Sharks, Green Eggs & Ham
With no formal education on the subject and no major backers like Cousteau had, Valerie Taylor and her husband completely altered scientific understanding. In the Disney+ feature, “Playing with Sharks,” we discover that all scientific experts were in consensus about the aggression of sharks and the crushing power of a shark’s jaw: sharks seek people and their bite rends right through bone. Experts were wrong. They weren’t even close. Valerie found that it took a great deal of goading to encourage a shark to even try biting a person. Essentially, she had to push her arm into its mouth, and then found its bite totally impotent while wearing chain mail.
Some people run experiments to discover. Some people avoid experiments because they’ve made up their minds ahead of time.
I hear a lot of the following:
- that can’t work
- that won’t work
- that doesn’t work
In health and fitness, this is commonplace. Not just among the average people, but experts too, I find that when I ask people to show me their personal experimental research on the subject, they’re empty-handed. Perhaps a spirit of humility and an excitement about CONDUCTING science might be in order?
I avoid “can’t,” “won’t,” and “doesn’t”, and I’ve observed tens of thousands of clients, members, coaches, lab work, studies, and published findings on health and human performance. So far, it seems that empiricism/testing hypotheses greatly outperforms armchair theorizing. Play with the sharks or keep your armchair philosophies to yourself.
I think about Green Eggs and Ham. The first half of the book is a description of human behavior: speaking from abject ignorance and inexperience. Essentially, the character says, “I won’t even bother considering something which is weird or unfamiliar, no matter how it’s presented.” Then, he considers the unimaginable. He conducts one single experiment. The world changes.
Think about if everyone had continued rationally insisting that “invisible waves” were superstition. We would have never discovered the electromagnetic spectrum. Thanks to experimentalists like Faraday (who had little to no formal scientific education), we could crack the code. Now, we are able to send thoughts (texts) through the air, lock our homes via “mind control” (apps) in another state, and read other people’s minds (tweets).
Years ago, my father was getting ready to have a pacemaker installed. He had no pronounced familial or personal history of cardiac irregularities. But, he was getting low heart rates. I looked through his medications, several of which cause low heart rate. And I asked if the doctors would consider reducing, altering or temporarily removing some of the medications to see how these were influencing him. I received a resounding “no.” Someone has persistently low heart rate - you put a pacemaker in him. That’s the medical truth. Don’t bother them with facts.
The ridiculousness seems obvious. But it isn’t. It’s ubiquitous. People, especially those who should be the most inclined to conduct science, just don’t. They’ve got their minds made up. Don’t bother them with alternative ideas, and God forbid you run an experiment yourself. I mean, you can’t just go around “sciencing.” That would be heresy. Leave it to the priests/specialists.
Rather than thinking a health condition is impossible, maybe consider an experiment. Consider a weird alternative. Why stop at a second opinion? Maybe conduct science instead of thinking “this is how things have always been or must always be.”
You may think that you could not would not adopt a healthy behavior or achieve a fitness objective...
But, try it, and you may. Try it and you may, I say.
Try to play with the sharks one day.
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