Science vs. Politics

Science vs. Politics

The difference between Science and Scientists

I ran across the following paragraph while reading a current (May 2020) study. To say it’s frustrating given the current locked-down-environment would be an understatement.

It is essential to note that the mechanisms of person-to-person transmission in the community have not been fully determined. Controversy remains over the role of transmission through fine-particle aerosols. Transmission by indirect contact requires transfer of viable virus from respiratory mucosa onto hands and other surfaces, survival on those surfaces, and successful inoculation into the respiratory mucosa of another person. All of these components of the transmission route have not been studied extensively. The impact of environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity, on influenza transmission is also uncertain. These uncertainties over basic transmission modes and mechanisms hinder the optimization of control measures.

above emphases mine
CDC – Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal – Volume 26, Number 5—May 2020
Xiao J, Shiu E, Gao H, Wong JY, Fong MW, Ryu S, et al. Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020;26(5):967-975.

Flimsy uncertainties abound regarding the science of over-reaching political orders regarding COVID-19, yet the proclamations from political power holders such as Kansas Governor Laura Kelly are sturdy in their insistence upon compliance. Without providing a solid reason or proof politicians say, with foolish certainty, “You must do this or that.”

Politics, not science, is in play right now because it’s an election year and because there are powers, human and spiritual, who hate freedom, and life, and love, all the while seeking to dominate and subjugate and grasp after more power.

Politicians are recruiting an army of followers who will shame and report their neighbors for non-compliance. The primary recruiting tool is fear. Fear that you will get sick and possibly die. But also fear that you, a good person, will accidentally harm or even kill someone else – maybe someone’s grandma, or wife or friend. Fear is a powerful motivator and this army is very effective and well armed with sound bites and catch phrases.

Science is like God – in its purest form it is absolute truth. It is this way because God invented science – it is the study of His creation, it is a study of Him. (Romans 1:20) True science will admit when it doesn’t know something – when a topic has not been studied fully. Science will not speculate. Scientists will speculate, but not science. A scientist in his pursuit of truth will experiment, speculate and ask questions. These questions, once answered, will settle into the body of knowledge called science. However, since fallible humans are the source of these discoveries, we must always make room in our philosophy and world view for skepticism and then revision when presented with more complete information. Refusing to do so is a hubris of the worst sort since it holds out a known lie as the truth.

Truth can’t be bought and therefore science can’t be bought. It’s not for sale because no one holds ownership of truth. Scientists can be bought because they are merely seekers of truth and fallible humans and subject to corruption just like all of us. We would hope that scientists as bearers of truth in the very name of their profession, and presumed seekers of the truth in practice would rise above this. Experience, however, tells us otherwise. The confusion between science and a scientist is so rampant that we end up accepting an opinion or a guess or an outright agenda-aligned-lie as truth. When this happens enough times, we become numb to its effect and it is harder to discern the difference between a scientist and science.

And so politicians, armed with political power who seek to expand (or at the very least maintain), will find scientists who agree (or can be found to agree) with whatever idea or agenda or movement will accomplish this goal. And because we see the word “science” within “scientist” (or some other proxy such as Doctor) we assume we are hearing from a Truth Bearer when in fact we are simply hearing from a human who is providing their version of the truth which is not the same thing as the truth.

We should venerate skepticism and teach children how to prove their beliefs rigorously. Instead we see feelings and emotions being the north star of education and self determinism. A skeptical approach to accepting life-altering information is a firewall for our minds. Filter out fear, let truth in, reject domination and dictatorial control while allowing life decision altering information through. If nothing else, a skeptical point of view is valuable because it holds those accountable who would seek to erode our freedom while installing themselves into a place of micro-managerial control in our lives.

Since science is truth and God’s word, aka The Bible, is truth, it would seem the best method for creating and installing a biological/spiritual/mental/human firewall in our minds would be the reading and memorizing of Bible verses.

May I suggest starting with the book of Proverbs, then move on to John.

Proverbs One (NIV)

1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash


Locked in a Closet With Club-Wielding Bullies

Have you ever been locked in a closet with a group of bullies who are beating on you?

Welcome to my life.

