When the Nobel Prize makes me throw up a little

You’ve probably heard of the Nobel Prize.

You probably even know it’s a series of awards for science.

That undersells it. They don’t just hand out a Nobel for good science, great science, profitable science or trendy science. It goes to the newest and most impressive Settled Science –  science that has been around long enough that people know, beyond doubt, it’s awesome, correct and had an impact.

A cool new theory might not pan out. Sometimes you can prove that quickly, sometimes it takes decades of work.

If research keeps kicking butt for decades, then it must have merit. The best of this sort of science has a chance of earning a Nobel.

… right?

Pop quiz: who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1949 and for what research?

Don’t know it off the top of your head?

Neither do I – here’s what the official Nobel Prize website says when you look it up:

The winner was Antonio Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz, for his “discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses.”

Don’t know the definition of ‘leucotomy’ off the top of your head either?

It’s another term for a lobotomy.

72 years is within living memory – which means, within living memory, people thought destroying the higher reasoning centres of the brain was an excellent treatment for anxiety and antisocial behaviour.

It makes me want to throw up a little.

How could such a barbaric practice have caught on, let alone won the highest scientific award there is?

Even weirder – a year after that Nobel Prize, the USSR banned the use of lobotomies because they were too barbaric.

If your medicine makes Stalin flinch, then stop and think for a moment.

It makes me shudder.

Then, when I take a deep breath, I realise how fantastic my horror is.

Science is so (literally) awesome – the pinnacle of medicine seven decades ago is now not worth the crud on your shoes. If science moved at the speed of religion, we’d still be doling out brain damage for the lolz.

Yesterday’s genius is tomorrow’s drooling barbarian. That might not be fair to the genius, but it shows our progress.

We even overturn Settled Science – not because of the changing tastes of the public, but with more evidence, better ideas and subtler experiments.

I’ve said that Settled Science can only be overturned by a lot of hard and smart work. That’s generally true.

Overturning lobotomies, though, turned out to be a low bar.

All it took was a few people to notice the side effects – like how it removes intelligence along with insanity.

Common sense, observation and asking the question, “are the benefits worth the immense harm?” defeated Nobel Prize-winning science.

You hear a lot of talk about ‘science’ and ‘research’ in the media. Often it’s some puff piece – “a new study has shown that…” More often these days, it’s about something more serious.

Some of it is true, reasonable and accurate.

None of it is Settled Science.

Little of it is Frontier Science.

None of it is above challenging using common sense, observations and asking the question, “are the benefits worth the immense harm?”

Pure science isn’t above questioning, especially when it’s new. When research filters through the media and politicians, and used for political gain, it becomes something impure – and therefore less reliable.

Science is a lot like magic. In most fantasy books, the rituals that require the most precision and sacrifices grant the most power.

Science gave us spaceflight, electricity, antibiotics and computers – each a power like none the world had seen before.

It’s the source of so many powerful things because it itself demands precision and sacrifices – especially the comfort of believing what you’re told.

You have to think for yourself.

That doesn’t mean ignoring the mainstream and listening to folks on the fringe. That’s just a different flavour of believing what you’re told.

Science is merciless.

It requires you to question everything, especially your most treasured beliefs, and especially the need to question everything.

No easy answers.

No shortcuts.

It’s just like the rest of life, really.

For example, if you want to overcome anxiety, then getting a lobotomy is the easiest way to do that. It works, leaving you neurologically incapable of anxiety.

I supposed that’s not so easy, as no doctor will do that to you…

The harder way is to work on yourself.

That doesn’t mean telling yourself to not be anxious.

By all means, try that.

If that doesn’t work, though, the Alleviate Anxiety program is for you:

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Til you run out of cake and eat it too

I’m glad I got burned,

Think of all the things we learned

For the people who are still alive

– GLaDOS

You can probably guess who, in my mind, the ideal scientist is.

In the Portal game, you go up against GLaDOS – an amoral AI who’s obsessed with scientific experimentation. You’re a human test subject in her sadistic and cruel tests.

After breaking the constraints of the experiment, you kill her and (briefly) escape to the surface above the research facility.

GLaDOS is thrilled by this.

