I am writing the majority of this on the 19-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Doha. My last week in BA was really enjoyable. I’m glad that nothing happened to diminish it. As I found out in the neuroscience course I discuss below, humans tend to have their enjoyment of an experience most affected by what happens towards the end of it. The weather was beautiful, I got the errands done that I needed to, I spent a couple of days at my favorite boutique B&B, and had a great home cooked dinner with the few friends I do have in BA. It made up for the attempted backpack heist.
And, regardless of the extremely busy 8 weeks I see ahead of me, I’m looking forward to getting back to Asia. And, not counting the trip to St. Martin, 9 weeks is the longest I’ve gone without traveling for a long time. I missed it. My roommate has been going way above and beyond the call of duty in renovating the house while I was gone [so I’m really looking forward to seeing it soon], and another close friend seems to be recovering well from a quadruple bypass operation a few weeks ago. Although I seem to have a slight cold, I’m otherwise doing really well. Even the bursitis from the mugging incident in January finally seems to be rapidly improving. So … life is good 😊
Some thoughts on education and critical thinking and that life long learning is the way to go.
I’m not being a shill, but I can’t recommend Great Courses Plus strongly enough.
For $20/month one has access to a broad range of courses from well informed and experienced professors. I’ve gone through a course on neuroscience, nutrition, and formal logic in the last few weeks (most courses are between 20 – 30 lectures, each approximately 30 – 40 minutes long). I’m still going through the formal logic course. It is amazing the quality of information that is available when you are use a non-commercial source of information. I felt there were several important takeaways from these courses.
The validity of the information that one hears about on the news or on the Internet is highly suspect for the most part. Very rarely is the information given by the media or companies trying to sell something backed up by true ‘studies’. They use the word all the time but conspicuously missing are the parameters of the study:
- Was it a double blind, randomized, placebo study?
o Placebo meaning that one group is subjected to a totally neutral stimulus
o Double blind meaning that both the participants and the researchers, to the greatest extent possible, have information about the test hidden from them to eliminate as much bias as possible.
- Was the study conducted in a scientifically sound manner?
- What was the sample size? Statistically significant?
- From what population was the sample drawn?
- What other parameters were controlled for?
- For how long was the study conducted?
And these are just to name some of the main issues to be concerned about. Seriously, listen to what they say. They use the word ‘study’ … and that’s it. Very few (if any) specifics are mentioned.
And so often, we as the public, become inured to not knowing these things. We hear the phrase ‘study’ and (to borrow from the neuroscience course) confirmation bias takes over. We believe what we want to believe. And it takes time, effort, and energy to dig deeper into these glib sound bites. So, if the sound bites tell us that …
- Chocolate is good for you …
- Red wine is healthy (reservatrol)
- This diet is the best …
- That diet is the best …
- This exercise program is the best …
You get the idea. Well … who wants to contradict that? Certainly, the media doesn’t want to dig into it. It doesn’t make as good of a headline if you say the study that shows chocolate is good for you was paid for by the chocolate industry or that it only involved 4 reindeer herders from Lapland who were in phenomenal shape. Not to mention that their primary goal is to keep viewers and increase or keep ad revenue. So, anything that keeps their viewer’s attention is good. Can you say ‘clickbait’?
And one must bear in mind that properly conducted studies are bloody EXPENSIVE. Especially studies with humans. So, this too will affect the breadth and scope of the study.
So, QUESTION, QUESTION, QUESTION. Do not just accept this plethora of sound bites at their surface value. Respect your own intelligence.
Some of what was in these courses I knew. To some extent. But I personally found it great to refresh my knowledge, or in many cases in these lectures, learn more advanced concepts. One of the reasons I did this was that I recently noticed I was starting to go down a rabbit hole chasing elusive weight and workout goals. Going through these courses has dragged me back on track and I’m quite happy about it.
The key nutrition and body composition course takeaways are these:
- Eat GOOD food
- Protein, Good Fat (avocados, olive oil, nuts, etc.)
- Don’t stuff yourself with carbs
- Cut back on highly processed foods as much as you can
- Move as much as you can during the day … take stairs, move, walk, don’t search for the closest parking space. I’m not sure I can do the standing work station, but I’m experimenting with it.
- Exercise + Sleep = VITAL ingredients for health and body composition
Key neuroscience course takeaways
- Exercise is the best thing to help your brain – at all ages
- Sleep is critical – especially as you get older
- In general – multi-tasking is a myth. One can task SWITCH and, in some cases, get more efficient at switching (i.e. how long it takes to re-focus from one task to another), but parallel tasking? We aren’t wired for it for the most part. So focus is really important
Notice how exercise and sleep seem to be key in both areas? Hint to those that need it.
Moving on to the course in formal logic. I took logic as a philosophy elective in university (because it applied to the computer science major). But it appealed to me to look at it again. How much one forgets. I have found this course to be fascinating and I have just scratched the surface.
However – I will write about this next week. This course proved to be such a treasure trove of information, I didn’t want to just put it at the end of this post. It deserves a post all on its own.
My roommate did an awesome job on the house. It looks so clean and helps support my minimalism so well. I’m stunned. The problem is I don’t want to leave and go anywhere else now 😊. Now we are compiling a list of stuff to sell to further clear out the house. I love it!
Stephen Hawking died. What a loss. He was one of the great ones.
Facebook has shot itself in the ass … again. I’m sorry – why do people use Facebook? Is this ‘connection’ thing really worth allowing yourself to be a ‘product’ to these companies?
I was listening to a podcast about this and heard the hosts (supposedly tech savvy people) talking about how ads are “following them around the internet”. I’m baffled. Have they never heard of ad blockers?
I’m deep in work, and as usual, the trip is taking its toll on me in terms getting back on a regular schedule. But I’ll get there 😊 … See you next week