Jul 1, 2017

True, False or Incomplete Part 3

GOOD FOR YOU VS BAD FOR YOU and
TRUE OR FALSE VS CONCLUSION OR OBSERVATION


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Part 1

Part 2

Undoubtedly anecdotal or empirical evidence is fraught with potential for inaccuracies and without actual scientific basis must always be viewed skeptically.

Some may have heard the story about great grandma's amazing ham recipe that illustrates this.

Part of her written instructions included cutting a few inches off from each end of the ham before cooking it.

This recipe was passed down two generations and often resulted in requests for the recipe. When people noted the instructions to trim the ends, puzzled questions resulted as to why. The answer basically came down to, "that's how my mother did it." When mother was asked about it, she replied similarly that her mother had always done it that way as well. When grandma was finally asked, she laughed and said, when your grandfather and I were young, we couldn't afford much and the only cookware we had wasn't big enough so I would cut it to make it fit into the pot!

Similarly, many "old wives' tales" or in sports circles, "old coaches' tales", get passed down and the only rationale seems to be something to the effect of "that's the way the old timers did it" or "if it's not broken..."

Still before throwing out the baby with the bath water, I have to note that there are cases where science catches up with the anecdotal evidence. In fact, much research starts out with the goal of testing a hypothesis that has come from anecdotal evidence.

One example that comes to mind is the recommendation to have a nice bowl of chicken soup when not feeling well. While undoubtedly being ridiculed as an "old wives' tale", there is apparently now a lot of evidence that bone broth which gives us access to collagen and many other nutrients not available when only consuming muscle meat, is in fact highly desirable from a health standpoint.

Another thing I find somewhat humorous is the expression, "snake oil salesman".
This has become synonymous with charlatanism. However, we now know that having the wrong balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fats is detrimental and this is why the advice to eat more fish or even take that cod liver oil your mother used to force on you. I've read that the original claims made for snake oil were based on sea snakes (eels?) which were likely great sources of omega 3.

As demand grew so did profit potential so either ignorance or lack of scruples led to the sale of snake oil that was not rich in Omega 3. No doubt, hucksters also vastly exaggerated benefits but that is not to say there were not any benefits if from the right source and taken by someone whose omega's were out of balance.

Fasting in various forms has long been practiced for religious or health reasons but only recently has research shown tangible significant benefits. Up until recently, advocates were of course written off as quacks. More on this later. "Detoxing" has been ridiculed as one of the supposed benefits of fasting, but I suspect that what may have been wrongly described as "detoxing" may actually be "autophagy" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autophagy

As previously, I discussed the limitations of the scientific method, which I described as the gold standard, the limitations of anecdotal evidence are potentially far greater.

As per some of my examples above failure to even consider variables much less make attempts to replicate them will inevitably lead to many generalizations that will not be universally applicable and may not apply more often than they do.

While maintaining a healthy skepticism for above reasons, I think it's a mistake to equate "lack of scientific basis" or "not backed up by research" with "false".

When I see something traditional that has stood the test of time over decades, centuries or more, rather than ridicule what I don't understand, I'm more prone to wonder in what context this may have been applicable and see whether there might be an opportunity to learn something useful.

Of course, on either side there is also massive potential for misrepresentation either motivated by wanting to exploit and done purposefully, or with good intention in honest error but especially due to the error of premature extrapolation of information to apply in cases where it is not applicable.

Then there is the media (advertising and news) and second handedness.

Most of us get our health information on a food label, a commercial or a news bit reporting a new study reporting an "indication" of a "possible link" that "could be linked".... but extremely few ever peruse actual studies or research how traditional practices started or what their basis is.

However many and probably most of us make and or believe blanket statements about something being true or false because it is presumably

"Scientifically proven"
"Everyone knows it's true"
"An old wives' tale"
"Heard it on the news"
"Read it in a fitness publication"
Etc etc

By the way, one of my distinctions has been to replace "I believe this is true (or false)" with "this is what seems to make the most sense to me at this time based on the available information that I'm aware of."