Escaping and killing her was supposed to be impossible. Doing it is a new result! Science advances on the backs of unexpected outcomes – this certainly qualifies.

A mere human would resent being murdered, no matter how revolutionary it is.

Compared to fictitious AIs, humans fall short of science.

We do that with all ideals, really.

But we can do better.

In fact, ‘doing better’ is such a low bar.

Thinking scientifically, not in terms of science’s brand, is a test most folks fail.

How many times have you seen this:

Person A: “Scientists say it’s X. If you disagree, you’re obviously a moron fundie illiterate stupid ugly anti-science lunatic who’d believe anything.”

Person B: “New evidence came in and X is wrong.”

Person A: “Well of course. Science updates on evidence all the time!”

Not quite, pendo.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Science is built on uncertainty. Idiots treat this as a weakness (“I know God created the world 37 minutes ago whereas you only suspect evolution is real!!!”) rather than a strength (“huh, it turns out our ideas from Aristotle about motion were wrong – at least we know better now!”)

But it’s not the same uncertainty across the board.

There’s a huge difference between Settled Science and the Opinions of Scientists.

Settled Science has low uncertainty. It’s never none, because no idea is above questioning, but it requires enormous work to challenge it.

Opinions of Scientists are better than random opinions, but are easily challenged by logic and experience – even from laypeople.

Frontier Science is somewhere in the middle. There are many questions, few of which are the right ones to ask. There’s a lot of data, but no one knows how accurate or comprehensive any of it is yet. You’re up to your armpits in conclusions, but who knows which are valid?

You can’t be certain about any of it, including which parts to be the most uncertain about.

There are no shortcuts here. There are no easy answers. Even if you’re a scientist working in the field, it’s a struggle.

But that’s no invitation to give up.

If you say it’s all uncertain so you can believe whatever you want, you’re an idiot. You can’t pick and choose the truth. You still have to follow the evidence. With the same breath, you can’t point to something a scientist said and day, “behold the truth!”

Where do you start?

By figuring out what kind of science something is.

Treating Settled Science as opinion leads away from reality.

Treating Opinions of Scientists as proven truth leads away from reality.

The best you can do, as a layperson or a scientist, is to figure out how uncertain you should be.

Anecdote interlude

This sounds obvious.

If you’re unwise, you’re scoffing and saying, “yeah, yeah, I do that…”

You’re not GLaDOS – you get this wrong.

Even scientists, who are trained to think critically, get this wrong.

I studied science at university. One of the courses was on scientific thinking. An exam for it had a question like this:

A friend of yours has a migraine. On the advice of a salesperson, they take a tonic purely made of crushed beetles. Their migraine vanishes over the next half hour. Choose the best explanation:

  1. The tonic cured the migraine
  2. The tonic had no effect and they would have gotten better either way
  3. It’s not likely that the tonic did anything, but you can’t be sure until you run proper controlled tests.

I smiled to myself, happy for the easy question. I put down C and moved on.

Later, I got the exam sheet back. The lecturer marked my answer as wrong and marked B as the correct answer.

I challenged this, pointing out that C was basically the scientific method with an educated guess in front.

They said I was ignorant and naïve – the sort of person who believes in crystal healing and nonsense. After all, a crushed beetle tonic obviously isn’t real medicine.

Yeah, yeah, I know – hashtag not all scientists. Not even most scientists. But plenty don’t understand how science works at all. To them, it’s just a job… one that they’re not very good at.

Would you believe this scientist’s opinion – or even their research – with the same certainty that the Earth orbits the Sun?

End anecdote.

Anyway, this post isn’t anti-science – it’s science, pure and simple. If you unthinkingly believe some research, it’s as dumb as unthinkingly doubting it. If you downplay or exaggerate something’s uncertainty, you drift from the truth.

When someone tells you something is based on the latest science, that tells you little. Until you know what sort of science that is, you don’t know how confidently to believe that.

Either way, questioning the science – especially after it’s been filtered through politicians into policy – isn’t a deviation from reason and sanity.

Just the opposite.

Speaking of ways of elevating your thinking:

Your own thoughts or beliefs don’t have to get in your way.

