If War Generals were MD’s

It’s midnight. Your squad sits in a valley with hills on all sides. Fifty hills. The ground beneath your boots vibrates with enemy tanks rumbling beyond the blind horizon.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they attacked from one direction? They’ve done it before.

But they could just as easily attack from fifty directions, the way you would.

You’ve seen war up close. You place a priority on winning.

But the Generals back in DC are MD’s now. Their “evidence based medicine” extends to every problem humanity faces, even war.

Today they’ve set up a test. Your orders are to defend whatever comes over the big hill to the north, ignoring attacks from other directions.

If your troops lose, the Generals will have ruled out the hill to the North.

After the loss, they will select another hill for study with another garrison of expendable troops. You won’t be among them. And you won’t be looking down from Heaven. Now that western science owns DC, there is no Heaven. Namaste.

“One hill at a time” is the motto of “Evidence Based Warfare.”

Though BS scouts have crawled up the hills on their bellies to find enemy troops ascending each of the fifty discovered hills, basic science must be ignored until war deaths can be analyzed and published. It’s the only way to be sure: First, do no harm.

War drums bang in your ears. Enemy tanks leap over the hills.

Your squadron fires North with deadly weapons. Nothing stands against them…

To the North.

But your flanks are exposed. Casualties mount.

Against better judgment you call D.C.

“They’re coming over all fifty, Sir. It’s a multi-pronged, attack.”

“You woke me up for this?”

“General, Sir, I’m sorry, but I’ve got an idea. Listen, I know this is a little late, but if you give the order to defend our flanks, I think we could still…”

The General laughs like a sadistic resident enjoying the pimping of a medical student. “You don’t seem to understand experimental design, Captain. Your job is to isolate one variable. If you go off willy-nilly defending multiple hills, we can’t generate meaningful statistics. Scientific chaos. Evidence Based Warfare demands a blinded, randomized study with one and only one variable at a time. That’s why progress has to be slow.”

It’s the only way to be sure, a voice says in your head.

“But Sir, we are blinded. Totally blinded down here. And honestly, some of my kids aren’t ready to die. Shelly’s barely eighteen.”

Silence.

“Sir, I know we’re going to die, I can accept that. But can’t we go down with a fight this time?”

Silence.

“Just this once? Hello?”

“Do you want the words, ‘Snake Oil Soldier’ carved into your gravestone, Captain? There’s one scientific way. You know it. You know you know it.”

“Yes, but couldn’t we just think outside the…

“What is it we’re doing here, Captain? Come on now, you know the drill. Say it with me…”

“Evidence Based Warfare.”

“Good. And what’s your motto, soldier?”

“One hill at a time, Sir…” Your last words on Earth.

I wrote this to illustrate the blind spot in so-called “Evidence Based Medicine,” the inappropriately named paradigm of emotional superiority currently pushed in western medicine as the only way to weed out bad science.

If you’re familiar with Dale Bredesen’s breakthrough work on Alzheimer’s Disease, then you know that this lethal disease can’t be approached with the same methods and assumptions that have worked against simple diseases with a single cause.

Alzheimer’s is a multifactorial killer with dozens of separate biochemical points of failure coming together to cause what is wrongly considered a single disease – simply because of its appearance under a light microscope.

Aerobic exercise and carbohydrate restriction are two of the many components of Bredesen’s protocol, a multifactorial therapy that is unequivocally working in the fight against dementia.

Ironically, some MD’s are calling for a slower approach with double-blinded studies and monotherapeutic (one-pill) experimental trials.

Someone needs to ask these critics how to doubly blind a study that involves exercise, fasting, eliminating all simple carbohydrates, doing yoga, meditation, eating more vegetables, limiting meat intake, using an electric tooth flosser and an electric tooth-brush in addition to taking multiple non-prescription pills and prescription hormonal replacement therapy.

Let’s see… one group exercises, the control group doesn’t, one group does yoga, the controls don’t, (etc.) and somehow neither group knows if they’re the therapeutic group or the “placebo” group? And also the doctors in charge of the experiment can’t know who’s doing what.

It’s an impossible requirement, and the critics know it if they’ve actually read Bredesen’s peer-reviewed articles.

The critics don’t seem to be interested in evidence-based medicine at all. Their agenda appears to be creating a roadblock to effective treatment of Alzheimer’s, along with every other multifactorial disease.

Meanwhile Alzheimer’s patients are suffering and dying in hell’s worst agony.

The rigid absurdity of the critics makes me wonder if they’re not funded by drug companies or maybe the sugar industry.

Drug companies are not objective in this fight. Monotherapy has always meant economic survival to them. A multi-therapeutic approach involving mostly over-the-counter pills and lifestyle changes is likely seen as threatening to their tradition of educating and motivating doctors to sell their products.