Please note, I'm not equating this with, "who am I to know?" as I believe in thinking for myself, and so this is the exact opposite of this, but it is merely acknowledging that many issues are extremely complex and much more research is needed before drawing any final conclusions.

So what prompted this particular blog post?



So here are a list of "outside the nine dots" thoughts that I have. Several may fall under "seem to make sense but can't prove."

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Hormesis and therapeutic window:

A definition I found through Google by
Merriam-Webster:

Medical Definition of hormesis:
"a theoretical phenomenon of dose-response relationships in which something (as a heavy metal or ionizing radiation) that produces harmful biological effects at moderate to high doses may produce beneficial effects at low doses"

The above definition refers to heavy metal and ionizing radiation but it seems logical to me that it would also apply to things that are considered good for you such as exercise or sleep as well as things that are bad for you such as smoking or alcohol.

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Being too sedentary or too active takes you out of therapeutic window.

In fitness circles, a ubiquitous error has been to assume more is better. This error is often reinforced by the training regimens of elite athletes who are by definition extreme outliers. Drugs are often a factor as well.

Even in their case, their success may be caused despite their overtraining and not because of it. (note that skill training does require countless hours of practice while actual conditioning may require adequate recovery, and balancing both becomes a challenge, part of the reason, in my opinion why the highest levels of success are the domain of extreme outliers, who can withstand and recover from hours of skill practice and still maintain conditioning. Unfortunately, the distinction between skill practice and conditioning is often missed, and hours are spent on both.)

Also, I understand there is good evidence that superior performance and health track together fairly well to a point however to be competitive at a world class level, athletes may go well beyond that point and pay a heavy price for the tiny extra that can take them from the middle of the pack to the podium (perhaps far before that point, just to be in contention to make the Olympic team).

We know that being bed ridden due to illness has an extreme deconditioning effect, but too much activity can be toxic as well.

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Could moderate smoking make you more resistant to other air pollutants? In this example would the risk of finding the proper therapeutic window outweigh the potential benefits? I personally doubt it, which is why the idea of hormesis may help to explain the benefits of existing activities or substances such as exercise and certain vitamins, I don't believe it follows, that we should necessarily seek out potentially toxic factors because of their potential benefit. Note that there is a growing body of research that shows benefit from exposing one to relatively extreme cold (cold showers to ice baths) or relatively extreme heat (saunas)

Ayn Rand has been quoted as saying something to the effect that in a compromise between poison and non poison, poison will always prevail. While I take the point to heart, the analogy fails to consider that toxicity is not a matter of substance but rather of concentration.

Perhaps exposure to potentially toxic ideas can help us to develop philosophical defenses against bad ideas in general?

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Low carb, fasting, potato hacks all seem to be contradictory approaches to claimed health benefits? Could they all be different routes to the same goal, i.e. helping your digestive system and metabolism to an optimal state by temporarily inducing fat burning and autophagy?

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The whole anti-vax controversy. All I will say here, and I paraphrase Dr. Doug McGuff in that, if a drug or treatment of any type has a therapeutic effect, then by definition it will also have a side effect. This will be true of vaccination as well. Dr. McGuff, who is an emergency room physician has shared with me that he has personally witnessed an extreme reaction in a child who was vaccinated that morning. While he doesn't claim proof that it was caused by this, when he reported it, it was ignored. That is the danger of ridiculing something, is that, as new evidence becomes known, it is ignored due to being immediately written off as quackery. Obviously, the case for the benefits of vaccination outweighing the harm is strong, especially in large populations, but does that mean it will always be the case for individuals, or that further research should be ignored. "Settled science" is an oxymoron. I will update this paragraph with a link, as soon as I can find a site that can tell you the probability of a drug helping vs harming.

