Decision AHS13 Atlanta: Not Submitting a Presentation

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I greatly enjoyed being one of the first to know about and promote the Ancestral Health Symposium, long before the beginning of it. Brent Pottenger and Aaron Blaisdell have never been anything but cordial and friendly with me, and it was a tremendous pleasure to be involved with both previous events as a layman / blogger presenter.

When the video of my AHS12 presentation got released, I wrote this in my post announcing it:

AHS has just put out the call for presentation submissions for AHS13 in Atlanta next August. Deadline is January 15th, and while I have mostly leaned toward not doing it again, I’m leaving it open for consideration. I’ll chew on what value I might be able to bring and then decide definitively.

Time’s up.

I had recently been considering submitting a proposal for a wholly different sort of presentation from what I’ve done in the last two: a sciency one with references & shit. Resistant Starch, given my penchant for starchy Real Foods, potatoes and The Potato Diet, recently. I thought it might be a nice adjunct to the Jaminet-esque Safe Starch debate of AHS12.

But I skate on thin ice, given the hoopla surrounding the combination in which I make my fingers hit keys on the board…often in good ways, often in bad ways, but always whatever rolls at the moment.

That being the given—and my resolution to recapture my principal original focus of being a real help to real people out there, moving forward—I’ve decided to pass. Whether I submit and get turned down, or submit and get accepted, there will be needless drama. I care not a wit about my own lot in that regard, but I do have a sense that the spectacle detracts from what AHS is trying to accomplish, which I support.

They have a right to not be associated with me. Even submitting a proposal at this point entails some compelled association on my part.

Finally, I think I’m better off for it. So is everyone else. I don’t like being told what to do by anyone and will always affirmatively make a point of that. AHS has never told me what to do, of course, but there is an undercurrent of expectation that ultimately translates to upholding standards of decorum AHS would prefer. And this probably tends to fuck me up, arguably makes me more outlandish than I might otherwise be.

I’m simply not cut out for upholding anyone’s standards but my own. Accordingly, it’s best for me to only do speaking engagements where I’ve been explicitly invited by those who know all about what I’m all about.

…And so henceforth, nobody has any arguments about how the way I make my fingers move on the keyboard reflects in any way on the Ancestral Health Society.

Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More


  1. CatherineakaCate on January 8, 2013 at 17:21

    I can see that.

    Maybe that will open a spot for Carbsane or some much needed minority input. ;)

  2. CDLXI on January 8, 2013 at 17:59

    Sounds like you made a well thought out decision. I don’t do so good trying to meet other peoples expectations especially if I have to behave in a certain manner. No freedom in that.

  3. Joshua on January 8, 2013 at 18:40

    What’s the over/under for how long it’ll take for Melissa to start crowing about her “victory”? I’m surprised that she hasn’t done so already, but maybe she has a life or something. I give her until midnight eastern time.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 8, 2013 at 18:54

      Well, Joshua, she probably has to leave up the last post quoted from comment that I really have no interest in fucking her.

      Such is life.

  4. Bets on January 8, 2013 at 18:45

    Shoot, Cate beat me to it.

    I was gonna say, “You’re not going to AHS?!? What, and miss Evelyn’s presentation?” :-)

  5. CatherineakaCate on January 8, 2013 at 18:49

    I would watch the video online if they invited Petro Dobromylskyj to be on an insulin panel debating Stephan Guyenet. I don’t think I’d go to Atlanta for anything, honestly.
    If Nassim Taleb was presenting, maybe.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 8, 2013 at 19:01


      I’m not sure if it’s in the final published version, but I got an email from Nassim a few months back. He had read my little ebook and put some blurb about it or something I wrote in it in his latest book, Anti-Fragile, I think. He gave me a 5-star on Amazon for mine.

      Coincidentally, if you search his name on my blog, you’ll see I read him and blogged about him at least a year or two before paleo in 2007. Art was my first entry into Paleo. Small world.

  6. CatherineakaCate on January 8, 2013 at 19:25

    He is *awesome* and I would lick his boots.
    Your post on binary thinking won me over, btw. (even though you use bad words)
    I think we need to keep a free arm of Paleo, and what is happening now, ain’t it.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 8, 2013 at 19:50

      “I think we need to keep a free arm of Paleo, and what is happening now, ain’t it.”

      Agreed. I’ll do my best, ma’am.

  7. marie on January 8, 2013 at 22:31

    Richard, your decision and rationale are true object lessons in both independence and thoughtfulness.
    Salut, mon cher.
    However, that independence is very valuable in the increasingly dogmatic paleo environment and your functional + well-researched approach to any of your n=1 experimentation are an important contribution.
    So I think that not presenting on resistant starch “all sciency with references and shit” will be a real loss in a conference where honest debate should continue to be facilitated.
    I don’t envy you having to weigh this decision, it must have been be tough given your instincts to help people and to share your experiences and synthesis of the scientific state-of-the-art.

    • Kate Ground on January 9, 2013 at 09:24

      Yes, it’s a shame…but, be that as it may, you got me thinking on the potato issue. I’m my feeble paleo mind, if it can be eaten raw, why wouldn’t the Paleolithic man eat it? Yes, I like raw potatoes

  8. Karl on January 9, 2013 at 01:05

    I too think you (bloggers) got taken advantage of by the AHS intelligentsia.

  9. Elenor on January 9, 2013 at 01:24

    Well, Richard, I hope you COME to the AHS2013, even if you don’t present… It’ll be a party, no matter who is presenting (or not), and you’d be a welcome addition to the party!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 9, 2013 at 10:23

      Probably not, Elanor. Thing is, year 1 conflicted with my annual family camping trip to Hat Creek where I hang glide and I had to inconvenience everyone and move the weekend to July (we always go first part of August). 2nd year, it conflicted with Bea going back to school (getting ready) and this year, solidly conflicts with that.

      I don’t like traveling without Bea, especially for something she’s peripherally involved in (people at AHS11 made her feel like a Queen). besides that, I have no envy of being in Hotlanta in August (kinda bad move, in my view). Seattle would have been a far superior choice.

      • Paul on January 9, 2013 at 11:13

        Atlanta in August is crazy.

        I bet they got a deal, though.

  10. Contemplationist on January 9, 2013 at 21:24

    But Richard, this means the terrorists have won!
    More seriously, isn’t this exactly what your detractors were looking for?
    Ideological conformity will be slowly enforced. This is the first step.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 9, 2013 at 21:38

      Surely you didn’t assume Im not fully aware of this sort of take.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 10, 2013 at 08:14

      “More seriously, isn’t this exactly what your detractors were looking for?”

      No. What they were looking for is for me to be uninvited last year, which didn’t happen. They would have been happy had I submitted and gotten rejected this year. Whether or not that would have happened (and I had zero indication one way or another from anyone). In fact, I had emailed Carlos Toro when the call came out and offered not to submit if doing so might cause needless drama, told him I was leaning towards not, and the reply I got back was simply that I should consider it and I have plenty of time before the 1/15 deadline.

      So, while the detractors may indeed have something to celebrate, I don’t think there’s much drama in the celebration.

      And besides, I’ve done this two years in a row without compensation, at my own significant expense (the Boston trip was a doozie in terms of flights, hotel, food & drink—presenters did get reimbursed by the society for one night of stay in the hotel). I don’t really owe anyone anything.

  11. Simon Carter on January 10, 2013 at 08:34

    Come on Richard, admit it! Like Stephan Guyenet, you were afraid of being stabbed by Woo!

  12. […] swearing off last year's drama in one of my firsts posts of the year and sticking to it, I have been justly […]

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