After watching an episode of Madmen that shared some audio and video clips about Martin Luther King Jr. being assassinated, I felt that it was ironic that I stumbled upon this quote this morning.
The quote hit home for me because it represents some feelings that I continue to have toward modern science.
First, let me clarify that I really enjoy reading studies and learning of scientific breakthroughs. I find it fascinating that we continue to understand things that were previously only considered true through speculation or anecdotal evidence. I continue to read articles on Business Insider where scientists claim to have identified formulas for “What Causes Men to Be Attractive” or “Scientists Have Figured Out The Noah’s Arc Would Have Floated with 70,000 Animals If Built By Dimensions In The Bible”.
I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I didn’t click on links like this to see what exactly was the conclusion of the findings. I am lured in like everyone else it seems.
However, I’m usually less than impressed with the findings, just like I am with nutritional and exercise studies at times. There completely meaningless. Whether Noah’s Arc had 7 animals or 70,000 animals on board, it doesn’t matter to me.
It’s pure minutiae, but you know damn well that there are groups of people fighting about those facts and figures as I write this. Someone is always trying to prove someone else wrong.
All of this relates back to what I am realizing is my spiritual connection with exercise and nutrition, kettlebells, short burst workouts, long walks to re-energize, breathing to calm the mind and body, yoga (not often but more so lately) and the exploration of ideas that haven’t been proven by double-blind study or a laboratory somewhere.
I thoroughly enjoy partaking in activities that science cannot find explanations for. Yoga has been around for thousands of years and delivered a healing/calming effect to millions of people. Science decided to investigate all of the hype to investigate matters. Initially, they concluded that the entire concept of Yoga had inconclusive evidence supporting it’s integration into a human beings life.
I wasn’t a yoga supporter at the time so I have to admit that I didn’t care. My body was younger and more pliable than it is now. Once I gave yoga a chance, even just focusing on a few poses that I knew would help to alleviate tonic muscles or calm my nervous system through deep breathing, I knew it worked. Just because I couldn’t explain it or support it with 10 pages data filled charts and tables, I knew that it worked extremely well for my mind, my body and to be somewhat poetic, my soul.
Science is great but we lean on it way to much. It’s a crutch for people to finally take action. It seems like we increasingly disregard activities that our mind and body tells us that it thoroughly enjoys, just because a study says that it burns 5% less calories than an alternative approach.
Who gives a shit? Do you really care that much?
Maybe if your a top 1% athlete (those who we watch on TV) or a professional (paid) bodybuilder who can detect the slightest alternations in their workout and eating habits. These two populations can gain a competitive edge over such minutiae. Shaving .0001 sec can be the difference from wearing a gold medal and shedding a tear over the silver.
But when we are talking about Billy Bob who handles accounts at the office versus Sandra who is the company social media direction this 5% becomes less and less important in my mind. The average Joe needs to focus on establishing and perfecting the basics.
I’ve seen multiple studies showing that running is superior to riding a stationary bike, but from my own experience, I thoroughly enjoy putting my headphones in and riding my $180 (bought from Craigslist) Schwinn Airdyne over pounding the pavement. 5% more calorie burn for the same duration of exercise is irrelevant to me because my nutritional habits are good and I am 100x more likely to consistently hop on that old rickety Airdyne than I am to tie my shoes and beat the streets.
There is a beautiful simplicity in ignoring science jargon, and there is also value in respecting it.
The evidence based approach guys/gals will always claim that the spiritual approached guys/gals are lazy and “just don’t want to work to understand the data”, and the spiritual guys/gals will always claim that the evidence based approach guys/gals are robots guided by incentive based research.
I think both parties are somewhat accurate in their assessment of the other and quite honestly, I prefer to be a hybrid of both approaches.
As I have gotten older, I find that I don’t have that deep seeded need to prove why everything works the way that it does. I enjoy letting my body and mind dictate the intensity of any given day’s workout, staying up late because I feel like it or drinking too many cups of coffee in the morning because I enjoy the aroma and taste.
Modern day research would frown upon these things because the data says that all three won’t make me the best possible functioning human. Science says that I should be monitoring any fluctuations in my resting heart rate upon waking from an adequate 8 hours of sleep, following by a cup of green tea.
Did I mention that I love drinking craft beer also? Science hates beer, but my soul loves it. I drank two delicious beers last night in fact.
I have found that no matter what approach guides your fitness and nutritional actions, what’s most important for the long-term is that you ENJOY whatever form of physical activity and eating style you adopt.
High tech or low tech, extreme or un-extreme, evidence based or spiritual… it doesn’t matter as long as it ignites a motivation to take consistent action for the long haul.
If you evidence based, take the time to understand the spiritual approach and if you top-heavy on the spiritual approach, take some time to understand the evidence based approach.
The fusion of spirit and evidence based efforts might provide the truest enjoyment of the journey. The side of your brain that wants science supported action can get along with the side of your brain that wants to discover your inner connectedness. They can coexist.
Self-experimentation can be a liberating experience for both parties.
Cheers to thought-provoking quotes from MLK!