Drug reps are the prominent educators of busy MD’s in the US. And our MD’s are busier and more chronically exhausted than most people would ever imagine.

My short story is intended to clarify the weakness of the current experimental design paradigm that cannot accommodate multifactoral diseases like Alzheimer’s in an efficient, reasonable way.

The truly scientific and compassionate way to approach complex disease is to save dying patients as efficiently as possible by applying basic science knowledge in multifactoral human studies, despite the technical “shortcomings” of such studies. We must not let cranky perfectionists stop medical breakthroughs the way they’re trying to shout down Dale Bredesen’s monumental accomplishments.

Why let the “perfect” be the enemy of the good? Perfectionism isn’t perfect. It’s flawed like everything else on Earth.

I hope medical practitioners and their patients will allow “Reality Based Medicine” to dominate the 21st century rather than the straightjacket of yesterday’s simplistic experimental designs that targeted one disease caused by one organism, treated with one antibiotic. That mindset worked for a while with simple problems, but it’s the wrong approach to modern complex diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Medical science needs to defend all fifty hills at the same time or patients will continue to die unnecessarily.

If you know someone, a relative or friend who has Alzheimer’s disease or just early memory problems, please click here, I’m begging you. Learn about Dale Bredesen’s unprecedented work, then send an email to the person you have in mind, sharing Bredesen’s links.

I’m telling you, this is important. Do it for the sheer joy of helping someone who needs you!

Do not put it off, please.

Run! Go! Get to da Chappa!!!

With warmest regards,

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

http://www.storiform.com


Please help me decide…

I’ve been raving about The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne for a while.

As a Big Five editor for 25 years, Shawn’s grid method was so sought after that successful authors would leave their publishers to work with him. But the stress was making him miserable, so he left the pressure cooker, finally creating a balanced life where he does what he loves: developmental editing, which is, in Shawn’s words…

“…working with somebody who is very dedicated to what they want to do, and taking the time and working methodically through a process so that they become a better and better writer.”

He’s doing that now with Tim Grahl on a podcast that’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard.

Of the 85 books about writing fiction that I have on my shelves and in my Kindle, The Story Grid is a significant outlier. In terms of reducing bestseller magic to concrete, reproducible, often indispensable parts, Shawn’s book is in a league of its own.

His grid process is ingenious, detailed and requires sustained effort to learn and follow – about like everything else on Earth that works any sort of wonders. (Speaking of wonders, please check out The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle.)

So I applied for one of 25 slots to learn The Story Grid’s developmental editing techniques from Shawn Coyne in Nashville this September, and to my surprise, I was accepted. I’ll be listed on his site as an editor offering his methods.

Now I need your help in deciding something that’s really important to me. I have 6,733 followers here.

Tell me if I should…

1. Use this site (storiform.com) for my future developmental editing service as well as my blog, probably with a lighter-colored theme, or…

2. Should I make another site for the editing service?

What do you think?

I just need a 1 or a 2 as a comment below. (If you have time, more advice would be appreciated, of course.) Or email me.

Thanks so much,

M. Talmage Moorehead


My Gray Alien

“Disgusting!” it said. “I don’t care much for cultured cheese. Have you got any white trash?”

“That’s racist,” I said, cringing. “You claim you’re mechanical? Prove it.”

It nodded sincerely. “Brains and all.” A narrow tongue came out to test a pea, encircled it and drew it into its mouth. “Gross!” Two spindly hands came up and pushed the plate of peas aside. One pea came out of its mouth under pressure and flew across the room, striking Halo, my black Labrador Retriever, in the left eye.

Her eyebrows drew in, then up, questioning our motives.

“Sorry, sweetheart,” I said, hoping her eye wouldn’t swell shut. I knelt beside her to inspect things, but all was right once she realized the bullet was edible. Her beaverish tail toppled the milk cartons on the kitchen trashcan as her backend sidestepped to the refrigerator and beat a runic canter – whap, whap, whap.

I loved that happy sound, but my thin guest had won Halo’s heart in under a minute with a single pea. It was unsettling.

“Everything you’ve given me tastes like weed killer,” it said and tossed an arc of peas at Halo’s nose, one after another, spaced an inch apart.

“Proof enough,” I said coveting its dexterity and quickness.

If Halo had held position, the peas would have landed on her nasal septum, but she lurched after the first few and the others beat a cadence on the milk cartons and floor.

Glyphosate,” I said to explain the peas’ flavor, hoping not to prompt a round of whining about herbicides, carbon dioxide and the rainforests. One grows weary, and if this gray non-alien joined the chorus, I was prepared to shoot myself. “I like the way a tablespoon of Roundup subtlizes the bouquet,” I said, winking at my gourd-headed guest. “Millions would starve without this fine chemical and the GMOs that suck it up.”

