Posts in psychology
The Boy Who Cried Nazi, and Other Tales of Word Fatigue.

 

Recently, Sam Harris proclaimed with some profundity that our language has a very important consequence to our actions. During a Q&A he acknowledged that his presence on a talk show had the backlash (like it usually does) of people proclaiming that he was a Xenophobe, a bigot, a racist, and a Nazi. The importance of this escapes most people, as Sam explained if you think that he is of that sort simply because you disagree with his opinion, then what language do you reserve to describe the actual threat that is fascism, racism, or heaven forbid a Nazi regime?

 

This isn’t a political rant, what Sam brought to light is a problem that we have with vocabulary. We as a 21st century people have given into the placid numbness that high stimulus media and word fatigue can cause. In our effort to be noticed individually, to gather attention, whether, in likes, views, or even just recognition, we have found that we have to sensationalize our language, we have to have a call to arms, a reason for people to listen, even if it is to only bring attention to a picture of our lunch, or we might otherwise be left to the swipe of a thumb and the blur of a scroll - lost forever in the infinite abyss of 0s and 1s.

 

The above example can even be plainly seen in most news outlets as an attempt to gather clicks and momentum within social media, with it comes a very real backlash effect - but we know this. The boy who cried wolf might have never happened, but the effect of the fable is most definitely present today, as we see an abundance of shiny words seeking our attention. We now don’t know what reaction to have, when to be aghast, when to take up a healthy public discourse, or when to resort to bearing arms and defending everything we know and love. What we didn’t learn in a clichéd lesson that most of our parents tried to program into us for crying too often as children, we will almost certainly reap the consequences of through a divided in-group, if not an entire civilization.

 

Receiving language is one way our brain interprets information; it then can detect a threat based on the inflection of those words. The intent can describe and assign importance, what words we choose to use or NOT choose and how we say them have the power to motivate our actions, comfort our indiscretions, and possibly burn every relationship we have to the ground. In the age of the smartphone, we all have most certainly felt the consequence of poor language choice by way of improperly inflected text messages, the simplest sentences can wreak havoc on the strongest of relationships. It is why as a rule of thumb my wife and I agreed to settle debates through face-to-face confrontation, or at the very least through the use of Skype or FaceTime, but never text messaging, because the written word when undertaken carelessly has the power to do more harm than good, it breaks before it fixes; it is a master-less power, made more powerful through our own naivety and carelessness.

 

It is of little to no coicidence that the use of emoji's have yet to settle a debate.

 

Language isn’t always negative and doesn't have to be in order to generate the problems associated with word fatigue. Positive language can also cause fatigue, and a weariness to take people serious these days. For one, companies, businesses, and the sort need to stop using the term “family” when describing their employees, customers, or communities.  Perhaps people can derive different meanings or levels of importance given the word, but taking a dramatically useful term and relegating it to that of common marketing speech will again displace what terms we use when something is of actual importance.

 

Family – to me - is a time-honored traditional term referring to a specific member that beholds value that money and all but the worst disagreements or betrayal can separate. To call someone family means that I put my own finances, health, and safety on the line when called upon, because I know they would do the same, and I also know they would do everything possible to avoid asking me to do such a thing in the first place. I would also return the honor by not requesting it of them unless absolutely necessary. Someone is not "family" because you like the same music, you play the same sport, or you have matching T-shirts, you can certainly call on these people when the situation arises, but don't be disappointed with the word when these people fail you, be disappointed in yourself for misidentifying such people because of your disregard for the meaning in language. Sometimes, even blood relation doesn’t reflect what the term family actually means. There is a dull thud I feel when someone aggrandizes the use of a term to emphasize a relationship that doesn’t exist, it lets me know just what that individual or company really perceives as a family, which is usually a bond of the monetary sort and not the one respected by a code of ethical value. The use of the term is strategic from a marketing standpoint, it lowers our defenses, much like a call to action might raise them. Friend, brother, buddy, and mate all have these same consequential values, but so do the terms enemy, foe, and hate.

 

Language is befitting to how we decide to use it, but it is useful only in the context of how much truth and meaning are insinuated by its use. If words become meaningless and warnings start to lose their frequency, then communication becomes impossible. The fuse that gets lit upon our desire to embellish our words and attract attention is in fact attached to an explosive nature of truth, the fact of which is just our inability to correctly use language. An accusation or a rallying cry may very well bring men with guns to your door, it is our inflection and purposeful language that will decide whether they are friends or foes.

 

Please Stop Telling Me I'm Doing it Wrong.

It seems like it’s that time again- NO, not the CrossFit Open; it’s time for everyone to give his or her advice on how you should approach the Open. Funny enough, the content derived for these “hints and tips” is generally just the same bullshit reformulated to fit whatever coach is selling what.

 

The movement coach is going to give you some real hints on how to move efficiently and save energy “make sure not to go out too hard, and pace correctly!” he might caution – thanks chief, totally invaluable advice there, have you ever considered starting a podcast?

 

The nutrition coach at this point is just trying to validate his monthly charge for his clientele who haven’t figured out that he just adjusts carbs up or down, and asks how you feel on your weekly update calls. He will then try and push whatever supplement company pays him the most. “17.1 is going to wreck you, so try recovering with this carb drink that I so happen to make, don’t forget a fucking protein shake” – where would be without the exemplary wisdom of this diet guru?

 

Because there seems to be a reason for everyone to make a video, the Olympic weightlifting coach seems to take 5-minutes of your day pontificating about the triple extension, till he drops the real knowledge: “Don’t forget to hook grip!” – I’ll never get that 5-minutes back.

 

It’s not that coaching is bad, or pointers on efficiency and diet guidance are not welcome, they are, just not the week of competition. It is too fucking late, sorry. You can tell me all you want how I should handle the dumbbell, or shave seconds off my burpee box jump, I’ll nod along, and then I’ll just go and perform according to how I have been training for the past few months.

 

If I trained efficiently? Great.

 

If I cut corners, no amount of advice is going to rewire my brain to pull a fucking miracle out of nowhere and suddenly secure my ticket to go to Regionals.

 

Sports performance is built months before the competition, arguably years if the level is high enough. The time for tips and tricks is in the training where you have the energy and focus to actually make adjustments and test new ideas. These videos are harmless by themselves, but when an insecure athlete takes the advice of a self-promoted “expert”, and changes an aspect of their performance, or even just wastes energy thinking about changing technique that could be spent elsewhere, it makes me sad. The reason being is that competition is a time to focus on the effort, and the lesson that giving your all can give back to you, not the stress incurred on deciding to wear fucking knee sleeves or not, which is usually based on some guy’s advice who hasn’t even done it yet.

 

Here is some real advice for 17.1, or 17.2 - for fuck's sake it's just advice for competing in general. Go in with a smile; you, giving your best will produce the highest pace that you can most likely hold. When it gets hard, remember it’s hard for everyone, and that your finish time or finished reps are the reminder that you didn’t give up, not a reflection of your self-worth. Competing is about showing up, starting, dealing with the bullshit inside your head, deciding not to quit, and then finishing knowing you did your best - everything else is just fluff. You can worry about whether or not to wear lifting shoes all you want, that’s on you, but if you miss the opportunity to smile, enjoy the group dynamic, and add to the effect of cheering on your fellow competitors, then the technique you have decided on using is called being an asshole.

 

 

The Age Of False-Self

There is more information circulating in regards to the neurology, cognitive fallacies, and self-imposed psychological maladies than ever before. It is the result of the past 100-years of advancement in the fields surrounding brain science. It would seem by this growth that we are just moments away from unlocking the key to truly understanding how our brain works; The Enlightenment, no doubt would be a truly humanitarian understanding of each other, an actual peace on earth through compassion, empathy, and a resolve to know our inner workings better than any humans before us. Why then does it feel as if the opposite is true? With more knowledge we seem to be more inept, with what we deem as understanding, we inoculate our wall of opinion and guard against any new ideas that are counter to our personally held beliefs.

