Sunday, May 14, 2006

Polls, Studies, Experts

The latest study reported by, which is apparently trying to establish itself as a source of authoritative health news, is the report that one’s ability to walk a quarter mile is a reliable predictor of longevity -- implying that walking a quarter mile is the reason for their longevity -- or is it?

Could it also be that it identifies those who have a superior chance of survival -- genetically predetermined rather than behavioral? Was it cause or simply coincidental -- and did their doing it once, suggest that it had to be done as much as possible -- to increase benefits?

These are real issues in supposedly scientific studies -- taken out of context.

Another headlined report somewhere else a while back, claimed, ”Exercise reduces pain.” One group bicycled vigorously for 30 minutes while another was in a stimulus free quiet room for 30 minutes -- prior to both groups having their fingers placed in a doorway and seeing how much pressure they could withstand as the door was shut. Was that truly proof that exercise reduced pain or did sensory-deprivation make one more sensitive to pain, or any other input, including light, sound, vibrations?

In this way, a lot of hearsay is reported as scientific fact, mainly because they come out of institutions that should know better, from people with impressive sounding titles. The reporters who will write the story have been trained not in scientific methodology or data processing, but on the antiquated skills of asking people with impressive sounding titles -- as though the more impressive sounding the titles, the more true it was.

One of the most impressive persons I’ve ever heard speak (write) on exercise and conditioning, adamantly disclaimed having any such credentials -- but was actually somebody who legitimized that field of study, whether it was deserving or not. He has since backed off from such recommendations on the superiority of their observations as a profession. That would be the innovative pioneer, Arthur Jones, creator of the Nautilus machines, high-intensity training, sports medicine, etc.

His Nautilus training bulletins were the authoritative work on self-evident truth, using exercise as the model for that inquiry. That manner seems to be a distinguishing characteristic of those who are the primary sources of investigation and insight into their fields -- that the truth is self-evident, and not elaborate explanations and conjectures of pseudo-scientists the world over. Many have infiltrated and often dominate the academic and research institutions now.

It is important to distinguish between science and scientism; the former is self-evident truth verifiable to anybody, while the latter is simply asking who has the most impressive sounding titles to ask. And that, unfortunately, is the state of contemporary journalism and reporting.


At May 14, 2006 2:22 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

It hasn’t happened yet but undoubtedly, shortly they will be polling the public on whether they think that ungodly amounts of exercise and obsession with health practices is the surest way to longevity and a healthy heart.

Which is a totally meaningless question from a scientific standpoint -- but which they will claim, the answers are precise to 3% accuracy. Because these people have no idea what science , accuracy, or the truth is -- if it was to brutally rape them every night.

At May 14, 2006 6:48 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

It doesn’t matter how many people can be manipulated into thinking something is true, that isn’t.

Unfortunately, that is the measure of media’s effectiveness and value -- precisely this capacity to manipulate people’s opinions no matter what the facts are, or if there are any facts at all. It’s a perilous time that causes some people to be more discriminating and discerning than people have ever been before, while the unwary will be easy targets for those looking to deceive, manipulate, control. While the average may be about the same, the range of experiences and capabilities in information processing and discovering the truth, have expanded greatly -- making generalizations more invalid than they ever have been.

That’s the greatest challenge to the thinking of these times. Some are evolving to unprecedented high levels of awareness and competency -- which in the past, has been isolated and unconnected so that, it would often take centuries for ideas to take hold and gather critical mass that became the new reality. But now, intelligence is not disconnected, isolated, alienated and in competition with every other.

New truths can blossom literally overnight. But there will still be repositories of misinformation and backwaters of disinformation. In a previous time, they may have even been the vanguard of information -- but now, are the rearguard. It’s the role of the popular media now -- because their understanding is limited by the reporters understanding -- while refusing to let the knowledgeable explain it themselves. There might have been a time in which those who were experts in one field could not communicate to an audience at large but because of a well-rounded education, they now possess those abilities.

“Professional” writers now may actually be the most difficult to decipher -- rather than the easiest. They have overspecialized to the point that those they can be understood by, are five people -- like in the graduate schools. So these people have no ability to communicate to those who don’t already know what they are talking about. Which means they are already predisposed to seeing things the same way -- rather than being a really objective judge. All these judges are looking to hear their own previous knowledge reconfirmed. So these academic exercises become meaningless. They have pre-agreed to see things the same way, whether they realize it or not.

That is the great danger of the universities now that the major selection criterion is politically and socially correct viewpoints. The value is conformity of viewpoints rather than originality and usefulness of insight. It becomes a suffocating vicious circle. New ideas are no longer tolerated.

