Disproportionately, I had my most consistent year ever. Most of my clients had their most consistent year ever. A lot of people had their best fitness breakthroughs of all time. In large part, we and our loved ones just didn’t get sick for the first 12 month period in history. To lucky people and those without small children, it might have seemed more challenging to wrestle with unwanted change; and maybe they didn’t even notice how much more consistent they could be while distracted by all the newness. But for those with the strength to embrace challenge, it was BY FAR the most consistent 12 months.
In large part, I pin it on the American spirit and the warrior spirit. True Americans always loved their personal space. Now, they actually abided by it. The strongest warriors have always donned face coverings. Now, everyone could.
For all of human history, the mask was the symbol of the badass. We see iconography of covered faces and our very first thought is “warrior.” When it isn’t done with material, it’s done with blood and paint. The mask means “battle.” Look closely at pottery and depictions of people without masks in the ancient world. Instantly, you know what the unmasked person is: not a warrior; not a fighter; always soft; often a slave.
As facial recognition software technology progressed in the past 10 years, tyrannical governments worked to ban masks (https://www.aclu.org/.../americas-mask-bans-in-the-age.../), because unmasked people are easy to track, identify, prosecute, control. Irrevocably, the mask is the hallmark of the uncontrolled individual. As the tech gets even better, only the free person will wear a mask. Slaves of the state won’t. Privacy and anonymity are the strongest safeguards for a free people, arguably for a society. And any mask works toward that libertarian ideal. Companies and overbearing governments which track your every move with facial recognition software want to BAN masks and used to BAN masks and WILL BAN masks again:
Knights, Spartans, warriors, special ops, ninjas, and the American cowboy were being weak when they covered their faces? William Wallace was scared to show his bare face on the battle field? Bandits and bank robbers are compliant sheep? Protestors who confront oppressive regimes are living in fear? SWAT teams are docile betas? Steel workers are soft? And health care workers are overcautious fools?
Up until March of 2020, a number of things were universally true: 1. badasses wear masks; 2. filtration works; 3. anonymity is freedom; and 4. personal space is great.
1. Athletes took pride in training with masks. It meant you were tough as hell. Think of one of the toughest situations on earth, firefighters going into a burning building, and you can't even picture it without masks and breathing apparatus.
2. Put any filter in front of particulates, and you’ll reduce them by some degree. Think of those firefighters again. Most smoke particulates clock in between 0.03 and 1.0 microns. All of us just plainly accepted that a face covering could be effective at blocking some of the smoke. The coronavirus diameters range from 0.8 to 2.0 microns, significantly larger than most smoke. Never mind that they travel on droplets (unlike smoke) which are orders of magnitude larger. However, this subculture which rose up last year convinced itself that filters couldn't block the coronavirus. Concurrently, it developed a fear that oxygen is restricted through masks. Oxygen is 0.0005 microns, or, to be precise, four thousand times smaller than coronavirus particulates, and a few hundred-thousand to a million times smaller than droplets.
3. Restrictive governments were working to outlaw masks in public. All of us just plainly accepted that the direction of technology is going increasingly toward the nanny-state. One of the only ways you're going to thwart that oppressive inclination of companies and governments is face coverings. Major conflicts rose up all around the world prior to March 2020, debating whether citizens would be allowed to don masks. Then March came; and people started begging to throw away this increasingly-needed freedom.
4. It was a freedom-loving conservative value that no one needs to know your business, be in your space, or even breath on you. Americans liked their personal space, whether it was disliking someone sitting within six feet, or whether it was owning their own houses and yards, or even if it was just dreaming of moving out to the country and getting off the grid. Ever go on public transit in other countries? The rest of the world doesn’t get it. They like sharing bubbles. Americans don’t, or at least didn’t until March 2020. Every red-blooded American loved personal space.
No new data emerged. None. Nothing changed. Yet somehow, as the pandemic struck, some people shifted away from all of those universal truths. The month of March came, and all of a sudden they gravitated toward a totally new belief, a very odd subculture which came out of absolutely nowhere and continued to build in the past 12 months, completely disconnected from all of prior human history. Preceded by nothing, a cult-like coping mechanism to deal with uncertainty formed: fear masks; vilify masks; demand that filters magically become 100% effective or insist they’re worthless; demonize personal space and distancing; redefine the entirety of human society; and then pretend that pathological phobia of masking is toughness.