Abortion – there is very little doubt that the word itself evokes one of two feelings, which happens to be separated by a gulf of emotionally charged “facts”. It is a perfect example of what self-knowledge has NOT helped us achieve, which is an acknowledgment of a truth. This is in large part because "truth" - in most cases is a variable built upon context. By the time you have reached this far in the paragraph, you have no doubt assigned your own context through a listing of facts that make up your own belief system; this aligns with what emotion you attached to the term. Your brain – given how strong of a conviction you have to the belief, is scanning the words below to try and assess this articles "opinion" of the term, in other words, you are already trying to find the enemy of your opinion so you can rally a defense, or possibly a rebuttal that you can share on Facebook, and all I had to do in order to evoke this reaction was write a single word.

The more frustrating part about this is that most of us are actually aware of this process or have been taught it by proxy, yet it continues without any pause or hesitation. I see in arguments almost every day the accusation of an opponent being guilty of cognitive dissonance, being a suspect of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, or a victim of any other logical fallacy; the realization should be that knowledge of these terms does not lower their occurrence, which should frighten us deeply. It presupposes that we are unable to make conscious changes even in the face of contextual truth. That we are in fact, as some neuroscientists describe us: “a ghost in a machine”.

The real question is this: does all of this self-help, self-knowledge, and wisdom help us make better decisions, does it enable us to navigate a problem in a more efficient manner?

I will leave the volatile categories of self-delusion as it relates to politics, religion, and socio-economics, their use usually comes with too many other bundled beliefs. Instead, the focus will be how self-knowledge in regards to a physical effort can both help and hurt us, it also allows us a physical consequence of a psychological pathway.

For the past month or so I have been working on a project called “Cognition First”, the basis of which is pretty simple: in order to change your body you must first be able to manipulate your brain. In describing it as simple I don’t mean that it is easy, in fact far from it. The idea came about when I got tired of hearing about “mental toughness”, the fatigue I personally felt was based solely on a misconception that mental toughness was increased by purely hard efforts. This idea permeates our culture today, it is held up by military practices, reinforced by personal trainers, and is disguised as "self-knowledge" when addressing people thought of as being “mentally tough” intuit how that ability came to be. To sum up the belief we are told in uncertain terms that being tough comes from being tough, a paradox that escapes few. What most science has come to realize though is that becoming mentally tough comes through an arduous practice of essentially small steps that in and of themselves are not actually all that difficult. If we think of toughness on a scale of 1-10, 10 being able to withstand conscious torture such as being disemboweled, and 1 as a level that might equate the exposure to a neutral environment, one that supports homeostasis (think a 72F room with no stressors). Toughness then is not developed by exposure to its extreme endpoint, but most likely a low percentage that gradually increases frequency, perhaps an analogy of boiling a frog would be useful here. 

 

This example follows what most recognize as periodization, or compensation, not surprisingly this self-knowledge does not change how most go about developing mental toughness as a skill and it especially doesn’t change how we go about bragging about our own levels of it through flaccid descriptions of our own “hard” training. This I would argue is because the system responsible for mental toughness is not as conscious as we want to give it credit, there is ultimately a limit to our conscious control over the decision to quit or continue when signals of pain start to interrupt normal thought patterns. The simple act of slowly increasing the pressure is just one way to overwrite our natural inclination to throw in the towel by never making our conscious brain aware of the choice in the first place. Periodization works in a host of scenarios because its mechanisms actuate off of our unconscious bias, a network built using the Central Governor Unit (which regulates based on a rate of perceived exertion) along with our parasympathetic nervous system. 

It is true though that at some point in developing the idea of mental toughness, that you would have to at some point consciously agree to the training of it, but that actually has very little to do with the system responsible for its reaction in the end. The consequence of understanding how our brain works might actually be another delusion in the end; this time involving the false idea that self-awareness is malleable solely out of the acknowledgement of its own existence.  

I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation from Dr. Ken Ford a few weeks ago, for those that don’t know a simple Google search will reveal a shocking resume of his including but not limited to NASA, DARPA, and ultimately the pinnacle of artificial intelligence in robotics. He spoke in a baritone voice that accentuated his character, reminding me of someone that could ultimately be the villain in a James Bond film. His subject matter also alarmingly made me think that his next startup might be named Skynet, but beyond the hysteria that I created around his character one thing became abundantly clear, as he described the robot of his team’s design, winning an international competition between the world’s best think tanks, his understanding of intelligence differed from the majority of those he gave the presentation to. This might actually be a hotly contested idea, but intelligence is separate from awareness, or in other words apart from consciousness. It does not mean that they don’t interact at points, but intelligence can seamlessly exist without even a remote inkling of consciousness, this is observable in multiple different artificial intelligence exams, including the Turing test.

The reason this became important to me is that it illuminated much of my own confusion when trying to understand why people can recognize a logical fallacy but can’t seem to interact with it appropriately, or at least in a way that leads to changed behavior. We see this every day in those that understand poor dietary choices lead to a multitude of risk factors, as well as the loss of an optimized life; yet they overwrite their hard earned knowledge with a reaction based on emotion, and what can ultimately be described as poor unconscious decision-making. It would be a mistake to dismiss anyone failing to make good decisions as simply “unintelligent”, as this marginalizes an emotional response as a selective one, and conflates the act of decision-making to one that is measurable by intelligence.

We cannot simply choose who we want to be, our education is a far cry from just the act of retaining information, ideas must interact with one form of consciousness – or possibly both, intentional and unintentional in order for us to shape our behavior. It seems only ironic that I write an article containing information that denounces the retention of information by giving more of it; my cruel joke is not in selling yet another idea, but in wondering whether or not we are actually in control of anything that we do, including the initial desire to retain information. It seems as we dive deep into the Information Age we risk confusing it as an intelligent one, as we spread information or retain it the goal should not just be the acknowledgment of a fact, but the interaction of it as a contextual truth. This interaction, which is largely overlooked, is the reason I set out to write this in the first place; it was a way for me to look at two difficult concepts and acknowledge their truthfulness without dismissing one completely in order to make my thought process comprehensible. I can’t honestly say that it worked; in fact, the process largely negated my other article on modifying cognition. Although the 3000+ words may just seem like contradiction after this, I have to smile because it plays into the exact problem I tried to identify to start with; that the marriage to an idea is extremely dangerous, in my case the attraction to a concept was only based loosely on the emotional investment and the time it took to type it out, but it was enough to cause pain in overturning it, in fact, you could say that by juggling two concepts and never reaching a true end point that I actually developed a physical resemblance to what most describe as mental toughness, it wasn't a conscious act, and I can't say for sure that it didn't feel like torture...

 

 

 

 

 

Better?

I want to make a point, the point is not to shame someone, although to make this point some humiliation will be in order, so I can’t accurately or honestly say this is specifically NOT shaming someone, if it were me, I might feel some shame.

I was at a local YMCA today, you know the kind, slightly older population, with exactly one wannabe Body Builder, who “knows” everyone, who will also likely never see the stage because they are in a perpetual state of mass gain and tanning. Half a dozen silver sneakers who must need new walking scenery, so they are alternating this with the 4:30am mall-walk on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. There is a fray of early forty something soccer moms contending for the most awkward elliptical tempo. Someone is absolutely destroying the one punching bag that hangs in the corner of the second floor, and the lack of music or really any noise whatsoever makes the sound permeate with the constant flippant pounding of limp fists on vinyl.

And then there is typically one individual, more often than not a male who is unveiling every last gym "move of fuckery” that could be done all in one superset. He seems to incorporate a surprising random number of reps and sets (perhaps a Fibbonacci sequence?), as well as an undefined range of motion (muscle confusion?), and a shocking amount of athleticism. This person, to those that know little may seem like a movement expert, but to those with a basic understanding of physiology or sport appear to be what they are: fueled by Adderall.  Our query is with this example, in describing him the reason is not to mock him or even to find amusement, however amusing it may in fact be, but to enact introspection, the kind that makes you uncomfortable, like the uncomfortable I felt just watching him.

This Gentleman looked to be in his mid-twenties, appeared to have purchased his athletic gear through a major strip mall sporting goods store, with the prerequisite amount of fluorescent highlights as well as compression support. His shoes might actually be more technologically advanced than my car, which is weird, because I can talk to my car. He was also wearing a “training mask” which, if you are not aware makes him resemble a character from a mid-90’s arcade game Mortal Combat.