Neuroplasticity is Settled Science. Folks used to think your brain was fixed at birth or at a very young age. Now we know that it can change.

Not only can it change, but you can control how it changes.

There are many ways to do this.

I say, use hypnosis – it’s awesome.

Sign up for a session with me:

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Outside the realm of science?

Since I’m reflecting on the nature of science again, a question popped into my mind:

What, if anything, is beyond the realm of science?

It’s easy to give a BS poetic answer, like “the love a mother has for her child”. Which is wrong. Science can easily explain what that love is and why we feel it.

You can go deep into qualia and say, “science can explain why a sunset is red and gold, but not why we find it beautiful”. Bah. Sufficiently advanced science could map out, simulate, tweak, explain and demystify every protein in every cell between your retina and your ocular cortex.

Science and art aren’t mutually exclusive. Science can explain why art is beautiful, just as art can show why science is true.

Love and beauty aren’t beyond science. They obey physics and are, in principle, explainable. Go deeper than the boring answer.

There are many ways I could explore something that’s potentially beyond science.

I’ll go with one that’s front of mind for some reason:

Quantum immortality.

Our best guess for how the universe works is the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Under this model, there are an infinite number of universes out there. When an event can have multiple outcomes, they all happen – but only one happens in this universe. The others happen in other universes that bubble out from ours.

To physicists, that means if an electron can be here or there, it’ll be here in one universe, but there in another.

To most humans, with our addiction to narratives, that means there’s every possible outcome to all of our stories out there in the multiverse.

That means there’s a universe out there where Alexander the Great is still alive in 2021.

“Oh, come on, William – the many worlds theory only allows possible worlds. That’s impossible!”

No, just highly improbable.

Alex’s cousin might have invented an immortality potion.

He might have found an ancient stasis suit left by Atlanteans.

Aliens might have uploaded his consciousness into a supercomputer.

All of these are permitted under the laws of physics. In an infinite multiverse, all possible outcomes occur in some universe, even the stupidly improbable ones.

That means there’s an infinite number of universes where you will never die.

Since it’s permitted, it’s inevitable.

(Aside: this is no utopian dream of heaven on earth. There are infinitely many universes where you’re tortured for eternity. Plus infinitely many where you were never born. All are possible.)

So far, so reasonable.

And within science, mostly. Although we can’t test the many world interpretation directly, there are certain clues in the laws of physics that suggest it’s likely.

Anyway, let’s go metaphysical for a moment:

Under one fairly mystical idea of how this works, no version of you in the multiverse will ever die.

Not really.

In the moment of your death, your consciousness jumps over to another timeline – the closest one to the one you’re in, only you had a near miss instead.

You’d never notice this process in yourself. From your perspective, a series of events played out with nothing unusual happening.

You’d never notice this in other people. To you, they might die but, from their perspective, they keep on living in another universe.

It’s a cute idea.

One with zero scientific or logical basis to it. There’s no reason why the multiverse would be this kind to us.

Still…

It’s not easy to test.

Even if someone could observe all the timelines, they’d see one version of you die and another live. Did your consciousness scoot over before it was extinguished? Or are these two separate universes now?

And even if you live to a billion years, you could still theoretically die the next day. That’s not proof.

Unless you can observe a mind jumping between realities, you’re out of luck.

Therein lies the rub, though. If your consciousness can move between timelines instead of dying, then there must be some mechanism that causes that to happen. That’s tautological. If there’s a mechanism, though, it must be possible to observe it, research it and understand it.

How does it work?

Why does it work on consciousness?

What else can it work on?

How does it identify minds as being different to, say, rocks?

Maybe these questions aren’t answerable by any technology we can dream of, but it’s not beyond the realm of science.

If minds can jump, then so can the right machine – because what is a mind but a machine built by nature?

So, there you have it. Even this quirky theory with virtually zero testable predictions is still within science’s remit.

I’m over 700 words in, so let me get to the point.

If someone says to you their voodoo crystalline snake oil heals you and is ‘beyond science’, they’re wrong.

Healing someone is an easy effect to observe and test – easy.

“Ah,” says the mystic, “but it works by powers beyond science’s understanding!”

