not qualified for nearly anything he does.
Made money selling flimflam supplements.
Claims to fame about as realistic as Saddam's people shredder, and nearly as tasteful.
Writes book about how selling flimflam and writing books means he doesn't have to work, and you can too!
Buys his own books to make them best sellers.

Ugh. It's like, someone found the absolute nadir of middle to upper class western life in all its self-obsession, short-term price-of-everything/value-of-nothing, gamification trivial, non-mindful, thoughtless and reflexive nonsense, and put a magnifying glass the size of a satellite dish under it.

The result, is this white hot, distilled, lacerating beam of dense, pure shit - like, a neutron star of shit. It doesn't even have any consistency, it's so dense it makes a diamond look like a soap bubble. Shit, and hyperbole and egotism that's somehow infused itself into a person, i.e Ferris. It walks around, withering everything it touches and turning human beings that are unhappy with themselves into slavering narcissistic morlocks, hating their own reflections yet powerless to look away and see a whole world that needs - and responds with - love.

So yeah, I resent him. I he's like a scum-feeding bacteria that produces toxins; it's not bad enough of its own, it poisons whatever it's in, too. He exists to take advantage of unhappy people and typifies the worst excesses of consumer, capitalist culture in the twenty-first century. I'm not a buddhist, but I believe there is a lot of merit in mindfulness and his entire existence is the antithesis to that.
posted by smoke at 3:54 PM on August 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


Also, what fantodstic said.

As Cicero once said: "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter comment on that post."
posted by narwhal at 3:57 PM on August 29, 2011


He exists to take advantage of unhappy people and typifies the worst excesses of consumer, capitalist culture in the twenty-first century.

Please relax.

He uses clever (misleading, sure) titles and he's a showy self-promoter in the publishing business. You want to talk about who takes advantage of unhappy people and typifies the worst excesses of capitalist culture and you picked Tim Ferriss the self-help guru as one of the bogeymen?? Come on.
posted by fantodstic at 4:02 PM on August 29, 2011


Hey, maybe Ferriss is a shameless self-promotion machine who's always working and uses misleading titles for his books. This isn't what's important about his work, however. The fact that at least some people have found the advice in the books useful in improving their lives is.

Maybe that's important to you. I found his glib advice and casual sexism to be fairly repellant.

Some people genuinely find Scientology helpful. That doesn't mean I won't criticize it.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:03 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


krinklyfig, I'm all for taking people down a notch- I'm not saying we should be exalting the ground this guy walks. I'm saying that calling him the "self-help guru we deserve" and decrying him a phony & snake oil salesman and then patting ourselves on the back for effectively dealing with yet another crackpot doesn't help to create any insight into whether or not the man has actually made some worthwhile discoveries. It doesn't help any of the curious, drawn to this article & seeing that it's garnered so many comments, determine whether or not the shit he's selling might actually work.

That's not my job, nor is that my responsibility. Maybe that's a burden you want to carry. It's not mine.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:05 PM on August 29, 2011


smoke:

Come on.

I love hyperbole as much as the next guy, but that's ridiculous. I nearly laughed out loud reading it- it's hilarious.. But it's completely useless as an argument.

The BEST that I can do is read his book & try it out and see if it works.

Even then, I'd only know if it worked for me.

Here, though, in the blue, are hundreds, if not thousands of people & their sockpuppets that could weigh in & say: "yeah, I tried this and it's bullshit" or "actually, it worked for me" or even "I'm a sock puppet, my waistline is the equivalent of your wrist- if anyone needs to lose weight, it's you"

It's fun to rip guys apart for being Chads & throwing parties for themselves where vacant, beautiful people congregate. I get it.

However, the only people who actually seem to have any actual, real input into the validity of the man's work have posted affirmatively. That alone should indicate to you in at least the tiniest way that perhaps there is merit to his method.

All I'm saying is: we're hundreds of people strong- why not leverage that heterogeneity to actually discuss the ideas he's promoting vs. the character of the promoter.

---

krinklyfig: Scientology? A man (to the best of his abilities) applies the scientific method to his own attempts at health & fitness while leveraging his (take it for better or worse) popularity to interview top people in various fields of sports & nutrition and the sum of his work is equivalent to Scientology?

And I never said it's your job or responsibility. I said it would be nice if we as a community could manage to flavor our criticisms with snark rather than parade our snark as final arguments.
posted by narwhal at 4:12 PM on August 29, 2011


krinklyfig: Scientology? A man (to the best of his abilities) applies the scientific method to his own attempts at health & fitness while leveraging his (take it for better or worse) popularity to interview top people in various fields of sports & nutrition and the sum of his work is equivalent to Scientology?

That's remarkably similar to what L. Ron Hubbard claimed his relig... sorry, SCIENCE, did.

And I never said it's your job or responsibility. I said it would be nice if we as a community could manage to flavor our criticisms with snark rather than parade our snark as final arguments.

This isn't a debate club. Conversation is messy. Not everyone will agree with the roles you wish us to play. It's not a role I want.

Anyway, good luck with that. It's a big site, you know? Chances are it's not going to play out the way you wish with all the people here, particularly since most of them don't read every thread, and new people join every day. There is always Metatalk. (Not suggesting you take it there, definitely not, but it's a bit of a dead horse now anyway ...)
posted by krinklyfig at 4:20 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Scientology persecutes members that become detractors and spends millions harassing critics and filing lawsuits against governments and individuals.

Tim Ferriss writes "glib advice" with "casual sexism" and makes a lot of money off of it.

I'm insulted on his behalf that you want to compare him with the former.
posted by fantodstic at 4:22 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops, didn't preview. I was responding to krinklyfig's previous comment.
posted by fantodstic at 4:23 PM on August 29, 2011


I'm insulted on his behalf that you want to compare him with the former.

LOL! Wow ...

Anyway, guess I touched a nerve. Not sure what the big deal is. I never claimed there was a direct analogy. Scientology makes a lot of outlandish claims based on their pseudo science. Self-help books like Ferriss' remind me of that.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:26 PM on August 29, 2011


Well, I can see my work is done here.

If anyone else wants to debate my glib criticisms, I'll be busy weighing my poop for a while...
posted by krinklyfig at 4:28 PM on August 29, 2011


Snake oil was very popular and helped lots of people too, according to anecdotes!!!! So did just about every other quack remedy for illnesses from cancer to addiction!!!

Just because you cite some science doesn't mean that what you say is scientific. Without controlled data, the anecdotes of people who say they were helped were meaningless. If you don't understand why, please take a class in the scientific method before you give advice to other people about some fabulous health thing that you believe in. Otherwise, you can actually do harm. And yes, people like Ferriss do actual harm by promoting nonsense based on anecdote and by promoting a selfish, thoughtless ideology that is based on exploiting people.

True, one might argue that that's simply capitalism, but I think that selling products that you know are worthless is a different type than selling stuff that is useful.
posted by Maias at 4:28 PM on August 29, 2011


Scientology makes a lot of outlandish claims based on their pseudo science. Self-help books like Ferriss' remind me of that.

Ok fair enough. Time to leave the house...
posted by fantodstic at 4:34 PM on August 29, 2011


Like sonascope, I lost a lot of weight on my own. I didn't even look anything up. All I did was keep track of my calories on a spreadsheet, and then later a simple MySQL DB with a PHP fronted I wrote (So I could access it 'in the cloud' :P).

I also worked out regularly on an elliptical. Those two things combined will make you lose weight. You don't have to do anything complicated.

Er, that all sounds pretty complicated to me.

IF I thought this stuff worked, I'd go for it in a second. But I think it only works if you have the sort of drive and confidence douchebags like Ferriss have, which I'm not sure can be taught.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:51 PM on August 29, 2011


Ever since I took a free-lance gig editing the self-published self-help book of a self-help guru, and found it almost completely unreadable (no paragraph was without its pun), I have avoided the things like the plague.

I'm convinced that reading these books makes you depressed.

Boom in self-help publishing coincides with:
Boom in depression
posted by bad grammar at 4:52 PM on August 29, 2011


That was poetry, Smoke. Well done. Practically broke my keyboard, I favorited it so hard.
posted by jayder at 4:53 PM on August 29, 2011


Ferriss is loathsome and his writings are terrible.

Narwhal, we know a huckster when we see one. I don't care if his current book is getting good results for people. He may have cobbled together some bits of useful stuff from various expert sources, and used his gifts as a huckster to peddle it, but that doesn't mean that the overall ambit of his career isn't filthy and harmful. One could write a pretty damn good fitness book by culling some of the better comments written on AskMe about weight loss and muscle gain. That doesn't mean one is an expert, that means one knows how to cut-and-paste.

He's re-tooled some really filthy MLM, late-night-infomercial, bottom-of-the-barrel ideas with a kind of gonzo, globe-trotting "edge" to it that appeals to small-minded, desperate, pathetic people's most venal fantasies of wealth and success. (Check out the bizarre explosions of sycophancy toward Ferris that are vomited all over the comments section in his blog).

