I've found a neat quiz that purports to help determine your 'world view'.
What I especially like about this quiz is that you could agree with the premise along a spectrum, so that ticking a box in the middle translates into a sort of "I don't know, I don't care" answer, which is probably why I typed as a having a 'postmodern' world view.
"You scored as Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis."
Interestingly, the Blood Type Diet has been described in several articles as "The first postmodern diet."
If I remember correctly, in the Meyers Briggs world I'm something like a 'rational architect' or whatever, but I think this little quiz does a better job of putting you on the horns of a dilemma than does the MBI, which seems to just really attempt to describe you as something you probably already knew you were.
Coincidentally enough, I'm reading a little book called On Certainty by Ludwig Wittgenstein, which has a lot of interesting, aphorism-type stuff in it (in addition to some daunting philosophy and math). Right off the bat, a quote (p. 49) caught my eye and probably explains why my view of the world was such a dead-heat between existentialist and postmodernist:
"Knowledge is in the end based on acknowledgement."
Try it. You'll like it.
Yes, I know, it's been a long, long, time since a new blog entry darkened these pages. I'm going to take the easy way out and ascribe my lack of verbal productivity to the simple fact that there is just not enough time during the rotation cycle of this planet to get everything done.
For the last month (or more exactly, since I finished The Determinator) I've been hard at work on SWAMI. It's been a sort of three legged race, one step forward, two back; certainly an argument for â€˜non-intelligent design.' As I start one section, my thoughts turn to some new function that would be cool to implement, which then sends me packing to the programmer textbooks and websites, which betray new capabilities, that then illustrate to me that my original design thoughts could have been better.
However, I must say that the software is very, very cool. We've been using beta-versions of it in the office and the patients have really liked it. Image all your specifics (Body Mass Index, Basal Metabolic Rate, Family History and Lab Values) and a whole slew of new criteria (biometrics) mixed into a bouillabaisse of information points and then set loose on huge tables of data. It is as if you bought a magic, Harry Potter version of Eat Right 4 Your Type where every page was written only for you --no doubt a dream come true for those thousands of readers who have told me over the years that they never read any parts of my books other than the section that pertains to their blood type.
I suspect that the software will be available to IfHI folks by year-end.
Interestingly, building the SWAMI engine has helped bring the material for The Genotype Diet into focus, since if you look at the SWAMI Engine as information going from intake screen to report, the Genotype Engine is just the information going the other way.
I continue to train vigorously. Right now I am working on a part of a very long hyung (form) that features the most vile, ego-dissolving series of moves. At the start of the sequence you raise your left arm into a high block while simultaneously lifting you hip and rotating it so that from the knee down the leg is parallel with the ground. You are actually doing this as a knee kick, so it must be done fast, which certainly does nothing for your balance.
But wait, it gets better. So now as your arm moves from above your head to being outstretched and your hip is rotated with your lower leg sideways at about hip level, you spin on the rapidly wearying right standing leg 180 degrees, and jump into the air as you execute a outside-inside crescent kick to the now-outstretched left hand.
Then you do the whole thing from the other side.
Perhaps the coolest thing about working on these moves is that I developed an appreciation of how ice skaters use moving their center of balance inward as a way to initiate and maintain a spin.
They say that Hwang Kee, the founder of this discipline, used to amuse his friends by jumping over the dinner table from a standing position. From photos it seems Master Hwang was about 5 feet tall and probably 98 pounds soaking wet. A 6 foot, three inch Spanish-Italian Meso-Ectomorph would probably be far less amusing at this; especially if you were hungry.
Took the family to Brooklyn last weekend. It's about a two hour ride from Connecticut, and the last hour is on the rapidly dissolving New York City infrastructure, which, if you spend any time away from it, leaves you completely unprepared for just who narrow and crumbly the NYC roads are.
I had a thoughtful time, visiting areas of my youth, though I doubt my kids cared much about whether this or that stretch of woods was where I used to catch butterflies, or which catering hall used to be a police station. They did appreciate a trip to perhaps the best designer outlet store in the city, Century 21 Stores.
Then we schlepped to Rudy Guiliani's favorite restaurant, Gargiulos in Coney Island, where I overdosed on the garlic and broccoli rabe. I did not jump over the table, which considering the clientÃ¨le, was probably good for my health on a lot of different levels.
Anyway, gotta go. But before I do, let me wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving, with all the enjoyment that comes from taking a minute to contemplate what great gifts life, health, and family afford us.
I promise to write more regularly. Really.
Been working on a sort of 'unification software' that allows me to input bio-impedance results, polymorphic data, clinical impressions and biometrics into a 'heuristic' database model, then pull out relevant analytic data. I'm mostly working in VB.Net, which is a lot like VBA programming in Access, and which you may remember from previous blogs, I hate. However it is the only way to go (other than writing for straight old DOS, which would not be without its charm) since VB.Net gives you all the nice-nice Windows accouterments like buttons and pull-down menus.
Haven't trained all that much the last week as I had the flu last week. Probably a sign that I needed to cut back on my work schedule, since I have been burning the candle on both ends these last few weeks getting ready for the conference, maintaining a heavy patient load in the clinic, doing all this programming, while also training and trying to act like a husband and father around the house. Feel much better now and unfortunately have that burst of energy that often accompanies one's returning health fortunes.
Sadly, a bright shining soul from the old days on this website is slipping away rapidly from end-stage breast cancer. I've never actually met her face to face, but we corresponded often, and I so enjoyed her witty emails. You don't practice medicine for twenty-three years and not get somewhat inured to the whole death thing, but still, some circumstances are more difficult than others.
Many, many years ago I remember my grandmother saying that 'The world is a cruel place, and there is no justice.' At the time, all I could think was 'Gee, what a downer, to see the world in only those negative terms.'
Yet there is a reality in that harsh assessment. The world can be cruel. There is not a lot of justice.
Not in this Nature, not in this Solar System.
But we humans are one of the few species capable of altruism. We sometimes practice compassion, we can often empathize. As time went on, I began to really think about my grandmother's assessment of the world, and started to get the point. It wasn't the cruelty and injustice that was the focus; they will always be part of our existence. It was the challenge of working on myself to acknowledge and be thankful for the times when someone 'did the right thing' or extended a kindness to me.
If this was true, then bad things did have a purpose.
There is cruelty and injustice in the world because most of us are simply not evolved enough to learn by pleasure; we must learn by pain. Think of the abundance of material goods in the Western world. By this token we should the most appreciative population in human history. But instead our abundance just begets our further acquisitiveness, and as the Buddhists believe, desire is the root of all suffering.
The impersonal and unjust nature of suffering harkens us back to the acknowledgment of reality and its random and ephemeral nature. Further, when calamity befalls one who otherwise would be among the least deserving, the lesson is reinforced by its own pathos.
I often tell patients with a recent diagnosis of cancer that one element in their life almost always changes for the better; their prior level of assumption.
I've often used this example:
Imagine you are driving in you nice late model car, along a modern interstate. The air conditioner is on, keeping the interior a crisp 68 degrees. The stereo is playing your favorite music in surround-sound. You are zooming along at 65 mile per hour, the suspension air-cushioning any potholes and bumps. The windows provide views of rolling countryside gently moving along.
In the midst of all this control, there are assumptions and expectations. The car will continue to move. You will enjoy the next song. The temperature will stay the same. These assumptions leave time for other things, like arguing about whom does the most work around the house, or threatening the kids with punishment unless they stop bickering.
Then it happens.
The car's timing belt snaps. Now the engine dies. You steer the car over to the side of the road. The landscape that previously passed so effortlessly in front of you is now frozen solid. Now you feel the humidity, hear the bugs. The guardrail that you would never have noticed before now looks like a pretty good place to sit down. Now you have to depend on your spouse to figure out a way out of this mess and you know that first and foremost you are going to have to find a way to protect your kids.
If we understand this, we then understand that it is not just â€˜sad' when 'bad things happen to nice people.' It is critically important for our growth, and that is why it persists.
'There Was A Savior'
There was a saviour
Rarer than radium,
Commoner than water, crueler than truth;
Children kept from the sun
Assembled at his tongue
To hear the golden note turn in a groove,
Prisoners of wishes locked their eyes
In the jails and studies of his keyless smiles.
I was going through the logs of the referrer program last night. This is the script that allows visitors to refer a friend to the website by just plunking in their email and a short message. How many of these messages were from dads concerned about a child (â€˜Hey Sweety, this may help. Look's interesting. Love Dad') or friends who found the site and knew of others on the program (â€˜Hey Ginnie, this is the diet Betty is on!')
I scrolled through pages and pages of these quick, helpful notes and perhaps because I have been re-reading Dawkin's The Selfish Gene I got to thinking about his concept of a meme.
For those who have never heard of the concept, at its simplest, a meme (rhymes with dream) is an idea. Any idea. It is simply something that gets stuck in the human mind.
Dawkins described memes thusly:
Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passed it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain.