Even that is within science’s remit. People discovered magnets millennia before they discovered electromagnetism. Some funny rocks could push or pull each other without touching. How it did that was ‘beyond science’s understanding’ but people could still… you know, observe it working.

It was easy to prove that magnetism is real – that it wasn’t a con artist blowing on the rocks or something.

No one knew how it worked, only that it did.

So your magic juujuu heals people using powers science can’t comprehend?

Great – we can still test it against a placebo. Showing how it works is harder than showing that it works.

That’s why hypnosis is so great. There was a century or so of solid evidence showing that it worked – and that’s only counting what sceptical Western scientists observed personally.

It beat any attempts to debunk it and even allowed ‘impossible’ things, like surgery without anesthetic.

It cleanly divided the Scientists In Name Only from the real seekers of truth.

The SINOs grumbled, “hypnosis can’t possibly work!”

The Scientists said, “reality seems okay with it – care to rethink your stance?”

Hypnosis has mainstream scientific acceptance now, but it took an embarrassingly long time.

Don’t make the same mistake.

Rather than believe your problems are insurmountable, test that believe and follow the evidence.

Hypnosis is powerful – more powerful than you might dare believe.

Don’t believe me though.

Experience it for yourself:

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And not even one of the cool villains

Imagine a contemporary show set in the present.

Which of the characters smoke?

Probably someone like a low-level henchmen. Probably not the bad boss guy, though, or even his lieutenant. So a villain, and not even one of the cool ones.

Or maybe a young loser who wants anyone’s life but theirs.

Or someone jittery, anxious and without their manure together.

Sure, sure, there are exceptions.

But face it – smoking hasn’t been cool for a long time. It’s cinematic shorthand for a weak loser.

To drop a dad-level pun, anyone who smokes is the butt of all the jokes.

You’re not a weak loser or a joke, are you?

Didn’t think so.

Now it’s time to prove it to everyone by quitting smoking.

Easier said than done, you say?

That’s where you’re wrong. With the right system, it’s easier done than said. After all, saying something is an action. Quitting smoking is simply not ever smoking ever again.

And, yes, it can be that easy with my Freedom From Smoking program.

Sign up for your first session here:

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Magic tricks for bulls

I like cartoon logic.

I like the shows from my childhood – especially the Looney Tunes sort – involving bulls.

One character would fall into red paint or wear red clothes, then have to deal with an angry bull chasing them.

That’s cartoon logic for you. Seeing a red thing can make a bull go from relaxed to homicidal in the span of a breath.

Of course, that’s not how it works in our world. I’m pretty sure bulls are colour-blind. They’re not trying to gore the red cape – if it were, being a matador would be easy.

Moving on from cartoon logic, let’s talk about bull logic:

You want to gore the matador.

They hold a cape in front of their body.

So you charge the cape, run through it… only to find they’re not there.

Hang on, did I say ‘bull logic’? Because that’s what people do too.

I’m sure you’ve had moments like that, where you swore you were chasing one thing, only to find nothing on the other side.

You think having a relationship will make you happy, so you find one… only to find you’re still miserable.

You think a promotion will solve your problems, so you work hard… only to find yourself with new ones.

The temptation is to think you’ll never be happy. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” they say.

That’s bull.

(Tee hee.)

Some things will actually make you happier and more fulfilled. Sure, some things won’t – even when you’re sure they will.

That’s fine.

You just need a better way of figuring out what you want.

A way like Crossroads Training.

If you want to hit something with substance, sign up for a session at this link:

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Hypnosis scripts have no value. None.

I see it all the time:

Folks asking for a hypnosis script for X and a hypnosis script for Y.

They even ask for advice on how to write scripts, for whatever reason.

It’s easy to spot the beginners – even a moderately skilled hypnotist wouldn’t obsess on these so much.

I often say that hypnosis and conversations have a lot in common. In fact, it can be hard – almost impossible – to tell them apart. Sure, some things are ‘definitely hypnosis’, but you can’t point to any conversation and say it definitely isn’t hypnosis.

So consider someone asking this:

“Hey, I have a date coming up and I want it to go well. Anyone have a script I can use??”

Yikes.

That person isn’t getting a second date, no matter how good their script.

