IS SCIENCE ENOUGH?

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I’m reading another text that is positing once again that science isn’t enough. Science doesn’t provide meaning. We need something else for that.

We need philosophy. We need religion. We need spirituality.

But is that the case? Does science have a limit as to what it can give us? Is science a part time paradigm?

Whenever you think of science, what do you think of? Bunsen burners and beakers? Calculators and pocket protectors?

Science is actually more specific than that. While it is about experiments and calculations, that isn’t the whole of it. That whole specificity allows for mass utility.

Science is really about a way of asking questions…and arriving at answers. The only thing that science cannot answer are questions that cannot be answered. And questions that cannot be answered occupy a very small part of our lives.

We’re all practical scientists whether we think of ourselves that way, or not. We do something (an experiment) because we think it’s the right thing to do (hypothesis). If it works out (observation), we continue doing that thing (including philosophy, religion, etc.)…after all, we believe it works (theory).

We’re good at personal, or anecdotal science. It’s when we get into the more rigorous and general empirical science that science loses it appeal. But anything that is impersonal loses its appeal. It’s happened with religion and philosophy.

What if we simply needed a more “personal” relationship with science? What if we became conscious of being scientists? Would science then be enough?

As practical scientists, we’re treating everything as an experiment…including philosophies and religions. We can anecdotally determine what works and doesn’t work…at least for us. And for each experiment we run, we’re reminded of one thing over and over again.

A part of the science is to run experiments based on prediction. I think this will happen. I’ll test it and see what does happen.

Sometimes we’re right, sometimes we’re not. But our errors aren’t isolated to hypotheses. We make errors in observations, in calculating data, and building theories.

For all our science, we are an erroneous people. And those errors occur in all human advents including science, religion, and philosophy…because humans are involved in all of them. This (scientific) observation should bring about two qualities in us: humility….and more science. Beware of those in whom it doesn’t.

CONSERVE, PROGRESS, & LIBERATE

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America is somewhat divided down the middle in political ideologies. On one side is conservatism. On the other is progressivism. Straddling both is libertarianism.

At my best, my science informs my beliefs. My science is BioFeedback. My beliefs are many.

Included in my beliefs is my politics. I identify as a scientist. I also identify as a Libertarian.

Whenever we talk about government and the political spectrum, we have to view it through the lens of authority. Where does authority reside? Is it with the individual or the government?

Conservatives believe that economic authority should be with the individual and social authority should be with the government. Progressives believe that economic authority should be with the government and social authority should be with the individual.Libertarians believe that all authority (save the authority of the Courts, Police, and Military) should lay with the individual.

What about my science leads me to believe the best form of governance is the smallest form of government? Why would I champion the individual? What does BioFeedback have to teach us in this arena?

In 2009, THE MOVEMENT was formed to share the discovery of perpetual progress. Perpetual Progress is based upon the use of BioFeedback. BioFeedback refers to how sensation and action affect other.

Whenever we match our actions to our sensations, we progress. Whenever we do that in perpetuity, we progress perpetually. Let me explain…in the realm of movement.

Let’s say I get a positive sensation from flexing my shoulder. If I train that with THE MOVEMENT protocol, I’ll achieve some personal record. Whether it be flexibility, strength, speed, endurance, or recovery, in some way, I’ll do more than before.

So what BioFeedback, even working out have to do with Politics? Everything! It has to do with how individuals react to leadership.

When an individual tunes in to their own biological based leadership, amazing things can happen. Pain can be relieved. Abilities can be gained.

And when one ignores their internal leadership in lieu of external leadership, or governance, they invite disaster. While following one’s own guidance is tricky (especially in the beginning), following others’ guidance is a guarantee…of eventual failure. If you follow anything other than yourself, you will eventually break yourself.

When we have a strong state, or central governance, all people will be broken at one time or another…especially those with the least power. And group is only as strong as its individual members. This points to a simple principle and practice.

Maximize individual liberty. Make a group where the individual is the focus…when the individual can be the focus. And when is the individual not the focus?

The individual is not the focus when that particular individual is impinging on other individuals. The other case is when another group (of individuals) is aggressing upon another group of individuals. It’s in those cases where the (weak) state institutions come into play, those being the police, the courts, and if a threat is international, the military.

That allowance of freedom allows for conservatism and progressivism to coexist…if they’ll allow each other coexist. And I think their coexistence is crucial to their individual existence. Both conservatives and progressives can advance the cause of individual liberty, as well.