Personally, I don’t get it. I am not and never was afraid of Covid for my personal safety. But I also don’t even notice the tiny inconvenience of a mask on my face. I don’t have hyper-sensitive skin or intimacy issues which might drive someone to hate a covering so close to the face. I'm not sure if fear of masks is connected to insecurity or Napoleonic complexes; but I just don’t know of one physically large male who is the sole provider for his family and rejects all masking. The manliest dudes on earth never had an issue with masks. And since March of 2020, the only guys I've known who developed this completely newfound hatred of all masks are physically small, bachelors, trust fund babies, and/or carried by their wive's or partners' careers. Pandemic aside, if we can reduce incidence of OTHER colds and flus by even 5%, to me, some regular masking is probably worth it. Totalitarian regimes and technology are going nowhere but forward; so some masking sometimes in public aligns with conservative ideals of liberty. If we can lower risk for the most compromised and elderly among us, to me, it's no sacrifice of my lifestyle at all. It just means we’ll be more productive as fewer people have down days. I never cared for clueless and mannerless people invading my personal space beforehand. Still don’t. It’s a little too... european, if you catch my drift.
What did it take for people to have the most consistent year of their lives? They didn't have any attachment to “the way things used to be.” They made their peace with change. They didn't invent a brand new, negative, fantasy narrative about masks. They embraced both the American spirit and the warrior spirit. As I understand it, the warrior doesn’t whine and complain about newness or inconveniences. The warrior doesn’t avoid doing hard or uncomfortable things. The warrior doesn’t care about signaling his toughness. He doesn’t refuse a mask any more than he begs for one. He will wear it in battle. The slave won’t. That was always true. March 2020 didn’t change that. And as we continue going into the future, I can guarantee that people who can’t let go of the past will continue to make themselves suffer needlessly. Those with the strength to embrace change can have the most consistent and best year(s) of their lives.
Trying to figure out what advice to follow in fitness is tricky. Conflicting opinions abound. And attempting to weigh them against one another is an infinite effort. So don’t. Find the argument. Forget the opinion.
Opinion Versus Argument - Section 1
This is a really sticky area for all of us. I see people make this mistake on both sides of a debate on just about anything. And your intellect and education does not shield you from this mistake. Part of the problem is that even really good experts forget that opinion is not argument. An argument stands alone. And it must be taken on its own terms. Opinion can be weighed based on the expertise and motivations of the one saying it. Argument does not rely on anything but it’s own soundness and validity (which is covered below).
To help illustrate, imagine the following:
- The Director of NASA with 40 years of experience in the field and numerous peer-reviewed published papers says, “based on my experience, I must conclude the earth is flat.”
- Your crazy neighbor with an IQ of 80 and history of mental illness says, “if a model’s explanations and predictions are confirmed by repeated and independent observation, it is practical and provisionally true - the spherical model of the earth and Copernican principle make explanations and predictions which are confirmed by repeated and independent observation; therefore, they are practical and provisionally true.”
The expertise of the first and his motivations play into how we should weigh his opinion. The problem is he never presented an argument. There is an implied one we often insert, something along the lines of “if one person’s expertise is high enough, his conclusions are true; my expertise is high enough, therefore, my conclusion is true - and here it is!” This is a question-begging fallacy, of course, and an extremely common one. The implied argument is valid, but unsound. We mistakenly take that implied validity to equate with truth. But the premises are both question-begging and so obviously untrue. There is no level of expertise anyone can achieve which puts her opinions beyond question. Regardless, the expert did not present us with an argument.
In the second example, we have an argument. The person presenting the argument is immaterial to the force of the argument. Its logic is valid. That’s beyond question. If we accept the premises, it is sound. We could disagree over any one part of the premises, and revise until we find a commonly-agreed-upon wording. At that point, all who agree on the premises will end with the same conclusion. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the expertise or field-specific experience of the presenter.
We always hope that field-specific experience will help experts to present better arguments, but there is no guarantee. They could just as easily present increasingly strong-worded opinions, confusing themselves and listeners.
In non-empirical sciences and in vast extrapolations, the layperson is at a disadvantage in grappling with the arguments. They’re very complex and expertise-specific. Often, they require an incredibly good understanding of statistical modeling and the foundational workings of that particular science and its research. However, instead of patiently taking the time to better present the arguments to laypeople, we will demote ourselves to opinion-waving in the form of consensus-brandishing. “Over 90 percent of scientists say X,” we might chirp. That IS meaningful. But it is a much more slippery slope than the person saying it realizes. Instead of presenting argument, you’ve merely stated a bunch of opinions. They’re well-informed opinions. They’re expert opinions. But that is not an argument.
Expert opinion creates a broad backdrop of grey area. This gets particularly difficult when we attempt to hold a claim to the scientific gold standards: falsifiability and predictive power. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if 100% of scientists believe something which is neither falsifiable nor has predictive power. It’s non-science at that point and devoid of an argument. There MUST be an argument that stands on its own; and, for us to even care about it, there must be a way to falsify it (ie - test it), and it must house a steady stream of specific predictions which came/come true. There are artificial “sciences” on the periphery, which make “PREdictions” AFTER the fact. And the more complex a pseudoscientific model, the more likely it is to descend into the concentric circles of the geocentric model. Supporters, knowing this, get more adamant about presenting opinions instead of arguments.
Sadly, many times in recent history those on the correct side of a debate stop presenting arguments. Their position is right. But their presentation and communication is exactly wrong. Conversely, and even more sadly, the people on the wrong side of the debate may be presenting more arguments than opinions. This lands the debates in odd territory. Right people with wrong debate. And wrong people with right (albeit unsound and invalid) debate. If we can move everyone away from thinking that invoking opinions is an argument, we’ll all do better. It will take patience. Yes, it will take engaging with really dumb arguments. It may require painstakingly walking non-specialists through the process of how some research works. But we have to stop being lazy with defaulting to opinions as a sit-in for arguments. They’re not. And clearly, our avoidance of genuine argumentation has only emboldened ignorant people. Opposition is empowered when we lazily present opinions as some sort of truth trump card.
Look for arguments, not opinions. Evaluate arguments on their own terms. Make arguments great again.
Validity and Soundness - Section 2
One of the layers in helping people with health and fitness is to help with critical thinking and sometimes formal logic. We all constantly make mistakes of equating opinions with arguments, induction with deduction, and then equating validity with soundness. Soon, everyone is talking past one another, including your own internal dialogue disagreeing inside your own head. That’s a lot of distinction to keep in mind. So in this section, just consider validity and soundness.
Whether you are vexed at your own inability to listen to yourself or you’re frustrated that other people just won’t see things your way, you can experience some peace by discovering just where exactly the roads diverge. It could be that both sides are mistaking opinion (even expert opinion) for argument, induction for deduction, statistical trend for known mechanism, and validity for soundness. They are all distinct. But our minds tend to blur the lines.
Consider first a valid but unsound deductive argument:
- Only people who eat too much dietary cholesterol will get heart disease.
- You are a person who eats too much dietary cholesterol.
- therefore, you will get heart disease.
The argument is valid, but unsound. What makes it valid is the construction. The construction is such that as long as the premises are true, the conclusion can’t be untrue. However, that isn’t soundness. An argument is sound only when its premises are true. Oftentimes, we begin with an untrue or at least contentious premise, and present a completely valid argument. People don’t accept the truth value of the conclusion, not because the argument is invalid or because they’re ignorant, stupid or evil, but because WE didn’t begin with an accepted premise.
Consider now a sound, but invalid argument:
- All people with heart disease tend to have had elevated VLDL.
- You have had elevated VLDL.
- therefore, you have heart disease.
Sound; but invalid. Both premises are true. But the conclusion can be false. We only established that people with heart disease tended to once have had VLDL. We did not establish that all people who once had elevated VLDL have heart disease. In fact, this very common mistake is a logical fallacy with a name: affirming the consequent. We took the starting premise (if A, then B), affirmed the consequent (B) in order to conclude with the antecedent (A). Logic forbids this. If you're outside and it's raining (A), you are wet (B). You are wet (B) because you just took a shower inside the house (X), just went swimming (Y), just had a bucket splashed on you (Z), or any number of things which are not (A). If-Then constructions, even when they are totally airtight, do not work backwards in that manner.
Take a moment to reread this. You’ll likely find that the vast majority of super smart arguments are well-intentioned, well-informed, well-thought-out, but both unsound and invalid. That’s to say nothing of the common conflation of opinion with argument (Section 1), induction with deduction (Section 3), and statistical trend with known mechanism (Section 4).
Induction Is Not Deduction - Section 3
There is this thing we often think we’re doing (deductive reasoning) when in fact we’re not. We’re inducing. I see it as a massive problem in why many people can’t seem to figure out their health and fitness. Deduction is clear and may move us toward conclusiveness. Induction is a fallacy.
People usually mix up validity and soundness when engaging with an argument (Section 2). And that’s if they ever actually get to an argument. Most of the time they don’t. They present an opinion, albeit an ostensibly expert or legitimate one (Section 1). On the rare occasion that people arrive at actual arguments, they predominantly conflate trend with mechanisms (Section 4). Closely related to that rational error is another fallacy: the inductive fallacy.
Induction is tempting. As we gather more information, it becomes more tempting. As such, high level experts can be MORE prone to committing this logical error. But there is no point where induction becomes deduction. It is a fool’s hope of taking probability and demanding from probability the characteristic of guarantee.
Example of induction:
- The sun has risen every day this week.
- Therefore, it will rise tomorrow.
The conclusion is true, but NOT because of the flimsy premise, NOT because of probability. There are defined physical laws which make the sunrise what it is: gravitational pull, inertia, rotation of the earth, and so on.
Example of expert induction:
- The sun has risen every day of our peer-reviewed study.
- Therefore, it will rise tomorrow.
The conclusion is true, but NOT because of the rigor of the study cited in the premise. The premise has no bearing on the truth value of the conclusion at all. This construction in the second example is as incorrect as the construction in the first example. Adding research analysis to the credentials of faulty logic does not strengthen assertions. Technically, it worsens them, because it's shrouding the flimsy ideas inside of what appears to be expertise.
The seductiveness of induction is its ability to be right, even though it’s for all the wrong reasons. With humans, this is especially pernicious, because we are subject to suggestibility and self-fulfilling prophecy.
- I’ve always been fat.
- Therefore, I will always be fat.
This is an induction fallacy. It’s blind to mechanism. It’s presented no deductive argument. It’s an opinion wrapped in the appearance of argument. But its conclusion is highly probable, mostly because we fall prey to both familiarity and disempowerment.
Some other common inductive fallacies I encounter:
- My nutrition never gave me bad health before.
- Therefore, my current health issue is unrelated to nutrition.
- My lack of strength training never gave me orthopedic problems before.
- Therefore, my current orthopedic problems aren’t due to lack of strengthening.
- I can’t do that anymore.
- It’s hopeless.
A whole lot of inductive fallacy, opinion and lack of mechanism gets presented as if it carried some sort of value. With regard to people's health and fitness, with the passage of time, they accumulate damage and set in motion changes. THEN, people are keen to focus on that passage of time (ie - "aging") as the type of data-gathering our sunrise scientists performed. They caught a trend and missed the cause. "Getting older" doesn't cause anything. It is simply the passage of time. Different people fill that time in different ways. But just like "the sun rose every day; therefore, it will rise tomorrow", average people end up with a premise which is faulty, flimsy, and/or not at all applicable to the conclusion. "Aging" happens because of accumulated damage. There are ways to avoid damage, slow damage, reverse some damage, get stronger and more resilient such that damage represents a smaller impact, and so on. Defaulting to induction as an impregnable standard of truth is self-defeating and lazy/weak thinking.
A deductive argument will have a premise with which we can all wrestle. One person’s individual expertise doesn’t really pertain. Once we settle on an agreed-upon set of premises, if valid, we all arrive at the conclusion. If sound, we are all right.
Induction does a lot of illusionist-like hand-waving. It can be sophisticated and considerably lengthier than the examples I gave. Any of the non-empirical sciences fall into this trap. That is, if we can’t test it in the now, we don’t have a known mechanism at play, and we have an inductive component in the premises even in a seemingly-deductive argument.
Induction is not deduction.
Correlation Is Not Causation: Trend Is Not Even Close to Mechanism - Section 4
“Heart disease correlates with X.” Fill in the blank. Do you believe that correlation IS causation? Careful. That’s a logical fallacy. Most things which correlate did not cause. Many are incidental, coincidental, or the effect, not the cause.
It crops up everywhere. “The economy does Z.” Fill in the blank. Now, that’s a really big and complex system you’re talking about. There will be a lot of correlations. Which proposed items are and aren’t legitimate causes? Current world leaders? Former world leaders? Old policy? New policy? Anticipated future policy? What if the real mechanisms which drive economy haven’t even been studied yet? What if we haven’t yet verified a mechanism?
We jump. We hurtle ourselves toward a causal conclusion. But look before you leap. Oftentimes relying on the whole payload of logical fallacies covered in Sections 1, 2, and 3, people find that making the wrong causal conclusion "makes perfect sense." They may even call it "common sense." It isn't, of course. It's just so bogged down in logical fallacies and layers of faulty thinking that it becomes difficult for us to wrangle with the upside-down conclusions. Heart disease is a great example wherein trends have told us all the wrong things. Biologists know the mechanisms. The inflammatory processes which lay down atherosclerotic plaque build-up ARE heart disease. Dietary cholesterol and saturated fat have no proven influence on raising the chances of those inflammatory processes. Even endogenous production of cholesterol may simply be the EFFECT of developing heart disease. Why did we ever jump to accept that it would be involved in the CAUSE? Cholesterol has antioxidant properties. It is a precursor to necessary hormones and the construction of cell walls throughout every organ in the body. In chemistry we understand it really well. But we've let faulty logical errors based on statistical trends, induction, and opinion supersede the scientifically-known relationship: a stressed body will develop heart disease; in its effort to manage the stress and mitigate the damage of heart disease it will consequently produce cholesterol to build the various necessary metabolites. How did we ever land at "cholesterol is bad"? Cholesterol just IS. There is no life without cholesterol.
In many statistical studies, there are defined trends. So what? Trend doesn't mean cause. Even if we begin to uncover a possible causal relationship, trend doesn't tell us the direction of the cause. Without a proposed, testable, known mechanism, we have to be very careful. It is just as easy for what we think is an effect to be a cause. And there are all sorts of events which are happening all the time and have little or nothing to do with the trend. They're ancillary, and are neither causes nor effects.