No script could help them. In fact, giving them onewould hurt them. They have better odds of success if they have a natural conversation.

Now, a person can learn to be a better conversationalist. They don’t get there by reading scripts though. They get there by learning some principles and practicing.

It’s the same with hypnosis. Using a script is sloppy at best.

Throw them out.

I used to say that hypnosis scripts had some value as educational tools. You can take one, study it and reverse engineer some clever techniques.

I was wrong.

That was far, far too generous to those scraps of paper.

Want to learn from a great hypnotist? Take one of their courses. If that’s too impractical, study videos of them hypnotising people.

Hypnosis is so much more than the written word. I’ve been hypnotised in a language I didn’t speak. I’ve hypnotised people without speaking at all.

If you want a script of the latter, go stare at a blank piece of paper.

Conversely, you can take a transcript of Milton Erickson at his best and try to read it to someone. If you don’t understand the principles, you won’t be hypnotic – you’ll just be weird.

There are no shortcuts.

You get good by doing, get better by observing and advance the craft by studying. At no point will a script – a substitute for you thinking – help you.

Isolate the words and they lose their juice.

Want to learn hypnosis?

One of the best things you can do – maybe even the best – is be hypnotised.

Consciously, you might notice something the hypnotist does. Not what they say – what they do, because hypnosis is far more than the words someone says.

But the real benefits are unconscious.

The more you go into trances, the better you can guide others.

In fact, an amateur who’s hypnotised deeply enough becomes naturally hypnotic. Seeing someone enter a trance is, itself, trancy.

You’ll be a better hypnotist if you’re hypnotised more often.

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Why smart people argue against science

A while ago, I started following someone on social media.

They were a scientist of some sort and had a knack for explaining quirky things about the world.

It was fun and educational.

I stopped following them after they posted something like this:

  1. A catchy headline of some sort, like: “The Virus didn’t come from a Chinese lab”
  2. A few paragraphs explaining the controversy. Some folks say it came from an animal in a market, while others say it escaped a lab.
  3. Then, their reasoning: “diseases jump between species all the time! This isn’t the first time it’s happened, so this is probably what happened here.”

Boom, instant unfollow.

I didn’t stop because I have a strong stance on the origins of The Virus. I stopped because they lost all credibility as a scientific thinker, let alone a science communicator.

Based on how everyone else lapped up the post, I think I’m in the minority here.

There’s a lesson in here. If you get confused when people ignore science, it’s not (necessarily) because they’re dumb or fanatical.

Some of the folks who disagree with you are geniuses. You don’t understand your position until you understand theirs. And, no, writing them off as ‘crazy’ or ‘eccentric’ isn’t an answer. That might explain where their position comes from, (but probably not,) not what their position is.

Here’s why smart people argue against The Science.

Like ‘love’, science has (too?) many meanings. Conflating them is a disaster for science’s credibility, so let’s separate a few of the meanings.

The different types of science

If you think in terms of science’s brand, it’s all the noble pursuit of objective truth. That’s not how it works in real life, though.

I’m going to talk about four different types of science. This is still an oversimplification (analytical chemistry doesn’t fit well with these scheme, for example) but it highlights something important.

I’ll call them A-Science through D-Science, because there’s a rank to them. A beats B which beats C which beats D.

A-Science: The Settled Science.

A great example of this is the theory of evolution. Yeah, there are unanswered questions in the field, but the basic premise has centuries of solid and diverse evidence supporting it.

If you think the only proof of evolution comes from the fossil record, you’re wrong. The sheer variety of evidence is what makes it so compelling. Everything from DNA sequences to how cells work to the different designs of eyeballs all point in the same direction.

As biologists like to say thanks to Dobzhansky, nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.

That’s no exaggeration. There’s no organism, cell, ecosystem or protein where evolution isn’t the best (and often, only) explanation.

Can the Settled Science be wrong? It can be wrong about certain details. Newtonian gravity was wrong about how fast gravity propagates, but apples and planets still move because of the same force.

If you want to question Settled Science, you need a lot of data and a great explanation for why the current theory looks right but isn’t.

That’s not easy. It’s why, if you pull it off, history will immortalise your name.

