Plate-Wise •  4/16/2020

The Three Sources of Information for Quick Decision-making

Written By Gregoire Dignat
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When my wife was seven months pregnant with our first child, we decided to reconsider how we make important decisions about our family. Why? Receiving and trying to digest an overabundance of information and opinions is overwhelming. So, to make a more focused decision as a couple, we started looking to just three main sources of information. We aren’t concerned with making the best decision, but one that minimizes risk and maximizes our time enjoying family.

Let’s take an example (but a true story, I swear) of this decision-making process.* Our midwife didn’t recommend eating food made with white flour while pregnant. That statement immediately lit up multiple warning signals in my critical mind, so I looked into this thought because my wife loves food paired with a crunchy French baguette!

3 Sources of Information for Decision-making

  1. My intuition: In my opinion, personal experience is the least reliable source of information. Memories can be false, rewritten and suggested, and fear is a fertile ground to all kinds of manipulations.
    However, biased information doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It just needs to be carefully examined. Self-criticism is mandatory if you want to rely on what your gut says. I’m French and the baguette is profoundly anchored in my culture. “Traditional” doesn’t always mean “good”; however, I can reasonably assume that France doesn’t suffer from more baby development issues than other countries.
  2. The experts: Seeking professional opinions is probably the quickest way to get reliable information but please consider the following:
    • Ensure experts stay in their domain of expertise. Our midwife should be an expert in the birthing process and its medical complications, but not likely in nutrition or agronomy. At least not more than any informed citizen.
    • Don’t make a conclusion too quickly. Facts need interpretations to be turned into recommendations, and the logical link isn’t always as obvious as it may seem. Take time to think and investigate your questions. 
      • For example, our midwife said: “White flour doesn’t contain all the nutrients that complete flour has”. OK, so maybe I could complement the baguette with some vegetables and fruits as recommended by the WHO1. “Besides it is bleached with carcinogenic product.” No intuition here, so I’ll investigate later.
  3. The literature: While there are many sources of information, literature is what I rely on most. However, a high Google ranking does not necessarily make the literature correct, nor the sources experts. We need to apply judgement to the links that a Google search returns and to filter them to ensure reliability. My time is limited, and Google links are endless, so articles should contain at least:
    • A true signature: not “@blogger197”
    • Sources referenced, better if quoting scientific papers
    • A reliable hosting website

I found only one scientific paper about carcinogenicity2 that mentions some bleaching products could cause kidney cancer in mice when diluted in drinking water, even at low concentration. There is no extrapolation for humans, nor about the toxic residual quantity in bread. Even though one single article doesn’t reflect all the research done on the topic, that seems to be a reasonable warning to me, but not enough to ban every food made of white flour.

Given that information, I would discount white flour as a risk to my wife and baby. It doesn’t mean there is no risk. It just means any negative thinking isn’t really supported by facts. This is a belief you have the freedom to follow or not.

Critical thinking is a long but rewarding path. It reduced my anxiety and, I believe it improved my decision-making. And because you’re reading this article, you’re well on your way to making confident decisions, too.

1  World Health Organization. 2018. Healthy  diet.

2  DeAngelo, A.B. 1998. Carcinogenicity of potassium bromate administered in the drinking water to male B6C3F1 mice and F344/N  rats.

*This post is not intended to offer medical advice. If you have any concerns about diet and pregnancy, please contact your doctor.