Ideas are the most powerful force in the world, and the engine of progress. I believe that our resistance to new ideas, and our unwillingness to modify or discard existing ones in the face of new evidence, is the single greatest obstacle to us building a better world for each other.
I consider the ultimate goal of the work I do, including the things I write about, to be to promote and defend ideas that are important and under-represented (and hopefully that I have some business writing about!), which are listed below. Attached to each idea you’ll find links to places where I’ve discussed them in some capacity (talks, podcast appearances, writing, etc.).
Much more to come on this site related to these topics.
Learning, Education, and Intelligence
1) Every structurally intact human brain is capable of “genius” level insights and ideas, as these emerge from neural networks we all share.
2) The most sophisticated and meaningful components of human intelligence are not amenable to assessment by conventional testing. Current testing strategies only assess narrow domains of cognition with high interpersonal variance. Furthermore, those assessments provide an account of the dominant patterns of information flow in individual brains, rather than differences in intrinsic cognitive capabilities.
3) Dysfunction in the biological operation of the brain is a major source of cognitive underperformance in the modern world.
The Intelligence Unshackled Podcast (all episodes relate to these ideas)
4) Successes and failures in learning are a result of process, not aptitude (the brain you build, not the brain you have). Barring disease or injury, every brain possesses the capacity to learn anything. There are no innately “musical” or “mathematical” brains.
“Boosting Musical Brainpower” (interview on Musicality Now podcast)
How To Learn Music & Musical Instruments Faster (interview on the Becoming Superhuman podcast)
5) Our current educational system undermines neurological and cognitive development by depriving the developing brain of necessary inputs, and through the overemphasis on the development of a restricted set of cognitive capacities at the direct expense of others. If we wish to optimize for human well-being and collective problem solving, we need to develop many different kinds of minds that run on top of a robust, optimized biological foundation. Presently, we develop many similar minds that run on a compromised biological foundation.
“How To Support Childhood Neurological Development” (interview on Nourish Balance Thrive podcast)
Human Health, Cognitive Decline, Aging, and Dementia
6) Health interventions that act at the level of evolutionarily familiar inputs (“game level interventions”) should be our primary levers for the treatment and prevention of disease. By nature, they are significantly more powerful and safer than pharmaceuticals (“source code interventions”), as they act upstream in the physiological cascade and engage evolved regulatory mechanisms.
7) The major chronic diseases of our era are the result of mismatches between or present and natural (or ancestral) habitat, and are best prevented and treated through mismatch reduction. They are not amenable to drug treatments, which explains our failure to find effective pharmaceuticals for them over the past several decades.
8) Unlocking human potential, and achieving the collective levels of intelligence, thriving, and well-being that are available to us, requires major re-structuring of our health care and educational systems.
How To Win At Angry Birds: The Ancestral Therapeutic Paradigm (Ancestral Health Symposium Talk, 2019)
The Migraine Miracle (book)
The 4 Quadrant Model (the Ancestral Health therapeutic paradigm)
9) Reduction in nervous system demands with age is a major – if not the primary – driver of age related cognitive decline and dementia. Continuing to engage in activities that place high demands on the nervous system, which includes the continued acquisition of new skills like playing music, is essential for the prevention of cognitive decline and neuro-degenerative disease.
“Hidden In Plain Sight: A Theory of Cognitive Decline & Dementia” (PAH 2020 Winter Retreat presentation)
“How to Protect your Brain from Decline” (interview on Nourish Balance Thrive podcast)
10) Aging is an emergent phenomenon, and is not controlled by a distinct physiological mechanism (there is no discrete “aging process” that can be an object of study or modification by a specific intervention). Declines in physiological functioning over time are the result of the net balance of damage and repair in innumerable physiologic processes, over time, in a specific environment. Our best strategies for slowing this rate of decline are mismatch reduction and the modification of the epigenetic controls of our repair and recovery mechanisms.
10a) There are no environmentally independent processes that lead to physiological deterioration over time. All deterioration is environmentally contingent.
Even if a (un-parsimonious) discrete, environmentally-independent aging process exists, it does not contribute meaningfully to physiological deterioration over time in our present environment, and thus does not meaningfully contribute to the variance in healthspan or lifespan. As such, efforts to target such a process as a means of extending healthspan or lifespan are misdirected.
11) Present limitations on the human lifespan are driven by environmental mismatch, and its contribution towards the organ dysfunction and breakdown that leads to death events.
Are you interested in any of these ideas as well? If so, feel free to start a conversation: