Thanks for Encouraging Scientific Literacy John Oliver

John Oliver Science

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Scientific Studies (HBO)- Screenshot- Used under Fair Use Act

Here’s the thing about science… for the most part, scientific progress is generally a slow process and boring to almost anyone who isn’t a scientist. That dynamic begs the following problem: With an Internet Culture that demands to be constantly wowed by new, provocative, stimulating, but not-too-intellectually demanding information, and click-bait news articles and blogs, how should media outlets, “news” sites, TV talk shows, and professional bloggers, all thirsty for advertising revenue via views present science and scientific studies? Well, for the most part, the answer is to propagate complete bullshit, hack interpretations of data, push non-peer-reviewed studies as proven facts,  or to re-package peer reviewed studies so that they fit nicely on the low shelf and can be married up with exciting buzz worthy titles.

Before moving forward, let me give you complete disclosure. I am not a scientist. I am a writer, poet, and ebay entrepreneur. But, I love science and highly esteem its value to humanity as an empirical method of discovery. Because of that, I cringe when the revelatory power of the Scientific Method and complex findings of scientific studies are wielded about by the unlearned in media like a toddler with a .357 revolver.

Too strong of an analogy? I think not. Maybe too weak. Toddlers with revolvers would only have six shots each to do damage with. A scientifically flawed online article or news story has the power to dangerously deceive millions. The thing is, the propagation of pseudo-scientific bullshit can and does kill people. That is particularly the case when people have an aversion to traditional, proven medical treatments for various cancers and other deadly afflictions and turn rather to the magical promises of unproven (and sometimes inherently dangerous) “natural” remedies. On the flip side, otherwise healthy people can be MADE ill via untested supplements and the like. Sure, a healthy and varied diet is to be lauded and applied in one’s life. Yet, when you need modern medicine and/or treatments backed by vetted scientific research to cure a particular malady, don’t presume that merely eating more of this or that and/or taking some crap the salesperson at your local supplement shop assures you is the miracle cure-all will fix your problems. You may well avoid traditional medicine, relying on “natural remedies” until the situation is too late to reverse. Do traditional treatments always work? Nope. But they have at least been tried and tested via trial, error, and peer-reviewed research. I’ll take that over some magic beans any day.

So, when I read or watch pseudo-science presented by news anchors, Internet article writers, and bloggers, I get a bit angry. I get angry when people are given false hope for their sicknesses by modern day snake oil salesmen. I get angry when energy is wasted in society filtering out the bullshit AND when people, even fairly well educated people, are fooled by said bullshit. Lastly, I get angry that our modern society is left intellectually weak by being allowed to hit baseballs off of the tee like children when we should be swinging at fast, difficult pitches like adults- metaphorically speaking. Though, I can’t blame only those who are selling snake oil. As a society, we are buying it time and time again.

Because of all that, I am thankful to the John Oliver Show people for their new related segment. Please, please, PLEASE, my fellow humans… let the scientists do their work. Give them time and funding to do it. Let the scientists re-test and peer-review the experiments and data. And, when their findings are a bit outside the realm of our own layman’s understanding, we should let the scientists explain it to the rest of us rather than the news anchors.

Please watch and enjoy the following video:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Scientific Studies (HBO)

I encourage you to seek to expand your own understanding of the Scientific Method and various areas of scientific exploration as a part of your own personal study and life-long learning. I assure you, having a finely tuned bullshit detector is a very handy thing in this world. You may also find some merit in this handy poster from a previous blog:

Keys to Sound Thinking Chart

“Keys to Sound Thinking” Poster by: Luke Austin Daugherty

 

 

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“An Astronaut’s Guide to Optimism” By Astronaut Chris Hadfield (VIDEO)

This is a very good, condensed, and positive message by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield. It is easy to focus on all the negative situations that are paraded before us daily, yet to forget that many aspects of life are steadily improving in most nations. Yet, there is still work to do. So, we can take Mr. Hadfield’s admonition to heart and do what we can to make things better.