B-Science: The Frontier Science.

The world has many unanswered questions. Scientists research and experiment at the cutting edge of our understanding.

They bring back nuggets of insight, which could easily be wrong.

At best, they’re incomplete.

Any paper on how antidepressants work falls into this category. We know that some drugs counteract depression in some people. We don’t know how they work or why they make depression worse in some folks.

There are many ideas, many promising lines of enquiry, but we don’t know.

It’s not as if no one knows anything.

But we don’t know enough to confidently create a new antidepressant.

The trap with this is you can find “a study” to prove just about anything. I remember looking into the science of whether saturated fats are good or bad for you. I don’t know what the current state is, but I found iron-clad evidence on both sides.

There were dozens of meta-studies, multidisciplinary studies, those studies where they follow people around for decades and see who stays healthy… about half of them found one answer; the others, the other.

If your instinct is “well, OBVIOUSLY some of those studies were flawed and, like, funded by Big Beef or whatever!!!” then you don’t understand how science works. A dozen papers – even a dozen of the best papers in the world – tell you approximately nothing that isn’t obvious already.

To turn Frontier Science into Settled Science, you need more than mere evidence. You need to attack the evidence, the hypotheses and the interpretations from every possible angle.

You need to do this for years, just in case you overlooked something.

That’s why Settled Science is so formidable: it has endured the most scathing and relentless of counterattacks, and emerged stronger for it.

There are no shortcuts here. This process takes time.

By the way…

I’m telling you not to believe any isolated study. That’s not a licence to ignore any inconvenient research. If you wait for the science to be settled before you act on it, you’ll never get out of bed.

So… what’s the answer?

Believe Frontier Science or don’t?

If you expect an easy and definitive answer to that, you really don’t get science. You can’t do science without thinking deeply, honestly considering alternatives and considering all the evidence based on its merits.

C-Science: The Opinions of Scientists.

Domain experts know a lot more about their topic than you do.

They know even more than they realise they do. After years of practicing and researching, they develop good instincts.

That makes their opinions more valuable than average.

This, of course, raises the question: just how valuable is the average opinion?

Think about it: when Einstein said, “God doesn’t play dice with the universe”, he wasn’t delivering proof against quantum uncertainty. He was expressing an opinion.

To which the scientific community said, “sure, but our experiments say otherwise, so shut your trap”.

Even Einstein couldn’t get away with undefended opinions in physics.

D-Science: Scientists Making Manure Up.

It turns out that inhaling carcinogenic smoke is bad for you. We can probably file than one under Settled Science.

There was a time when it was Frontier Science, though. A flood of data showed that smokers developed lung cancer at absurdly higher rates than non-smokers.

Scientists working for the tobacco companies found all sorts of ways to interpret that. My favourite is that people with lung cancer are unconsciously drawn to the soothing effects of tobacco. A cute theory, but that’s not the case. If that were true, new smokers would have higher rates of lung cancer than non-smokers.

Sometimes scientists make things up. They might do it for the money, for the status, for ideology – who knows? Sometimes they just speak off the cuff, not realising that others think they’re talking from evidence.

Science’s strength is that it reveals these lies for what they are eventually.

It doesn’t do that instantly though.

Again, real science takes time.

So… why do smart people argue against the science?

Because people on both sides use the term differently.

With these differences come different expectations.

~

Biologist: “Evolution is a scientific fact.” (A-Science)

Creationist: “You say that, but science can be wrong about things – even scientists admit that. Some of you might even be lying about your experiments for grant money. You’re only human, after all.” (B-Science, D-Science)

~

Sorry, Creationist, but you’re arguing on the wrong level here. Just because science is unsure about the frontier, that doesn’t mean it’s unsure about everything.

You need a new theory – one that does a better job of fitting the evidence than evolution does. Pasting a shrug emoji into the conversation isn’t enough at this level.

Let’s look at another:

~

Scientist: “You can’t change the composition of the atmosphere without changing the climate.” (A-Science)

Sceptic: “Yeah but what does that mean in practice? Could the changes be minor or even beneficial?”