In the study of human health, transforming correlation into causation and presenting trend without mechanism are two practices skating on thin ice. Did you know that 100% of people who sleep in beds end up dying? I guess you better not sleep at all, just to be safe. The price of tea in China went up. I guess that’s the reason why ammunition in America shot up 1,500% in the last four years.
Correlation is not causation. Trend is not even close to mechanism.
If we can apply even the smallest double-check of critical thinking by remembering Sections 1, 2, 3, and 4 above, perhaps we can strive toward a rigor in arguments which is driven by soundness, validity, and solid rationale. We can place opinions where they belong, and recognize trends in proper context. We can leave ideology at the door. We can forget induction when we need to. We can commit to truth instead of popularity or desires. Make arguments great again. For fitness' sake. For health's sake. For society's sake.
This is the document that lent its name and initial ideology to American Republicanism. As Madison and Jefferson (and most Founders) repeatedly referenced, their definition of "republicanism" was a safeguard against tyranny and oligarchy while establishing the best of democratic freedoms while also protecting against the extremes of democracy which can lead to disrepair. Written about 2,400 years ago, The Republic is one of the finest and most sophisticated discussions on what is and isn't best for society.
According to Plato, every society will begin with Aristocracy, meaning the literal force of the word "aristocracy" (rule by the best), not our modern use of it which can be synonymous with rule by a few.
Then, after these justice-loving founders have set in motion the workings of the new society, it will tend to degrade into civil war. Out of that is borne Timocracy (rule by honor).
In time, however, the natural tendency of wealthy individuals to accumulate more wealth and power supplants Timocracy. Thus rises Oligarchy (rule by the few; unfortunately modern usage of the word "aristocracy" is put in place of oligarchy quite often). Oligarchy amplifies the power of the rich and in turn widens the gap between rich and poor.
All the while, public unrest grows and revolt of the people against the elites becomes Democracy (rule by the people). Democracy's emphasis on unrestrained freedom and liberty to do whatever anyone pleases leads to loss of discipline and structure. Self-restraint is no longer seen as a quality so much as an external imposition. Infinite choices under the guise of liberty actually undoes itself.
Soon, an undisciplined and structureless public, having dug themselves into a hole, are vulnerable to a wealthy Oligarch promising to save them. Tyranny is established. The Tyrant capitalizes on the fear of the people, claiming he will re-establish structures which have indeed degraded through excessive personal liberty. Once the people have gifted rule of their society over to the Tyrant, they enslave themselves to him, since he will attack, remove or war with any threats to his power and/or to distract from his power grab. He removes the very elements of the society which make it function, make it good, and make it just.
The society ends. Start the cycle over.
Plato lays the blame not necessarily at the Tyrant, who, though unjust, is in some ways simply an opportunist. Each system has costs and benefits. Ultimately, causally, the argument could easily be taken that the blame most soundly falls on two fronts: 1.) enabling excess wealth accumulation; 2.) exploring the edges of personal liberty through attempts by the people to destroy all roles, rites of passage, and reverence, such that there are no longer stable societal structures.
What I find interesting is that two equally destructive forces erupt from the evolution of a society, each with a legitimate gripe. On the one side, there are those who try to limit consolidation of money and power. That is smart. But they tend to hold this up while readily destroying the bedrock structure which holds everything together. Likewise, the opposition aims to retain structures which make the society work; but all the while they enable the consolidation of money and power into fewer and fewer people. Both sides are right. Both sides are wrong. Everybody loses except for a few powerful wealth holders.
It’s easy to see how this is indeed predictive for the trends of most societies. Modern governments have tried to buck the inevitable trend by creating blended structures where nothing is totally aristocratic, totally democratic, totally oligarchic, or totally tyrannical. Instead, the hope is we can borrow some of the best from each one while limiting the worst of each one. But you can still see waves of pressure to move more firmly into a pure tyranny, or a pure oligarchy, or a pure democracy.
Moreover, I would encourage the reader to look at Plato’s Republic as a handbook on how your internal governance and internal dialogue unravel over the course of your own life. There are some very intriguing parallels. People will vacillate between strictness in how they manage themselves and unrestrained gluttony. Wavering back and forth between an autocratic tyranny and a liberal democracy inside their own heads and hearts, people falter a lot in personal management. But it doesn’t work. It evolves and devolves just like societal trajectory. “Anything goes” is categorically bad management. And punitive self-discipline does not have staying power. Unbridled “tolerance” is not good or productive. It has no anchor. Holier-than-thou judgmental conservatism begets extremist abuse. Both depart into immoral nihilism. What people end up accepting in order for their side “to win” is an atrocity.