Hopefully this will never be a literal truth, but we all have our closets and we all have our bullies.

This is what truth, art, poetry and childhood all fight against.

Bullies beat you down and tell you you are worthless.
Truth says all are valuable – made in the image of God.

Bullies destroy, pillage and hate beauty.
Art transcends time and culture, finding – celebrating! – beauty in all of life.

Bullies hurl insults and curses.
Poetry heals. Poetry soothes and inspires transcendence.

Bullies berate and belittle. Bullies believe buffoonery is better than blessings.
Childhood has all the promise of a full life ahead without the dullness that time can bring.

So here is the challenge – approach each day with truth on our lips, art in our fingers, poetry in our hearts and childhood in our minds.

I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote 15 years ago.

Sunshine Smile

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m losing my mind
Said the girl with the sunshine smile
Except, maybe you just don’t understand my kind
Always losing, sometimes finding, only to lose again

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve lost my heart
Said the boy looking at the sunshine girl
If I really have lost it, I wouldn’t actually mind
But I need to know if you know where I could find

Silently nodded silently hoped …
Golden curls knowingly bounced, hopeful
Eyes glinted, hinted at the secret hidden
Within their depths only diving could reveal

“I’ve decided to run away, run to the north woods”
Said the boy to the girl with the sunshine hair
“I was wondering if you’d like to… if you could…”
“Well, if you’d like to come along … for good”

Big rain drops formed at the corners of her sky
Blue eyes, silent thunder crashed, on her earthen
Red lips, brilliant lighting flashed from her soul
As her mouth silently formed a single word, “Yes”


Sponsorship Based Business – Auto Racing Edition

You provide value, and your value is all attitude – “We love what we do, we love what our sponsors do and we’re super excited to be able to do this together”

Sponsorship creates a customer/vendor relationship. What value does a race sponsorship bring? It brings recognition to a brand. It brings an attitude of “We chose our sponsor because they are so awesome you really should check out what they do.”  As the vendor serving a customer, your racing team will need to have this attitude permeate its entire culture.  You are creating lasting relationships that benefit you and your sponsors.  This means you do not try to figure out how to maximize a sponsorship or find people who will give you money, you are not trying to talk people into anything. You provide value, and your value is all attitude – “We love what we do, we love what our sponsors do and we’re super excited to be able to do this together”

A lot of what I’ve been reading recently has been about customer-first thinking.  With this in mind, your customer is your sponsor.  This is the relationship to nurture.  Every fan interaction, every media experience must have your customer in mind. In a lot of ways, you’re not in the racing business, you’re in the excitement business and you have to be excited about your sponsors! (See what I did there with that exclamation mark?)

Did you know Starbucks isn’t really in the coffee business?  They are in the real estate business and they are masters of it.  They are so good at it, in fact, that property values of surrounding properties go up.

What does that look like in practice? Let’s look at the historical home value appreciation of areas that now are located within a quarter mile of a Starbucks. A home that is now near a Starbucks would have sold, on average, for $137,000. A home that is not near a Starbucks would have sold, on average, for $102,000.

Fast-forward 17 years to 2014. That average American home has now appreciated 65%, to $168,000. But the Starbucks-adjacent property has far outpaced that, appreciating 96% to $269,000.”

In the same way, you’re not in the racing business – you’re in the excitement business.

Life is relational – utilize existing relationships to find someone who is looking to enter into a sponsorship.  Make it known that you’re willing to pay a finders fee.  Make a list of the top 10 people to talk to.  Write 10 different emails.  Send them.  (this is the important part)

Make a 10 item list of the companies you could be super excited talking about. Company or product.  It can’t be fake excitement so be careful.  When you identify these companies, do your research on them.  Take your time, make a presentation just for them. This will take time but it’s worth it.  This could even take months.  Find out who to speak to at the company – there is the potential to have multiple people who have the authority to make a decision – figure out who is the person most likely to understand the value of sponsoring your racing team. 

Once you identify a company don’t go with a beggar’s mentality – you don’t need to beg for a sponsorship – you’re offering a unique opportunity.

