Question the logic

I have started a new routine. That is what January is all about: taking on new resolutions, be it ‘Dry January’ or ‘Veganuary’. After a number of years of sticking to my old exercise regime, which I believed was supported by science, I have recently discovered that science now says it was wrong. As someone who takes notice of science and tries to follow it, I could hardly defy it and therefore made a change. My old routine started from convenience. I would get up and out in the early morning, especially at the weekend when only a small number of people were out and about. I would hydrate myself but not eat anything, to avoid the potential discomfort of running on a full stomach. At my level of activity this probably does not have any particular impact and most of the science is concerned with people who exercise and train hard. However, I had read that exercising whilst fasted, and before having breakfast, trained the body to use fat for fuel. As someone with fat to burn, this seemed a logical premise that would help me to reduce weight, as well as increasing my endurance on longer runs. Small margins!

Unfortunately, I have now discovered that a review of literature in 2020 found that this theory is not supported by the available evidence. What is more, in addition to impacting performance, exercising whilst fasted can have a detrimental effect on health in a number of areas. This was illustrated in a recent BBC programme from the ‘Truth About…’ series. As I have stated, the warnings and studies apply to individuals who train a lot more and a lot harder than I do, but if changing my routine slightly and taking some fuel before stepping out into the rain has even a small improvement on my physical wellbeing, then it is worth doing.

Obviously, I should have been more questioning. There are regular reports and advice promulgated on what is good for our health and what is bad for us, only for a subsequent study to state the contrary. I should have been cognisant of the fact that nature does not necessarily follow logical argument. I came across another example of this a while ago on a sports TV programme. This investigated the use of weighted baseball bats for pre-match warm-ups, the logic being that that the real bat then feels lighter when used in anger. Unfortunately, a heavier bat stimulates slow twitch fibres, meaning that when subsequently playing in a match the timing is out. The batter does not hit the ball on the bat’s sweet spot and therefore uses more energy to hit the ball a shorter distance. Something similar happens if you warm up with a weighted golf club: the real club feels faster and lighter but the timing is out.

Logical actions sometimes turn out to be wrong. This needs to be considered in NDT, where we are required to problem-solve through the application of logic. Signals need to be analysed and a sensible solution derived, identified, justified and reported. Such a logical approach should, in theory, replace subjective decisions with objective outcomes. Whilst NDT training does provide operators with the skill to interpret signals, it may be possible to improve this skill further. In the PANI project, in the inspection debrief, operators were asked if they had used an ‘If / Then’ approach to confirm whether or not any signals observed were from defects. Some had, some had not and some had no knowledge of the process. Of course, inspection procedures are written to remove subjective application, but the logical reasoning forming the foundation of the procedure is provided by the author on the basis of the available facts. Occasionally, the available facts do not cover the situation being encountered. I remember a procedure, which was written to detect and size a particular defect type reliably, producing erroneous results because an unexpected defect was present in the component.

So, whilst logical decision-making is a valuable tool in the inspection armoury, it is worth having a questioning attitude, as I found with my exercise regime. Conventional, established logic can constrain new ideas and creativity for the development of techniques and processes. A breakthrough is described as such because it breaks the existing accepted wisdom. I will let you know whether my new regime can be considered a breakthrough!

Please note that the views expressed in this column are the author’s own personal ramblings for the purpose of encouraging discussion within NDT News. They do not represent the views of Jacobs or BINDT.

Letters can be mailed to The Editor, NDT News, Midsummer House, Riverside Way, Bedford Road, Northampton NN1 5NX, UK. Fax: +44 (0)1604 438301; Email: or email Bernard McGrath direct at

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