Asking Better Questions Can Generate a Better Tomorrow

For us to create a better world, we have to ask the right questions. If we don’t ask the right questions, it is impossible to get the right answer. Asking the wrong questions means no matter how hard we work at getting the answers, we still won’t get what we want because we asked the wrong question.

Of course, if we are asking the wrong questions, the data we collect to answer the question will be wrong. Working with the wrong data leads to improperly informed data based decisions. We then waste effort, no matter how hard or how diligently we work. As practice continues to illustrate, Dr. W. Edwards Deming forsaw future problems from the existing methods. With regard to this situation, he would say,

It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.

We can’t do good work if we don’t answer appropriate questions and have bad or wrong data. Additionally, working this way leads to more problems. Using the wrong data and asking the wrong questions means we get wrong answers. Relatedly, Russell Ackoff said it was most important to make sure you taking appropriate action. Appropriate action is impossible with the wrong data and the wrong question. As he explained,

Climate change is a current example where people cherry pick data to support a preconceived view rather than letting data determine the situation. Walter Williams regular uses cherry picked data to support a different pespective as he did in his November 20, 2019 column, Scientists: Dishonest or Afraid?. A response to his column pointing out that he used bad data can be seen at, Climate scientists neither dishonest nor afraid. In my view, it is important for us to get perspective. To get perspective, it often requires us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

From a larger perspective, there are no problems just a reality to improve. In other words, things are functioning, all we can do is improve what we are doing to have  a more beneficial impact.

This issue was brought to my attention as I listened to the first episode of the Solvable Podcast.

In this episode, which is also on Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast , Gladwell interviews Rosanne Haggerty about homelessness. Rosanne explains how we are asking the wrong questions about homelessness. She explains that we believe the homeless problem cannot be solved because we are using the wrong data. She also explains how we are spending more to keep the status quo than it would cost to provide a solution to the housing problem from which everyone could benefit. She suggests a sticking point may be an issue of fairness. I encourage you to listen to this episode on #Solvable and share your thoughts here.

With regard to cost, once again this is the wrong question. It is not how much will it cost but how much can we save by providing housing. A positive benefit would be calculated even before related benefits such as what those people can contribute to society are considered.

This is another “True Cost” example (see True cost is all about The External Ripple). True costs for homelessness must include the widespread burden put on public service workers, police, teachers, EMT, court systems, doctors, librarians, emergency rooms, and the healthcare systems. We can provide an investment in housing for less then it costs to maintain the status quo and this investment will pay societal dividends that benefit everyone and everything.

If you are interested, Roseanne Haggerty indicated that the article in the New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, Million Dollar Murray helped inspire her work. The article outlines the huge costs of just one homeless person had for society.

 

The issue about the wrong question and the wrong data resonates with me because it has been my life’s work. My work has focused on improving health. While most believe better health is accomplished by minimizing and or preventing disease. That line of thinking is once again asking the wrong question which means that associated work provides inappropriate data. Of course decreasing disease problems is helpful and good, but better health cannot be answered by focusing on disease. Please see Prevention Can’t Work and Problems are Irrelevant!.

Currently we have an acute disease care system which is helpful, useful and important to treat problems for the short term. This system, however, is insufficient and inappropriate to generate a better life for all. To create a better life, we must ask about how can we not just have better health, but how do we create a better life for everyone and everything, not possible as things are now.

Health is important, not as an ends, but as a means because it enables a better life. As James Clear explains,

Having health isn’t everything, not having it is.

To create this better life, we must consider everyone and everything because we are all connected and we all rise and fall together.  The question cannot be how do we fix disease and or infirmity, but how do we cause health. We also must be sure that health is understood as the World Health Organization defines it:

A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being

and not

merely the absence of disease and infirmity.