This is a business.  You need to have a polished presentation and demographics and marketing ideas etc.  Make a list of 10 marketing ideas for joint marketing efforts – they should benefit you and your sponsors.

Even before you have your first sponsor, start getting excited and posting YouTube videos. Tweet exciting things about the progress of your racing empire.  If you’re going to be in the excitement business you need to start now.  Your first assignment is to come up with 10 ideas for 2-3 minuteYouTube videos.  production value must be high

Ignore facebook for now – you don’t need your friends loving you – they already do.  You need to get strangers to love you.

Think local.  Community banks, local icons (businesses that have been around for at least 30 years).  Local restaurants with multiple locations. Local lowers your cost of travel.

Do some business networking.  Find some meetup groups that are for entrepreneurs.  Ignore anything that is even remotely similar to network marketing or MLM, etc.  You’re looking for groups that are primarily focused on helping each other with support and advice.  It should be free or cheap.  You need to find a group that is comprised of leadership level people – big thinkers.  You want to be in a group where the attitudes reflect a big thinking attitude – where big business is measured by 8 or more digits.  Even though the membership might not represent c-level positions, the group still needs to know how to think big.

Do not attach yourself personally to your presentation and ideas for this.  This allows you to be objective and your delivery or the content of your presentation can improve over time.  If, when you’re done with version 1 of your presentation, you think “This is awesome” you’ve failed.

Talk to business people you know – they might be members of professional networking groups already.  While you may not qualify or be welcome as a member, many times these groups have times where outsiders can come in to make a presentation.  The goal of the presentation might be as a way to let people know of an opportunity, but (and even better if you ask me) it might be a way to help you refine your delivery and content.

“Hi John, are you a member of or know of any professional groups that meet regularly – I’m looking for a group to make a presentation about an exciting opportunity to become a racing team sponsor and would love an introduction.”

Don’t worry about what kind of promises you make, just over deliver.  Deliver radical value.  Do this and the value of a sponsorship will grow, your racing team will be worth more and your revenues will go up and you’ll get better at delivering amazing value.  It’s a virtuous cycle. 

What I Told the Investors Writing Big Checks

I recently raised a lot of money for a new investment. A lot of money. At least it felt like a lot – both to me and the investors.  When dealing with people who are writing checks for large amounts of money, you should let them know what to expect in return. So I thought about trying to set their mind at ease but instead I decided they don’t deserve to feel easy about taking a risk – they deserve to understand the risk as well as possible. In this case the investment seemed low-risk to me, but nobody can predict the future and I don’t want to burn my relationships.

So, at the very moment they were signing their checks, I delivered what may be my best line yet.

I said, “Just so you know, I’m going to go cash your checks. Then I’m going to head to the casino.  I’m going to gamble. And I will lose all your money because I’m a terrible gambler. And if you’re not okay with that then don’t give me your checks.”

After everyone laughed I made sure they understood I was serious. I still got all the checks and something else – the freedom to invest boldly.

The future is brimming with opportunity. Aren’t you excited?

I Just Crushed My Son’s Dream

My 9 year old and I just had a texting conversation.

Son: “Do you think for my art I should ask people if they would like a self-portrait like while they’re walking around? I could just go around asking them…”

Dad (me): “No, I think you should do the art that makes you happy. If you’re happy then you’ll be making art that makes other people happy. Eventually someone will offer to pay you for your art.

Son: “But no one ever comes up and asks for it.”

Dad: “right. It’ll take a while. Make a goal to do one ink drawing a day.”

Son: “I didn’t even sell one piece of art at our last garage sale. and our next one is tomorrow!”

Dad (realizing for the first time he was talking about selling his art at the garage sale): “people don’t go to garage sales to buy art.”

Dad: “You don’t want to be known as the artist who sells his art at garage sales.”

But then I got to thinking… what if he does want to be known as the artist who sells his art at garage sales.  What if that’s his thing?  So I didn’t actually send that last line.

What I did send:

Dad: You might want to be known as the artist who sells his art at garage sales but you have to be an artist and actually have some art to sell.