There is a time for progress. There is a time for conservation. Each respective group must sound the clarion call when it is time. Sebastian Junger’s argument is much the same in his book, TRIBE.

But here’s where BioFeedback comes back into the picture. Just because something needs progressed beyond or something needs to be conserved doesn’t mean progress or conservation can happen now…and that’s where individual and collective BioFeedback plays a role.

The feedback we get from ourself tells us how much we can and cannot change. The feedback we get from others tells us how much they can and cannot change. This informs the roles we all play.

Conservatives tells everyone, this is important…this part shouldn’t be changed. Progressives say, this part isn’t good enough…we need to makes progress here. And Libertarians remind both that as a group, we can stay the same or change…but not at too high a cost to any individual.

And when we all collectively decide to remain or change directions, our roles change a bit. But we have to understand the nature of change before we more clearly understand our roles. Change isn’t as effective as we’d prefer…but we can make it more effective.

I’ve heard change referred to in many ways. Change is incremental. Change is a pendulum. I believe it’s both of those things…but I believe it’s more than those things.

When I’m talking about individual physiology (including psychology), I describe it in terms of elasticity. Your body is made up of elastic tissues…with some being more elastic than others. But what we fail to comprehend is that our physiology is elastic, too.

Whenever we think of cultural change, we can look at it as incremental…everything looks incremental in the short term. When we look at it through the broader prism, we see the pendulum. And we see it go too far in a direction…and then swing back.

The pendulum swings back because change is an elastic process. And if the only way to change is to go too far, then by all means, the party of change (or changing back) has to push us too far. And what we’re all fighting is staying too long or going too far.

To fight change is to delay the inevitable. And to fight change is to build change up so much that too much change occurs. And when that change occurs, a commensurate correction is needed.

But then the change of correction is fought, so that an overcorrection occurs. And each side is emboldened to fight change until change is once again, inevitable. It’s a truly vicious cycle…but going too far isn’t the only way to change.

Cooperation between the three minds of the American Politic can help keep change going. But that cooperation must start with understanding our collective roles. And we need to play those roles better.

Optimally, conservatives would keep us from changing too much, too fast. Progressives would keep us from staying the same too long. And Libertarians would remind both sides that staying the same or changing cannot impinge upon the individual too much.

What has happened is that no group values the other groups. And when we collectively don’t see the necessity for each other, polarity occurs. Conservatives fight change at all costs. Progressives push change at all costs. Both want Libertarians to pick a side and Libertarians don’t want to be a part of either side.

What if Conservatives remembered their own bias against change and tried to find ways in which they could change? What if Progressives didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater? What if Libertarians remembered that the most power and safety an Individual can have from other individuals and groups…is a group?

The group that needs to change needs to communicate what change they can accept…and accept it. The group that is pushing the change (literally) needs to learn to not push too much. And the group that has pushed the change must be open to change…when it’s their turn.

Energy is lost putting on the brakes, in going too far, or pushing too hard. There are things that deserve, even demand to remain the same. There are things that require us progressing past. And both conservatism and progressivism should protect and progress the individual’s liberty. And when the Libertarian joins in, all individuals maximize the ability to conserve what works, progress past what doesn’t, and maximize individual power through cooperation of the three minds of the Body Politic.

 

THE ELASTIC LIFE

elasticityWhen I was coming up in fitness, staying in the fat burning zone was the thing. So joggers strapped on heart rate monitors and limited their activity by staying within these narrow parameters. They didn’t know how limited they were about to get.

Once runners started stabilizing their heart rates, the ultimate limitation emerged. Their mortality rate increased. WTH?

How did active people die…from activity? Here’s another one for you. The most active person I know, someone who was active probably using all energy systems…developed diabetes. Why? For the same reason the joggers died.

Even though he was active for 10 hours a day (and eating “clean”) the rest of the time, he still developed diabetes. Why? My hypothesis is his routine.

He was the most “disciplined” person I knew (and many consider me disciplined). But this discipline came in the form of routine. Routine, no matter how good it is, is the freeway to the graveyard. Why?

Why would consistently doing the “right” thing lead to the ultimate negative consequence? Let’s focus on two possible reasons. The first is adaptation.

Adaptation can be understood as the ability to change directions. If we’re routined, we’re moving through a limited number of directions. When we have to get out of our routine, we’re negatively impacted.