“I’ll join the starving,” it said, exposing the empty plate to Halo’s tongue. “What’s the year?”

“2017.” I glanced at my watch to avoid error.

This morning when I met my guest, I was minding my own business, stepping out of the shower.

There it stood beside my slippers without a stitch of clothing and no detectable genitals. Just great, an alien finally shows up and it’s a clichéd Gray! But the little thing claimed to be from the future. Earth’s future.

“Why don’t you have any genitals?” I asked, going straight to the philosophical.

“Gender wars. Both sides wanted truce, but neither could stand the sight of the other.”

“I see,” I said, though I didn’t. “The whole cache of humanity opted for test-tube progeny?”

“Quite.” The creature looked at my shower curtain with thinly veiled disdain, its non-nostrils sniffing and flaring.

“None of the concupiscence of lessor times, then,” I said, as a song came to mind…

No balls at all, no balls at all.

Married a man with no balls at all.

I hoped the little thing wasn’t telepathic.

“None.” It cocked its head thoughtfully. “The horizontal deed became loathsome and abhorrent.”

“So you say.”

Just this morning I had believed its every word, but now I was seasoned and more inclined to press for truth. Can you imagine humans abolishing copulation? Ridiculous claims demand preposterous proofs, as the astronomers say.

“So humans will rid themselves of gender. Interesting. But if so, would I be far afield in assuming that these brilliant and technical humans of Tomorrowland seldom poop?”

“The seldomest.”

“As in, absolutely never?” I was relentless, leaving no wiggle room for unwarranted bathroom confrontations should the creature’s visit become protracted.

“‘Never’ would imply the seldomest,” it said. “Unless I’m mistaken.”

“Would you care for a wing of bird?” I asked, pawing at the refrigerator with my back to the slightly gray non-alien. “It’s chicken, loosely speaking.”

“Oh, no, no, no, no, no.” It gagged as if ready to hurl on Halo’s floor. Nothing came up, though. “Two thousand seventeen? Are we sure?”

I am.” I re-checked my watch. “Yes. 2017.”

“I should have studied history,” it said. “I never imagined cannibalism in this era.”

“It’s not human chicken, for heaven’s sake. It’s scarcely avian.” I searched the box for ingredients but found none.

The self-proclaimed human closed its eyes and bowed its head. “This is why we became mechanical.”

“What is?”

“What is ‘what is’?”

“I’m asking why the human race became mechanical.”

“Oh.” It had no eyebrows, but seemed to raise one at me nonetheless. “The more our technology compared animals to humans, the more blurred the distinction became. Self-awareness, free will, zero-field soul, continuity of identity, participation in the One, etcetera, etcetera.”

“Thanks for that last couplet. If you’d included ‘enlightenment’ I might have stuffed my head down the garbage mill and flipped the switch.” I glanced at the sink.

It ignored me. “The deeper we explored, the more identical our signatures appeared, until we realized we were basically indistinguishable from the rest. Hence the need for a vegan diet.”

“Indistinguishable, really?”

It nodded. “Qualitatively, but objectively.”

“You might have a go at an avocado, then,” I suggested.

“It all started with vitamin B12,” it said as if confiding a deep regret. “A touch of genetic tinkering to sidestep megaloblastic anemia on a vegan diet. Our motives were pure as the solar silk.”

“I didn’t know the sun had…”

“Then the lac operon. A perfectly simple patch to bring humanity into line. No more cow’s milk for adults.”

“I see. Couldn’t they have more easily declared cow’s milk sacred?” I suspected India’s ancient “aliens” of similar mischief.

It shook its head dismissively. “Altering the lactate genes opened Pandora and the pursuit of a moral utopia smothered genetic diversity.”

Verbose little thing. “Moral utopia?” Again, I thought of Disneyland.

With refrigerator doors open and my hunting instincts engaged, I found an avocado and thrust it behind me in the direction of my guest, then bent at the hips for a glimpse of the bottom shelf. Halo appeared beside me, her head millimeters from mine, her tongue lapping the bottom shelf. The cooling motor came on and startled her. She flinched and bumped her nose on the shelf above but kept licking.

“I can’t promise this is non-GMO,” I confessed without looking, “but a dash of soy sauce hides the three woes.” I waved the expensive fruit blindly behind me and felt the smooth skin of its fingers touch mine as it accepted the offering.

“I’ve read about these,” it said. “Never dreamed I’d see one.”

“I’d rather see than be one,” I said, mainly for Halo’s edification.

Our guest laughed.

I stood and turned.

“That’s a reference to the purple cow!” it said, and laughed loud and long.

Though nothing was funny, I laughed along with it, unable to abstain.

It gained composure before I did and took a bite of the avocado, peels and all. Then swallowed without chewing.