At May 14, 2006 6:56 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

It’s always been that way -- how new ideas come into being, and how they are fought by the old establishment that owes their expertise to that knowledge that now threatens to become worthless.

At May 14, 2006 10:46 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Morbid concern about one’s health and fitness is not health and fitness, no matter how much time one devotes to it. That gets to be a real problem when those one would think may be the fittest person one has encountered, doesn’t have that realistic perception -- just as bulimics and anorexics obviously have. Maybe less obvious is that many top level physique competitors have a variation of that dissatisfaction and misperception that drove me to believe that there was actually a situation in which one could be in too good a condition for one’s own good.

That is this problem throughout society of dissatisfaction growing faster than one’s accomplishments, so that the more one achieved (had), the more they felt they were deficient -- because they used the wrong psychology and motivational strategy. They convinced themselves that they weren’t good enough, no matter how good they were. At first they thought they were tricking themselves to become better -- and only by convincing themselves they were terrible, were they motivated to extraordinary efforts. But eventually, the psychological conditioning, overwhelmed their perceptions of reality.

So one often encountered people who were physically totally awesome -- but had managed to develop tremendous inferiority complexes in the process. This kind of faulty and damaging motivational ploy is the standard approach to exercise employed by most popular writers on the subject. It is deficiency-oriented rather than actualizing-oriented. One does not have to convince oneself that he is “bad” in order to do better. One can just dispense with the judgment and do better regardless if one did well the previous time. One hopes just to perfect his movement. Everything else is a waste of time and energy -- that distracts from the execution of the moment.

This is not an incidental matter because a major cause for people not exercising at all, is their condemnation of virtually all they do, and for that matter, anything anybody does. Such mentalities are determined that nothing can work properly -- and will sabotage and undermine every effort to do so. Is that person a hopeless cause?

Actually, for every excuse, there is an effective counter -- until one arrives at the observation that they cannot help but move; that movement is inevitable -- the most basic voluntary movement being the breathing movement. One cannot not breathe. It is inevitable -- and that can be one’s movement mantra.

Modern man can design the movement they wish to do. It need not be walking, running, biking, swimming -- or the traditional modes of locomotion, work not critically essential to life anymore. One can actually design superior movements -- just based on the capacity to do so, which the body will then take on the form that optimizes that movement. The major focal points for development of the human body would accentuate movement at the extremities of the head, hands and feet -- and everything else, is basically supportive to those functions -- and need not be the primary areas of movement, as is prescribed conventionally.

As more people live longer, those are the areas of critical failure that need to be strengthened -- because once they are lost, all is lost.

At May 14, 2006 11:37 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Exercise for the aged is doomed to failure until it recognizes that movement has to be focused at the extremities of the head, hands and feet, and when it is, very few people have limitations that make exercise otherwise prohibitive. Not everybody can still walk -- just because they can’t walk, doesn’t mean they can no longer effect the circulation to their feet -- as long as they can still move their feet, even if it’s not bearing any weight

It‘s quite possible to live a fairly regular life if one still retains full movement at the head, hands and feet -- while sitting or lying down. Hopefully, those are not the only positions one can assume, but it need not be a hindrance to obtaining the fullest possibilities of exercise, if it is. That would greatly increase one’s prospects for eventual full recovery -- if that was still possible.

I have seen people in the lifeless, weakened position that they barely moved. In that case, just getting them to move their head left to right, became the basis of a full recovery -- that waiting until they were well enough to exercise by the conventional standards, would have doomed them to a certain death. Once head mobility is recovered, hand and feet can recover as well quickly. Insistence on moving the major musculature vigorously is pretty much prohibitive in that condition -- although I‘ve seen physical therapists demand that response as proof that they were “recoverable.” It seems to me to be an arbitrarily high standard. While movement at the hip and shoulder girdle are the most dramatic, I doubt that it is the most essential, and there are ways of working around and through it -- without requiring the actual movement at those axes.

So one of the major fallacies of conventional exercise is the requirement that it engage the major (largest) muscles, rather than it needs to engage the smallest, because the smallest implies the activation of the largest -- but not vice versa. Many athletes have embarked on a strengthening program and noted that it did not necessarily improve their overall skill, as they lost motor coordination, or fine motor ability, even while substantially increasing the mass of their largest muscles. For that reason, a lot of people who need a high degree of fine motor skill, have been advised or learned not to increase their muscularity. Those would likely be musicians, artists, surgeons, dentists, etc. But it need not be.

At June 09, 2006 12:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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