When he caught my eye, it was because he was doing strict L-sit muscle ups on the oval tubing of a smith machine. He was also incorporating some smith-machine ¼ squats of 2-4 reps @150lbs between his 2-7 reps of muscle ups. The reason this is so astonishing is in most part because of the contrast between the utter lack of ability to perform such a basic movement (the squat) even with the assistance of a machine that disallows vacillation, and the pure connective tissue strength required to false grip slick-steel and move your shoulders through an insanely difficult compromised position, all while holding your legs in perfectly perpendicular shape to your torso.

If this wasn’t entertaining enough, the next movement was stupefying to the point that I had to pull out my phone for video evidence. Using a lat-pull down station (one with individual handles) he then proceeded to lay back until his upper body was just past parallel with the floor, from here he “delt hi-pulled” the handles to about his collar bone, which as you might of guessed was followed by a clunk from the machine’s end of cord, then he released the movement in a slow 5-count tempo back to an upright position, essentially treating the “sit-up portion” like a negative contraction - I literally just flexed my stomach back and forth trying to actually feel what he was doing while typing this, if my own confusion wasn't clear enough. His next choice was to obviously mix this profoundly complex movement with a leg press of course, the reps and weights varied so lets assume he was doing a pyramid of sorts.

The reason I like this example is not because it is cringe worthy to think about how in the actual fuck this guy put these things together but a chance to recognize how we actually put our own stuff together.

The point might be in fact that although our movements are not actually as dumb as this guy’s, they may be just as useless.

Some of you may be shaking your heads at that statement, and could defend pretty articulately why an overhead pistol is different, so let’s try our best to break this down from a standpoint that lends this guy the biggest margin of understanding.

Muscle ups are great, they are complex, progress-able, and scalable, they require attention and mindful coordination, as well they are fun and impressive to others that cannot perform them. Even better performing them on an awkward surface gets you potential YouTube credit, I can’t count how many “rope muscle ups” went through my feed last year but not one “smith machine muscle up”.

Squatting is a fundamental human movement; doing so with weight is a bonus. Working with an implement like a smith machine to improve your line efficiency is smart, so is reducing your range of motion until you get the proper hip and thoracic flexibility just right, this allows you to add that extra stress of mobility later in order to form the perfect squat.

Too many of us refuse to try new things, so when homeboy thought to use the lat-machine as an inverted clean high-pull tool, in order to strengthen the eccentric portion without putting undue stress on the hands or legs, I thought to myself “WOW! Now that’s thinking outside the box”.

At this point I have to stop, because I just tried to excuse the training mask but it is literally too hard to justify. Besides, if the mask actually did as it was originally marketed, and simulated “high altitude”, then he would be using it incorrectly anyways, as the research shows very small improvements in “training low” and living “high”. Essentially meaning he should be walking around all day with that thing on, but remove it when he starts his training, he shouldn't wear it during because the lack of oxygen reduces output which in turn reduces training stress - ah yes, training stress, a perfect segue to where we wanted to go anyways…

Very few people think about training stress, they think about movements that cause stress but when it comes to how much and what the recovery will require, it just isn’t “sexy” enough to consider. Which could be the reason I got to experience the show that I did. People think about muscles and possibly the implement that will “work that muscle”. The idiot’s guide posted on most modern machines exemplifies this point perfectly, highlighting on an anatomical shadow what it is my body is supposed to do if I choose to strap in and not use my brain. The point is that an intelligent program enacts the 6 inches between your ears, not just the space between muscular insertion points.

For our fellow in question what he is doing is not so much bad, as it is pointless, unless keeping his current abilities intact are his end goal, in which case I think he could actually do a lot less and get a similar result. I would go as far as being able to excuse his choice of movements given the right context. This guy stood out, but I can’t tell you how many “functional” Crossfitters I come across that are essentially in the same place, the difference being that they name their workouts after girls. Or the amount of competitive cyclists who are beating down that one program they got from a pro 5-years ago, thinking: “Maybe this year will be better, besides I lost last year because all these fucks like Jerry who sit in and wait for the sprint”. The point is that we all do dumb stuff, and excuse it as “different”.