Thus, we can apply The Republic in how we treat ourselves, in our healthy behaviors, in our fitness efforts, in our mental health, in our spiritual journey. Without guiding principles, we are lost. Anything does not go. Without flexibility, we are enslaved to dogma. Rigor is helpful only to a point. This is a tough sell, because our minds are wired to entrench in a hardline “side.” But the fact of the matter is the best in life is somewhere in the middle.
About ten years ago I briefly worked with a brilliant man who had only recently received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. We’ll call him Michael. Michael’s doctors were insistent that diagnosis had eluded them for a longer period than normal with Michael because of his incredible intellect. He was a prolific author of legal textbooks. Thus, wherein a regular person might lose a third of his vocabulary and be instantly diagnosable, Michael could lose about 80% of his vocabulary before people would notice he was reaching for words. His wife continuously talked about how Michael was revered in the field and was one of the greatest minds to have ever taken on authorship of law school textbooks.
His family noticed emotional and physical deficits before the diagnosis. And by the time I interacted with him, he could understand directives but forgot how to tell his body to do them. I asked him to turn over from a lying-on-back position to lying-face-down; and though he understood precisely what I said, he couldn’t remember how to turn over his body. It was incredibly sad to watch the shell of a once-great mind brought so low. And some may think it unavoidable.
However, for decades a mountain of evidence has been springing forth to show us that neural inflammation can be reduced or at least partially controlled. That is, even “unavoidable” outcomes may be delayed, and assuaged, if not reversed. Mechanistically, it makes a ton of sense, since we can all fathom receptor up-regulation and down-regulation.
For example, as a person takes caffeine, does she become more resistant (tolerant) to its signal or less resistant? If a person drinks alcohol, do his receptors require the same amount or more to invoke the same response? Likewise with stress and glucose, persistent elevations will numb receptors. As receptors become degraded and corroded, it becomes increasingly difficult to get energy into the cells whose receptors are worsening. When those cells are brain cells, do the math.
Again, recently, researchers took on this subject, except from an epidemiological data gathering: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/.../prediabetes-may-be-linked-worse... . I don’t tend to like these types of studies, because they ignore mechanisms and attempt to link causes through statistical indices. That said, a study of this nature does contain the power to cast doubt on supposed correlations, if they uncover an unexpected statistical relationship. In this case, they did not cast doubt. Findings were consistent with our expectations on how unregulated glucose injures tissue. Those with uncontrolled sugars do have a higher tendency toward brain deterioration.
And perhaps, if you too have an intellectual starting point as meteoric as Michael’s, it won’t be overtly evident in your 40s or 50s or even early 60s. But all that means is if you wait until reality is no longer deniable you will have less time to face the problem. In his case, once the symptoms were undeniable, he became wholly incapacitated in the course of a couple years. Since the brain, like all organs, can regenerate to a certain extent, if you take on the problem now, your prospects will be a lot brighter.
Does a bridge collapse because of that one single car on it during the collapse? Or does it fail because of all the millions of trucks that went over it previously? The rain, the cold, the heat, the millions and millions of tectonic expansions and contractions?
Research finds that crappy childhood nutrition wrecks your health for life, even if you “get healthy” later in life: https://news.ucr.edu/.../study-finds-childhood-diet-has...
Everything is cumulative. We may notice an inflammatory condition at age 40. We may need a kidney stone removed at 50. We may need our appendix or spleen out. We may have uncontrollable joint pain. Wake-up call: it wasn’t the last car to travel the bridge.
Do some construction teams build a shoddy bridge to begin with? Sure. Do engineers occasionally miss a calculation? Of course. So, why o why, do we fixate on that last car? It wasn’t the last car. It wasn’t the last car. It wasn’t the last car. Read it again.
In formal logic there is a particularly sneaky fallacy: the induction fallacy. Based on prior experiences, we believe they create a fail-safe predictive model. They don’t. The sun doesn’t rise today because it rose every day prior. It rises today based on objective physical properties independent of our observations and independent of all prior events. Just because you didn’t NOTICE deterioration does not mean you only started to deteriorate this moment when it was no longer deniable. The bridge seemed to hold just fine with all the millions of prior trucks... “therefore, it MUST be due to the last car!”, you cry out.
Kidney function can drop to 25% before people NOTICE kidney problems. Think about that. Organs can take 75% damage and destruction and there be no obvious symptoms or signs. Really, THINK ABOUT THIS. Your internal framework is all just like this. “This never bothered me before” is a dangerous line of thought. There can be “no bother” while you’re down at 70% loss of function and integrity.
Everything is cumulative. Try to notice it before you’re forced to notice it.
The adage goes, “on any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team.” Apply this toward your health. Apply this toward your mindset. Just because your genetics or heredity say one thing, it doesn’t mean you can’t beat the odds. Just because you’ve been running a losing streak, it doesn’t mean you can’t flip the trend. Just because you’ve been on a winning streak, it doesn’t mean you can’t lose. Pride comes before the fall. The meek will inherit the earth. The factors involved in wins and losses extend far beyond the predicted significance of prior variables. Not just on any given Sunday, but on any given day, you can make a new possibility.
In history, we see it a lot. The 300 is a great example. Spartan numbers should’ve never held their position against Persian numbers. Moreover, when you study Ancient Greece, you find that Spartans weren’t even able to overtake the walls of their next-door neighbors, the Messenians. By Greek standards, the Spartans were not the toughest. They weren’t soft. They just weren’t the toughest. What are the odds of 300 guys standing their ground against 200,000 soldiers? But they did it. Heavy armor and strategic positioning accounted for a lot. Persians had light armor. Persians didn’t have home field advantage.
Any given Sunday.
The adage is evident in sports, because so often people have seen upsets. Front-runners falter. Underdogs destroy competitors. In sporting event statistics, no outcome percentage ever approaches 100, because focus, intent, and even physics can make things go sideways. You can’t ever really KNOW what EXACTLY will happen. Even the gambling and investment oracles have a long list of loser picks. The biggest gambling and investment winners have selected a lot of losers.
Any given Sunday.
Geneticists declared in 2018 that DNA and heredity have less to do with how long you will live than who you choose as a spouse/partner: https://www.genetics.org/content/210/3/1109. The team you come from has less predictive power than the team you’re making. Your past might’ve gotten you to the present. But your present is what will take you to the future.
Any given Sunday.
My mom always warned me about “joiners.” She would say that a lot of people make life decisions based on trying to be part of a group, aka “joiners”. It is a rule in Sociology, after all. People define themselves as a part of the group with which they perceive a connection, and AGAINST groups with which they perceive a schism. It drives a lot of groupthink. It wears down the individual. It directs perfectly good people to make perfectly awful choices.
Any given Sunday.
Lately, we’ve all seen people struggle with their loser pick. They forgot about Any Given Sunday. They forget about Any Given Tuesday. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t be a joiner; and there’s no problem. Outcomes don’t bother me, because I’m not a joiner. I don’t support strangers. If I make a pick or vote a way, that’s it. Done. I will criticize more harshly that same pick the very next second. They don’t get my loyalty. They don’t get my unwavering praise.
I don’t understand joiner mentality. I don’t jive with celebrity worship. But I also don’t cheer for sports teams. I don’t put a lot of stock in genetics. I don’t believe in destiny or fate or luck. I detest a lot of organizations, even if they stand for something worthy, simply because they erase individual thought. I don’t care for the follower culture of social media. I was more comfortable leaving large companies than being within them.
And if you are a joiner, that's fine. If you insist on fatalistic genetics and impossible destiny, be my guest. Just never forget that anything can change, anything can alter, any streak ends, any trend reverses, any set of circumstances may be different the very next moment.
Any given Sunday.
Especially, don’t underestimate your mind when imagining a new and different future.
The realities for which human imagination is responsible are both awesome and awful. Look around a cityscape; and think - I mean REALLY think - about how all which you see was once grasses and trees, and not much else.
The human mind which transformed everything around you is in you as well. All the STUFF you see is just STUFF that once was merely an idea, an impossibility in human minds. Your health and wellness journey is no different. A wasteland could be restored to a wetland habitat. A grassy knoll could become a bustling metropolis. No one must accept that “this is just the way it is.”
When visiting an Egyptian museum exhibit several years ago, my wife and I noted how different the facial structures of the statues are. These are leaders, mind you, who were forever commemorated in stone. Pause. THINK. Ancient Egyptian ideas of race were so different from our 1400s-1900s skin tone idiocy that scholars can’t reliably reconstruct what “color” Egyptians were primarily. You know why? Because we made up that stupid stuff. Skin tone genuinely only means skin tone. Period. End of sentence. The dumb ideas that facial structure or production of melanin has any correlation to value, competency, work ethic, etc., HUMANS fabricated.
We take for granted that certain terrible realities “were always that way” and “always will be.” Well, they weren’t. And they don’t have to be. I heard a historian panel on NPR about how certain states and colonies had women voters/female property holders before the initial reach of our early federal government in the late 1700s. Yes, you read that right. Our country overtly took a step backward with its centralized formation, LONG before it simply stepped up AGAIN to reconsider equality.
I’m not here to debate. Just think about what this means. People brought about institutionalized racism and inequality. It wasn’t always. And it sure doesn’t just exist naturally. Yes, we create divisions. But they’ve varied over history.
More importantly, think about implications. The human mind created a lot of phony social structure. It can tear it down too.
And personally, within you, you’ve created a lot of phony “cans” and “can’ts.” You take them for granted. But your or others’ minds created them. You can tear them down. And you can build better ones.