Son: I might be able to put my mind to it! Now I got to get drawing! 🙂 See you soon 🙂

What Happened When I Said Two + Two is Not Four

Everyone in the room had just agreed with each other that a statement that was obviously true was, in fact, true.

I spoke up and said, “No, that’s not the case.”

Everyone looked at me like I was crazy or dumb or a jokester.  But I was serious.  Then they tried to figure out if I really was that dumb.  (I’d like to state that I’m not.)

I had remembered the 10th Man Rule from “World War Z.”  Then I found an article that talks about confirmation bias.  This is all very interesting stuff if you’re a knowledge worker – if you use your brain to earn a living you want it to be as useful to you as a carpenter feels about his hands and tools (although a carpenter is probably a knowledge worker too… I can’t figure that out right now.)

The article states, “People mostly have a problem with the confirmation bias when they reason on their own, when no one is there to argue against their point of view. What has been observed is that often times, when people reason on their own, they’re unable to arrive at a good solution, at a good belief, or to make a good decision because they will only confirm their initial intuition.”

The consultant said, “are you serious?”

I said, “I’m completely serious.  What you said is obviously true, but this discussion is so much more interesting if someone disagrees with you.”

And so we had an enlightening discussion about how to handle a situation where 2+2 does not equal 4. And would you believe, it was productive and energizing and we discovered some weird edge-cases in our processes.

By the way, I disagree with the article I linked to.

Dream a Little Dream ♫

“Arrgh!!  Are we dreaming big enough?”

This is how the CEO announced his presence in my office.

“Pardon?” I said.

“We think we have big ideas, but what if we’re not dreaming big enough?”

That got me to thinking.  How do you know if you’ve successfully gotten out of boxed-in thinking?  How do we know for sure we’re thinking “outside the box?”

We can’t.  I’m certain this is a fact.  There is no way we can get outside all mental boxes. The good news is that simply by knowing we are stuck in a box means that we can make the effort required to dream bigger than yesterday.

In a serious planning meeting blurt out something patently absurd. Hopefully everyone will laugh.

One brainstorming exercise I have found useful is joking.  In a serious planning meeting blurt out something patently absurd. Hopefully everyone will laugh.  If you’re surrounded by really smart people* with a sense of humor** and a desire to dream big, at least one of them will say, “Wait, that’s not a bad idea…” and will offer up an improvement on it. And away we go, with our big dreams.

Another method I use is to question everything.  While observing people struggle with answering interview riddles it becomes obvious that being smart isn’t as much about knowing the right answers as it is about asking the right questions.  This is a topic for another blog post though so I’ll leave it for now.

* why would you spend your invaluable time with not-smart people?
** life is too short to be with grouchy people – get out if you are!

Doodling, Drawing and $100 million

  1. Machine learning workflow for documents and specifications
  2. Computer program to create pros from outline or full language text. Should end up being extremely eloquent
  3.  Computer doodling
  4. Floorplan generator from photos as an iPhone app
  5. E-book on teaching kids about computers
  6. E-book on structuring LLCs
  7. Blog post about creating personal value by building people up
  8. Draw more  
  9. Blog my basement remodel
  10. Brainstorm ways to raise capital for different friends. Five to $10 million. But I suppose why stop there let’s shoot for $100 million. 

Failing Successfully Using Rowboats.

I’m a failure.  I fail a lot.  All the time, really. And in lots of ways.  I’m not as patient with my children as I’d like.  I’m not as productive at work as I’d like.  I’m not as good of a husband as I’d like. But this is not about any of the specific ways I fail because I’m far more interested in flipping failure on it’s head.

“What is failure?  How do we make it useful? How do we keep it from hurting us? “

I asked a local bartender “What makes a shift successful.”  His answer, “Nice customers and good tips.  Restaurant people are the best customers – they’ve been there before and always tip well.”  Makes sense.  A friend defined success as “on time and on budget.”

I don’t want to focus on success because total success is elusive – seemingly downright impossible.  We are frail creatures, after all, and are prone to coming up short.  I write this not as an excuse but as a realization.  Knowledge is power and knowing where we are currently gives us the power to grab failure by the collar and demand it tell us how we can do better.

