Dan John: Wandering Weights, Issue # 235

Wandering Weights
Our Epic Journey Through All Things Heavy, Issue # 235

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As you read this, I will be on my way to Australia. I have a two-day workshop and then I will zip back home. I will be watching the finale of The Game of Thronessomewhere besides my front room. I’m actually glad to see it finish; I usually don’t buy into series that go on for more than a few years.
I had a nice workshop in Kansas City last weekend with the Collegiate Strength Coaches. I’m at an odd place in my career: many of the participants told me that my work was the thing that brought clarity to them when they first trained.
Then, they follow it up with “in high school.” That ages me hard. But I am happy to be part of their careers. Honored, really.
This week, I really like the set of articles I have picked out. I talk a lot with coaches and they wonder how I take something from another field and apply it to strength or performance. One thing that seems to help is simply reading some of these articles and trying to find ONE thing I can use. This week, I honestly think every article can help.
I mentioned common sense as logic’s most helpful “proof” last week. Oddly, expert testimony seems to be losing its hold as “second best.” The timing was perfect; I will discuss this in The Sword in the Stone later, too. This article brings us back to the hedgehogs and foxes discussion, see, for example, my article.
In 2005, Tetlock published his results, and they caught the attention of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or IARPA, a government organization that supports research on the U.S. intelligence community’s most difficult challenges. In 2011, IARPA launched a four-year prediction tournament in which five researcher-led teams competed. Each team could recruit, train, and experiment however it saw fit. Predictions were due at 9 a.m. every day. The questions were hard: Will a European Union member withdraw by a target date? Will the Nikkei close above 9,500?
Tetlock, along with his wife and collaborator, the psychologist Barbara Mellers, ran a team named the Good Judgment Project. Rather than recruit decorated experts, they issued an open call for volunteers. After a simple screening, they invited 3,200 people to start forecasting. Among those, they identified a small group of the foxiest forecasters—bright people with extremely wide-ranging interests and unusually expansive reading habits, but no particular relevant background—and weighted team forecasts toward their predictions. They destroyed the competition.
Tetlock and Mellers found that not only were the best forecasters foxy as individuals, but they tended to have qualities that made them particularly effective collaborators. They were “curious about, well, really everything,” as one of the top forecasters told me. They crossed disciplines, and viewed their teammates as sources for learning, rather than peers to be convinced. When those foxes were later grouped into much smaller teams—12 members each—they became even more accurate. They outperformed—by a lot—a group of experienced intelligence analysts with access to classified data.

End quote
For the “all-time” worst predictions, read this.

I discovered the same thing, basically, with my Fast Mimicking Diet. Maybe we should reconsider drugs and prescribe walking and proper eating.


Before the hike, my doctor was concerned about my hemoglobin A1c number, which measures average blood sugar levels over a two- to three-month period. A result greater than 5.6 percent is an indication of prediabetes; my A1c was 5.9 percent. Given my active life, the result came as a surprise. It was probably due mostly to genetics (my dad is prediabetic), though all those pasta dinners, energy bars, and sports drinks I had consumed over the years probably didn’t help.
Before the trip, I was considered active by American standards: exercising for 40 to 60 minutes a day—but also sitting for at least eight hours while working in front of a computer. I was eating what I felt was a pretty typical diet for an endurance athlete: pasta, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and energy bars when I was on the go.
Most thru-hikers eat a diet rich in Snickers bars, dehydrated mashed potatoes, and other high-carb foods, but on the Colorado Trail, we stuck to nuts, jerky, dried fruit, and only one carb-heavy meal a day, like a mac-and-cheese dinner.
After the hike, my hemoglobin A1c dropped to within the normal range. My blood sugar levels were better controlled by my walking throughout the day (including after meals), rather than running or biking just once a day. That’s consistent with a 2012 study that showed walking after meals to be effective for lowering blood sugar levels. However, simply walking is probably not enough: had I eaten the normal high-carb thru-hike diet, I’m not sure if my hemoglobin A1c would have improved as much as it did.

End quote
High schools in America should do this (what’s in the following article). Compete on Wednesdays and Saturdays…or Friday nights. At the two high schools I coached, sports ate deeply into academics because the kids missed so many afternoons.
Employees at the company do a standard-length day on Mondays and Tuesdays, then return for another two on Thursday and Friday. No meetings are scheduled for Wednesdays – however, if a client has urgent work that needs doing, workers will pick up the phone.

