Findings from science should be objective, that is they can be replicated by others and they represent reality. While earning my PhD I remember a simple and powerful statement that described the scientific process that helped me and I thought it could help others.
Science DESCRIBEs, so it can PREDICT, which means you can then IMPROVE and then based on what you learn, you can EXPLAIN phenomena. Each level forward builds on the previous.
DESCRIBE: Tell us what happened based on influencing interactions
PREDICT: Be able to say what will happen when variables interact
IMPROVE: After understanding the situation, or being able to describe the phenomena based on related interactions – then it can be predicted what will happen. This knowledge enables the future to be altered or improved. Improvement can happen by manipulating some of the variable interactions described.
EXPLAIN: Knowing what did or did not improve the outcome enables an explanation of our reality. For example, I ate excess calories than I used so I gained weight.
Kahneman and Tversky explained this by suggesting giving money to poor people was not seen as help, but just a chance to catch up. This then was not improvement but helping level the playing field so improvements could be made.
For instance, my organization is BeWell’r, LLC and our work focuses on helping people(college students right now), organizations and society not just be well, but to be Well’R. This means better than they could have been before. We help people make better choices by efficiently nudging them, via the BeWell’r Web, to use community resources such that they can lead a regenerative lifestyle that helps them become better as they simultaneously also build a stronger, regenerative community, meaning everyone and everything benefits. The BeWell’r Web works like a forest which uses the “Wood-Wide Web” as discovered and explained by Dr. Suzanne Simard. (see Strategic Alliances are Powerful)
Stability then Improvement
As Dr. W. Edwards Deming explained in his quality management seminars. The first goal is to lessen the variance so stable outcomes can be produced. Once a consistent process produces a similar outcome again and again over time, then improvement can be made. If improvement attempts are made prior to stability, it is hard to know if the improvement can last or if it was a real improvement and not just chance. He used simple process behavior charts to document stable processes.
What Does this mean? Scientifically
This means science should first provide a DESCRIPTION of an occurrence or a phenomenon by understanding how it happened. The description should describe the interactions that created that occurrence. Based on that understanding of the situation, a PREDICTION about what will happen can be made. If one does not like the prediction, an IMPROVEMENT can be made by altering some of the interactions described.
As an example my daughter wants to run a marathon. She first had to be able to describe her current state and ability by reviewing the interactions that led to her current reality. Knowing she wants to have more endurance she studied training methods and changed her workouts to hopefully improve her running ability. If she is able to complete a marathon she will be able to explain by saying doing these type of workouts and having good nutrition improved my ability beyond what it was before, even in the best circumstances. In other words, this improvement would be better than she would have been even on her best day – that is true IMPROVEMENT.
I use science to generate comprehensive improvements by discovering and engaging in net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. When I discover these interactions that generate comprehensive improvements such as An All Good Simple Clean Up,A Way to Practice Paneugenesis, and others I share.
Please share how you use science to generate true comprehensive IMPROVEMENTS. I look forward to hearing from you.
The book fascinated me because it highlighted and clarified why We are Just Talking Apes and how There is Only US, There is no Them, as I attempted to suggest previously. I loved Zoobiquity because it documented how similar all living things are on earth and that “we should be looking at the overlap rather than the differences” between species due to our shared ancestry.
I was fascinated as they demonstrated how other animals also have foresight, regret, shame, guilt, love, and revenge. I thought I saw these things in our dogs, but I thought I was anthropomorphizing their behaviors. I guess I was not.
Examples of similarities in the book included how all animals, like humans, can Faint when scared. This led to a better explanation of our instincts that are generally only described as Fight or Flight. An accurate description of our reactions is “Fight, Flight, or Faint” when startled. As they documented, faking death, like when we Faint, had survival benefits and may be why it lasted through our evolution.