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GMO's benefits outweigh the risks however both sides are overly polarized in my opinion, in that while I don't believe genetic modification is dangerous per se, I do believe caution should be taken before assuming complete safety. Margarine is a modified food and trans fats have now been shown to be very unhealthy. (Is there a therapeutic window for trans fats?)

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It would appear that one of the, if not the only consistent lifestyle links to longevity is caloric deprivation. Various experiments with animals have shown as much as a 20% increase in longevity when exposing them to lifelong slight caloric deficit. While, this might require feeling some hunger throughout life, there is promising research that suggests that much of the same results can be achieved through intermittent fasting. There is another school of thought that suggests that lowering our heart rate can improve longevity...(and other research that seems to show the opposite), but one thing my fitbit has shown me pretty consistently is that when I am strict with my dieting and or do intermittent fasting, my resting heart rate goes down, and at times like the holidays when my discipline wanes, my resting heart rate goes up.

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In 1968, Kenneth Cooper wrote the book Aerobics, at which time, this term was first coined in relationship to exercise. His findings were largely based on anecdotal, or empirical evidence. For example, he pointed out that bus drivers (who sat most of the day) in Britain, had much more obesity and heart disease than the individuals who stood all day to collect the fares. From this, he extrapolated that being sedentary was bad, and being active was good. The conclusion was the more active you were the better, and he developed a point system, and encouraged people to achieve a given number of points per day or per week, with the strong implication that more was better. With this, came the running craze, and he was hailed and the "man who would save America's hearts". A few decades letter, and with many orthopedic surgeons getting quite wealthy fixing knees, hips and low backs, some suggested, he might turn out to be remembered as the "man who ruined America's knees". He conceded later that more was not better, and even suggested that too much activity might even make one more prone to cancer.

Strength training, as it is now more commonly known, but had long been called weight lifting or bodybuilding had been around forever, but it was considered that training muscles had more to do with vanity, and that actual health benefits had to focus on the heart and lungs. In fact, it was widely believed that large muscles could interfere with sports performance, and even put a strain on your heart. Over time, however, these myths went by the wayside, and strength training became more recognized, for both performance and overall health. Today, we see that muscles are very active metabolically, and that strength training stimulates the production of myokines which are apparently linked to a myriad of health benefits, and have even been compared to the closest thing to the fountain of youth yet.

So "aerobics" or "cardio" advocated low intensity, frequent, long duration exercise, while "strength training" generally advocated briefer, higher intensity, and less frequent exercise. Of course, many people tried to combine both, in order to get all benefits simultaneously, however it was thought that doing so would make it difficult if not impossible to properly recover from that much exercise, not to mention that few people with family and career responsibilities could keep a long term commitment to that much exercise.

Arthur Jones, the creator of Nautilus machines, and later MedX, claimed, and the science now seems to confirm, that all benefits could be had from a properly designed strength training program, and further advocated that the intensity be very high, and thus the frequency and volume be kept very low in order to maximize recovery, in some cases, admonising people from any type of exertion between workouts, claiming that this would interfere with recovery and limit results or even bring them to a halt. Pendulums tend to swing far as we know. Today, where I've landed with all this, is that proper strength training should be the cornerstone of an exercise regimens, and while I agree with Jones that so called "cardio" is unnecessary, there is another aspect which is now coming to light; going back to our sedentary bus driver from Ken Cooper's book, it would seem that the actual sitting or not moving around much all day, is, in itself hazardous to your health. So, the ticket collector wasn't jogging or running marathons, but he was up and about regularly. Cooper, assumed more was better, and Jones assumed less (or none) was better. My recommendation (what makes the most sense to me right now: do proper strength training for conditioning, and just make sure you regularly move around, each hour for example, and for recreation if desired, engage in whatever sport or activity enhances your life (mental/spiritual) accordingly. (more on safety later)