Of course we are. We’ve been practicing a routine. We haven’t been practicing adaptability.

The second reason the “right” thing could lead to the wrong outcome is how organisms respond to stress. Organisms with too much stress predictably die. But also consider those organisms with no distress at all, die, too. This points us in the direction we need to go.

Mechanical systems break down through use. Friction wears away the parts. Not as much in living systems.

Living systems build themselves up through use. Hypertrophy, right? And they break down through disuse…atrophy.

Whenever we don’t experience distress, we lose the ability to deal with distress. But too much distress and the system breaks. How do we navigate this conflict, even paradox?

If we don’t use, or use it enough, a bodily part or area breaks down. And if we use it too much, it breaks down, as well. But that isn’t the whole story.

Each part of the body affects the rest of the body. How it affects the rest of those parts is movement. But even the movement of one part affects the rest of the movements of that same part.

Let’s take the shoulder, for example. The shoulder flexes, extends, adducts, abducts, internally rotates, externally rotates, and circumducts. But here’s the kicker – when the shoulder flexes (with all other things being equal), it makes the rest of the motions harder to perform.

Why would moving your shoulder in one way make it harder to move your shoulder in all the other ways? It has to do with how our tissue adapts. Our tissue reshapes itself with use.

Like a living clay, the body reshapes itself in the shape of movement. That’s why we can often tell what a person does or doesn’t do by their posture and their gait. So when we have tissue that loses function if we don’t use that function, we’re left with one biological command: use everything.

We have to use every musculoskeletal motion of the body or we’ll eventually lose every motion of the body.  But we can’t just look musculoskeletally, we have look organically, as well. If we don’t utilize the upper and lower limits of all function, those functions become limited…until we cannot function, at all.

Our joggers lost physiological function because of how limited activity limited their hearts. No longer was there as much variability in the heart rate. It only went so far up and so far down. It purposefully stayed within a “zone.”

But to stay in this zone changed the organ tissue. Because it physiologically, or functionally, didn’t go up and down as much, it lost the analogous anatomical quality. What is that quality? Elasticity.

Our tissues are all elastic in nature. Our anatomy is elastic. While form follows function, in living systems, function follows form, as well.

If we want to maintain our elasticity, we have to live elastically. We have to breathe really fast…and really slow. We have to eat a lot and nothing. We have to drink a lot and nothing.

Periodically, life has to be be about the extremes. It’s not as though one day can be feast and one can be famine…at least from day to day. But a flat line is just that…life needs its ups and downs.

For many of us, life provides enough downs, so we spend our free time working on going up. But we forget that the climb is indefinite, it foreshadows a fall…at least on one front. But life is lived on many fronts.

When we’re down in one area, we can be up in another. But if we’re so focused on where we’re down, we’re missing the opportunity to find an area where we can go up…and then actually go up. And if we can’t find a place to go up, we have to remember that our anatomy is elastic, so our physiology is elastic, so then our life is elastic….and the only way to move forward is to go both up and down.

SMARTER

smarterIcon_animateIn some measures of intelligence, I’m smart. In others…not so much. I experienced something at a young age that science has confirmed.

Intelligence, like many other attributes, is not fixed. I discovered this by getting tested over and over again when I was starting school. Each successive time I took a test, I got much better at the test. I started off well below average and ended up being well above average.

This trend has followed me throughout my life. It takes me a long time to become competent in a subject. But the time between competence and mastery is comparatively short.

Like Dweck, Ericsson, and others, I discovered that considering I could get better and deliberately practicing on the things I could actually improve led me, quite predictably, to improvement. When it comes to intelligence (Mensa style not Gardner style intelligence), getting more of it isn’t easy. And I don’t think it’s taught all that well, either.

I want to talk about becoming more intelligent entails and an approach to becoming more intelligent. It isn’t as straight forward as taking more IQ tests (although that could help). And it isn’t enough to study people who have intelligence(s) that you desire.

It’s going to require you to see smaller, and do smaller. And you’re going to be able to see more. And once you do more, you’re going to be able to know more (knowledge) and be more (intelligent).

Being that what we learn is based on BioFeedback, we need to look at intelligence through BioFeedback’s lens. BioFeedback has to do with the relationship between sensation and action. In the common parlance, that’s the relationship between knowing and doing.