I've heard people extolling the virtues of his "Four Hour Workweek" ideas, and I saw immediately that nothing like that would work for people with jobs of real responsibility (like my job, lawyering, and many others). What he's celebrating and promoting is a fantasy of wealth without responsibility. He's an edgier Kevin Trudeau in North Face gear, with a dash of Robert Allen (of Cash in a Flash and Multiple Streams of Income!!!! fame).

I really think everything you need to know about Ferriss is represented in this blog entry he did on Tucker Max. The tone of this entry shows that Ferriss values someone's fame and success above pretty much all else, and shows the kind of weird manipulativeness that seems to be a theme through Ferriss's work. Tim revels in and regales us with the tale of his own incredible savvy earning Tucker Max's respect. (If you're wondering what kind of people are buying up Ferriss's books, check the comments section to this piece to see a representative sampling of the imbeciles on parade.)

Anyway, here's Tim reveling in his social mastery that secured him the honor of drinking with Tucker Max:

Tim: How did I go from Tucker's "Who the fuck are you?" to drinking with him an hour later and having lunch with him the following day? Out of 40 people lined up, why did I make the cut? Simple: I made an educated guess and used language to reflect it. Here's how it happened: I noticed Tucker had a big neck when he walked up to the panel seats. I therefore guessed he either 1) had trained in jiu-jitsu or wrestling, or 2) was a former football player who at least watched UFC. In response to "Who the fuck are you?" I answered "My name is Tim Ferriss. I'm writing my first book for Random House and used to compete as a fighter." That was the lure. Tucker responded: "What, MMA?" Bingo. "I competed mostly in wrestling and kickboxing, but I train at AKA in San Jose with Dave Camarillo. Swick, John Fitch, and a bunch of the UFC pros train there." A few minutes later, Tucker grabbed me to go drinking. Once again, it pays to know your audience, and being different is often more effective than being better.
posted by jayder at 5:40 PM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's probable I entered into this discussion with a chip on my shoulder.

It irritates me to no end that throughout our culture, we judge the merit of work, without shame or remorse based on simple emotive responses to the worker.

In some cases, it's positive: "Look at this guy, he's wearing hand-made clothing he spun from cotton he grew and picked on his own farm: his blueberry pie must be delicious."

Often, it's negative: "That company is known for paying their workers terrible wages! Their blueberry pie must taste like shit!"

Sometimes, our conditioning is such that we actually RESENT the hand-made clothing wearing farmer because he's clearly "trying too hard to appear all green & shit."

And then there's the confounding degree of biases that make up our ACTUAL responses to these people, the layers upon layers of "I think this one part of him is cool, but this other part is douche-y.."

So that, at the end of the day, when we have managed to conceive our poorly begotten opinion, which, because it is our very own, just happens to be THE MOST IMPORTANT AND DEFENSIBLE POSITION EVER, we are hopefully out of touch with the actual truth of whether or not the pie is worth eating. Obviously, achieving consensus of the deliciousness of pie is near impossible. But this is different, this is measurable; this is science.

It's not that I don't understand that this happens.

It's not that I don't expect it to happen.

It's that sometimes, when it's so apparent that these opinions have been created by intense personal reaction to SOMETHING a person did outside of the actual work in question that I can't help but beg people to just breathe in, breathe out, inventory their knee-jerk responses, and see if maybe, just maybe, something a little more reasonable can be said.

The reason this bothers me is selfish: there is simply too much information. I do my best to take it all in & to make sound judgments, but there's always something I don't know, something I haven't considered. Perhaps it's foolish of me, but I actively seek the knowledge, wisdom, and even opinions of people who know more than me, who are more intimate with a particular part of the problem, who have done more thinking than I have.

Believe it or not, I count Metafilter as a source of this kind of insight.

There have been countless threads that I've read in the blue which have provoked new ideas, sparked new research on my part, and helped clarify knotty puzzles.

And then there have been threads, like this one, where I arrived hoping to hear a wealth of diet, nutrition, and exercise folk, those akin to the experts who have appeared in threads past, proclaim & disclaim the merits of Ferriss' work. I hoped to be given insight into the stickier elements of the science he's done, the research he's collected; to be enlightened by the special crowd that IS Metafilter in my opinion. Of course, I expect snarks and asides and a couple of derailing rants- that's all part of the fun.

Instead, I'm greeted with overwhelmingly uninformed derision, mocking the man for his social skills & glossing the reason he's being discussed in the first place- his latest book.

This is exactly what I'd expect from Fox News or any other "for the ratings" purveyor of "news." Some beautiful woman, glibly mocking the newest "diet rage" that has people "lining up in bookstores."

Whatever.

Like I said: I expected better here.

Sorry about that. Didn't mean to upset the balance of the force- clearly, our right to snark from the hip should never be questioned, even in good faith.