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Obesity has long been associated as a health risk for multiple ailments. I have pondered, that obsesity per se, may only be a part of the issue. I suspect strongly, that what we do to become obese, (overeating, and being in a constanntly overfed state, (see caloric deprivation above) making poor food choices and being extremely sedentary (see above as well)) puts a lot of negative stress on the body distinct from the actual added fat that it makes us carry. Carrying fat, historically, has helped us to survive famines, and the ability to store and retain fat has been very desirable from an evolutionary standpoint. I do concede that being fat, in and of itself, does create issues such as strain on knees, lower backs etc, which will almost surely compromise our functional ability as we age, and that will at the very least reduce quality of life, and most likely longevity. Being fat also wreaks havoc with hormones, and there is evidence that being fat, leads us to overeating and being sedentary, as much as the vice versa. My point here is that the health hazards are not just about being fat, but the stress we put on our bodies in the process of getting fat.

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In exercise, and other activities, it is obvious that safety is paramount, both from the point of view of avoiding acute injuries or long term debilities from overuse. Much has been written and discussed about high impact, low impact, proper posture, lifting technique (both in sport and every day activities). With the forementioned aerobics craze and the accompanying injuries, we have seen an entire industry created to provide products either designed to prevent or treat fitness related injuries such as properly cushioned shoes and a new branch of medicine referred to as "sports medicine". (Arthur Jones stated that if the number of emergency room visits called by so called fitness activities were due to some new disease, a national outcry of a crisis would be heard and there would be much research and or fund raising done to stem this terrible threat.)

We've also seen "low impact" and, in strength training, as a result of research done by Nautilus on how to safely train elderly people suffering from osteoporosis (who could benefit greatly from strength training, but whose fragility made that very challenging), the advent of "Superslow" strength training, which advocates moving extremely slowly in order to minimize force on joints, tendons and ligaments. There is much evidence that this method of training also more effectively loads the targeted musculature and produces better results for the general population in a safer manner. High intensity is still a major component of Superslow (which has gone through different monikers over time) as participants are instructed to continue an exercise until "momentary muscular failure, or fatigue".

Conversely, a current very popular fitness trend is crossfit, which definitely embraces high intensity, but seems to have little or no regard for "low impact" or "minimizing force" as it involves rapid movements as well as plyometric (jumping) activities. Superslow proponents consider this insanity and a recipe for disaster, whereas many crossfit enthusiasts (assuming they've even heard of Superslow) would argue that slow movements are inadequate to build speed and so called explosive strength. I have strong opinions (convictions?) on much of this....

(to be continued in Part 4)









May 12, 2017

Fad diets okay?

Why many fad diets may not be that bad?

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You've heard about

-Grapefruit diets
-Cabbage soup diets
-Fasting
-Very low calorie "medically" supervised" diets
-Various meal replacement shakes based diets
-Potato hacks *
-etc, etc

They are typically ridiculed and or warned to be ineffective or outright dangerous.

Admittedly, this is not meant to be a blanket endorsement of all as some may well be dangerous especially if used as an exclusive and long term strategy.

I personally have been very critical of these in the past but find myself now taking another look.

Hopefully not oversimplifying too much but two main criticisms are

1. Lack of variety or calories too low will lead to nutritional deficiencies and health issues.
2. Any temporary successes will be more than offset once the individual goes back to regular over eating of sub optimal diet and gains all fat back and then some.

To the first point, I would counter that our bodies are very adaptable and proper nutrition may not necessitate having all needed nutrients at every meal, every day or even every week. To this, I would refer to evidence showing people fasting intermittently or for extended periods who have been shown to derive many health benefits and higher energy as a result. (Google autophagy as just one example)

If eating nothing for several days doesn't cause instant malnutrition than I highly doubt eating nothing but cabbage soup or potatoes or seriously cutting calories, would either.

To the second point, about gaining it all back when you go back to bad habits, part of my answer is "Duh!"

Kidding aside, I now think I was missing the obvious which is that the problem is not the so called "fad" but the terrible habits before and after the fad.

If you spend all your time driving over nails and then repair flat tires only to go back to nail ridden road...

... of course if you spend all your time repairing, you won't ever get anywhere either.

