Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.
Soundbites: high fructose corn sugar for the intellect?
I see it as a disease of consequence affecting (infecting?) any and all genres of serious study; the consequence, of course, of living in a “soundbite culture”. Lack of time (due to playing the winner-take-all game of capitalism — subject for another time) certainly does not help the situation of course, but there is undoubtedly a societal undercurrent that values “first to report” and chippy one-liners over-and-above serious, open-ended, discourse. Compare and contrast CNN vs the Lehrer Report, for example. And the truth of the matter is, most folks want, even if blessed with the time for more serious study, regurtitable, definitive answers — not “it depends”, or “from what we currently now know” open-endedness — even if that “answer” is completely devoid of dependable basis. Our’s is a society that values winning (in this case an argument) over and above a common quest for truth. (See Rebecca Costa’s fine book, The Watchman’s Rattle for an in-depth discussion of this idea). Just look to the current state of our government’s ineptitude to see that decisiveness and pig-headed steadfastness (devoid, even, of any modicum of truthful underpinning) trumps intellectually driven indecisiveness or — God-forbid — self questioning. For sure, some situations call for absolute decisiveness devoid the luxury of due-diligence. Those particular situations are fight-or-flight survival reactions. Big, big difference. Being a sucessful, optimum-phenotype-chasing human of the 21st century, though, requires one to know the diffence, and act accordingly. As Ken O’Neill has pointed out in this fine post (and as posited by Dr. Jonas Salk):
…meta-biological evolution marks a turning point in the human adventure, one in which the ante is survival of the wisest. In Salk’s vision, we become for the first time active agents in the future direction of our evolution by use of our under-developed embodied brain…
Unfortunately, very few subjects can be pretty-paper and-pretty-ribbons-of-blue (hat tip; Willie Nelson) wrapped like this; meaty subjects, of course, require intellectual rigor, nimble-mindedness, and the courage to juggle oftentimes opposing evidence without loosing one’s proverbial marbles, or worse yet, falling victim to paralysis by analysis. I’ve explored this prior, for example is this post, where I wrote:
…Asking a badly articulated/constructed question is worse than asking no question at all; the problem is that the person to whom the question is directed will feel an obligation to offer-up an answer, ham-strung as it may be. Construct a question that legitimates a sound-bite answer and you’ll get exactly that (Poli-Sci/Stats 101)…
So it’s not only that we, as a society are continually shoveled this crap, it’s that we actually clamor for it as well. How many people will choose to “educate” themselves via this route, as opposed ever to diving headlong into the work of Wolf, Cordain, Minger, Kresser… well, you get the idea.
And just like HFCS, even though we might not actually guzzle-down the stuff personally, we still feel the repercussions of the societal ingestion of this mind poison. My health insurance premiums suck, and I find it difficult to have a fulfilling intellectual discussion with just any “average” Joe (much less a blinkered “intellectual). Does this make me an “elitist”? Please. I’m a product of Texas public schooling and more than likely would never have gone straight to college out of high school were it not for athletic scholarship money. My “silver platter”, as it were, was a rusty, cement-caked shovel. I guess my point is, I don’t suffer willful ignorance (or willful self-delusion) very well. I have no desire at all in winning any discussion; my only desire in entering into such rests solely in the search for an underlying truth of the subject at hand. Even if I am considered the “subject matter expert” in the room, I see any discussion as an opportunity to find holes in my own notions. Self-serving? Yeah, I suppose it could be taken that way. Not, though, if I endeavor to give back what I learn — paying it forward, so to speak.