Let us build better ones.
Watch a video of an 80-year-old man deadlifting 529lbs, and connect the dots which show us that guy is just a human like you. Our physical states are outcomes from our choices. Not all. But not none. Choose to get stronger as you age. Choose to improve balance. Or choose to get weaker, and choose to lose balance.
The muscle fibers which govern balance are rapidly reacting to changes in sensory feedback. Sometimes called “fast twitch” because of this, the Type II muscle fibers are directly involved in the skill which we all call “balance.” Since the early 2000s, researchers have known with great confidence that reduction of strength WILL raise fall risk and other balance-related dangers: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18711425/. And they supposed it many decades prior. If you aren’t getting stronger, you are losing your balance.
Interestingly enough, static balance does not necessarily correlate with dynamic balance. Study findings are unclear. That is, if you can stand on one or both legs a little better than before, there isn’t necessarily any improvement in your reaction to icy ground while walking. Thus, most balance training, exercises, and therapy are unsubstantiated. It doesn’t mean they’re assuredly wrong. It just means we know a BETTER way with more evidence supporting it: strengthen.
You can peruse every single meta-analysis on balance and find it dwindles ON AVERAGE with age. That’s not interesting. What’s interesting is the question about outliers. What’s different about older people who have great balance and LESS risk of fall? They have more relative strength.
We only see balance evaporate with age because the average person insists on getting weaker as he gets older. Again, this is why I’m in a constant state of irritation by people refusing to accept that fitness is not the scale. FITNESS IS NOT THE SCALE. The scale doesn’t tell us if you’ll fall, break your hip, contract a nosocomial disease, go septic, and die within the next 5-10 years. But loss of strength IS predictive for this: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5820209/. Getting weaker? Risk is going up. Getting stronger? Risk is going down.
Wait for it. Watch the center VERY CLOSELY (video here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CK3uJ-UFf_x/). My wife’s second shot, ever. Swipe left for first shot, 37.5 feet. Day 1. I taught her how I WISH I’d been taught. Takedown. Slide. How to make a firearm totally inoperable. Mag drop, swap, reload, stance, style, sighting, bracing, breathing. Dry fire. 4 laws of gun safety. THEN, load your own magazine with ONE round. Unload mag. Load, drop mag, check chamber, clear chamber, reload. Repeat. Later, fire. One. One. One. THEN, 5 at a time.
For years I learned from a lot of experienced shooters. Not a knock against them, but the military guys were the absolute worst educators for beginners. Since it is all so natural for them, they kept leaving out critical details. It wasn’t until I worked with passionate civilian instructors (like @sir.michaeljames) that I began to see a parallel. In my industry, the most talented naturals, lifelong athletes, are not the BEST coaches. It doesn’t mean they can’t BECOME good. They’ll just never be great.
Vince Lombardi was not a star player. He was not a natural fit for football... on the field. Phil Jackson played on a Division II team which failed to win a championship. He did make it as a second round pick to the NBA, but no one argues he was a naturally dominant player.
If you have no rhythm, Neil Peart is not the BEST instructor for you. If you have no coordination, Baryshnikov is not the BEST dance instructor for you. If you’re starting businesses late in life, Warren Buffet is not the BEST teacher for you. If you weren't built like a bodybuilder at age 10, you can get some insights from Arnold, but you won't get the BEST instruction possible from him.
The greatest naturals, even those who slave for their craft, do NOT make for the greatest coaches. That’s an inarguable fact. I know people who worry about taking criticism for teaching when they don’t have the “right background,” whatever that means. But it’s quite the opposite. The naturally-gifted who are the best players, best athletes, best musicians, best artists, best marksman, ought to be more cautious and humble about giving advice and teaching, because they can never be the greatest teachers. Non-naturals will always have unrivaled superior insight for what it takes for other non-naturals to achieve greatness.
When you want to quit. When it’s “impossible.” When you think it’s not worth it. When prospects are dim. When there’s no way. When it “can’t” happen. When it “couldn’t” happen. When it “shouldn’t” be possible. When it “should” be easier.
“What’s so special about this video?”, you may be asking (video here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CKv7_5rFV5C/). Just another big dude moving big weights, not even worthy of mention. Well, just two months before this I couldn’t use the left side of my upper body. Temporary paralysis. If that weren’t enough, not long prior, I’d had the right pec major surgically reattached after a complete avulsion/tear. The week before that, my daughter was born. A couple months before that, I had crippling Lyme disease. Around the same time, we discovered a cancerous lesion on our son, requiring surgical excision. Oh, yeah, and we built a new location for our business the same quarter. You know what they call that? Life. You keep waiting for a good or easy period of time. It won’t come. You wait for the universe to deliver you unearned credit. It won’t happen. Hell, it won’t give most people their earned credit, their due.