In other words, I now give consideration to the idea of many of these as "hacks" or "resets" that can obviously not work unless they are part of a holistic overall strategy that includes proper choices in exercise (strength training) and nutrition.

Now, one could argue and I would concede, that if you're already making those good choices, why would you need a reset?

Well, other than the mounting evidence of the benefits of fasting (which I think many of these mimic), even health conscious individuals may find it difficult to make good choices more than 70-80% of the time. (If you get to 70-80% adherence, you will be way ahead of majority of folks). And, quality of life considerations may make life boring to go beyond that which is why, in my opinion, long term adherence is extremely rare. Moderation in all things, even moderation itself.

So consider:

-the holidays
-special family events such as weddings
-cruises (personal weak area)
-indulging in certain guilty pleasures
-etc

The "hacks" and the "resets" can help with a kickstart and motivation, in my opinion and are not THE solution but I believe can be part of the toolbox that encompasses an overall healthy lifestyle.

Thanks for reading.

*recommend book "Potato Hack".

May 10, 2017

Part 2 Series: True, False or Incomplete?

GOOD FOR YOU VS BAD FOR YOU and
TRUE OR FALSE VS CONCLUSION OR OBSERVATION


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Part 1


Example: a certain vitamin is said to be "good for you". This "conclusion" is based on evidence that a deficiency results in a disease state.

New research however shows that said vitamin does "its good" because our immune system perceives it as a threat and it is the immune system's adaptation that protects us from disease agents and not the vitamin itself. Taking a "poison" may kill us but taking a tiny bit of that poison can help us create antibodies that protect us not only from that poison but potentially other threats as well.

I used the vitamin example, because I believe the point I'm trying to make is especially relevant in highly complex instances where there are many variables, which, of course, is the case with the human body. (and reality in general)

Also, I would like to speak about "scientific evidence", "scientific proof", "anecdotal evidence" and "alternative medicine".

First off, let me acknowledge that proper studies using control groups in a double-blind fashion, with sufficient sample size is the gold standard for attempting to discern facts from speculation.

And of course that entails duplicating these studies in order to replicate original outcomes (or not).

I also wish to acknowledge that in the absence of such standards, the potential for abuse by unscrupulous individuals is enormous, and instances of this abound, however, I'm not prepared to concede that the scientific method is the only possible way for human beings to learn and to make distinctions. While the scientific method represents a quantum leap in the ability to make reliable distinctions in a fraction of the time, humans were able to make distinctions before the scientific method was even devised, albeit much more slowly.

Where I think we've gone wrong is to simply dismiss things altogether because they have not been held up to the scrutiny of the scientific method, rather than try to see whether there may be some basis to what may initially seem to be without foundation.

One of several challenges in utilizing the scientific method is ensuring that potential variables (which may be almost countless) remain consistent and are accounted for.

This can prove to be difficult and in some cases impossible.

For example, as pointed out in the book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories" in discussing the relative merits of various macronutrient ratios to human health, the author correctly points out that you can only decrease one macronutrient in a diet by simultaneously either increasing another macronutrient or reducing overall calories. That will leave you with no conclusion as to whether whatever result is produced was caused by the decrease of one macronutrient, the increase of another or the overall decrease in calories.

This doesn't even take into account that the underlying premise of categorizing all food into three groups is likely in my opinion to be a major oversimplification. There are many ways to subdivide these and depending on what was used to represent a macronutrient category (vegetable oil vs lard or soy protein vs grass fed beef etc) may yield very different outcomes.

I could go on and on:
-animal vs human studies
-difficulty of getting humans to comply strictly over sufficient time period
-maintaining double blind criteria
-selection bias (studies on exercise benefits almost always involve lifelong exercisers as it is very difficult to get them to stop in order to be part of control group or to get couch potatoes to exercise regularly over time, which than begs the question: does exercise make you fit or healthy or are fit and healthy people more likely to be active?)
-etc etc

So even the gold standard clearly has limitations in its applicability.

