Day 69 & The New Science or Great Articles on Tinkering

Day 69 Record Keeping SRHI = 68
Day 37 Fixed Meditation SRHI = 67
Day 36 Dynamic Meditation SRHI = 53
Horrible night sleep, great wakeup.

I recently read two amazing articles. One, entitled “The End of Food” by Lizzie Widdicombe, published in the May 2014 issue of The New Yorker, talks about the rise of Soylent, a company whose product is a full meal replacement.

The other, “The Shiver System” by Steven Leckart, published in the December 2013 issue of Wired, talks about a guy who became fascinated with the impact of cold submersions on weight loss.

Why do I find the two fascinating? They both talk about people who are essentially tinkerers. Neither were formally educated in their respective new fields - but both dove into finding everything they could about it outside of academia. 

This reminds me of the natural philosophers of old - amateurs that operated past the frontiers of science - and for many, like these two, the emphasis is a personal take.

Years ago a relative, upon learning about my fascination with the mind-body connection, asked why I didn’t go study neurobiology. I couldn’t quite put it into words, put if I were to tell her today, I’d tell her because what I find interesting is researching these subjects on a personal level. 

Sure there is worth in studying such a subject objectively - but I want to know how an individual can harness it. Now, more and more this approach has been coming to the fore - books like The Four Hour Body and Moonwalking with Einstein took the ideals of the old human potential movement and ran.

With the internet, huge resources are suddenly available, both in terms of research, the sharing of individual experimentation, and replicability. The guys doing these things often spawn movements - Soylent has DIY fans that tinker with recipes for meal replacement, as did the guy written about in “The Shiver System.” Sub-forums on Reddit often join in, tweaking theories and expanding them, and then reporting back - like crowdsourced empiricism.

Yet this new science isn’t really new. Science was founded by tinkerers - men like Leonardo da Vinci and Darwin - the “natural philosophers” - were here before the formalization, constantly fiddling. And with the power of the web, adding scientific procedures to personal experimentation, logging failures and successes and extrapolating theories, this new science, I feel, is able to push boundaries that can be curtailed by formal study and institutions. 

Whatever this is - new or old - this is a movement I want my habit formation project to be a part of.