Suddenly I knew it was human. Just as human as Halo and me. Well, not Halo, I suppose. But our unlikely guest was not a machine at heart, and now I’d found a way of knowing such things with certainty. A breakthrough!

“OK, then,” I said, feeling ready. “What’s the message?”

“Come again?”

“Clearly I’m the chosen one. Selected to deliver an urgent message to humanity. Let’s have it with haste, I don’t care how trite it sounds.”

The genderless gray picked up a pea that Halo had missed, hardly bending its knees in the process, its hands so close to the floor. “No offence, but I didn’t come to see you, Sir. I’ve come to witness a dog. Since extinction, they’ve become legend. Entire planets devoted to their memory – cults arising in youth sectors.”

“Oh.” My ego felt like a balloon propelled by escaping gas in a brief arc to the floor.

The creature gave the pea to Halo and tried to make kissing sounds the way I do, but with no lips it was futile. “If you want to deliver a message, though, I suppose…”

“Yes, yes?” Perhaps some glory for me after all.

“Tell humanity they’re depleting the most precious and rare resource in the Universe: the sacred ones and zeros.”

“Fabulous! I’ll spread the message far and…” But wait. “Ones and zeros can’t be depleted. How could they be sacred?”

The tiny human looked into Halo’s eyes as if I weren’t part of the real conversation. “You’ll figure it out,” it said. “Just make sure it’s something that can compete with digital devices. Something fun. Shame won’t free the digitally captured soul.”

Digitally what? I caught my reflection in the window above the sink. “Should I grow my hair out?” Maybe a ponytail. No. “What about a pompadour – like five inches tall with hairspray?”

…End of transmission…

M. Talmage Moorehead

On a more serious note, the spellbinding painting above is an oil by Spira of Greece. It’s entitled, “From Stardust” and comes to us on wood. Below is a closeup detail of the same piece. Thank you, Spira for allowing me to show this on my blog.

Please click over and meditate on this mesmerizing work, and maybe do some slow breathing to wake up the prefrontal cortex: SPIRA Soul Creations.


Stardust and Energy Alone

It’s raining. Thunder shakes the garage windows.

A boy who’s barely “this many” and his eight-year-old sister sit inside a cardboard box that was made to keep scratches off the new fridge while it was searching for a home.

“Rule one,” the girl says, sitting with her knees hugged to her chest. “We’re the only two people in the whole world.”

The boy nods. The whole wide world.

“My name is Energy and you’re Stardust.”

“I want to be Energy,” he says and hopes the box is a spaceship.

She scowls. “My name starts with an E, so I’m Energy.”

“OKay.” Today is lucky. Mostly she does big-kid stuff. “I love you. And everybody in the whole wide world.”

“Pathetic.” She sighs. “I wish you could just grow up.”

Someone opens the door into the garage. “Elizabeth? Matthew? You guys out here?”

Ellie puts a hand over Matt’s mouth.

He holds his breath. Hide-and-seek.

The door shuts with a thwhap. The rain taps fingers on the roof.

Is Mom still in the garage? She always finds you.

“We’re the only two people in the whole world,” Ellie whispers. “Remember that.”

“OK.” He’ll remember.

There’s a wind owl singing off and on. High things Mom can only do. Daddies can’t go that high.

Once there was just Mom and Daddy. No Ellie. No Matt. “But what…”

“No buts! If you want to play with the big kids, you have to follow the rules.”

He will, but… “What if Mom gets mad?”

“You thought that was Mom?” Ellie kind of laughs. But it’s the wrong sound. “You don’t get it. We’re the only two people in the whole freaking world.” She hits both sides of the box at the same time.

Matt tries to copy but can’t reach both sides.

“Ellie, what if…”

“My name is Energy. There’s nothing but Energy and Stardust.”

Matt squints to see her eyes in the gray darkness. A flash of white comes and goes. Thunder throws rain down on the roof.

“Ellergy?”

“Stardust.”

“Is lightning a crack in the world’s wall?”

“No. We’re on the outside of the world, not the inside. People stick to the outside of things. That’s why.”

The doorbell rings. Grownups and big words are at the front door.

“When Mom comes back, shouldn’t we…”

“She’s not coming back.” Ellie starts crying. Soft and loud like when Daddy left.

Daddy got mad. But he’s coming back someday. Mom even said.

“Mom’s never coming back,” Ellie says.

“Wanna bet? She always finds us.” Mom knows the hiding places. She knows everything.

“That wasn’t Mom.”

“Uh-huh.” It sure was.

He crawls to the end of the box, pushes his way out and runs to the door to prove it. He pulls the cold knob with both hands, twists it and pulls harder.

The heavy door comes open. Doors get easier if you try and try and try.

“Mom, I was hiding in the box.”

The kitchen is empty. He goes inside.

“Mom? Me and Ellie was hiding…”

New chairs fill the living room with strangers.