Most of our population is actually over fed and sleep deprived (misaligned with circadian rhythm), not to mention sedentary, spending hours of the day seated and also not getting much sunshine and fresh air.

In that population, macro nutrient ratios may have significance, but, in my opinion (okay, speculation) be far less relevant with above noted variables being more optimal.

I've sometimes speculated for example that a lot of research with sleep deprived subjects might well be invalidated if people just got enough sleep, sunshine and fresh air.

End of digression.

But adding to the turmoil is the fact that much of what passes for "science" is not actually based on above high standard scientific method.

Epidemiological studies look at patterns within large populations and identify relationships but do not establish whether those relationships are causal, however that fact is often not clearly stated.

Meta analysis looks at groups of studies, presumably to see if there is wide agreement, but the standards between studies, vary greatly.

For example many studies are conducted by university students rather than tenured scientists, and I'm told these are often very poorly designed however they are still often published and then repeated by mainstream media without any disclaimers.

I also am concerned by what I will call funding bias. While some will suggest that certain outcomes are more desirable if a researcher doesn't want to see funding dry up, I will stop short of implying that actual tampering or falsifying of results commonly takes place as I have no direct evidence of such. However my concern is that there will inevitably be more funding available to do certain types of research than others so some theories never actually get truly studied. Those theories are then left with largely only anecdotal evidence which of course isn't proof of anything and so that evidence is discarded due to "not having any scientific basis".

Good luck getting funding to research whether global warming is either not existent, not caused by humans or not detrimental if it does exist. Or to show that cholesterol lowering drugs may not be the best approach to fighting heart disease. (Or more specifically to test those theories, with no bias for either outcome).

(to be continued in part 3)


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Purpose of this series:

It is my perception, that many people, including myself as well as many people whose reasoning minds I greatly respect , tend to make assumptions, sweeping generalizations and absolute statements in instances where I feel they are doing so prematurely. This blog entry post has two purposes:

-to challenge their thinking.
-to gather feedback as to errors of reasoning I may be making in this series of entries.

May 5, 2017

Part 1 series: True, False or Incomplete?

GOOD FOR YOU VS BAD FOR YOU and
TRUE OR FALSE VS CONCLUSION OR OBSERVATION

As I've gotten older and presumably wiser, (58 at time of this writing), there have been various times when I've felt pretty confident, perhaps even arrogant at times about what I thought I knew "for sure".

However, with the passing of a few years, I've sometimes felt embarrassed to realize I once believed something to be true and even more so, that I held that view so strongly.

A recent distinction that I've made however, is that, although, I know that A is A, in that a fact is true or not, limited information or faulty premises often lead us to draw conclusions or generalizations too quickly.

Put another way, referencing the scientific method, we may be getting to "Conclusion" too soon when we should spend more time at "Observation" stage.

An assertion may make sense and be properly derived by reason based on available information, but as additional information is found or additional distinctions are made, we find that assertion to be false, or more likely incomplete, out of context or only applicable in certain cases but not others.

Kind of like the group of blind guys who all have one hand on an elephant and are all describing different things based on their limited perception.

This is part 1 of what I've been writing and thinking of for a while and originally was going to make into one long blog, but as it kept getting longer and longer I've decided to break into parts.

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Purpose of this series:

It is my perception, that many people, including myself as well as many people whose reasoning minds I greatly respect , tend to make assumptions, generalizations and absolute statements in instances where I feel they are doing so prematurely. This blog post has two purposes:

-to challenge their thinking.
-to gather feedback as to errors of reasoning I may be making in this series of entries.

Apr 4, 2017

IMAGINATION

IMAGINATION

In Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit #1 is "Be Proactive."

He defines one of the aspects that differ humans from animals is the ability to choose to proact rather than react.

He points out that in a reactive model, there is virtually no gap between stimulus and response.

Whereas in a proactive model there is a space that contains humans' "ability to choose". The traits, unique to humans that allow this, are

1. Self awareness
2. Conscience
3. IMAGINATION
4. Independence

Humans can be aware of their own feelings and mental state and compensate for them.

Humans have a sense of morality. (See previous post on Conscience)

Humans can IMAGINE multiple possible outcomes in advance as they assess appropriate actions to take.

Humans can think and choose independently.

I love how Covey addresses the controversy between whether we are more influenced by nature or nurture (genetics or conditioning).

"Is it nature or nurture?" "It's your choice."

Einstein said that imagination was more powerful than knowledge.

Ayn Rand "Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received — hatred. The great creators — the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors — stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won."

One could replace the above "vision" with "imagination"

Feedback always welcome.

Apr 1, 2017

CONSCIENCE

CONSCIENCE

Are we born with an inherent sense of right and wrong?

Or is it conditioning?

A google search produced the following:

"The inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: to follow the dictates of conscience. The complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual."

"Inner sense" and "right or wrong" are very broad topics for a blog post, but I will attempt to summarize.

I don't believe right or wrong is a function of any divine revelation but rather a logical determination whereas life is the standard of value. Anything that enhances your life without harming someone else's life except in self defense is the good. Anything that harms your life is the wrong and that would include harming others unless in self defence, because there is no conflict between rational people. Exploiting others in any way will always be detrimental to yourself, in the long term.

An "inner sense" of the above must first come from a consistent view of ethics as described in previous paragraph. Otherwise, your "conscience" will leave you always in doubt from what you think will be ethical dilemmas. These will actually be the result of holding conflicting and or ill defined beliefs leaving you in a perpetual state of "self doubt, like a ball and chain, where your mind's wings should have grown." (Quote: Ayn Rand)

So CONSCIENCE can and should be "impelling toward right actions" like a moral compass but this can't work unless true north is objective.

As infants, we may have a sense of fear of perceived danger or attraction to perceived nourishment or pleasure but these are generally distorted by short vs long term as well as genetically inherited traits that cause us for example to recoil from a harmless garter snake and be indifferent to malevolent ideas. In other words, CONSCIENCE must be developed and it must be developed properly.

Feedback on what I've missed always welcome.

Mar 31, 2017

WILLINGNESS

WILLINGNESS

What does this word even mean?

Well, i think to comply means reluctantly going along with something whenyou wish you didn't really have to.

Acceptance perhaps would be the next step towards making peace with it.

Than willingness must mean a step further along this continuum closer to actually embracing it.

Other parts of my mission statement refer to "lunging forward ", "enthusiasm" and "passion" and no doubt there is overlap and duplication in my mission but each segment pays homage, if you will, to various sources that have influenced me.

In this case, the source is the acronym H.O.W. from 12 step programs, in terms of "how" do you work the program, or "how" does one go about reaching goals? The acronym stands for "honesty, open mindedness and WILLINGNESS".

So while pop psychology might suggest that a positive attitude of willingness is a pre requisite for desired results, others may argue that it is, itself a result of an adherence to a proper philosophy where basic principles start with Reason, purpose and self esteem.

Either way, lack of willingness, I think all would agree would always be a major impediment.

Feedback and critique always welcome.

Mar 29, 2017

OPTIMAL STATE MANAGEMENT

OPTIMAL STATE MANAGEMENT

Stole this one from Tony Robbins.

For those not familiar, the idea is first recognizing that there is an optimal state, not only of mind but of physical demeanor and attitude etc where we are far more effective and productive. The closest analogy would be that if being in "the zone" as some times referred to in athletic activities.

The second concept is that we have the ability to consciously bring ourselves into this "optimal " state whenever we choose to.

When I first heard Tony Robbins speak of this, he referred to a technique, I believe he called "anchoring". The idea was to vividly recall a time when you felt in that ideal state and to create a strong association with some other factor such as a memory, a smell or a piece of music for example. My memory may be failing me on the exact details but I'm pretty sure that was the gist of it.

