Thanks for the memories

Let me out, let me out … !!!!!

Let me out, let me out … !!!!!

Well, my medical experience this week was going in to get an MRI for the cyst in the scaphoid carpal in my right wrist. The machine looks just as it does in the picture here, but the attending nurse, in typical Argentinian fashion I might add, was brief with me to the point that, by the time I was arranged face down, wrist outstretched, with earplugs, he had disappeared to the other room without telling me how long the procedure was going to take. Earplugs you ask? Yes. It was extraordinarily noisy. Beeps, buzzing noises, humming noises, clanks – they would go on for a long time – stop – then start up again. And I found it a thoroughly uncomfortable experience. It did not hurt or anything, nothing like that. However, not knowing how much longer was going to take affected me quite a bit. And staying absolutely still for that long, I could feel an almost irresistible urge on the part of my motionless arm muscles, to twitch. I think it took approximately 20 to 30 minutes but I was so eager to get out of there, I didn’t even stop to ask. They do give you a button on a cord that you can press in case of an emergency. The only thing that stopped me from pressing it was that I didn’t want to have to go through it again. 😊 Anyway, I can now add that to my list of life experiences that I hope not to repeat. So another doctor’s visit next week should tell me the next step.

I finally finished the course on Model Thinking that I was taking from the University of Michigan through Coursera. It was in abeyance while I was working in the Philippines, but I did want to finish it. It was heavy going. It forced me to review a lot of basic mathematical techniques that I had forgotten because you don’t tend to use them in everyday life. Also, I was a little disappointed in the materials for the course. They had midweight quizzes and exams scattered through the course. And some of the questions were detailed enough that you really did need to have listened or have some material to study to be able to answer the questions. And due to the lack of handout summaries, it was a somewhat onerous process to go back through the videos, skipping and jumping around to try to find the exact area that referred to the question that was being asked. But I got it done. Markov processes, Lyapunov functions, Categorization, The Prisoners Dilemma, Collective Action and Common Pool Resource issues, The Free Rider Problem, The Central Limit Theorem, and many, many more. 12 week course with two 1-hour lectures per week. Honestly? All very good stuff. And it is fairly clear how most of these can be used to apply to real-world problems such as elections, economics, human behavior, etc. I find it hard though to recommend to most of the people that I know. No offense to anyone, but it is kind of a dry course and it takes some serious dedication to go ahead and finish it. I’m smiling while I write this because I almost stopped myself a couple of times. The real trick here, of course, is to be able to recognize which model or models can be applied to a given situation.

In the course of looking for images about model thinking to put into the article, I ran across a specific image (see below) that is well worth looking at, as well as a website full of really well-done infographics. Well worth spending some time (I will not call it a waste) browsing through.

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/

Excellent Graphic - Take the time to zoom in and examine it closely -  https://www.visualcapitalist.com/12-ways-smarter-mental-models/

Excellent Graphic - Take the time to zoom in and examine it closely - https://www.visualcapitalist.com/12-ways-smarter-mental-models/

The Deceptive Mind

The Deceptive Mind

Human memory is utterly flawed. Like perceptions, memory is not a passive recording; instead, our memories are constructed entirely by our brains. In fact, they’re tied together with everything that we think and believe with our internal model of reality. Interestingly, confidence in a memory is not a good predictor of the accuracy of a memory. We tend to naively assume that if we are very confident in a memory—if it feels vivid to us and if it can be easily recalled—it must therefore be accurate, but the research does not support this.
— Prof. Steven Novella - The Deceptive Mind

Further on education, I am in the middle of a course at Great Courses Plus – Professor Steven Novella – Yale School of Medicine – The Deceptive Mind. Fascinating! So far, the 4th lecture, on how long-term memory works, is especially interesting. It really makes me question most of what I do remember. In essence, our long-term memory, is something that is constructed out of what we have seen, what we have heard, and what our brain creates to fill in the gaps. I have put in some quotes from the accompanying text that Prof. Novella provides with the course because, naturally, he says it so much better. But now I understand why eyewitness testimony can be so unreliable. Because I knew about this a little bit, and I already did not trust my long-term memory that much, I notice that I have a tendency now, when people ask me about something, to start by saying -- “I don’t know if I can trust this memory…”.. And now going through this course, I understand exactly why. And I am right not to trust it. I will say, that this makes things like recording meetings and writing notes probably more important than I ever thought it was to begin with.

They actually have a word for process the mind goes through to create memories. Confabulation. Wonderful word. Your memory can be contaminated (contributing to the confabulation process) by any number of things. Leading questions. Talking with other people who saw the same thing. Reading or viewing something that relates to the memory in question. Our mind is a busy little beaver when it comes to stuff like this. In essence it works to try to create a coherent story out what it sees so that it matches what we already know.

For those of you who may have an Audible subscription, I think you can find the course book there, although I discovered that on Amazon, they don’t have a Kindle version of it. But it might be well worthwhile if you felt like listening to the audio version on Audible. Or you could even do a 30 day free trial to Great Courses Plus just for that one course.

Russia is a joke compared with the danger posed by China

Russia is a joke compared with the danger posed by China

 On another note, about China being, in my opinion, one of the most dangerous authoritarian states that the world has ever seen, I invite you to take a listen to the following NPR podcast.

https://www.npr.org/2019/07/05/738949320/episode-924-stuck-in-chinas-panopticon

Other than work, I am currently doing some research on how to tune my intermittent fasting, for people over 40. Who knew that was a thing? But it makes sense. The metabolism of older people is markedly different than that of those who are younger (Captain Obvious checking in here). My initial few hours of research are showing me that in fact, the way I have been doing intermittent fasting, may be the major contributor to my low energy levels. That is not to say that the intermittent fasting is a bad thing to be doing. Not at all. However, there appear to be some tweaks that I can implement that are better suited to the metabolism of a 58-year-old.

I am going to start implementing this next week and so when I do my next blog article I will fill you in on how it appears to be going at least in the early stages.

I really do recommend the links that I put into the blog article this week, they are very interesting indeed and I hope that you agree with me when you check them out.

So, on a cold and foggy morning in Buenos Aires, I hope everybody has an excellent week ahead. :-)