I’m the senior software developer where I work and I’ve been wondering, “Organizationally what is failure?  How do we define it? How do we make it useful? How do we keep it from hurting us?  How do we move beyond immediate negative reactions and take a long term view?  More importantly, how do we create a culture that doesn’t punish failure and instead seeks to find the value in  failure?

Failure is worthless when you fail to learn from your failure through accident or ignorance. The worst kind of worthless failure is produced by a culture that structurally prevents learning from failure. Not knowing if you’re failing, or at what rate you’re failing means you have no hope of making meaningful change.

Everything else is useful.  Think about conversion metrics.  For online businesses this is the ratio of  visitors converting to customers.  People tout their conversion rates like they are some measure of success.  “Oh, we have a 30% conversion rate!”  Wait, did you just tell me you lose 70% of all visitors?

In baseball failing most of the time is acceptable.  Failing half of the time is ridiculously good.  If you convert 30% of the time in baseball you’re going to make millions.  I don’t know what good conversion metrics are for an online business.  You probably have some idea what is acceptable for you.  It all depends on your acquisition cost and the lifetime value of a customer for your business.

But here’s the thing.  If you’re not learning from your failures be they a 2%, 10%, or 30% conversion rate (a 98%, 90%, 70% failure rate) you’re being hurt by your failure.  It’s time to turn that situation around and figure out how to learn. The answer is shockingly simple, but requires dedication and discipline.

Anyone can flip failure on its head,

Find yourself some third-class levers.

Did you know 3rd class levers even exist? (I didn’t.) A third class lever allows you to gain speed or distance at the expense of effort.  Put another way, the effort we use to improve our success rate can move it a lot (distance).

Rowing Team Row boats use 3rd class levers – effort translates into speed and distance.

It logically follows that you would pick areas of your business that have a high rate of failure – they represent the areas that can experience the largest amount of  improvement. In addition to the high rate of failure, you would also want to identify those areas that are frequently repeating and easily testable.

If you have a business that is profitable with a 2% conversion rate – a 3rd class lever can make a huge difference to the bottom line – you don’t have to move the needle much to get a doubling or tripling of revenues.

The exact details of your testing greatly depend upon your industry, your goals and the hypotheses you decide to test.  For example, to improve customer acquisition you might try changing the amount of information required on sign up forms. For trial accounts try testing a decision to not require a credit card.  For project management you might try testing a new methodology or technique.  For a pizza restaurant you might try a new approach to special prices or offering a more interesting pizza.

As a father I could try different approaches with family chores and rules. I could gamify things. Yes it’s more difficult to measure, but anecdotal evidence is acceptable in this situation.  The important thing is to be trying and measuring – in whatever way is appropriate.

When it comes to failing  when you learn from your mistakes you are honestly improving. If you are not learning you have truly failed and are doomed to repeat the past.

Anyone can flip failure on its head, in any industry and in any human endeavor.
Do you want to?

People Want to be Heroes, not Commodities!

Lots of technology is created in an effort to systematize or commoditize existing sectors and business professionals – software developers, artists, writers, lawyers – the list is seemingly endless.

Technology has proven itself to be one of the greatest liberators and equalizers of human existence.

This perpetuates a paradigm of subjugation and enslavement.  People don’t want to be commodities they want to be heroes – they want to be Free – (Libre!)

It’s all wrapped up using a false value proposition; i.e. if you join you will have more work, stability, etc.  But at commodity prices? No thanks. But at loss of individuality ? Not a chance.

The next 500 years is just beginning and it’s going to be another period of enlightenment.

The idea is thus: technology has proven itself to be one of the greatest liberators and equalizers of human existence. We must find the areas of human existence in most dire need of liberation and bring technology to bear on the problems of injustice, inequality, and  the commoditization of humans.

This is done through a transcendent, transparent and kind application of technology to level playing fields removing barriers blocking greatness. We design systems and redesign human institutions  in ways that eliminate hooks, greed, fear and coercion; we recognize the need to create an organization and system that outlives our great grandchildren’s generation.

Join the conversation and let’s talk about the sectors and paradigms that need reforming. The next 500 years is just beginning and it’s going to be another period of enlightenment.