You can think of a meme as a sort of 'thought replicator' stored in our human brains and passed on by the imitation of others. Some memes are helpful, others can be harmful. For example if you pulled up to a man on the side of the road that looked like a policemen, you might expect directions to a particular location to be accurate. However, people can simply walk into a uniform store and buy a policeman's uniform.
Some people may see a connection with memes to brain washing or thought manipulation, but that would not the case in anything but a tiny fraction. Most memes are passed along as a desire to inform, assist, or make a special statement about ourselves.
Our minds are not a blank slate on which any idea can be impressed. To be understood, a new meme must connect to the values and process that are already available to the individual. In addition one must also be willing to believe it or to take it serious. For example, although you are likely to understand the proposition that cartoon animals can talk with each other, you are unlikely to accept the proposition that this occurs in the real world without very strong evidence. Therefore, you will not add it to your â€˜information base' on animal characteristics. The cartoon meme will not manage to change your view on the subject.
The columnists and bloggers have been effective meme vehicles for the Blood Type Diet. A great example of the meme effect is Cheryl Hendrix's blog First Do No Harm where she writes of an interaction which allowed her to instruct an uninformed individual on another diet board about the low quality of most internet reviews of the Blood Type Diet. Another is Suzanne Graham's blog about her difficulties with the food pyramid.
Some writers think there are two basic types of memes: procedural and propagative. For example, when I successfully communicate an idea or application of the Blood Type Diet to you, I've spread a 'BTD procedural meme.' The BTD procedural meme then becomes widespread if it provides some benefit, like increasing the diet's effectiveness, or explaining things better, etc. When you in turn recommend the diet of the website to a friend, or discuss it with a co-worker, you in turn spread the 'BTD propagational meme.'
A good meme, like a good virus, will have special characteristics that insure continued growth. Without them, they eventually die. I've included a few here, with special reference to the Blood Type Diet.
Fidelity: The ability to maintain accuracy and correct errors to maintain integrity. I think the BTD does a good job here, as it has continued to generate a reassuring richness and complexity of material, but is as changeable and adaptable as needed. A good example is the addition of the secretor information to the basic ABO types that occurred with the publication of Live Right 4 Your Type.
Fecundity: The fertility of the idea. The ease by which an idea it spawns itself. At least to me, this appears to be by and large culturally dependent. For example, when I first began practicing in the early 1980's there was little to no public or media interest in nutrition. Until that began to change, ideas about diets had no real place in the daily dialogue. 'Cultural relevance' is probably a critical aspect of meme fecundity.
Longevity: To me, the longevity of an idea is related to how relevant it continues to be, as its meme is passed to newcomers and future generations. In the case of the BTD, one could argue that its best days are still ahead of it, since it will almost certainly benefit from the impending paradigm shift in nutrition that will occur over the next ten years --the nutrigenomics revolution-- and the growing frustration over one-size-fits-all diets. There are several good examples of the BTD's longevity. A simple capitalistic one is the fact that my first book, written almost ten years ago, is still in hardcover. Another is the belief of many on the program, that this is a diet for life. Individuals who have been on the diet for 5, 7 or 8 years -- a tremendous meme pool, are filling out prospective blogger applications. Consider the life cycle of the average low carb diet book. It usually takes off with a period of stupendous sales, and then slumps as a newer version takes its place. Remember Sugar Busters?
Co-adaption: Effective memes tend to thrive in the company of other replicators that compliment them. I'm not certain that we do well in this department. For example, the â€˜Blood Type Diet Meme' should be expected to do well with the â€˜Naturopathic Medicine Meme' since they both address issues of innate healing and individualized treatment. However, not all naturopaths see the BTD as being as â€˜naturopathic' per se as perhaps a universal vegetarian diet. Also since the diet suggests a place for both a plant based or animal based diet, it tends to be criticized by advocates of the exclusive use of one or the other.
Right after the Oprah article came out I was deluged with comments suggesting I write the magazine and address the mistakes that the panel of experts had made in their description of the diet. After putting this off for a few days, I finally sat at the computer and diligently tried to accomplish this task. It was then I remembered that I had never actually read the Oprah article (I've pretty much stopped reading popular depictions of my work). At that point writing the letter began to feel like a 200-pound weight around my neck. Plus the more I thought about it, the more bored I became with the whole exercise. Finally I just lost interest and gave up.
Not a great example of meme propagation, but I am trying to be honest about it.
Now as time passes I am coming to understand why this apparently simple task was so profoundly debilitating to me: The 'Write Oprah Magazine Meme*' is not my meme.
* The more analytical in the crowd may have noticed that this statement about who owns the 'Write Oprah Magazine Meme' is in itself a meme.
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