I thought most interesting was how they showed behaviors that many attributes to bad character, which also exist in the animal kingdom. For instance, a section describes eating disorders in the animal kingdom that mirror human eating disorders. (see Intriguing links between animal behavior and anorexia nervosa by Treasure, Janet & Owen, John) Other behaviors such as homosexuality, trans sex, and even sex between species exist in other animals, meaning they evolved for survival and are still in our DNA.
In other examples, they document the proliferation of STDs in the animal kingdom. After all, they don’t have antibiotics or any type of protection. In another similarity, they demonstrate how teenage animals act similarly to human teenagers. The similarity relates to their behaviors. As explained, adolescent brains don’t register danger as adults do, and this may be why they take what seems to be “stupid” or unwise actions. They, however, explain, “These risky behaviors can encourage encounters with threats and competitions that may hurt them but actually end up being helpful for success later in life.” They even suggest it may be more dangerous when adolescents don’t take risks than if they do. If risks are avoided, they are not prepared for life.
Overall, these many comparisons and similarities indicate that what happens are not necessarily flaws or problems of humans; it is hard-wired into us. These actions are just part of our shared DNA. Those actions, however, can also be influenced by our environment.
Sex, Drugs, &…
They also showed how animals in the wild sometimes get hooked on drugs. Who knew? They also explained that animals have varied sex drives, high or low, and some animals even use some of the same techniques to attract mates, as seen in humans. It was amazing to learn. They even suggest that an “Orgasm is not the byproduct of sex, it is the bait from erotic ancestry” that enables or supports reproduction.
There were some unpleasant things in the book. A disturbing section explained humans believed animals did not feel. This existed until fairly recently — though some still believe this, especially about fish. Humans had a false belief that animals could not feel because we could not understand how they thought. Animals react differently to pain. Some withdraw rather than vocalize it, at least that we can hear. They relate this to how many thought babies did not feel pain until the 1980s.
The author’s discussion of pleasure and then drugs was also enlightening. They explained how pleasure and rewards initiated behaviors that helped us survive, and negative emotions altered behaviors when survival was threatened. They then relate this to drugs by explaining people become addicted because drugs can falsely signal we are doing something beneficial to our fitness that helps our survival. They also provide an enlightening discussion about how this relates to and feeds addictions.
Nature or Nurture??
An insightful point they demonstrated was that it is not a Nature or Nurture answer but a dance between each. As was explained, Nature & Nurture are not a divide but an endless feedback loop of information enabling adaptation. For example, they document that animals, like humans, can get fat when there is abundant food and no predators. They also note that animals, like humans, will consume processed foods to their detriment because of the false signals created by these ultra-processed foods.
Overall, again and again, from drugs to sex, to relationships, they document how these are issues for all in the animal kingdom, not just for humans. It had a copyright of 2012. However, it is very current. The most current part was how it seems to have led to the developing of the new World Health Organizations initiative, “One Health.”
‘One Health’ is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes.
The areas of work in which a One Health approach is particularly relevant include food safety, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, such as flu, rabies and Rift Valley Fever), and combatting antibiotic resistance (when bacteria change after being exposed to antibiotics and become more difficult to treat)..
Many of the same microbes infect animals and humans, as they share the eco-systems they live in. Efforts by just one sector cannot prevent or eliminate the problem. For instance, rabies in humans is effectively prevented only by targeting the animal source of the virus (for example, by vaccinating dogs).
Information on influenza viruses circulating in animals is crucial to the selection of viruses for human vaccines for potential influenza pandemics. Drug-resistant microbes can be transmitted between animals and humans through direct contact between animals and humans or through contaminated food, so to effectively contain it, a well-coordinated approach in humans and in animals is required.
We can Do More
One Health is a great start. However, it seems to only focus on how to avoid, treat, or prevent problems. I believe it does not emphasize how health is created and improved.
From my reading, it became even more vital to work towards generating comprehensive improvements by creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and EVERYTHING benefits. All living things are connected, and the aim of all living things must be to live in a way that makes life more livable.
Natterson-Horowitz & Bowers seem to agree. In the end, they explain:
The fate of our world health doesn’t depend solely on how we humans fare, rather it will be determined by how ALL patients on the planet live, grow, get sick and heal.