Preconceived biases? Sure looks that way
Does a diet high in fruits and vegetables put the kibosh on heart disease? Even among those who are genetically pre-disposed to the malady? Could very well be, according to this study (with further treatment and explanation/discussion in this episode of NPR’s most awesome Science Friday). However (and in keeping with the “soundbite” theme from above), this study really generates more questions than it answers. Now this isn’t a slam, per-se, on the study itself — in fact, all good science ought to give rise to even more intelligent, deeper-probing questioning — but the fact that these questions weren’t voiced is a bit off-putting to me. For example, was it the inclusion of veggies and fruits that made the difference here, or the exclusion of other food stuffs? We see where this is going. I am, of course, biased toward a Paleo/Evo Fit lifestyle, and this makes me admittedly uber sensitive to outward biases toward “competing” dietary views (in this case, vegetarianism) in mainstream science. Again, this study is interesting as all hell, and seemingly well put together. Put this in the hands of the soundbite machine though and, well, standby…
Theory to Practice, personified
Immersion: complete attention; intense mental effort
engrossment, absorption, concentration attention – the faculty or power of mental concentration; “keeping track of all the details requires your complete attention”
centering, focus, focusing, focussing, focal point, direction – the concentration of attention or energy on something; “the focus of activity shifted to molecular biology”; “he had no direction in his life”
specialism – the concentration of your efforts on a particular field of study or occupation
study – a state of deep mental absorption; “she is in a deep study”
Something to ponder: what, exactly, would a deep immersion into an evolutionary-based practice of Physical Culture look like? How would one apprentice another in navigation of the modern world from a primal, evolutionary fitness perspective? How would one be coached in the transition from ancestral wellness theory, to actually putting that knowledge base to work in everyday, common practice? These are just a few of the “how do we effectively teach this primal wellness stuff to the masses” questions that Meesus TTP (AKA, executive chef for the Austin-based Caveman Cuisine), and my Efficient Exercise peeps have been asking ourselves. The answer? Well, let’s offer a deep immersion experience in the acquisition and/or refinement of evolutionary-based life skills, right smack dab in the friggin’ epicenter of Physical Culture, Austin, Texas.
Is there really a calling for this kind of thing you ask? Yeah, we sure as hell think there is — gauging, at least, from the feedback we get from our clientele. Remember, we operate not in the intellectual ether, but down in the day-to-day, gritty trenches, where the rubber meets the road (or, as it were, where theory backs-up against everyday practice). Our interaction is with an overwhelmed public, just doing their best at attempting to be healthy, just trying to make sense of all of the bewildering — and oftentimes, conflicting — health and fitness information. And doing so in spite of societal norms and surroundings that are anything but healthy. Our clientele is driven, no doubt — but even for them it’s an uphill battle. Now consider those who don’t even know where to start on this wellness journey, and you begin to see the enormity of the problem we face in this society.
Think of it this way: some big game hunters, due to whatever set of circumstances, are simply adept beyond common comprehension at tracking bighorn sheep. Now maybe they grew up hunting these animals — steeped in the culture — and thus have the advantage of a long-term apprenticeship under masters of the art. Or maybe they were just passionate and driven enough to, of their own accord, acquire the requisite skills over many, many years. And undoubtedly, the element of innate talent for this particular art comes into play. But no matter how they came to the point of mastering the technique, though, the guides who specialize in tracking and bagging this particular big game have both the passion for such, and a demonstrated level of skill in this arena. The best few, then rise to the top, otherwise they’re forced to find another line of work. So here’s the crux of the matter: if your aim to to hunt the big horn, you can either go it on your own, or invest in a quality guide. The truly passionate will probably do a little (or a lot) of each, depending upon the circumstance. C’est la vie. My personal thought on the matter is best expressed in the words of Marilyn Vos Savant (and with a hat tip to Erwan and the gang at MovNat) – To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.
And this is exactly why we feel that deep immersion is the best way to learn the art of Physical Culture — or any culture, for that matter. The military realizes as much, and thus trains its embedded personnel accordingly. And to this end, Caveman Cuisine, in conjunction with Efficient Exercise, have put together and are now offering a unique Immersion in Physical Culture — an opportunity to learn, practice and implement an evolutionary-based fitness approach by way of a deep immersion process, from those who have successfully traveled this journey before, and in an atmosphere — Austin, Texas — that is the epicenter of Physical Culture. And hey, you could pick worse places than the always-beautiful ATX to surmount the dreaded carbohydrate jones 😉
So, are you ready to plunge headfirst into “hunting the big game” of Physical Culture? Want to hire a quality, passionate team to show you the way? Contact me via the above link for more information. Let the folks at Efficient Exercise and Caveman Cuisine act as your personal guide is this transformative, life-affirming process.