The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Newborn Baby cured of AIDS--and the power of doubt

I love science: Newborn baby cured of AIDS

Follow that link, and you'll reach what might be one of the most important stories of our time. When I published this earlier, immediately the mre technically minded tried to tear it apart, asking important questions about initial conditions, verification, correlation and causality. No, they didn't "want there to be no cure" as a few others implied. Rather, these people REALLY want a cure, and refuse to waste their energy supporting wishful thinking. They follow the path of one of the greatest gifts to the world, the Scientific Method.

Roughly speaking, the pattern of this method is:
1) Observe a phenomenon
2) Postulate a hypothesis to explain the phenomenon
3) Design an experiment to test your hypothesis
4) Perform the experiment.
5) If unsuccessful, reformulate the hypothesis and perform another experiment
6) If successful, publish the experiment so that others can attempt to disprove your hypothesis.

This cycle is one of amazing power, and you can use it in any aspect of your life. Let's say that you want to increase your energy (always a good thing!)
1) You observe people who display the kind of energy you covet, and also keep a journal noting your own energy from day to day.
2) You interview these people, and notice that their patterns of exercise, hydration, eating, and resting are different than your own. You further notice that the days you feel best follow certain patterns of behavior: non-smoking, positive thinking, lovemaking, going to bed earlier, whatever.
3) You choose 1-3 of these behaviors, and implement them in your life.
4) You KEEP A RECORD of the results. Every day, write down how you feel on a scale of 1-10
5) Continue the new pattern for 30 days. Note the results. If negative, try different elements of the "difference" you noticed.
6) If positive, blog and tell your friends about the results. Share them with your mastermind group.

The point is to find the critical path, the "difference that makes the difference", the "formula" or "recipe" for increased efficiency in any arena that matters. And importantly, if you can't perform a reasonable experiment to disprove your hypothesis, it may be faith, not science (apply this to people's political positions, and the results are fascinating--the more reluctant they are to tie their beliefs to simple measurements, the more likely they are to be connected to underlying philosophical positions rather than logic. We all do this at times, but the worst gridlocks are created by people who mistake their beliefs for logical proof.)

There you have a way of applying this fantastic tool to your life on an individual level. Consistent application allows you to tap into the magic of science.



Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Erika L. Kunz said...

I really like this post and the incorporation of the scientific method in your post. I am actually a researcher in this exact field (post-natal HIV transmission and infection).

Sometimes I find it a little difficult to incorporate some of your suggestions into my goals/daily life (as many examples are based on writing). However, what you outline does make sense (although I do wish research was sometimes as cut-and-dry as you state, haha).

I do have a specific question when it comes to choosing goals in the worldly arenas: I haven't yet picked a set career, although I am leaning towards physician and taking the MCAT in a few months. I try to visualize my triangle with clear pictures, but that one remains fuzzy. Will the absence of a clear picture hinder me in the career arena?

As always, enjoy your posts and appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you,

Steven Barnes said...

The clearer and stronger the visualization or "mentalization" the better. But here's an experiment. Please answer the question: describe your car.

Did you make an image to do this? How clear and sharp was it? Chances are it was blurry, but still contained enough detail to guide you. You can gain a sense of your future goals visually, auditorially, or even with a tactile sense. Everyone's apparatus is different...but practice will improve performance.