Matt walks over. They look at him with shut mouths.

“Here’s the little one,” a woman with red hair says. She’s standing beside the new fridge. It’s sideways on a long table in front of the fireplace.

Ellie comes in through the kitchen and stands beside Matt. Her eyes are red.

“You two come up front and sit beside your grandfather,” the lady with Mom’s hair says.

“Where’s Mom?” Matt asks.

The lady looks away.

“She’s gone,” Ellie says.

“When’s she coming back?”

“Tonight,” Ellie says. “After we’re asleep.”

“Then I’m staying up late.”

“That doesn’t work,” Ellie says. “You have to be asleep. She only comes home in dreams.”

M. Talmage Moorehead

 


Depersonalization or Scientific Enlightenment?

There’s a rare and miserable condition called depersonalization disorder (DPD) that takes away the sense of “self” so there’s no “I” causing things – regular things like walking, talking, thinking and deciding.

There’s a loss of the “sense of agency,” a loss of the normal feeling that you’re initiating, executing and controlling your own actions. Patients describe “the suffocating pain of unreality.”

DPD patients show increased prefrontal activation as well as reduced activation in insula/limbic-related areas to aversive, arousing emotional stimuli.”

The DSM IV says they “may feel like an automaton.

An automaton is “a machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of instructions.”

But why would science considers this a disorder?

If we take scientific materialism to heart, then everything truly is mechanical (reducible to matter and energy). We are automatons. No alternative exists in science.

Sure, Heisenberg’s uncertainty may limit our predictability, or not, but that uncertainty doesn’t make room for anything approaching the self, or consciousness, or the “free will” that most of us seem to experience when it’s time for a cup of coffee.

Hmm. Hang on, I’ll be right back…

OK, I’m back.

Everything that’s not mechanical is an illusion to science.

Illusions are baaad, Umkay?

To the scientific true believer, the problem most people face in seeing the objective mechanical truth is that our brains are so complex they generate false impressions about what we are.

Nature accidentally fooled us into feeling as if we’re conscious and able to think, feel and do things. But it’s a sick joke, we’re told.

When we become scientifically enlightened in government-controlled schools we realize we’re machines. It’s liberating and fun.

The materialistic truth sets us free to follow the call of Science’s meaningless Universe and “Do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.” (Don’t follow that link unless you can tolerate sophomoric sexual vulgarity, Okay?)

Fine, in the illusory (not really existing) minds of most scientists, we’re all the moral equivalent of bananas.

But let’s think about this for a second…

If we’re really soulless machines, then depersonalization disorder conveys an accurate, appropriate mindset.

So why do psychiatrists call it a disorder? They’re scientists, shouldn’t they call it “Scientific Enlightenment?”

“Finally someone feels what scientists can only believe – that the conscious self is an unreal mechanical automaton!”

I’d think Western mental health researchers would not be trying to cure this thing. They should use it to help isolate a drug that destroys humanity’s false illusion of self, then add their chemical to our drinking water along with the wholesome fluoride they trust and adore.

What could possibly go wrong?

The fact is, if you feel (as opposed to merely thinking) that scientific materialism is accurate, then you’ve got a psychiatric disorder that’s ruining your life, not improving it.

That’s backwards. How do we explain it?

Maybe science has made a wrong assumption. Maybe the way humans normally feel about themselves reflects reality not an illusion. When humans lose their natural sense of self, they’ve lost touch with reality, not gained it.

I know that’s a lot for a scientist to imagine. Humans have endless tiny parts. A genetic code gives programmed instructions to our cells. It all looks mechanical, and if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…

But feeling unreal is horribly debilitating. That fact gently hints that scientific materialism should be displaced by another assumption…

Something to this effect: The mind/soul/spirit/sense of self/ and free will are equally, if not more real and basic to the Universe than matter and energy.

But to get there, we’d also need an assumption like this:

The basic building blocks of reality are derived from a conscious, intelligent Higher Source independent of matter, energy, time and space.

Scientific materialism or genuine personhood?

Either one requires untestable assumptions. Is it really necessary to think of ourselves as machines in order to do good science? I doubt it.

Why not assume something that supports mental health and promotes the way we normally feel? To me, that fits the data and helps humanity.


Dark Matter, God and Genetics

Ages ago (in the 1970’s), scientists looked out at the universe, did the math and silently wet themselves. The peripheral arms of galaxies weren’t acting right. There wasn’t enough gravity to make the stars of the galaxy’s arms move that fast.

Astronomers drove home, changed pants and got an idea: Dark matter. The essence of ghost flesh with gravity!

It seemed too convenient to some: We can’t see it, can’t touch it and can’t detect it in a laboratory – at least not so far.

Nevertheless, science liked dark matter. Its existence was implied by the motion of galaxies.

We’re told it surrounds a galaxy like a halo, but without the angel’s head, so it’s not religious.

History shows that geneticists also had a meltdown when they first discovered that DNA was too complex for their model of reality. Don’t worry, they’ve gotten over it.

It was in the 1950’s when Barbara McClintock, a genius geneticist who single-handedly discovered genetic regulation strayed from the narrow path and discovered that genes are under complex control. At the time it was heresy.

The objective voices of science knew in their hearts that DNA was a simple, straight-forward thing. It had to be. It came from the mindless forces of mutation – how could it possibly be under some strange complicated control mechanism?

And who does this woman think she is, trying to add impossible complexity to DNA? She’s dangerous and wrong!

They forced Barbara McClintock to stop publishing her seminal work.

The angels cried.

No, wait, that was dark matter, not angles. My bad.

You know how it feels when somebody in the Middle East takes a big hammer to a beautiful historic statue that can never be replaced? That’s how it feels to me when I think of those well-intentioned scientists censoring and nearly destroying the career of the great Barbra McClintock.

I’m having a little trouble forgiving them.

Today the complexity of DNA and its layers of intricate control are becoming widely recognized. The complexity is staggering. The vocabulary of genetics journals is straight from the Tower of Babel.

Still, science has barely scratched the surface of DNA’s unspeakable language. Epigenetic gene control adds another layer of complexity that was unimaginable in 1859 when the really big question was laid to rest by Darwin…

It’s all random.

I can say from experience as a retired pathologist that the complexity of the human body, DNA’s end product, is beyond mind-boggling.

We still don’t know where the 3-D blueprint lies or how it’s projected into space. I mean, how does an epidermal skin cell know it’s positioned on the edge of an eyelid rather than the bottom of a toe? It’s not enough to know you’re a skin cell or an osteoblast, you have to know where you are by means of some unseen three-dimensional hologram-like thing.

I suspect it’s in the “junk DNA” they used to talk about a few years ago. Not so much anymore.

And how in the world do developing cells each find their spot during embryogenesis? Nobody knows, but it happens, and it implies another layer of complexity.

Science is rigidly compartmentalized, you know, like some secret project in Nevada where no one’s supposed to see the big picture or ask questions about it.

Most scientists have only a vague second-hand grasp of the body’s intricate structural, biochemical and electrical complexity. Only a tiny fraction of those have a working knowledge of DNA.

In medical research, almost everyone is narrowly focused and struggling to figure out what’s going on in their own tiny niche of the human internal reality – both physical and mental. Those who try to look at the whole body and mind as a functional unit are dismissed by mainstream MD’s as having been led astray by “functional medicine.”

And like the thought police of Egyptology, modern geneticists must deny the relevance and persistence of the big question…

Who built this amazing stuff?

Random mutation?

Khufu in 20 years with copper tools and stone hammers? (That myth should be embarrassing to anyone with common sense and no job to lose if they buck the system’s dogma.)

You might think it would be natural for geneticists to suggest modern answers to the biggest question that DNA raises: who wrote the code?

Unfortunately, the answer was ingrained in all fields of science long before modern genetics emerged to frame the question intelligently.

As any government-educated eighth grader can tell you, Darwin and all the scientists after him have proven that random mutation wrote the genetic code over endless eons. Well, 13.8 billion years, but that’s endless if you ignore the math. And for sure there was no thinking! That would be religion.

Really?

If science needs a gravity halo, space is full of dark matter. If they need a brilliant code writer, mindless genius fills the universe.

But science changes.

In fact, Stacy McGaugh of Case Western recently studied 150 spiral galaxies and did some calculations. He says,

“…it’s like God shouting, ‘There is something more to the theory of gravity, not something more to the mass of the universe!’” (See “What’s Up With Gravity” in New Scientist, March 18-24, 2017.)

McGaugh says that dark matter may not be entirely bogus, but tweaking gravity theory is where the truth lies for him. He thinks gravitational forces change at great distances, accounting for the high speeds of the arms of galaxies.

Three cheers for the mainstream dark-matter believers for letting a heretic publish! That’s the spirit we need.

A similar questioning of entrenched beliefs goes on today in genetics.

The courageous Stephen Meyer, PhD, an Oxford grad, took a look at DNA from the perspective of a science historian, did the math and said that the universe isn’t anywhere near old enough for random mutation to produce the DNA code for one simple protein – let alone the thousands of huge ones that exist within their intricate feedback loops in our bodies.

His book, Signature in the Cell, shows the math and says that the information in DNA looks like intelligent code writing. Even its organization in the molecule implies intelligent work.

In the halls of science, you could hear a pin drop.

Meyer said we’ve seen this sort of thing: robot factories making complex products from coded instructions. That should be a hint.

Science usually likes this sort of thinking. For instance, we know that a halo of regular matter would explain how galaxies spin, so all we’re saying is there’s a halo of invisible matter out there.

Brilliant idea, science decided.

A Martian might think that science would also like this:

We know that regular minds wrote the code for those Intel robots that make tiny chips, so all we’re saying is that invisible mind(s) wrote the code for the nanobots in our body’s cells.

Unseen matter – no problem.

Unseen mind(s) – forget it. That’s not scientific.

But why not? Aren’t all minds invisible?

Yes, but they seem to be derived from matter, moreover, in the eye of science, all minds are not merely invisible, they’re illusions. They don’t exist at all.

Even the human minds that decided our minds don’t exist are illusions. Doesn’t that inspire confidence?

These people aren’t kidding. And they own science as well as the minds of most children and educated adults.

By chance, the history of science on this planet has evolved by replacing non-material explanations (magic, bad humors, fairies, myths of off-world beings, and finally God) with material explanations.

As a side effect, a geneticist can ruin her career today by conjuring up the ancient foe of science: a non-material explanation. Even if she doesn’t intend to, like Barbara McClintock.

At its core, science assumes that matter and energy are the only real things in existence. Everything else is derivative and reducible to matter and energy.

This includes your mind, your identity, your sense of free will, your love for your children, and your deepest intuitive sense of honor and fairness. They’re all illusions of the matter and energy that your brain is made of.

An illusion seems real but isn’t.

Materialistic reductionism insists that nothing is real besides matter and energy. Everything is reducible to…

  1. Matter
  2. Energy.

Obviously, they’re both mindless, lifeless and meaningless. Or at least they’re assumed to be. Therefore everything is meaningless, including that sense of purpose you may derive from loving someone or helping someone weaker than you.

Does that seem healthy for your kids and all of humankind? Does it seem realistic? And is it essential to everything science is accomplishing?

Science educators don’t often contrast this materialistic reductionist (MR) paradigm with an alternative, the way any objective thinker would.

And yet it’s such a radical assumption that even some atheists reject it as a model of reality.

Thomas Nagel, for instance, denounces it in, Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.

One alternative to MR is this revision:

Reality is built on three basic elements:

  1. Energy
  2. Matter
  3. Mind

To me, this adds realistic depth to modern science, expelling the denial of important questions such as, what sort of mind is most likely behind the DNA code? What tools build ancient Egypt and other saw-marked megaliths around the world? How does the DNA of the elongated skulls in Peru compare to modern DNA? Is there evidence of DNA code-tampering or splicing in anatomically amalgamated-appearing animals such as the duck-billed platypus?

Without the arbitrary, narrow assumptions of Materialistic Reductionism, suddenly I’m real in the eyes of science, and since observers influence measurements in quantum experiments, this paradigm fits the data: If matter and energy alone were real, how could an observer who’s merely an illusion collapse the quantum wave function?

Whether we consider the “first” or original mind to be God or someone else – the universe itself, perhaps a mind hidden in the electromagnetic spectrum, or some sort of field being(s) who aren’t confined by time and space – thinking of the mind as fundamental to nature rather than derivative, real instead of an illusion, helps explain the enigmatic complexity of DNA and other things.

It brings meaning and purpose back into the realm of science where real things belong.

At this point in history, the Neo-Darwinian, mindless, meaningless model of the universe deserves a standard dose of scientific skepticism. Mental health care workers should question it on professional grounds and parents should question it on the basis of common-sense values.

Finally today, more than a century late, genetics speaks of a universe where mind, meaning, and purpose are not false illusions, and diverse spiritual values are scientifically and intellectually respectable. Again.


My Speed-reading Breakthrough Can Be Yours

I’ve had a personal speed-reading breakthrough that will really help some writers.

It’s impossible to become a decent writer (fiction or nonfiction) without reading a lot of the type of stuff you’re trying to write. We know this at gut level. We’ve heard Stephen King say it:

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. It’s that simple.”

But so many of us fiction writers don’t read enough fiction to clue our subconscious minds into the game. It’s subtle training we get from novels, but it’s vital to our success.

For me, there were two related hurdles…

1. I’m naturally a slow, careful reader. Too much test taking, maybe.

Unfortunately, reading slowly turns out to be more work per word than reading faster, especially in fiction. (I know this now from personal experience.)

Despite taking a speed-reading course during college and using various speed-reading software off and on ever since, until recently I’ve never had a total breakthrough where the words just flowed off the page into my mind with zero effort.

Before this week I’ve only had limited improvement that always felt awkward, and always made me miss a lot of content, especially the emotion.

2. As an inefficient reader, it’s always been hard to find novels that give me more energy than they take. (A page-turner gives more energy than it takes, but this key definition varies greatly depending on how easily the reader’s mind takes in written words.)

For fast readers, novels that would bore a slow reader can be thrilling. I’ve seen it.

My breakthrough came after reading half of The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle.

He points out experimental data showing that the wrapping of myelin (by the brain’s oligos) around the arms of neurons can increase the flow of information by an astonishing amount:

“The increased speed and decreased refractory time combined to boost overall information-processing capability by 3,000 times – broadband indeed.”

Just as importantly, he teaches us that we have direct control over the process because “neurons that fire together wire together.”

The only signal telling the oligos to wrap myelin around a specific group of neurons performing any type of mental or physical job is the fact that the neurons are firing together (at the same time). We can control that signal through a type of practice that eliminates as many variables as possible, focusing the myelination on the group of neurons that does the job with the greatest accuracy and precision.

Coyle’s book is loaded with examples of world-class athletes doing exactly this. Ya gotta read it!

All we need to do to gain a skill as miraculous as speed-reading is to relentlessly practice every day for as long as it takes. But we shouldn’t practice those long hours you’re imagining.

Less is more here, because it’s the isolated, focused firing of the select nerve bundles we’re after, reproducing their firing as cleanly as possible for brief sessions, not hours of muddy “practice” where “mistakes” are myelinated as heavily as the targeted mental skill we’re after.

OK, it’s one thing to hear those words, but quite another to understand the mechanism by which they work, and from there to know within yourself, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that your “impossible” dream is achievable.

I was lucky. I’d accidentally experienced the magic of intense focused practice several times before in my life.

One of those involved shooting a basketball. I started out as a terrible shooter, spent several months under the basketball goal alone, standing in one spot, isolating my arms and hands by holding the rest of my body completely still, and shooting a hundred or so shots per day. Not a lot of work involved.

In a few months I started having unbelievable shooting streaks in games of three-on-three after the regular games. On several nights, in those three-on-three sessions, everything I shot went in. And they were feeding me the ball. I couldn’t believe it.

Years later I decided to see if I could learn to play drums again.

I played drums as a kid but hadn’t touched them much as an adult. And it showed. I sucked.

I bought a Yamaha set (with incredibly good sound, typical of Yamaha drums), put earplugs in my ears and practiced drums like an adult. I broke things down, watched videos, insisted to myself that I could do whatever impossible things the professionals were doing if I practiced each move in isolation with detailed attention to letting the stick to do the fast work by bouncing naturally. Not forcing it. But always starting slowly and moving precisely.

Although I don’t believe I ever regained the speed I had as a kid, nor the ability to keep accurate time, I learned to do things that I thought were literally impossible as a teenager. Fast triplets on a symbol with one hand. A weird heel-toe kick drum technique. Three against four with other things going on. I even managed to do a half decent one-handed roll at one point. It almost made me wish I had a rock band again.

So when I read the talent code, something clicked. I knew for myself that this wasn’t mere theory.

I went back to my speed-reading software, Spreeder (no affiliation), set the speed a little beyond my ability to comprehend well, and hammered away at it relentlessly, every single day, for several months.

I only practiced about 15 minutes a day, though. I think that was important. When I practiced, I tried to get out of my own way and let my brain do the work, like they tell you in Shop-101 with power tools: “Let the tool do the work, don’t force it. Relax.”

And wow.

Two nights ago I was in one of my frustrating searches for a novel that grips me, and finally ran into Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.

I started reading this crisp, first person, present tense story and could not believe how the words were flowing from the page into my head. Effortlessly! I read for several hours at probably three or four times my normal speed, not missing a word, not missing the emotion of the characters, not compromising my internal visualization of the scenes.

It felt like a miracle. Make that a brain transplant.

The most exciting thing was that feeling – as rare to me as an honest politician – that some form of magical energy is flowing from a book into my soul.

When it happens, you suddenly realize it’s going to be more difficult to stop reading than to go on. Nonfiction routinely gets me into the ballpark, but fiction? Almost never.

It was about 1:45 AM when I forced myself to stop reading. Forced myself.

Wheee!!!

Yes, Blake’s story is off-the-charts wonderful and the writing is high quality stuff in my view, but being able to read it effortlessly brought the whole experience up into the realm of euphoria.

If you’re one of the thousands of fiction writers who feels that ideally you should read more fiction, my breakthrough can be yours.

All you do is to read half of “The Talent Code” by Coyle, get yourself the best speed-reading software you can find, (I like Spreeder) practice “deliberately” and let nature take its course.

I’m living proof that speed-reading is possible for naturally slow readers.

You know, I remember Shawn Coyne on one of his and Tim’s amazing podcasts saying something to the effect that, “As a New York editor, you learn to speed read right away.” When I heard him say that, it sort of confirmed what I was already starting to believe: I can do this.

I was right.

You can do it, too. No sweat. You’re already an excellent reader. I’d put money on you.

Warmest regards,
Talmage