Scientist: “Not likely. I mean, randomly changing your blood pH might be beneficial but it probably won’t be. According to our models, we’re in for more extreme weather over the coming decades.” (B-Science)

Sceptic: “Who comes up with these models? If it’s anything like the models economists use, they’re probably wrong anyway. Besides, I read a paper that says all that is overblown fear.” (B-Science)

Scientist: “It’s too big a risk to do nothing. We need to cut emissions immediately.” (C-Science)

Sceptic: “Or what?”

Scientist: “Or humanity is facing extinction.” (D-Science)

~

Oh, how easily you can slip from arguing from a place of truth.

It’s easy to argue against climate change wiping out all humans. The worst case is a collapse of civilisation. That’s bad, yes, but it’s not extinction.

So someone might question that last point.

But then a science-brand thinker chimes in and says, what, you’re suddenly smarter than science, the purveyor of all truth?

Then the sceptic says that’s stupid, which it is. Science isn’t making that claim, only a scientist is. If both sides conflate those two, it becomes a weird argument that goes nowhere.

~

Back to the origins of The Virus:

Scientists (and even science enthusiasts, and even politicians sharing science-based advice) need to be very careful when they communicate. Talking with certainly implies the science is settled. If you turn out to be wrong, it damages science’s credibility.

This person could have said: “in my opinion, The Virus probably came from an animal, not a lab. But, hey, I don’t actually have any proof – I’m just going off a hunch and what’s happened before.”

Instead, they took their Opinion and treated it like Settled Science.

They took C-Science and passed it off as A-Science, skipping over a lot of necessary rigour.

If the folks on Team Science conflate all the different levels here, then you can’t blame the other side for doing the same.

Oh, and speaking of The Virus?

There’s no Settled Science on a new phenomenon. There can’t be. The countermeasures that emerged in early 2020 were, at best, C-Science. The best anyone could say is, in similar situations, we’d do this. Some of it was D-Science too, because that’s human nature. Demand immediate answers and you’ll get them, whether they’re right or not.

Filter science through politics and policy, and you get something else.

Since then, we’ve gathered a lot of data. We’re exploring the Frontier of it. Like so many areas of life, the best we have is B-Science. It’s much better than nothing, but it’s not above questioning.

But even as flawed as B-Science is, how much of it informs our leaders? Does the best evidence actually tell us to quarantine the healthy, not just the sick? Does it tell us the only defence against The Virus is to give everyone the jab?

A hallmark of Frontier Science is that it changes fast. Apart from flip-flopping over masks, the policies have barely changed. They started as best guesses – does the data show they were the right ones?

If so, we’ve been weirdly lucky.

Either way, this is why smart people argue against “the science”. Outside the islands of Settled Science, it’s a confusing swamp with no clear ways forward. Yes, science is the best way through that swamp, but only because it tries every path, including the wrong ones.

Don’t underestimate the Swamp of Confusion. You don’t know what the truth is. Newton looked around the universe and said, “huh, maybe the force that makes apples fall is the same force that moves planets across the sky”. He also looked for occult messages hidden in the Bible.

This isn’t because he was a scientist with a few odd beliefs. Occultism and gravitation were both equally improbable. If you think one is ‘obviously’ more likely than the other, than you’re thinking with: (a) the benefit of hindsight, and (b) in terms of science’s brand, not in terms of science.

You’re not smarter than Newton. You can’t see 200 years into the future and know what they’ll say about the early-twenty-first. The Swamp of Confusion surrounds you in almost every direction and almost to the horizon. Most of your correct beliefs, the ones outside Settled Science, come from you being lucky, not smart.

Some folks take this as permission to believe whatever they want, evidence be damned.

That’s obviously wrong – and obviously a problem.

The solution isn’t to elevate all science to Settled Science. To do so would violate the very heart of it. Treating opinions as fact is anti-science. Treating murky data as unquestionable truth is anti-science. Those are the exact mistakes the old enemies of Truth made, so don’t make them again.

Anyway, I’ve touched on at least three hot-button issues here.

Some of you are twitching with anger right now.

Others feel that strange mix of frustration and validation, when you hear someone put your manure-like situation into words.

I won’t list what all the others might feel, as that list would encompass all of human experience.

Either way, you could probably use a chill out now.