If you are not getting better, and you want to, then you have some real questions to answer. Those questions need to be answered objectively and honestly, from there no matter what it is, it is pretty straightforward. The point is that there is a destination, the bigger point is that you establish a starting point first.

Training stress, as a road to progression should resemble a ladder, NOT a pit requiring a jump; like I say probably too frequently: fitness is a tap on the shoulder not a slap in the face. One training session pushes enough buttons to yield a response of compensation, the next session builds incrementally off of the previous and so on and so forth. The easiest way to imagine building fitness is to visualize building a stack of cards, gentle, smooth, and consistent are the same adjectives in progression. As simple as this basic guideline is, it does not make it easy to implement, which usually at the very least takes a moment of forethought, like “what do I want to get better at?” In some scenarios it has the opposite effect, which results in a 2 year “master plan” that can’t possibly be carried out with life’s unforeseen circumstances. The point is that complexity does not equal better.

“The GYM”, statistically is a dead end for 90% of people who actually use it, this is giving a very loose interpretation of the term “use”. That tells us quite a bit, first that progressive fitness does not happen by osmosis, being in the presence of fitness enthusiasts and fitness equipment will not in itself induce a proper stress. This may help dissuade the notion that just showing up is good enough. Second, that most likely the determining factor of whether someone is successful at progressing isn’t just an idea of where he or she are going but the constant effort to try again, noting what worked and what didn’t. The point is that we have to pay attention.

Progress then is a personal result of problem solving, the movements you end up doing to enact this stress are completely dependent on what you want to achieve, the more general the desire the more general the stress can be. Most of us are aiming somewhere in the general area of looking better naked and keeping up with our children, a few of us will step up to challenge ourselves physically a few times a year by participating in some sort of charity event. Fewer still will actually put an effort together to try and perform in some sort of competitive context, a very minimal percentage of this group will actually put it together correctly.

The point is that watching others can either give us a platform in order to basically insult them from a soapbox, or it can allow you to trim the fat from your own program, to learn without failing, to improve without ever having to confront an expert. There are many points to be made but possibly the most important one is just being able to assess the point of your own training. 

 

 

Paralleled

It dawned on me the other day while partaking in a heated and admittedly pointless argument, that the years I spent poring over information on technical skills like the Snatch and the Clean & jerk  were, for the most part totally unimportant for my job. Specifically I mean that no matter your ability to coach technical nuances in any given subject, the real skill that is required is communication, because without it no amount of proficiency will be heard. One of the reasons this reflection came about was the absolute inability of my cohort to not only punctuate a sentence, but his complete lack of communication skills, every other question of mine was not in fact to clarify his stance on a specific subject but to ask him to rewrite his statement because it was absolute gibberish. Conversely I knew him to be fairly well accomplished and an educated trainer, despite our disagreements of specifics. It might not be a surprise that like most comment-section arguments neither of us were able to convince one another, but it brought about an interesting problem that affects most professional fields.

Confronting New Ideas

I've tried to contemplate most of the arguments that I’ve had over the years, over what might actually be benign nuances, and what eventually leads to a loss of understanding. My first thought on how to fix the problem of communicating ideas is probably similar to most: to know more, learn more, experience more, and through the hard earned knowledge try once again to express it through the same obstacle course that didn't work the first time. But the truth is that the specifics matter little and the style we go about it is the actual influencer of progress. The fact of the matter is that most of the world is held up in camps based on one’s theory being more effective than another; it is responsible for what creates so much animosity between groups who have more in common than less. So in effect, debate taken on in the banner of being right as opposed to an attempt at understanding is completely pointless.

 Learning happens when what we "know" runs perpendicular to new ideas (both wrong and right).That means that ignorance has a chance to resolve only when confronted with an intersection. The notion that being absolutely certain is more a sign of ignorance than knowledge coalesces nicely in this model.When our ideas of the world start to all run parallel we might feel like we are on the right path because everything fits and feels smooth, but the course leads to little development, which is also why we might fight the confrontation involved in a cross-section. The comfort of "feeling" correct is the first sign that an argument is being used for the wrong reason. It's important to realize that development either physical or mental happens only when we break the rhythm of comfort.

The Art of Argument is in fact the Art of Understanding

I am all for healthy debate, in fact I love it, I thrive on the challenge of deducing ones thoughts and expressing them in a way that is convincing, but to be certain it is important to ascertain what the point of argument actually is. It is NOT to get everyone to think the same, as this is often the most obvious use of the platform, it is also not to prove the correctness of ones stance, which is also defended at the highest levels in almost every subject. What it is, is a reform of best practices. It is to punctuate new knowledge and test it against old ideas, there will always be sides no matter the subject, which should be our first hint that "truth" is elusive.

Within every disagreement there will be those that wish to uphold the old ideas (conservatism), this could be out of some archaic reasoning (naturalistic fallacy, an appeal to authority, or antiquity), or it could be from a stance of seeming truth, that we have in fact found the best practice and that we should stick to it. On the other side there are those that will seek to advance ideas (progressivism), this stance is often argued under the guise that we have not yet perfected a practice, this often involves arguments that involve existential fallacies (the use of unknown or even fabricated non-existence in order to substantiate the need for existence), in other words the need to progress into better practices.

Sometimes there is no argument, you either can or you can't

 

The Baby with the Bathwater

It should not go unnoticed that best practices are usually more often than not associated with progressivism rather than conservatism, this is not an insult to those that hold practices near and dear, but an association with historical improvement. It was once argued that the earth is flat, those seeking to hold onto the old ideas of the firmament and other religiously endowed thoughts warned of the dangers, whether divine retribution for blasphemy or physical dangers of sailing off the edge of the world, all were without a doubt the subject of many heated arguments. Practically speaking, knowing the earth is in fact not flat has improved our lives dramatically, besides the obvious of discovering more habitat in which to populate which lead to the discoveries of sustainable agriculture, governing discourse, and even medicines. but also esoterically in the sense that without that development then quite literally every piece of technology would not exist today. The fabric for which our society flourishes today can most likely be pinned to multiple paradigm shifts much like that example, and most frequently involve the kicking and screaming of those that cling to “old” ideas.

It would be unwise however at this point to assume that new is always better, as it is easy to point to many advancements that left old practices without considering the whole picture. Take for example the relatively new practice of protecting our children with an abundance of technology (either medically through antibiotics, hygienically through anti-bacterial cleansers, and even psychologically through present practices of overbearing parental guidance). These all to some degree are great advancements on their own, but in application have drastic consequences, whether through the creation of super-bugs or the even more subtle degeneration of our immune systems, to one that probably won’t be understood for generations, which leave our children at a disadvantage by not allowing the benefit of risk to increase their ability to learn skills early on.

The Pointlessness of Truth

After years of honing in on what might be considered expertise of the human body and ideas of how to increase its performance, I’ve come to find that most likely more than half of my education is faulted, not meaning it is specifically useless but that it will have to be reassessed, reconsidered, and progressed in order for me to advance. I won’t in actuality realize what I don’t know until a time that requires it be blatantly clear. In a sense what I know is old but I subconsciously hold what I know as truth, which hinders progression. Even further these “truths” do not help me convince others to take up fitness as a practice, in fact in some cases they hinder it because of how I might garishly roll my eyes when someone asks me about the Paleo diet, the benefits of coconut oil, or a “Superman” training plan. These things might be ridiculous to me because of certain truths, but I at one time or another have practiced the Paleo diet, wondered as well why my throat felt sore from trying to maximize the health benefits of MCT, and for fuck’s sake I have spent more time thinking about a Superman training plan more than quite possibly anyone.

Competition serves up truth by the handful, but only if you are willing to meet that crossroad.

We are limited through language; we have been handicapped by culture and tribalism, and despite all of our advances we still take it personally when someone doesn’t agree whole-heartedly with us. It is becoming increasingly clear that we need more than 140 characters to clarify an idea, but less to start one, and infinitely more to fix our own.