A Better Trump means a Hotter Fire

With a controversial Trump headline in the news every day, I question whether a slightly better Trump would make him appear much worse.

Russian collusion, healthcare, North Korea, wiretaps, tax returns, protecting our National parks; the list goes on.

Every day it seems that there is a new controversial headline regarding President Trump. And as the controversies pile up, so does your Facebook news feed or whatever news platform you may prefer. The point is that the media has been trying to juggle all of these news stories at once, and Trump just keeps throwing them a new ball every day; while the rest of us slowly forget the other serious controversies that are slowly seeping from our memories.

Is it possible that this is some divisive measure implemented by Trump in order to get us to forget about his past offenses? Land in one controversy, and then commit another? I sincerely doubt that he is actually calculating something so aberrant in his head, but it sure seemed like this was the case during his campaign.

One theory derived from philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris, is that if Trump were only slightly better, he would appear much worse than he actually is.

Unfortunately, how the population views Trump is still subjective. But if Trump were any better than he currently is, which is now a Gallup poll approval rating of 36%*, then the media might actually have time to keep all of their stories in the air for our attention. Then again, where the media stands in the public’s eyes is still not on solid ground. However, it stands to reason that Trump the man and all of his obvious flaws would supersede whatever new dilemma he could create thereafter.

The problem with speculation such as this, is that it currently doesn’t reflect reality, and might not ever.


* http://www.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/207416/trump-approval-rating-drops-new-low.aspx



Marry Your Soulmate, Not Your Ideas: “All I care about, is that you read this to the end”

As an Oatmeal article comic about “the backfire effect” proliferates itself throughout social media, I share my opinion on why it’s imperative to look at objective facts, and not hold onto your ideas so tightly.

You may have seen it. Chances are you have encountered one of your friends sharing an Oatmeal article containing a rather cute comic about a bird explaining “the backfire effect”.

The comic was inspired by a three-part series from the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, and with the current climate of political discourse still experiencing turbulence, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

So what is “the backfire effect”?

As explained in the cartoon, “the backfire effect” is a form of confirmation bias and simply put, is when a person is presented objective facts counter to their own belief, the person rejects the evidence and grips more tightly to the initial claim.

Perhaps we all know someone that when in an argument, you simply cannot reason with them despite dishing out all the credible facts in the world. What is more than likely happening, is the backfire effect.

Now, holding onto your beliefs even when contrary and legitimate evidence is presented is a dangerous way to go about your life. It’s my firm belief that all of your ideas should be easily divorceable (this includes mine own as well) because new facts emerge every day. And when you look at a subject dispassionately, you will become closer to actually understanding it.

I encourage you to check out the comic and the neuroscience studies below.




The Pleasurable Danger of Loud Music with Exercise

While music has been shown to increase workout intensity and results, do the risks of permanently damaging your hearing outweigh the benefits of increased workout performance?

It all started with a problem: I needed new music to exercise with at the local gym.

After asking one of my closest friends for some suggestions, he mentioned that he may give up music for a short period of time if not entirely. I inquired on why he would commit such a horrible act. Music and exercise are just too perfect of a combination.

But when he had mentioned that mitigating his music use at the gym was actually an effort to prevent hearing damage, I was actually flabbergasted that I had never encountered the same thought. (I was also flabbergasted that anyone could force themselves to listen the gym radio, but that’s beside the point)

The next few times at the gym (and I encourage you to do the same) I closely monitored what level of volume I had been casually listening at throughout the duration of my workout. It was about a hair from the maximum setting. But something about the loud music was enhancing the momentum behind pushing myself.

So that led me to my next question:

Do we throw out the real benefits of exercising to music that we enjoy in order to protect the future of our hearing?

Let’s look at the facts:

According to an article published in Scientific American:

“In the last 10 years the body of research on workout music has swelled considerably, helping psychologists refine their ideas about why exercise and music are such an effective pairing for so many people as well as how music changes the body and mind during physical exertion. Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it” (Jabr).

I find it extraordinarily easy to relate to the above statement. There have been countless times where the perfect song can push out that last rep or sprint. In fact, certain songs can have varying effects on the type of exercise you’re performing. For instance, if you favor running on the treadmill, you’re more likely inclined to match the beats per minute (bpm) of the song you’re listening to the pace of which you are running. Most people prefer to run to a song with 160 bpm. To put that into perspective, the song Hey Ya! by OutKast has a tempo of 160 bpm. (Sorry Rocky fans, but Eye of the Tiger is only 116 bpm, speed it up!) Also, the faster you run can mean a song with a higher bpm is for you, however research suggests that a ceiling effect occurs around 145 beats per minute.

But without delving into the decibel level present in gym classes, which can also be high, how loud can you take the music that gets played from your phone or mp3 into your headphones? What is suggested from the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) is that you should only listen to your devices at 60% maximum volume for a total 1 hour per day. In my case where I was listening to music just below the maximum threshold, the AOA recommends having the volume on max be limited to only 5 minutes per day. So much for a workout.

The ultimate reason I’m shedding light on this subject is because I had gone so blind to the potential consequences. Hearing damage is irreversible, and if our goal at the gym or during a workout is to get healthier and maintain shape, then it shouldn’t be at the expense of our senses.

While I may occasionally crank up the volume during a workout from now on, I think it’s important to find a balance between intensity and volume to better serve my health’s interests.






Why on earth am I doing this?

Here, I shed light on the reasoning behind my pursuit to start a blog. 

I suppose I could confess the short answer and just admit, “well, because I want to”. Though it is the best answer, I fear that it wouldn’t suffice. And besides, in today’s world with the millennial need for social media validation, I can hear the snickering gossip behind my computer over my sporadically loud typing.

To cut to the chase: I am starting this blog because I love writing, and I believe I have lived (up to this point) at least somewhat of an interesting life. And for those that know me, you know why. For me, writing almost always delivers the chance to actually organize what we in our everyday lives struggle to understand or try to say. Writing has helped me understand my own self, my relationships, past struggles, failures, and future endeavors. If I were to tell someone how I really feel, chances are I rehearsed it in writing several times. Then deleted it, and then started over again; such as it will be with this blog.

Cliché point being: If you want to start something or get involved with something you feel passionate about, then do it. Pay no mind to those who may judge you for it. Because if you become overly focused on what others may think, you cloud the reflective waters of where you can actually see who you really are.