It's been fun.

Ish.

I'll respond if addressed, but otherwise, I'll let it go.

---
Jayder- I just saw your comment and while I appreciate your attempt to explain, the heft of your comment essentially boils down to: look at how this guy is a complete tool, see how he admires other total tools like Tucker Maxx, and note that his blog garners readers & commentators that are total tools.

I haven't read (and won't speak to the 4 Hour Work Week) but I *have* read the 4 Hour Body and I can tell you that despite having attempted to increase my own knowledge of health & fitness over the past 15 years, he introduced me to concepts that had never made it into my awareness. It's precisely because those pieces struck me as out of the ordinary & NOT something I'd heard before that I hoped to discover insight HERE, insight that might point me to the science supporting (or refuting) his carefully cut & pasted work (to use your analogy). The fact is, regardless of whether or not someone could write a successful how-to by culling AskMe, no one has. Ferriss HAS written a book and it MIGHT have merit. Instead of out-of-hand dismissal, I'm just asking for discussion.
posted by narwhal at 5:59 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Narwhal -- this thread isn't about the merits of The Four-Hour Body, but rather about Ferriss as a self-help guru. Ferriss promotes himself as a "lifestyle designer," and therefore, whether he is promoting realistic strategies or venal fantasies is relevant to our evaluation of him as a lifestyle designer. We have to ask ourselves, "Is this guy making any sense? Are his ideas realistic? Is the lifestyle he advocates possible?" All of the comments you think are fueled by "emotive responses" to Ferriss are actually VERY relevant to this discussion.
posted by jayder at 6:09 PM on August 29, 2011


So, you're saying that weighing your own fecal matter isn't realistic?
posted by crunchland at 6:39 PM on August 29, 2011


jayder: I disagree. Even taking you at your very specific evaluation of what this thread is about, the validity of Ferriss as self-help guru, he doesn't deserve the vitriol present in this thread. You (and others) have made an assumption & a value judgement. The value judgement: that Ferriss's lifestyle is undesirable (he's the proverbial rich, self-absorbed tool we would do well to never have known); the assumption: that the lifestyle Ferriss would design must be akin to his own. I disagree with this assessment on two fronts:

First, the traditional guru, the enlightened monk at the top of a mountain certainly isn't judged on his ability to help/guide/inform the layperson who comes to him on account of his ascetic lifestyle. Clearly, he has good advice despite living differently than he might suggest. This is not hypocritical, this is often times necessary- the contemplative living is needed for the monk to develop his wisdom, perhaps. Likewise, if I were to give Ferriss the benefit of the doubt, the figure he's cultivated has been necessary to reach out to (and receive help from) the trainers, nutritionists, doctors, coaches, trainers, etc. I'm not keen on the idea of celibacy amongst clergy, but I think there is a similar analogy in play- we expect that those who lead us & guide us might have to live according to a different set of standards. Again, we can admire the monk & detest the Max, but that isn't a view into Ferriss' ability to provide self-help. If we don't judge the guru for offering advice he doesn't appear to follow, why are we so quick to condemn Ferriss?

Second, sadly, success, outside of this thread, is measured by a great many people to appear as Ferriss promotes. So, if we're concerned with the validity of this self-help guru & whether or not the self-help he's promoting would help someone to achieve the level of vapidity we seem so certain Ferriss endorses, well, again, why the vitriol? It appears that according to this argument, he's very good at what he does as he himself lives this lifestyle to a "T." Insofar as his self-help has been sought & administered, it seems to work. Perhaps, as you've suggested, his 4 Hour Work Week is a terrible pyramid-scheme-like schill that would only work for the very lucky or the unscrupulous. I don't know. The excerpts I've read, however, seem to indicate that ultimately one should make money by doing as little as possible & reduce actual work to that which would be the most effective use of your time. Sure, that strokes the American dream, get the most for the least, but it doesn't mean he's incorrect or that his advice wouldn't work, that it doesn't have merit. It just means that you have to be clever. Does it suck that we outsource jobs to countries with cheap labor? Yep. Is that unscrupulous? Yup. If I want to manage my time more effectively & take advantage of that resource in my "whatever it takes" attempt to reach the top, does that make the advice wrong somehow? No. Is he a terrible self-help guru if the help I'm seeking can come at any price? No. If a bad man makes a weapon that works very well to do a lot of harm & the question on hand is "can the man make a good weapon," the answer is still "yes."

What I think, however, is that he's not as bad as he's made out to be. Probably, as in almost everywhere else in life, and as even Metafilter is capable of understanding at times, there are shades of gray. Probably, you could take pieces of insight from the 4 Hour Work Week, & while maintaining your dignity & scruples, still manage to streamline your efficacy. Is that being discussed? No. Would I like it to be discussed? Yes. Would it be more productive to discuss the work rather than the man? Yes.