For track and field:
Sunday: Off (or own one’s own)
Monday: Easy Day
Tuesday: Train, but don’t be stupid
Wednesday: Compete (do more than just the specialty event, too)
Thursday: Easy Day
Friday: Train…again don’t TRY to be stupid
Saturday: Big competitions


When Schrauwen first was told of the plan, she was excited, then wary – she was worried about how it would work; as project manager, she was the main contact for both staff and clients, so she stood to bear the brunt of any missed deadlines, stress or broken lines of communication.
But Versa staff reorganised their work patterns to become more efficient. She’ll arrange to have certain tasks completed by the midweek break, meetings are more focused and idle chatter less appealing. Every two weeks the company also reviews what has worked and what hasn’t.  “Everyone wants it to work because we love having the flexibility,” says Schrauwen. “If I want to keep that Wednesday off, I prep my week better.”

End quote
I just love this article. It appeals to me on so many of my weird passions. Enjoy.


Lovell couldn’t just say “tactical nuclear weapon” (which would be my knee-jerk reaction if asked that question today, but alas, they hadn’t been invented yet), so he spent about a week concocting his answer. His response hinted at his future aptitude for dirty wiles and clandestine shenanigans. He submitted:
I want a completely silent, flashless gun—a Colt automatic or submachine gun—or both [technically this would be cheating— Bush said one weapon]. I can pick off the first sentry with no sound or flash to explain his collapse, so the next sentry will come to him instead of sounding an alarm. Then, one by one, I’ll pick them off and command the wireless station.
Quite devious for a chemist. And it was enough to get Bush’s attention. Shortly afterward, Lovell was told to report to an address in Northwest Washington. It was there that he first met William “Wild Bill” Donovan: lawyer, politician, the most decorated soldier in American history, and the director of the newly formed intelligence agency the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
Donovan kept it simple: “You know your Sherlock Holmes, of course,” he said. “Professor Moriarty is the man I want for my staff here at OSS. I think you’re it.”
Donovan continued, “I need every subtle device and every under-handed trick to use against the Germans and the Japanese—by our own people—but especially by the underground resistance groups in all occupied countries. You will have to invent all of them, Lovell, because you are going to be my man.” As Lovell described in his memoir, Donovan was really telling him, “Throw all your normal law-abiding concepts out the window. Here’s a chance to raise merry hell. Come, help me raise it.”
Lovell had found his war. He was in.

End quote
There you go. A fun little mix of things to read this week. If you apply some of the tools from Deduction and Induction (and common sense), I think you can go far in life.
Until next week, keep lifting and learning.

Possibly the most valuable page on the OTP site: Our Full Article Archive

The Sword in the Stone, Part 91
He woke up in his cool bed, feeling better. The old fire-eater who looked after him had covered the windows with a curtain, so that the room was dark and comfortable, but he could tell by the one ray of golden sunlight which shot across the floor that it was late afternoon. He not only felt better. He felt very well, so well that it was not possible to stay in bed. He moved quickly to throw back the sheet, but stopped with a hiss at the creak or scratch of his shoulder, which he had forgotten in his sleep. Then he got out more carefully by sliding down the bed and pushing himself upright with one hand, shoved his bare feet into a pair of slippers, and managed to wrap a dressing-gown round him more or less. He padded off through the stone passages up the worn circular stairs to find Merlyn.
When he reached the schoolroom, he found that Kay was continuing his First Rate Eddication. He was doing dictation, for as Wart opened the door he heard Merlyn pronouncing in measured tones the famous mediaeval mnemonic: “Barabara Celarent Darii Ferioque Prioris,” and Kay saying, “Wait a bit. My pen has gone all squee-gee.”
“You will catch it,” remarked Kay, when they saw him. “You are supposed to be in bed, dying of gangrene or something.”

End quote
Referring to the nurse as a “fire-eater” has always made me laugh. This is the story that never seems to end, but the conclusion here brings us to a refreshed Merlyn and a satisfied Kay. Basically, we have some happy times here.
Kay is copying the Fifteen Cousins of Deductive Arguments. I teach this in some of my courses and it is interesting for the students. Here is part of the handout we use:
Deductive and Inductive Arguments
“An argument whose conclusion is supposed, alleged, or claimed to be certain relative to its premisses is called deductive. Even if the argument has an error in it and does not do what it is supposed to do, we call it ‘deductive.’ Calling it ‘deductive’ does not make it good or bad. It just tells everyone what is to be expected of it.
“An argument whose conclusion is supposed, alleged, or claimed to be more or less acceptable relative to its premisses is called inductive. Even if the argument has an error in it and does not do what it is supposed to do, we call it ‘inductive. Calling it ‘inductive’ does not make it good or bad. It just tell everyone what is to be expected of it.”

Alex C. Michalos. Improving Your Reasoning.
Valid Arguments and Argument Schemata
All cats are animals.
All tigers are cats.
So, all tigers are animals.
All humans are mortal.
All Greeks are humans.
So, all Greeks are mortals.
All______are _______.
All______are _______.
So, all . . . are . . . .
True                All dogs are animals.                                       Some polygons are triangles.
True                All cats are animals.                                        Some squares are polygons.
False                Hence, all cats are dogs.                                 Thus, some squares are triangles.
Unsound Arguments
1. Invalid Schema
2. False Premiss
3. Irrelevant or ‘Circular’ Premiss (The country needs a good five cent cigar)

The Catalogue of Valid Forms (The Fifteen ‘Cousins’)

Barbara           Celarent          Darii                Ferio                Cesare
All M is P.        No M is P.        All M is P.        No M is P.        No P is M.
All S is M.        All S is M.        Some S is M.   Some S is M    All S is M.
All S is P.          No S is P.         Some S is P.     Some S is         No S is P.
   not P.
Camestres       Festino Baroco             Disamis           Datisi
All P is M.        No P is M.        All P is M.        Some M is P.   All M is P.
No S is M.        Some S is M.   Some S is         All M is S.        Some M is S.
   not M.
No S is P.         Some S is         Some S is         Some S is P.     Some S is P.
     not P.               not P.
Bocardo           Ferison Camenes         Dimaris            Fresison
Some M is       No M is P.        All P is M.        Some P is M.   No P is M.
     not P.        
All M is S.        Some M is S.   No M is S.        All M is S.        Some M is S.
Some S is         Some S is         No S is P.         Some S is P.     Some S is not P.
     not P.               not P.
Quick Assignment: Using the fifteen cousins, test these syllogisms using one of the following sets:
M: rodents P: animals S: squirrels
M: Christians P: Americans S: Priests.
M: Students P: Humans S. Utahns
“Notional evidence is second-hand, academic, probable. Real evidence is first-hand, experiential, certain.
Reason argues from data that are certain to conclusions that are, in varying degrees, probable. Induction argues from consistent patterns to generalizations: every time I put out a pan of water when the temperature is below thirty-two degrees, the water goes stiff; every time I drink five martinis, I regret it; every time I’ve seen people treat sex like a game, it’s lost its importance to them. Deduction applies generalizations to new cases: every time I drink five martinis, I regret it; but this is my fifth martini; therefore, Ooops! Analogy tries to explain realities we do not understand in terms of realities we do understand.
Expert testimony is trustworthy, provided the person is speaking in his or her field of expertise.
Eyewitness testimony is trustworthy, but only to a point.
First-hand experience is the best evidence there is (even though it, too, is limited). Seeing is not believing, seeing is knowing.
Common Sense is also close to certain.
William J. O’Malley, S.J. Becoming a Catechist: Ways to Outfox Teenage Skepticism

End of handout
Obviously, I use O’Malley a lot in my work. In strength training, especially in the history, you have to really throw your arms around common sense. The late Terry Todd and I once discussed at length the charlatans of our field. I shared with him the stories of one famous name who told the audience the weight was misloaded and no one had ever done this before…but, amazingly, our hero made it.
I heard literally the same story from two different people at two different events with enough geography in between them to make a large country. So, eyewitness and first-hand is always an issue. I could go on and on about this, but common sense tells me to stop.
It’s good to see Wart up and around. Next time, he needs to catch up on the details of Wat (pun!) has happened during his rest.
Until then…


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