This concept can be applied to everything. I use it for all I do. For example, I have applied this idea to Higher Education when I sought to discover What Helps Students Thrive? not just survive. The questions cannot be about how we prevent failure but how do we facilitate higher levels of success, not possible otherwise. This is what I call Exceeding Expectations, +3. (see video)

I continually challenge myself to exceed expectations. I ask myself, how can do my best in my roles as a husband, parent, friend, co-worker, professor and citizen? My question for myself is how can contribute more as a member of society, not just how do I avoid causing problems. I know when I do this, generated benefits are widespread. Doing this helps others, it helps me feel better about myself, and these actions provide data to support the positive feeling generated about myself. It is a no lose proposition.

If we don’t ask the question, better answers will only be discovered by accident. I recommend we make a concerted effort to ask the right question. Asking the right questions will help us get the right data which will help us make better decisions which can benefit all. In other words, we should be asking ourselves, how can we…

Generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits?

For those of you that follow me, you know this is how to practice paneugenesis or create all good. Don’t we all want to be contributing members of society? Doing this enables us to be who we want to be. As more of us do this, we create a better life for ourselves because we live a life of purpose and meaning. A by-product from living this way, as more of us do this, a better society for everyone and everything evolves.

 

Please share how you practice paneugenesis. I encourage you to practice paneugenesis to make it a Great Holiday season for yourself and everyone else. Enjoy and feel good about the beneficial interactions you create with friends, family and the environment.

 

Updated: “The Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition”

I started reading Colin Campbell’s “The Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition”. I previously read and was mesmerized by his, “The China Study”, it was great. I recommend both. I know “The China Study” is a Bad name for a book, but the content is fantastic.

 

With regard to “The Whole”, in the first section he emphasizes that he is very upset with the system and wants the truth to be known. He is upset because he says money interests have silenced the words of science and the strong and valid findings  showing nutrition is more powerful than any other method to promote health and treat disease. He says nutrition is being silenced because it does not support our established way of understanding how things work or our current paradigm. He makes it clear that nutrition findings are being challenged because it may do harm to how many make money today.

An example of the influence of money on research was published on October 6, 2019 in the New York Times, “Scientist Who Discredited Meat Guidelines Didn’t Report Past Food Industry Ties” by Tara Parker-Pope and Anahad O’Connor. These scientists are using the same techniques described in Do Not Let Deniers Doubt Dissuade post by supporting doubt. Doubt is instilled through misdirection or taking attention away from facts just as magician misdirects a persons attention away so people thinks the trick is magic.  This analogy is used in Naomi Oreskes’ excellent film, “Merchants of Doubt“.

To support his post, I am sharing a powerful part of the beginning. He explains that if Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) nutrition were a pill, what he says could be could be called “Eunutria”, its label would have this powerful list of scientifically proven effects:

  • Prevents 95% of all cancers including those caused by environmental toxins
  • Prevents nearly all heart attacks and strokes
  • Reverses even severe heart disease
  • Prevents and reverses type 2 diabetes so quickly and profoundly  that after 3 days it is dangerous to keep using insulin
  • Gets you to your ideal weight in a healthy sustainable way
  • Eliminates most migraines, acne, colds and flue, chronic pain and intestinal distress
  • Improves energy
  • Cures Erectile dysfunction
  • Slows and possibly reverses global warming
  • Reduces groundwater contamination
  • Ends the need for deforestation
  • Shuts down factory farms
  • Reduces malnutrition and dislocation among worlds poorest

It is results and information like this that has encouraged and motivated me to do my best to adopt a Whole Food Plant Based eating plan. By eating this way I can feel good about my choices because it is a way to use selfish, selfless, synergy to practice paneugenesis which means I contribute to comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Not only do I help everyone and everything benefit, it provides me with a good feeling for  doing something good, gives me energy and vitality and also helps prevent things I want to avoid. Why would I want to make any other choice with regard to food? What do you think? Let me know how you help everyone and everything benefit.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker, PhD

🌏🚀🚀We Can Have Both!🚀🚀🌏

Unknown

Having just read The Martian and the recent Matt Damon hit, The Martian, this TED presentation is interesting. Stellar astronomer and TED Senior Fellow Lucian Walkowicz works with NASA’s Kepler’s mission and provides a useful perspective. To me she is saying, if we have a backup plan, we often do not take care of what we have as we should. The issue with life and earth is that there is no backup. This also relates to Risk Homeostasis Theory (see previous posts) that shows when we feel safer, we act more dangerously. Most advantageous would be to think how can we act to benefit today AND tomorrow!