To answer your questions:

Is this guy making any sense?

Sure. As a 4HWW author, he's telling us how we can cut out cruft in our working lives, get more done in less time. As a 4HB author, he's telling us how we can get stronger in less time, eat healthier without a difficult diet plan, & make love better. As a lifestyle designer, he's saying that he has the tools at his disposal to help you do all of these things with a custom-fit plan.

Are his ideas realistic?

I don't know. The science in 4HB sounds legit, but I don't know. I have a lay understanding of science but I'm not a chemist, I'm not a biologist. I actually came here to get some of those answers. The 4HWW sounds realistic at a price. I certainly think it's realistic that if one could hire him, one probably has the resources necessary to take the steps he might recommend and that those steps would probably have a degree of success.

Is the lifestyle he advocates possible?

Again, if you have the resources to hire him as lifestyle designer, I image so. If you're a lay reader of his books, the lifestyle in 4HB is *definitely* possible- the question is, does it work? Once more, I don't know. It'd be great to discuss it. The lifestyle in 4HWW may or may not be possible- I haven't read the book, but I can't help but imagine that at least some of his advice is immediately actionable.

Just because you wouldn't like the lifestyle he claims to offer doesn't mean he can't deliver. Just because you don't like the lifestyle he seems to endorse doesn't mean his advice can't help you reach your own goals. That's where the emotive response comes in, where it has no place, and where I, for one, wish we could move on.

I'll say it for all of us: the guy seems like a tool. Someone who took whatever advice he's offering and applied it unscrupulously would be a tool. Agreed. Now, can we talk about whether his advice works?
posted by narwhal at 7:04 PM on August 29, 2011


I noticed Tucker had a big neck

Huh, it wasn't until I read this that I realized I have never actually seen a picture of Tucker Max and have instead ever since I first heard of him been, for some reason, mentally picturing him as Ryan Reynolds. Weird.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:29 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mine got Ferris Bueller.
posted by davel at 8:43 PM on August 29, 2011


What I think, however, is that he's not as bad as he's made out to be. Probably, as in almost everywhere else in life, and as even Metafilter is capable of understanding at times, there are shades of gray.

We can only know by his own words and actions. Personally, so many of my alarm bells ring and so many red flags go up when I see what this guy produces and says that I want to avoid him, his books and his advice.

I'll say it for all of us: the guy seems like a tool. Someone who took whatever advice he's offering and applied it unscrupulously would be a tool. Agreed. Now, can we talk about whether his advice works?

Why would you want to take lifestyle advice from someone even you admit is a "tool?" Do you want to be a tool?

The science in 4HB sounds legit, but I don't know. I have a lay understanding of science but I'm not a chemist, I'm not a biologist. I actually came here to get some of those answers

Is this really the right venue for those questions? I suppose there is always AskMe.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:48 PM on August 29, 2011


> Like I keep saying: show me where he's wrong & I'll happily jump on the bandwagon.

He did not weigh his turds. That is a ridiculous lie. If you believe that you are a sucker.

If (by some almost preposterous scenario) he did weigh his turds he's a fool.

It is a prima facie reductio ad absurdum.
posted by bukvich at 8:56 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not keen on the idea of celibacy amongst clergy, but I think there is a similar analogy in play- we expect that those who lead us & guide us might have to live according to a different set of standards.

I think your sentence works better if you substitute "higher" for "different." This guy's standards are nowhere near what I would expect from someone who purportedly aspires to help others. He mostly seems interested in helping himself by selling half-baked advice for money.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:56 PM on August 29, 2011


OK, narwhal, to be fair, here's my answer to your repeated questions ...

I think if you want to take steps to improve your life, you can do so by taking advice from people who are authoritative. Take advice from people who are educated on the subject they write about. For instance, if you want help with your diet, you can get advice from a nutritionist. There are plenty of books available (not books about fad diets). You can get help in being more efficient by hiring a coach, or by joining a support group online. You can get help exercising at a gym from a trainer and from your doctor, and plenty of them write books as well. Websites like WebMD are available and are truly authoritative. Etc., etc., etc. Why take that kind of advice from a person like this, a person who is not authoritative and clearly is interested in self-promotion above all else, a "tool?" Why bother to tease out the gems from the piles of garbage? What do you possibly hope to gain from this, and why not look elsewhere, where the advice is known to be sound and from a real authority on the subject you're interested in?
posted by krinklyfig at 9:12 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mine got Ferris Bueller.

And I think the evidence shows we could've done a helluva lot worse.
posted by brennen at 9:23 PM on August 29, 2011


He did not weigh his turds. That is a ridiculous lie. If you believe that you are a sucker. --- New York Times on Tim Ferriss : "This is a man who, after all, weighs his own feces, likes bloodletting as a life-extension strategy and aims a Philips goLite at his body in place of ingesting caffeine."
posted by crunchland at 9:23 PM on August 29, 2011


Why would you want to take lifestyle advice from someone even you admit is a "tool?"

How many times do people have to tell you: BECAUSE IT WORKS!

What do you possibly hope to gain from this, and why not look elsewhere, where the advice is known to be sound and from a real authority on the subject you're interested in?

Define "sound".

I think it's pretty obvious that people who find the 4HB has worked for them HAVE looked elsewhere and, for whatever reason, nothing else has worked for them.

It seems bizarre to me that people in this thread are telling people who have finally been able to lose weight (after gyms, nutritionists, diet changes, and other things have failed them) that they shouldn't take this guy's advise because "he's a tool". Tell it to the scale, krinklyfig.

If someone's a nutritionist and tells X what to do to lose weight and X either can't follow those directions or doesn't see results then X should go to another nutritionist or expert... why? They already know what works. It's working for them right now.

Ferris' diet isn't going to hurt them. It consists of legumes, lentils, vegetables, and protein (fish, chicken, beef, eggs). He lays out a simple plan that pretty much anyone can follow. And it works. (Or, if it doesn't, I assume X will stop following it.)

But its simplicity and effectiveness should be ignored because you don't like him. Uh huh. Who's the tool, again?
posted by dobbs at 9:31 PM on August 29, 2011


How many times do people have to tell you: BECAUSE IT WORKS!

So what? Once upon a time, people said the Atkins diet WORKS, the South Beach Diet WORKS, the Zone diet WORKS, Body For Life WORKS, etc. etc. etc.

Just because you happen to have embraced the latest or flashiest popularizer of commonly circulating ideas, does not make your popularizer-of-the-moment a remarkable person, a great author, or a worthy lifestyle guru.

Rather, you've adopted the latest fad. Good for you! That doesn't change the fact that Ferriss is a laughable, cheesy huckster.
posted by jayder at 9:51 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK one last (I swear) word on weighing turds and Tim Ferriss weighing his.

A couple of people have posted supposed references to back up this claim. They are not. This is a claim with no support. None.

Weighing your turds would only be required if one is ignorant of the Law of Conservation of Mass. I have seen nothing to support the idea that Ferris is not ignorant of the Law of Conservation of Mass. I could easily have missed this as I have not read the guy all that close.

If you want to know what your turds weigh you do not have to weigh the filthy stuff. You weigh yourself (including turds). You do your business. You weigh yourself a second time. Measurement number one minus measurement number two is the weight of your turds.

I have actually studied this issue quite closely. From around 1 April 2010 to around 1 September 2010 I went from around 150 pounds to 125 pounds at which point I purchased a scale and started paying really close attention to the numbers. Amongst my findings (which are almost all recorded and I am willing to disclose the numbers if you really want more data):

feces weigh next to nothing. You can take the biggest dump imaginable and the before and after numbers for an 18 inch long X 1 inch diameter turd are less than a pound.

urine weighs a lot. A big piss can be two pounds.

Most of us is water. When you weigh your food, most of the mass in the food is water. If you are going to quantify every pound of input and output the water input and output is far more significant than what you presume are the solid input and output.

With steady input and output and multiple measurements daily there is a fluctuation of a couple pounds (over a 125-150 baseline). When people say "I lost two pounds" that is an entirely meaningless observation.

I cannot imagine the stupidity involved in formulating the idea that weighing one's turds is useful.
posted by bukvich at 10:23 PM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I really have no dog in this fight. I could give two bits about Tim Ferris, but I'd heard he wrote some stuff people found interesting. The 4 Hour Workweek sounded like garbage to me, and so I never read it. The 4 Hour Body sounded interesting to me, so I went to the library checked it out and read it. I like to think I'm decently educated in Exercise Science and such as at one point I've spent quite a bit of time in and out of school studying it. What Tim Ferris had to say in 4HB wasn't enlightening but I think he covered the topics in a fairly concise manner and scatological fetishes aside I wouldn't hesitate to suggest it as reading material for anyone interested.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:29 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


If someone's a nutritionist and tells X what to do to lose weight and X either can't follow those directions or doesn't see results then X should go to another nutritionist or expert... why? They already know what works. It's working for them right now.

More power to you. By all means, do what works. Not sure what makes Tim Ferriss' advice more worthwhile when the same advice (without the poop) is available elsewhere from more reliable sources, but who am I to stop you? Even if it works, I wouldn't want to give that guy any of my money, but maybe that's just me.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:13 PM on August 29, 2011


I cannot imagine the stupidity involved in formulating the idea that weighing one's turds is useful.

There's a popular British television show which features a nutritionist who does something like this. It's not really necessary. I believe it's done purely for the effect that it brings in viewers, because that's what people tend to remember about her.

Ah yes, here she is, Gillian McKeith. Turns out she's Scottish. That explains it. (ducks)

'She recommends detox diets and colonic irrigation, argues that the colour of food is nutritionally significant, and that she can diagnose ailments by examining people's tongues and stools ...'

She is endorsed by the Soil Association, but 'asked about her advice, Amanda Wynne, senior dietician with the British Dietetic Association, said: "We are appalled. I think it is obvious she has not a clue about nutrition. In fact her advice, if followed to the limit, could be dangerous. Her TV programme takes obese people and puts them on a crash diet that is very hazardous to health."'

Not all nutritionists are of the same quality. Her formal education was in linguistics. She received her nutrition education through a non-accredited school and often recommends products which are only available through her.

Another self-promoting dubious authority in nutrition and health who is strangely fixated on poo. I sense a pattern here ...

(IAN your nutritionist.)
posted by krinklyfig at 11:44 PM on August 29, 2011


Anyone else get the sneaking suspicion that narwhal is Tim Ferris?
posted by diocletian at 11:47 PM on August 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well said, bukvich. Excellent analogy. My average "morning piss" would easily be a pound.

A lecturer once told us students that we should LOOK at our poo before flushing it. For example, if it's very dark [almost black] then it could mean there's "dead blood" in there and this is a big warning sign to get yourself to the doc.

But my lecturer's advice was more regarding general health, rather than getting intimate with your poo and weighing it for some crazy weight loss charting fad.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:16 AM on August 30, 2011


A lecturer once told us students that we should LOOK at our poo before flushing it.

And rate it.
posted by pracowity at 12:46 AM on August 30, 2011


I don't have any particular problem with Ferriss as a person, who is more of a symptom of what's wrong with our regulation of our own lives these days than the cause. I haven't read his books, and I know some people will therefore say "well, you don't have any credibility," and if I were approaching him as a literary critic, that would be true. As an actual person with things to do, I have to say sometimes I don't need to wade through a river of shit to know that it's a river of shit. When you trumpet a plan that'll fix everyone's problems, you're marketing a river of shit.

That's the thing. When I lost weight, achieving the sad goal of too many Americans, everyone was asking me, non-stop, how I did it. I tell them that I counted calories, kept it all in a spreadsheet so I could project and track my ups and downs, and I've given that spreadsheet to quite a few people, some of whom have lost weight, but that's just the core of the process. The actual specifics are specific to me, so I can't tell you how you should lose weight.

Along the way, I was my own experiment. I found out things through observation that I later confirmed with a bunch of research, like how white rice sets me up for a killer mid-day slump. Calorie-wise, I could eat my daily allotment in all white rice, and I'd lose as much weight as if I ate something else, but at the cost of having to sneak into the furnace room at work and take a nap on my lunch hour. Same turned out to be true with potatoes and macaroni. You could read a book like the Atkins book and conclude mostly the same thing—ALL CARBS ARE BAD!—except I found certain combinations worked and certain ones didn't. If I ate ramen prepared according to the directions on the bag, I'd get knocked out. If I made the noodles, but threw out the packet and added my delicious homemade spicy peanut butter sauce instead, and ate them cold, no knock-out. I experimented, observed, and paid attention to the results.

Well, I don't have time for all that nonsense. Right?

I could have found my results in any number of books, buried in hundreds of pages of shouty, do-as-I-do-or-you're-going-to-fail prose delivered by presumptive gurus, or spent fortunes on Jenny Craig or whatever fad is currently making the rounds, but I just experimented, observed, and paid attention. I let myself be awake instead of being distracted by the ridiculous popular belief that we don't have enough time for such things. My reward was a pretty deep understanding of how my body works.

If I eat salty things, my weight will go up about five pounds, which I'll lose just as suddenly. If I eat nothing but a piece of well-seasoned roast chicken breast as my whole meal, my energy will burn slowly through the day. If I eat a candy bar, I'll be satisfied, but not enough to make it worth taking a 340 calorie chunk out of my day.