Whenever we’re talking about Intelligence, we think of it more in the realm of knowing…than doing. And we’ll keep Intelligence in that realm for a bit. Intelligence has to do with knowledge.

But knowledge of what? When we’re speaking of intelligence, we’re not talking about any specific domain. We want general intelligence…or the ability to be smart in anything.

How can we be generally smart, or generally intelligent? We have make the specific – general. Let me explain.

Each intelligence, whether it be in the arts, sciences, or mathematics comes with a particular set of specific terms. For the artist, the scientist, the mathematician, they call those sets of terms a language. For the uninitiated, we call those terms jargon.

If we don’t want them to be jargon, we have to understand them. And understanding those terms requires using other words, more words to make meaning of them. But it’s not enough to just define your terms.

When we define the terms (or understand) everything we encounter, we have yet to make the specific general. To make the specific general, we have to move beyond definitions. We have to find synonyms.

Finding synonyms is seeing how one word, or term, is like another. Ennui is like boredom. Misery is like suffering.

We’re using one term to understand another. But understanding isn’t just limited to terms, it can be applied to ideas. A peak experience is like summiting a mountain.

When we can see how seemingly non-related things can be related, we’re not only “building” empathy (see what I did there?) we’re making the specific general…building general intelligence. But there is another direction intelligence can go.

Not only can Specific Intelligence be generalized, General Intelligence can become specialized. An easy way to go down this path is to see how things are different. Can you see how synonyms can be antonyms?

What would else would you call something heavy? How about massive? Synonyms, right? But not entirely.

Massive refers to mass (to others, size), heavy refers to weight…they’re different. This differentiation allows for general intelligence to become specific (Hipsters are great at this, lol). And it’s in moving back and forth between the general and specific where we get smarter.

Think of general and specific in visual terms. General is more macroscopic. Specific is more microscopic.

If you look macroscopically, you see astronomy. Smaller, you see geology. Smaller you see sociology. Smaller, you see biology. Smaller, you see physiology. Smaller, chemistry. Smaller, physics.

Or you may not see any of the sciences. You may hear music. You may see art. You may hear poetry or prose. You may feel sports or martial arts. You may make peace or war.

But they’re all related. They’re all connected. They’re connected into patterns.

You may’ve heard intelligence (especially Artificial Intelligence) referred to as pattern recognition. Can you recognize what makes them the same? Can you recognize what makes them different?

If you can connect them generally and disconnect them specifically, you’ll be well on your way to being smarter…maybe even smart…maybe even genius…but probably not savant (but no longer an idiot, either).

And in the most important measures of intelligence, new knowledge should lead to new action. Here’s the most important insight into intelligence: action leads to more intelligence. More intelligence, whether general or specific, is a function of more action.

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING

This-Changes-Everything-1080One of the best compliments I ever received was from a student and colleague who noted, “When you get a new piece of information, you get excited. You’ll say, ‘Don’t you understand…this changes everything?!!!” I think what he meant was that when I get a new piece of information, it changes everything for me….eventually.

While I periodically get enthusiastic about change, my disorder makes change very challenging. Times change, and I’m left behind. This means if I’m going to keep up with the times, I have to be ahead of them.

But I can only be ahead of them in spirit, the body changes too slowly…at least for now. But the prediction of where things will likely go helps those of us who are little slower catch up. And this all leaves me with a very important question, “Where are things going?” (More importantly – to me- where am I going?)

When I can make a somewhat educated guess as to where things are going, I can start work on moving in that direction. Since I move a bit slower than most (both literally and metaphorically), I need a head start. I usually need that head start in any direction.

An example direction is Martial Arts. There have been three trends that have emerged since I’ve been practicing BJJ. I’ve tried to stay ahead of all three.

The first was the movement away from the Gi. It’s only now with the popularity of EBI, 10PJJ, and the DDS (these acronyms mean something to BJJ players) that No Gi is emerging as a distinct practice. I saw it early (Marcelo @ ADCC and at my home Dojo) and 2.5 years after I started (over 10 years ago), I took off the Gi and haven’t consistently put it back on since.

The next trend that emerged in BJJ (which is in full force now) is the practice of leg locks. While I have never been interested in becoming a leg lock specialist, I did start becoming more versed in their use. I watched videos, bought books, and started rolling with leg lockers.

The final trend that has yet to surface in BJJ but I believe ultimately will is wrestling. Fundamental wrestling shuts down many submissions. And wrestling wins nearly every position.

No Gi, Leg Locks, and Wrestling has and will change everything in BJJ. But what clued me in to that? Why did I think that those things changed everything?

I thought No Gi, Leglocks, and Wrestling changed BJJ because I saw how their players fared against traditional BJJ players. I saw how the practice of each of those demonstrated dominance. While I only saw No Gi players, leg lockers, and wrestlers show up occasionally, the effect was undeniable.

Others saw the same thing I did…but where I saw the future, they saw an anomaly. You have to understand the scope of this, though. These were just a few data points.

These three trends were previously only personified. They were three solitary datums. But I knew that they wouldn’t be solitary for long.

When I saw the three trends first emerge, there was resistance to their practice. They weren’t looked at as trends. They were looked at as trendy, a novelty.

Each time the trend reappeared, it became easier for people to accept that this new thing was here to stay. And the new somehow subsumed the old. Those people who wouldn’t accept the new either left or became a relic of the past.

While we don’t identify as such, we’re all more naturally conservative than progressive. We want to conserve what was before more so than we want to progress past it. While some things are timeless and remain, those things are in the minority.

The natural order is change. In order to orient towards the future, we have to be on the constant lookout for what will change everything. Most things that are new won’t be catalysts.

But when we see something new that puts a chink in the armor of the old, we have to pay attention – very close attention – to understand the scope of that change. For every bit of change we see, we get more insight into what actually works. And we better understand what changes everything…and the personal work it takes to change.

A.I. & BioFeedback

AI

Artificial Intelligence has a long (fictional) history of being something to fear. The machines will rise up, take over, and our place at the top of the food chain will be over.

But is that the trajectory of AI? Being that we don’t have much of a mind for math, statistics, or the future, it’s hard to predict. I like all of those things so I’m going to make a prediction of the trend of AI.

That trend is based on the history of not just artificial intelligence, but intelligence itself. We’ll start with defining our terms. We need a better understanding of artificial and intelligence…and we can’t forget BioFeedback.

Artificial refers to something man made, not nature made. Intelligence is a little more difficult to define. But we’re going to use a familiar set of terms to aid our definition.

BioFeedback refers to how sensation and motion feed back into each other and affect each other. We define how intelligent someone is (there are multiple intelligences as Gardner delineates) by how much someone can sense and/or how much someone can act. Common sense (intelligence) refers to how many average functions one can do or sense.

Many of us wouldn’t think of a high level athlete as intelligent, we may describe them as physically gifted, but there is such as thing as physical or motor intelligence with many different physical subdomains, as well. But we do think of someone who is a whiz with numbers or language as intelligent. But being numerate or literate are just types of intelligence…not the whole of it.

Whenever we broaden our definition of intelligence, it allows us to further simplify it. Intelligence isn’t just about knowing, it’s also about doing. That’s where BioFeedback comes in.

BioFeedback is about how sensation and action affect each other in a biological system. They inform each other. When I do this, it feels this way. When I feel this way, I should do this thing.

But to classify AI, we need to brake this model apart into sensation or knowing, and action or doing. There are some AI that focus on knowing. There are some that focus on doing…and they’re both intelligent.

Whenever we see an AI who can do more than us in a particular area, we get scared. This computer can beat our best chess player.  Scary.

But we often forget that is what technology is all about. Technology is about building levers to help us do what we already do…better. A screwdriver can turn a screw better than we can with just our hands.

In much the same way, Google can compile and search through data much faster (and more often than not accurately) than we can. It’s another example of technology doing what we do…only better. Is this really what we’re scared of?

We’re scared of being totally dominated by one entity. We’re scared that there is going to be one technological super organism that can do more and know more than us. There is a risk of that.

But we haven’t built AI to be centralized. In Kevin Kelly’s book, THE INEVITABLE, he makes note that AI is decentralized. We’re making individual devices smarter.

And we’re making them smarter for a simple reason – to better suit us. Machines are extensions of us, not entirely separate. We’re worried about machines connecting to each other, yet that is not AI’s trajectory.

AI’s trajectory is to better connect to us. And if we can better connect to AI, we can better connect to ourselves. AI isn’t going to take us over, it’s going to help us get over.

With AI, our NI (natural intelligence) will grow allowing us to do more and know more than ever before. How can I make that prediction? Because that what’s always happened.