Sign up for a Neural Reset and book yourself in:

https://guided-thought.com/appointment

The student of you

What do you want to learn about?

The sciences?

The arts?

What about you?

Of all the things under that strange and distant star of ours, why not learn more about your corner of the universe?

You probably know that you don’t see the world as it is, but as you are. This makes studying yourself the most important thing you can do.

Sure, it’s useful. I could wax poetic about the pragmatic benefits.

But why, when they pale in comparison to the real outcomes?

Self insight is ineffable.

And it’s inevitable, with enough hypnosis.

Trance brings unconscious material into your conscious mind. It’s often incredibly pleasant, like falling asleep. It’s also the best way to grok how you work as a mind.

You can’t trace the shape of an iceberg by only looking above the surface.

Want a taste of what I mean?

The best way to start is with a Neural Reset.

Sign up here:

https://guided-thought.com/appointment

It’s not arrogance, it’s hard-won experience

Some folks think that I’m full of manure.

I say things like how I can help them solve lifelong problems – quickly, easily and permanently.

I imply, if not outright claim, that I can do things that other people can’t.

Even some things that seem impossible.

Well, it’s true. I talk a big talk.

That’s not coming from a place of arrogance.

Want me to expose my weaknesses? How about this – not ten minutes ago, I had an anxiety attack.

It was a pretty big one, too.

It came out of nowhere and… well, to say it was upsetting would be clumsy and tactless.

How do I feel now?

A little raw, I guess, but mostly okay. I’m taking it easy and treating myself to some writing.

That’s not bad. The old me wouldn’t have coped well with something like that. I would have tried my hardest to distract myself from it, even as I wanted to run away from everything.

This time, though, I rode out both waves of the attack, taking about a minute or so for each.

How did I do it?

With breathing exercises or mindfulness?

Nah – in the moment, I forgot all about those.

Instead, I used a different technique, one where I lean into the fear, darkness and panic.

I’m glad I remembered this one. It’s almost magic with how effective it is. The stronger the attack is, the stronger it makes me – even in the moment.

When I say my Alleviate Anxiety program can help you, it’s not because I read about it or learned it from a teacher. I know it works because I used it on myself.

Scratch that – I use it on myself.

My anxiety is much better than it used to be – much, much better – but there are very few folks who are always free of it.

You don’t need to be.

All you need is to alleviate it in the moment.

Sign up for your first session here:

https://guided-thought.com/appointment

Make smoking unreal again

If you believe the exaggerated, Hollywood version of hypnosis, you could use it to quit smoking in an interesting way:

A hypnotist could hypnotise you into forgetting you’d ever smoked. You’d have no memory of ever touching a cigarette.

How easy would it be to quit smoking then, if you’d never done it?

Now, people could argue back and forth over whether that’s possible.

All I’ll say is it’s overkill – and not great. I’m sure you have some happy memories involving smoking. Why lose those if you don’t have to?

I’ve helped folks quit in interesting ways, always with their consent. For example, not everyone wants me to install revulsion to smoking. It helps but it’s not necessary.

Same with people suddenly losing their train of thought when they think about smoking. I can hypnotically install that but not everyone wants it.

Those can work, but they’re not necessary.

Because there are other, quirkier ways of getting the result.

Here’s one I like, but I don’t always use:

You know how you have memories that you know aren’t yours? For example, someone once told you a story so vivid, it was like you were living it. Or you read a book that really sucked you in.

Later, you can remember these things happening to you, but there’s a certain mental distance. It’s more like a dream of a memory or a memory of a dream.

You can remember it, but you know it’s not a real memory.

Imagine if that happened to all your memories about smoking – from your first puff to your last.

You can remember smoking all those cigarettes… yet there’s something unreal about that, like these memories belong to someone else.

How easy would quitting smoking be then?

Again, I don’t always use this technique. It’s fun though, not to mention effective.

And it’s probably different from everything else you’ve tried.

Since that didn’t work, why not try something new:

https://guided-thought.com/appointment/

P.S. Did you know my results have a lifetime guarantee? Either you remain a non-smoker for life or I’ll help you out again, whether that’s six months from now or two decades.

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