I also ate a hell of a lot of McDonalds food, and lost weight the whole time. I've memorized the calorie counts on my favorites there, and learned which things to avoid for a variety of reasons, like the salt issue or because of the uncontrollable crapping aftermath. This infuriated my friends who work hard to be healthy and green about things, who warned about health consequences, but I'm one of those frustrating fat people whose cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, blood sugar, and other indicators don't reflect the predictions of the fear-crazed obesity obsessives. Besides, McDonalds food is made in factories, to very precise standards, and is calorie accurate to a fault.

Your mileage, as they say, may vary, which is why it's better to experiment and document in your own life rather than go to the gurus. The gurus invariably dish out some good advice, usually by the mechanism that allows a stopped clock to be right twice a day, but there's so much wallowing in turgid texts written in the voice of that annoying camp counselor who always wanted everyone to have FUN FUN FUN and had that pumped-up motivational speaker puff going at full steam. If we're reading these books because life's too busy to live our life with curiosity and direct observation, aren't we too busy to obey a hundred pages of cultish propaganda about how everyone else is wrong and only I, the great lifehacker, have ever truly seen the wiring under the board?

Works for some, I suppose, but too much time is spent supporting the branding of the franchise, repeating the trademarked mantras, and enlisting converts to evangelize the product. The lesson I take away from the self-help bishops and cardinals of the world is about marketing, not living. Maybe that's just me.

For me, the very best advice came from Fred Rogers, who ceaselessly told me that there is only one person like me in the whole world, so it's up to me to discover who I am, how I work, and what I'm capable of doing. The only book ever written about that is the one I'm writing myself, as I watch what I'm doing and make note of the results. I lost seventy pounds, gained thirty-five back over three years, and rather than cry over a "failure," I get to investigate what changed to make that happen, and work out a correction. Life is a big chemistry set, the great old-fashioned kind you can't get anymore, with acid and exploding things, but oh my, the experiments along the way…

There's something in all those books, but I have to look at them the same way I have to look at a carton of Turkey Hill Party Cake ice cream at the grocery store and think "well, this looks glorious, but is it worth the bite it'll take out of the resources I have?" Is it worth the effort to wade through the river of shit to find the bits of genuine information? Not for me, alas, but YMMV.
posted by sonascope at 3:58 AM on August 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Anyone else get the sneaking suspicion that narwhal is Tim Ferris? --- Don't you think he'd outsource that, too?
posted by crunchland at 5:13 AM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


i am tim ferris

what you need to do, is take a dump in a cardboard box.

keep it under your bed. every day, open the box and yell at the turd about your problems. throw shit. scream at it. it's the bad thing. it's what's wrong.

you'll start getting scared to take a dump and there will be less room for food so you'll get thinner.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:52 AM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


You can take the biggest dump imaginable and the before and after numbers for an 18 inch long X 1 inch diameter turd are less than a pound

Converting to centimeters: that's 45 centimeters in length, and 1.25 centimeters in radius, for a volume of about 220 cubic centimeters.

The density of feces is approximately the same as water (they just barely float), so it weighs about 220 grams, or about half a pound.

I am surprised, given my years of experience in both mathematics and dump-taking, that I've never done this computation before.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:02 AM on August 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


The reason I don't like Tim Ferriss is this: Where I work, it's pretty common to eat your breakfast in the staffroom before your shift starts in the morning. One of my coworkers is doing the 4-Hour Body thing, and all he eats is kimchi and natto. The staffroom is small, and stinks for the rest of the day. As does school kitchen, because he keeps his lunch portions of kimchi and natto in the fridge there. By the end of the day, the entire school stinks.
posted by emmling at 8:36 AM on August 30, 2011


Well that's just jerkface.
posted by Theta States at 9:30 AM on August 30, 2011


Just because you wouldn't like the lifestyle he claims to offer doesn't mean he can't deliver. Just because you don't like the lifestyle he seems to endorse doesn't mean his advice can't help you reach your own goals. That's where the emotive response comes in, where it has no place, and where I, for one, wish we could move on.

This is the same reasoning that religious types try to sell The Bible as absolute morality, because they truly believe that before it came along, no one else had come up with the idea of "thou shalt not kill", and say what you will about the church, its history, its scandals, etc, that if we didn't have The Bible, murder would be legal!!1

I'm CATHOLIC and I don't buy that shit, so you can imagine what I think of this guy.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:51 PM on August 30, 2011


actually murder is kind of legal if youre a soldier or a cop or you work for the government

i mean i think theyre cool with it as long as it isnt anybody they know and you dont abuse the privilege
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:15 AM on August 31, 2011


On the bright side, at least he's not asking us to sell his product to our friends with the promise of passing us a share of the profits as re-sellers.
posted by Theta States at 5:42 AM on August 31, 2011


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