Thursday, June 04, 2009

On the Average...

Most people get enough exercise but a few get too much and many others get zero -- and that is the problem, but on average, everybody gets exactly the "right" amount. That is the problem of mistaking the average or the normal for the ideal -- or the optimal. The average person will be the average person -- by definition.

That is the most misused and misunderstood concept in the study of anything -- that the average is what people ought to be striving for -- instead of an ideal, which then tends to skew the results, because people are not doing what they do for a random result. That is the common fallacy of applying natural science methodology to the study of social phenomena -- which is decidedly not random, or blind.

Yet such a mistaken notion, doesn't stop many pseudo sciences from proclaiming from every rooftop they are allowed on, that that is information worth knowing. You see it in the reporting of financial news -- in which many reporters think that the goal of all investors is to obtain the "average" return -- rather than the greatest.

In like manner, the contemporary reporting on fitness news and information follows that same line of false conclusions -- since they begin with the conclusions they want to prove in the design of their studies, and simply throw out all the exceptions to the rule they want to promote, leaving them with the idea they began with -- which is invariably how they are going to make billions of dollars marketing their latest fitness gadget or gimmick.

Unfortunately, that's the prevailing rule of what comes to dominate the latest promotions tied to fitness. That's actually the rationale for the often quoted "target heart rate" -- as the basis for selling an expensive heart monitor or monitoring services to everyone, regardless of whether it serves any useful purpose to do so.

Of course, in the world of marketing and transactions, anything is permissible if engaged willingly by two sane adults -- except that which are expressly forbidden. What the government agencies can enforce, are claims of truthfulness, which usually presume a lot -- usually that all people are created exactly alike, which is untrue. But with that assumption and presumption, one can easily arrive at their preconceived conclusions of what they know to be true -- without ever really questioning it, and even examining what they are saying as meaningful or not.

In business transactions, that would be the cliche, "Buy low, sell high," as though that were some great wisdom suggesting the speaker should be listened to -- or knows what it is all about, when in fact, that is all they "know" to say on that matter, and then most others will not inquire further if there is any depth to that understanding. For the truly knowledgeable, that signals a complacent and closed mind -- which is not worth the time to enlighten or correct.

In the field of exercise, the common misunderstanding is the belief that "More is always better," as though simply more is what distinguishes the good from the better. Better is not necessarily more -- unless there is only one thing. But the fact of the matter is that there are many things and many ways -- and not just the one thing the salesperson wants us to believe is the only thing, and they have a "patent pending" on it.

Almost everyone presumes they are an expert on exercise because they "know" that "More is better" -- without inquiring if "any" of it is a good thing, and in what causal manner, other than that it is a belief imposed upon the most authoritarian persons -- as the way they know to achieve compliance with their dictates.

While that may work and sometimes be necessary, those wishing to achieve the greatest control over their own lives and destinies, would quickly abandon that approach -- recognizing that replacing one master for another, and one prison for another, is not freedom and fullest actualization, but not understanding the question, meaning, and purpose -- of anything being discussed.


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