The most important point was that this was something one could consciously control.

While I do acknowledge significant validity to that technique, I believe optimal state is best achieved within a multi factorial context that would include (partial list) proper

*sleep patterns (neurotransmitter regulation)
*diet
*microbiota
*exercise, movement and posture
*body weight and hormone control
*a philosophical outlook aligned with objective reality and focused on reason, purpose and self esteem (see previous blog posts

What remains though is the fact that these are all under our control** and perhaps more importantly is the independent will to decide to "take action" to seek and maintain that state in order to achieve, as opposed to waiting for the state to spontaneously occur (or second handedly wait for someone or something to do it for us)

Action precedes motivation and not the other way around.

Feedback appreciated.

**some may argue and I will concede, that for people who suffer from clinical depression, or for people in extremely negative circumstances, it may be far more challenging than I make it sound. Recent research however has shown that many of the factors I named can be effective ways to battle depression. I'm not claiming that I personally would make the right choices if faced with the challenge of mental illness or extremely negative circumstances but rather that, for some, the choices may be much more difficult, but this still doesn't amount to determinism. There is still a choice.


Mar 25, 2017

I'm back!....ramblings after 18 months....

Recently, I began to read a book written by someone who had previously expressed appreciation for my writing on this blog. She told me she truly valued my opinion, and I got the impression that my writing had encouraged her to do the same.

This led me to feel a certain degree of guilt and regret, as she took the initiative and actually published a book, while I fell off the wagon and have completely gotten away from the blog.

In fairness, I have been journaling, and in this day and age, I've heard it said that everything has become a blog including facebook postings and whatever presence you have on social media. But that sounds like rationalizing to me.

I've also heard it said, that if "everything is a priority, than nothing is."

My work has been very high on my list, as my new role has brought on perhaps the steepest learning curve of my career, and this has been very rewarding.

My fitness activities, and my guitar playing are also priorities that have not required me any discipline to stick to, as, over the years, these have become very addictive habits. (I recognize my limited natural talent, but that makes these no less rewarding) Thankfully, my fitness practices involve brief infrequent exercise and are not very time consuming, but guitar is something that you can immerse yourself for hours, and in fact requires a commitment of time in order to improve.

Relationships with family are critical, and, since my last blog post, we now have a new grand daughter, bringing us to five grandchildren, but this is the first one who lives in the same city as us.

I am resisting temptation to edit, and put the above paragraph first, recognizing that family "should" come first, but I'm not sure the order of my thoughts, first thing in the morning, dictates my hierarchy of values, but perhaps those that I've allowed to preoccupy my time the most. I'm reflecting in real time, and this reminds me of the true value of blogging beyond the end result created.

Other "priorities": ballroom dancing, hockey, my finances, my wife's new business, a new property we just bought that will require a lot of work, reading (which I have been doing a lot of) as in lifelong learning... and I'm back to the thought of "if everything is a priority, then, nothing is"....

...and yet, I'm reminded of two things.... Being the Hero of your OWN life, has always made me think of the renaissance man who is in fact well rounded, physically, intellectually, financially, emotionally, and skill wise. A warrior and a poet, etc. Secondly, I admit, that there are still many places in my life, from me to steal time, to be more focused on things that matter, mainly web surfing guitar sites, too much facebooking etc.

In a previous post, I reflected on people being spectators of life, rather than actors, and I recognize that while philosophizing about life is crucial, living it is the true art.

While the person with the dull saw, needs to stop long enough to sharpen it, the person who spends all his time sharpening, will never get any work done. (speaking of which, a new discovery has been the joys of craftsmanship (another priority?) where one actually comes in direct contact with reality in a way that academics never will, and utilizes one's brain even beyond the limitations of language... ie. music is not notation.)

In any case, here it is, a post, and I am recognizing that whether I keep this commitment to continue of not, truly is important to me, in the satisfaction that I get when I do, and the regret I feel when I don't.

Thanks, if you happen to read. :)