To me what is important in this message is we can have both, it is not should we take care of the planet or plan to live in the stars – we should do both. This has been what I promote for health, it is not should we prevent disease or promote health but promote health for a better life and prevention happens because of the better life created! From this example, we should be working to make life sustainable, exciting and better on earth while we also look for possibilities in the stars – the best of both!

The message I walk away with from this short (5:50) presentation, “Let’s Not Use Mars as a Backup Planet” is we should be consistently and consciously working to generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits! I look forward to hearing how you Practice Paneugenesis and hearing about the resulting benefits we all get to enjoy.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Beyond Order and Status Quo

“Maintaining order rather than correcting disorder is the ultimate principle of wisdom. To cure disease after it has appeared is like digging a well when one feels thirsty or forging weapons after the war has already begun.” – Nei Jing

Is order the ultimate principle of wisdom? Is order better or is it just easier? Is what we see the whole story? Order is another way of saying keep things as they are. Of course curing a disease after it is experienced is like digging a well after feeling thirsty or building weapons after the war has begun. Is that the best we can do, just maintain order? Should we attempt to cure it before? (which would be prevention), how would we know if worked if what was prevented never happened? If prevention works, nothing happens – we can do better.

We can do better than just maintain the status quo. Anything that attempts to keep things as they are is impeding progress. Beyond efforts to prevent problems, evidence from Dr. Wilde’s Risk Homeostasis Theory indicate we never actually prevent problems, they are just moved.517J05w6c1L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_

Additional information in “FoolProof” suggests not only don’t prevention efforts work because they just move risk and problems, but these these well-intentioned efforts actually create a backlash with unintended problems. One example of many is when well-intentioned people in the NFL created helmets to prevent head, teeth and eye injuries. While many of those injuries subsided, without accounting for delayed head trauma,  other injuries increased. Injuries were moved. Other injuries such as those to the neck and spine increased because a helmet protected head helped players feel safe enough to use their head when tackling (see video).

Of course the hidden problem of CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encepholapthy famously discussed in the movie “Concussion” with Will Smith is another example of a backlash from attempts to improve safety.

A different approach is possible, one that looks forward toward what is being created instead of backward in an attempt to avoid or prevent. Instead of just trying to make it less bad, we should focus on how to create more good (see), from a systems perspective. This approach about a better future has many benefits and is what Dr. Wilde calls expectationism. He also explains why this approach would be more effective as it also improves overall well-being.

After all, the focus on the future is what has helped us realize all progress. Figure what you want, clarify that picture  – determine that idealized outcome, determine what will demonstrate progress, not outcome measures, then work at creating it. As you continually measure progress, you will understand how to correct and improve the path of creating that idealized outcome. Don’t be frustrated if you get off path, they say the rocket to the moon was off course 96% of the time but with continued process improvements, the desired outcome was achieved.

Remember the desired  idealized outcome should be measurable so you will know something was accomplished. Nassim Taleb described in his 2008 book the Black Swan an instance when a rider enters a taxi cab and tells the driver, “Don’t take me to the airport.” Of course this leaves the driver confused because he doesn’t know what to do or how to act because not going to the airpot is not measurable. It is simply a nonevent. Determine a measurable outcome so you can document and measure what you achieve!

Build on the idea of expectationism by creating more good, not just less bad (also see here, here, here, here).  Efforts to decrease undesirable effects don’t work. Rather than just maintain order, lets make it better by focusing on and work on creating what is desired and what could be.

I look forward to hearing about the progress you create.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker