Spooky Action, Scott Adams-style

"As regular readers of my blog know, I lost my voice about 18 months ago. Permanently. It’s something exotic called Spasmodic Dysphonia...I asked my doctor – a specialist for this condition – how many people have ever gotten better. Answer: zero."
Thus begins Scott Adams' story of how he got his voice back. He continues:
"But have I mentioned I’m an optimist?

Just because no one has ever gotten better from Spasmodic Dysphonia before doesn’t mean I can’t be the first."
And he goes on to describe how he remapped his brain to regain control of his vocal chords. The key element:
"When I say my brain remapped, that’s the best description I have. During the worst of my voice problems, I would know in advance that I couldn’t get a word out. It was if I could feel the lack of connection between my brain and my vocal cords. But suddenly, yesterday, I felt the connection again. It wasn’t just being able to speak, it was KNOWING how. The knowing returned."

The original tagline of this blog was:
"Spooky Action at a Distance - particle interaction violating the speed of light barrier - was considered impossible by Einstein, but it was proven true. In this blog I explore ideas counter to the conventional wisdom of management Einsteins, because doing the impossible is what makes America great!"
Conventional wisdom doled out by 'experts' often leaves much to be desired. There is a lot more spooky action happening in the world - and certainly between our ears - than most of us realize or will acknowledge. We're either too busy to look for it or afraid of its implications.

What do you make of Scott's story? Is it a miracle? Seriously now, previously cured patients: ZERO. What if he said he had "prayerfully" gone through the same experiments? Would that change things? What if your neighbor told you the same story about himself? Would you give it more or less credibility (I've never met Scott; chances are you haven't either)? Would your opinion change if Scott's doctor wrote a testimonial in the blog post, too?

My favorite book of 2006 is Srikumar Rao's Are You Ready to Succeed?. In it, the author leads you through a series of exercises that show you just how much of your reality is self-inflicted. Of course, the upside is that if reality is malleable, you can make it infinitely better, like Scott did.

The secret is that you have to KNOW that you can. Not hope; not believe; KNOW. It's been shown that the biggest factor in survival of patients with severe cancers is that simple fact. The ones who knew they were going to live, did. Of course, that knowledge has to be congruent with all of your existing opinions, as the dapper Mr. James said. You can't just say "Well, I've heard from my doctor that I've only got 6 weeks to live, and Web MD doesn't give me any additional hope, but hey, I'm going to lick this thing" if you've always taken your doctor's word as gospel in the past. Not unless you can say, like I can, "Sure, they told my grandmother she had a handful of weeks to live and not only did she get better, she got her driving privileges back after a couple of months!" If you've personally experienced a miracle cure, another one fits much better with your current set of beliefs.

So what is my point here? I have two:
  1. Be very mindful of what you know. As old quote says: "The trouble with people is not that they don't know but that they know so much that ain't so", and yes, that applies to each of us.
  2. Spooky Action is everywhere!
We'll discuss point one further in subsequent posts. In the meantime, check out a podcast interview with Prof. Rao. You'll certainly find it thought-provoking. And thank you Scott for the inspirational tale!

[h/t: Graham English]

posted by Mike at 9:30 AM


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