Natterson-Horowitz & Bowers in “Zoobiquity”
Let’s create all good. We can’t wait for people or animals to become patients. We must proactively work to make life more livable and better for all.
This post was co-written with Quality Management and Deming expert, Allen Scott who also used information gained in personal communication with quality management and statistical expert Don Wheeler, PhD.
There are many great ideas contained, most specifically about why ventures may not scale. For instance, he emphasizes it is important not to be misled by false positives. This is when good results happen but it is not with a representative sample, thus falsely showing the idea may be successfully scaled. He documents how this happened with Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign, explaining why it was not as successful or even validated. He also explained the importance of knowing the intended audience. Here he cited an example where McDonalds had sampled devoted McDonald’s customers to test the new “Arch Deluxe” rather than testing it with the typical customer. He explained this was why the “Arch Deluxe” was not a successful new product and why it was important to use true customers, not devotees.
He also explains that when scaling it is important to know if it is the chef, the leader, or the ingredients that make the product successful. As he explains, it is easier to scale ingredients than people. Here he also explained the importance of spillover effects. As he made clear, small issues become more prominent when ideas are scaled. This can be documented from “General Equilibrium Effects” based on the theory. This theory explains how expectations can be disrupted because when one area changes, all areas change to adapt to that change. As an example he explained how when Uber raised driver salaries in hopes of helping them earn more take-home pay, more drivers then drove for Uber. The increase in salary increased the number of drivers and this led to less rides being given per driver. This meant the drivers did not earn the desired raise. This was a great example of General Equilibrium Effects.
He also explained that intervention spillovers can be positive or negative. As a positive example, he explained the spillover of Herd Immunity happens when many people in the community are vaccinated. He also warned that if costs were too high, it cannot scale. While many ideas were good, as I kept reading something was nagging at me and something seemed off. It was not until I got to Chapter 7, and when he began to focus on how to scale, that I realized what was nagging me.
What was nagging me was that the book was about improving the parts without accounting for the whole system and the dynamic interactions or “Systems Appreciation” in Deming’s Profound Knowledge. To compound his inattention to the whole system, he also failed to account for environmental impacts of any venture. It was as if he equated the impact on the environment at a cost of 0. The environment must be accounted for because the environment is an asset upon which every venture and all of us are dependent. Treating nature with no value encourages its misuse. Ventures should operate such that it supports regeneration because this can be the only way to ensure true value and improvement as it supports ongoing viability and profitability for everyone and everything.
As Dr. Ackoff explains, (see this powerful presentation titled, “If Russ Ackoff Had Given a TED Talk“) a system is not a sum of its parts but a product of its interactions. Further he explains if improvement of a system is done by improving the parts taken separately, you can absolutely be sure the performance of the whole will not be improved. This is what I believe is the fatal flaw in List’s book. He discusses methods to improve the parts without improving the system. In Dr. Deming’s terms, he does not have an “Appreciation for a System”.
One example he discussed in the book was about investing on marginal returns or the area that had the biggest return on the last dollar spent. This may work sometimes, however it mistakenly encourages management by results or managing by watching the scoreboard rather than continually improving the process. Managing by results will result in higher and higher variance, higher costs and lower profits. (see Red Bead Experiment) In the book Dr. List even relied on a faulty example, explaining hiring more people did not produce the same returns because the new group was not as productive. This mistakenly placed responsibility on the people, rather than the system from which results are generated.
UnderstandingVariation – Contribution from Allen Scott which also cited information obtained in personal communication with quality expert Don Wheeler, PhD
Their writing seems to suggest more than experimental methods are necessary. Their concern, relying only on the scientific method can lead to a vast waste of resources, a missed opportunity to improve peoples lives, and a diminution in the public’s trust in the scientific method’s ability to contribute to policy making.
Dr. Walter A. Shewhart in 1924 at Bell Labs developed process behavior charts to determine when evidence becomes actionable. These charts could identify appropriate statistical evidence by separating the noise from the signal. These charts provided an observational improvement method that plotted data over time.
