The third article on weight loss will drop later this week, but in the meantime I wanted to catch everyone up on some background work I’ve been doing on Patreon.
Some of you may know that I use Patreon as a modest means of support for this website. I never really invested a lot of time into it, however, and basically positioned it as a sort of “donate if you like what I do” page. I suppose that is what Patreon is at its core, but I want to take it a little further now and see if we as a community can’t do something a little bigger with it.
As should be clear from my articles and the webcast I host with Tom (ClimbSci), I’m pretty big on science, and specifically approaching climbing performance through the lens of scientific evidence. What this means generally is reading up on pre-existing literature, mostly done on non-climber athletes, and extrapolating the results towards climbers. This is great, but I’ve always wanted to see more research done on climbers themselves. It’s not that I think we’ll necessarily come to different conclusions about what we already know, but rather that I think we’ll find new and better questions to ask in the future—and that could bring our understanding of the sport to a whole new level.
Performing scientific studies is time-consuming and costly, though—hence why there’s so little sports science done on climbers. I can’t change the cost or time commitment, but perhaps I can get the community to come together and support the furthering of climbing science as a whole. This is where Patreon comes in.
I’m starting small to begin with, in part because right now the Climbing Nutrition team is just myself (and there’s only so much I can accomplish on my own) and in part because I want to measure the excitement of the community, starting with you, my readers. So, the very first thing I’m going to tackle is a nutritional survey for climbers.
Surveys have been done before and they’ll be done again. This is great, because data reproduction is extremely important in science; it’s hard to find outliers with only a single data point. I do aim to make my survey as comprehensive as possible and explore angles that I think other surveys have missed in the past, but that’s not the important part—the important part is that an interest in this idea will send a clear signal that we can do even more. If this idea takes off, then I’ll know future projects can be bigger.
How It’s Going to Work
On the Climbing Nutrition Patreon page, I’ve set up a base goal and several stretch goals. The base goal is simply the survey, and I set it modestly: $250 per month. Beyond the base goal, the stretch goals simply elaborate and improve upon the original survey:
- At $500/m, I’ll hire a statistician to help with data analysis.
- At $750/m, I’ll expand the reach of the survey with advertising.
- At $1,000/m, I’ll approach the survey with the goal of publishing in a peer-reviewed journal, rather than independently.
If only the survey gets funded, then I estimate it’ll take about a year from start to finish. This would include the time to create and proof the survey, put it out in the world, give people time to respond, compile the results, examine them, and publish them. If we reach the level of $750 or $1,000, it’ll possibly be a bit longer due to the timelines involved with print publications and scientific publication (not to mention doing all the legwork to even make publishing in a scientific journal possible). I intend to keep everyone up-to-date on what’s happening, though, so it’s possible to see what’s happening week-to-week and month-to-month.
I also want to say upfront that I intend to make 100% of the data from this survey publicly accessible so that anyone who is interested can pull from it. You’d be amazed (or not) at how many studies (and surveys) publish the findings from their data, but not the data itself. Having the data fully available means it’ll be a lot easier for others to make inferences, and also means that anyone can double-check anyone else’s inferences, hopefully helping to reduce biased readings and errors.
I’m going to run this goal for about a month, so through the beginning of March. Whatever goal we reach by the end of that time is what I’ll commit to. If we don’t reach a certain goal before the time has passed but do hit it down the road, I’ll do everything I can to fulfill the stretch goal, but it may not be possible—so the earlier we hit the stretch goals, the better!
I can’t officially set this up on Patreon, but I’m also going to create a “Patron Goal” to encourage greater numbers of patrons rather than just a few larger patrons. Right now my average patron contributes about $4—which is great!—but I want people to realize that $1 donations make a huge difference as well. Donating $120 or even $36 a year is simply out of the question for many people, and I understand that. $12 a year ($1 a month) is often possible, though, and it all adds up.
The other critical thing about having more patrons rather than just higher-value ones is that it provides a lot more protection against bubble bursting. Financial situations change, and sometimes patrons have to cease their patronage; when this happens, as it inevitably does, higher patronage means smoother dips and spikes—which in turn means better financial security and predictive power for me.
What do you get if we reach this patron goal? Let me explain!
I wrote a book a few years back currently available digitally on Amazon, “The Multivitamin Lie”. Yea, the title is a bit over the top, but I had just graduated and was amazed at how many people—including my fellow students who had ostensibly read the exact same research as I—still believed that multivitamins had a positive effect on health.
I identified three issues that I considered to be major contributors to that belief:
- Misunderstanding about how Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) work (and how they’re different from Daily Values (DVs)).
- Inaccurate knowledge about how vitamins and minerals affect our body and how much we need.
- Mistrust in food’s ability to provide 100% of the vitamins and minerals we need to thrive.
So I wrote a book that explored all three topics and presented the best scientific evidence for why a multivitamin isn’t worth taking.
Right now, that book is $5.99 (or free with Kindle Unlimited), but if the Climbing Nutrition Patreon page reaches 100 patrons by the end of this month-long campaign, I’ll put it on a flash sale for free for whatever the max length of time for such sales is (I think a week). If we reach 250 patrons, I’ll make it free forever.
This project will affect the regular activity of Climbing Nutrition in any negative way; I’ll continue writing articles, doing supplement guides, case studies, etc. at my normal pace. If anything, there’s the potential for greater regular activity here because at certain levels of funding, I’ll be able to work fewer days during the week elsewhere and will have additional time to write, edit, etc.
If the goal fails, then that’s life. I’ll continue with this site as it is, and will be happy to do so. I’ll probably try again in the future when this site has more reach or when the community seems more primed for the idea.
I’m really hoping it succeeds, though. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my future, what I want to contribute to the world—because, you know, cancer—and I would really like to contribute not just to the climbing community, but to the scientific community as a whole. I don’t plan on stopping with a survey; honestly, I’m hoping to eventually be able to provide grants to other scientists interested in researching the climbing community but lacking the funding, so that this is bigger than just myself and my own ideas. Sports science has never been a big draw for funding, and it’s likely that sports science on climbing never will be, but if I can do a bit to change that I’ll be glad.
That’s it! If you have any questions or comments, you can leave them below or email them directly to me via the form on this page. I’m always happy to hear from you and help in any way I can. Thanks for considering becoming a patron of Climbing Nutrition!
Oh, and if you want to check out the Climbing Nutrition Patreon page or become a patron, click the button below!
PS: I also recorded a video discussing this idea, which you can view below. Sometimes you’re surprised by how many time you say a single word or phrase. In writing, I can easily edit those repetitions out; in the video, I just let them fly. Anyway, I hope you’re excited about the nutritional survey… is what you’ll hear about 500 times, haha.