“When thinking if you’re going to be optimistic this year, remember, nobody changes the world on their own. It all starts with a resolution… what’s yours?” -Chris Hadfield

If you have an extra twenty-ish minutes, you may enjoy this closely related video by Dr. Steven Pinker. It is a talk called, “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” about the decrease of violence over the centuries. It presents some very comprehensive material regarding the subject.

AMAZING! Humans Land Philae Space Probe on a Comet! Go Science!

Philae Lander Space Probe Tweet By ESA

Philae Lander Space Probe Tweet By ESA

Amazing news! Thanks to a ten year mission by the European Space Agency, the unmanned Philae Lander has landed on a comet travelling 41,000 mph through space some 4 billion miles from earth! Talk about hitting the bull’s-eye! It is truly astounding to me that we have come from the first manned flight of an airplane to this in barely over one hundred years. Humans can accomplish marvelous things when we work together utilizing all the tools that science has to offer!

Please visit the link below for more information:

CNN Story Link

“Cha-Ching!” Goes the Cell Phone: Year 6 for an Entrepreneur and Lessons Learned

On this day in 2008, at 30 years old, I made a big decision. After months of back and forth, I decided to start a business. I was a husband, father of five, and part-time professional singer/songwriter. But, my main gig was being a regional driver for a household goods moving company. Damn hard work.

At that time, I was working the same job I had in my early twenties. After leaving the moving business the first time, I said I’d never go back. But, after several years of busy concert schedules and limited flex time at my previous job, I made a deal with my old company; give me any time off that I ask for with thirty days’ notice and you can work me like a rented mule the rest of the time. They knew how I worked and my level of customer service, so they agreed. And to no surprise, they held up their end of the bargain, especially the second part.

I stayed there about three years before getting fed up with the road, illegal hours for a driver, some of the fools I had to manage on jobs, and my ever tiring back. Not that there weren’t perks. Most of my songs came from experiences I had travelling and two of my co-workers became my good friends. But, in the ending months of 2007, the fear of another year to come like the one before became scarier than the proposition of starting a business and failing. That was the key…being pushed passed the point of contempt for the “status quo” in my work life and the fallout it had on my family life. I was missing too much and was just too damn worn out when I was home. But, that’s what working 120 plus hours some weeks will do to you, even when you’re young and strong.

So, beginning 1/1/08, I started scheming on a way to make a big change. I didn’t have much money or many foreseeable options. I decided to start a “near industry” business to capitalize on my current contacts and skills. I gave myself 4 months to plan and execute the launch of my business.

I realized that what I would do at first may only be a stepping stone to anther venture, but it was a necessary one. I had to just create some space to live, think, and wait for and create other opportunities. It was a lot like “pulling guard” in Jiu Jitsu… I was creating a “safe place” from which to defend or attack in due time. A position I could potentially loose from, but hoped to just do work and catch my breath for the time being.

My business officially began April 1, 2008, a month early. I started a “3rd party company” that assisted moving companies with what was out of their scope. I did custom crating, pool table and grand piano servicing, appliances, and more. I created a turn-key business with zero debt and produced a living wage right out of the gate on a $3,000 start-up budget. Not bad if I say so myself.

But, actually doing it was scary as hell. I almost changed my mind a couple times in February ’08. I nearly scrapped the whole idea for the safety of the time clock boat anchor. Sure glad I didn’t.

Then, in the late summer of ’08, the economy crashed. The good thing was, since I worked for myself, I had a lot of options to adapt. When contracting work was slow from moving businesses, I hustled side work on Craigslist and by word of mouth. I did interior painting, drywall work, bought and sold, and scrapped tons of metal over the next couple years. Unfortunately, with the moving business hit hard, my 3rd party work got slower every year, so I had to hustle harder. Always hunting for side jobs got old and since people were getting broker, they did less home improvement…that meant less side jobs to go around.

The great thing was I still made a livable income in about half the hours that I used to work as an employee. Some weeks I’d have a few days off through the week then be really busy the next. But overall, I saw my family every day and was pretty energized to enjoy them. I got to spend lots of time with my wife, who is my best friend, for the first time in our marriage.

That said, in the spring of 2011 I desired to have a more stable type of business. My wife and I discussed options and came up with a new plan. I would escalate my part time hustle, buying and selling, to my main gig. The plan was to replace half our income in six months, before the slow season for my current business. The next phase was to completely replace our income with buying and selling in twelve months. We achieved the first phase in five months and completely replaced our income in nine months. The initial capital I had to invest at my first auction on May 15, 2011…$200. I bought five things that sold within a month for over $1,100 and we were off.

For the first four months, I only sold on Craigslist. Then in late August, I purchased a rare knife at an auction for $9. I knew I’d need greater exposure to get what it was worth. I listed it on ebay and a week later it sold for $490. I fell in love with ebay and within three months, it became my primary selling format.

It still is on 1/1/14 and we’ve come a long way. We now have three “Power Seller” and “Top Rated” ebay stores. I work less hours than ever, spend stupid amounts of time with my family, and basically do whatever the hell I want every day. I’m not rich in dollars, but if freedom is your currency, I’m a millionaire.

So at 12:54 a.m. today, I got my first sale of 2014. “Cha-Ching” went my ebay cell phone app. Not a big sale, just a $39 vintage coffee percolator that I bought for $3. I’ll have shipping, ebay, and paypal fees out of that, but will still net about $25ish. That “Cha-Ching” is less an audible symbol for money and more of freedom for me. Good job ebay on creating that Pavlovian response via your app by the way!

One thousand words later, I’ll briefly share some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my business. I hope some of you might be able to get some use out of them if you’re interested in starting your own company or service as well.

  1. “Pulling the trigger” is the hardest thing– It is one thing to desire change, another to plan, but to execute a plan is the tipping point. That not only applies to business, but life in general. Most people are ruled by fear. They let the fear of “what if” bully them into settling for something they are dissatisfied with in life. You MUST master that fear and kick that bully’s ass in order to flip the script in your life.
  2. Bet on yourself- Every change has varying degrees of risk. But, do you know what people don’t think about? The risk that leaving everything the same has. Don’t be afraid to bet all your “chips” on yourself. Then, rise to the occasion and be your own hero.
  3. With a great plan and the right tools, you are more likely to succeed than to fail– I did not have a mentor when I started my business or anyone pushing me to do it. I did have people that supported me and that was invaluable. I also had the experiences of being exposed to business in my younger years by my mom, dad, and grandparents in different ways. Yet, I still needed other knowledge and information. I got that from the Internet and books. Some things (actually a lot of things) I had to figure out on the fly. But, you handle things as they come. I know the stats on start-up businesses failing. The thing is, many of the failures have distinct features in common. Poor planning is #1. Lack of understanding of the business being started is another vice. There is NOTHING you need to learn that you can’t find out. Do your due diligence and then make things happen.
  4. Sometimes, “You can’t get there from here.”– I’ve heard old timers from the mountains use that phrase jokingly to describe where they are from. But, it can be true situationally. You may not be able to jump right from your current “A” to your perfect world “B.” You might have to make some incremental changes toward your ultimate goal. Don’t be discouraged from the journey toward your goal just because it won’t be an instantaneous teleportation. Usually, the “good stuff” in life can take a lot of hard work. Sweat equity can be more important than investment capital. If you have less of one, you’ll probably need more of the other
  5. It’s worth it- There’s nothing like being able to thank your own former self for the good decisions he or she made that led you to where you wanted to be. There’s always more work to do and need to reinvent things. Start your journey off well and in time, if you stay the course, you’ll be glad you did.

As always, thank you for reading and sharing my blog! I am an independent poet, author, and singer/songwriter and I have my own ebay business to keep me as flexible as possible. But, writing takes time and if you appreciate what I do, if you have been moved or made to think by my writing, OR have just enjoyed something on my blog, please throw a buck or two in my tip jar!:) Your kind contribution may buy me a cup of coffee out at my next writing session. Click my easy paypal “tip jar” link that follows and THANKS! -Luke

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