In Understanding Variation: The Key to Managing Chaos, by Dr. Donald J. Wheeler he documents that process behavior charts work and have been thoroughly proven. Further, it seems hard sciences can use the experimental methods and hold many variables constant, however social sciences must deal with unknown cause and effect relationships. These unknowns make the decision to scale problematic without more information. In such an environment, observational studies are needed rather than experiments. If a test program is broad enough and predictable, reliable evidence will be gained about scaling. If however the evidence is localized and unpredictable, the evidence will be problematic.
As explained earlier, List suggests this in his book, “Voltage Effect”, when he explains misleading evidence and false positives lead to misinformed choices to scale. As he explains, observational studies can be better than experiments when deciding to scale if they are representative enough to be predictable.
The problem as I see it is the assumption that we will know all of the important factors. Experimentation cannot identify the unknown factors, only observation does this.
Don Wheeler, PhD
For example, despite experimental evidence about the value of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), observation studies of over 8000 women over ten years showed that post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy changed the likelihood of heart-attack from 2% to 3%. This study made it clear that HRT benefits did not outweigh the risks.
Another concern I had with List’s book related to quitting. Dr. List emphasizes the need to get better at quitting and the need to quit. I am not sure why he chose to describe it as quitting. He was equating quitting with failure, but failure doesn’t exist (see Failure Doesn’t Exist…). The drive to succeed and do well for most entrepreneurs would stay the same, thus the aim would not be consistent with quitting. This is why the idea of quitting is a confusing reference. For instance, using his personal example, he explained that he chose not to make a difference by being a professional golfer, but as a professor in academics. Thus by his own admission, he did not quit wanting to make a difference, he just pivoted.
To me pivoting, a term used often by the NSF iCorps program and others, is a better way to encourage entrepreneurs and is a method to help them succeed and scale. A pivot should occur when an entrepreneur discovers, after researching the idea, the market and customers, that the idea is a no-go, or not a good idea to scale. After discovering the idea may be problematic, it is recommended they pivot to a variant or alternative. From my perspective, this is better terminology than quitting and allows the entrepreneur to carry forward the many assets and skills gained toward the pivoted aim of the venture.
As Russ Ackoff makes clear, simply improving the parts cannot improve the system. As we all seek to make our contribution toward comprehensive improvements, it is recommended we focus on creating net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits. Please share how you practice paneugenesis.
Greens in the form of vegetables are good for our health
Green behavior is regenerative or at least better and can help everyone and everything
Green in form of money can be good and helpful
This post is about how all 3 of these benefits will accrue from this simple action.
Many of us eat greens as spinach, lettuce, kale, mustard greens etc. While these greens are good for us, taste good and are delicious, they do not stay fresh long. Composting old greens is better because in time they turn into useful soil, but it still wastes money.
A Better Idea
We found a more useful solution. When our greens start to go bad, we put them into the blender and then freeze them. As frozen small pieces of greens, they are easy to add to a smoothy.
We keep freezing old greens simple. When ours greens start to go bad we put the old greens in the blender with a little bit of water, if necessary, and mix. After the leaves are chopped, we place those leaves in a bag and put them in the freezer. I also put a scooper in that bag so I can easily scoop out a helping for my smoothie.
I really like doing this in the summer because I find Smoothies to be great summer snacks They are refreshing, cool and also provide a healthy serving of vegetables. If you are interested in more techniques, this page, How to Freeze Spinach, shares more options.
This simple technique provides multiple benefits:
We eat more greens by including them in our now tastier and more filling smoothies
Environmental benefits are less trips to the store and less food waste
We save money by not having to buy greens or other ingredients for smoothies
Overall, chopping and freezing greens is a great, all good way to generate comprehensive improvements. Freezing older greens creates a net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic benefits from which everyone and everything benefits.
Please share how you generate comprehensive improvements so everyone and everything can benefit.