Epidemiology

There’s a skill I think everyone should have, and this skill is tied inseparably to epidemiology.

One way to illustrate the skill, is through alcoholism. If people who drink alcohol are healthy, does that fact mean drinking alcohol is healthy, or does it mean people who are healthy will take risks, such as imbibing something known to kill brain cells?

Another example is the recent and continuing controversy over what flavor green Skittles should be. The company decided to swap the flavors back and forth (lime to apple, apple to lime). Far too many questions could be asked about this, so let’s simplify the situation. Let’s say the company made the initial change without any research or customer input. Let’s also say the company noticed a steady decline in sales. Then they decided to return to the original flavor. Regardless of the new sales count, did the drop in sales have anything to do with the new flavor, or was the cause the change itself? According to their customers, the new flavor is now desirable (hence the continuing controversy), so probably the decline was due to the unwanted change.

By now the skill I alluded to in the beginning should be obvious. It’s the skill of recognizing a true cause and a true effect. Sometimes, in our minds, we transpose the two. We end up looking at the cause as if it was the end result.

Other times we look at a cause, and it seems logical, but it’s still not the real cause. In times such as this we might be attributing a cause that fits our bias. We jump on the first cause we hear, or the most common, or even the one our school teacher taught us. Beware the bias.

One other thing to be aware of is our potential to be influenced. We succumb to peer pressure. We fear the derision of the crowd. Or we simply fall for faulty logic. Whichever the reason, we can be influenced, sometimes right, and sometimes wrong.

How to gain the skill of recognition is the same as the one to relieve you of the burden of peer pressure. It requires you to be more skeptical, even a little bit cynical. You have to be able to hear a statement touted as fact and take it as not fact until proven otherwise.

This isn’t a skill to pick up overnight. It requires a lot of practice before you start to get good at it. Practice now. Go back to the top of this article and doubt everything I told you. Fact check. Ask a friend. Find out for yourself what is true, and what isn’t.

Cryptozoology

Never have I seen Bigfoot flying in a UFO, but it makes sense that he would.

How else would he avoid being spotted by the majority of humans living on the planet?

“The majority of humans” also happen to be the majority of animal life on land. Oh, hold on now. Of course, that could be a possibility too…

Maybe Bigfoot has himself a submarine to keep himself away from humans. I mean, mankind is in the ocean a fair amount, though not nearly as populace as on land. Hmmm.

One problem with this idea is that the Sasquatch, the Yeti, these are legends originating from inland peoples. Far inland. So far from anywhere the big guy might want to park his submarine, he would be a long time traveling on foot to get back to it.

Then again, this is BIGfoot we’re talking about, so maybe he has a longer stride than most would imagine.

The next question would have to deal with how he obtained said submarine. Could he be an engineer and a mechanic, as well as an avid hiker? Did he borrow the sub from someone? Did he make his own? Does he also have a year’s supply of canned ham on board? I’ve heard that’s traditional sub food. Does he have SCUBA gear too?

These are the things I’m going to ask him when I meet him.

And when I learn his language.

Too Many Subjects

The title brings to mind a royal dude who wants fewer people in his kingdom.

That’s not what I’m on about today. What is throwing itself against the walls of my mind right now is a whole lot of everything. Subjects don’t seem to want to line up single file, or take turns talking. It’s all a riotous noise-fest. One item of attention comes to the foreground and immediately another crowds it out. The only way to focus at all is to step out of the chaos and view it from above.

Like an astronaut who just left the planet and is viewing it all in macrocosmic splendor.

But then, of course, you realize there’s more out there. More planets, more galaxies, more suns. More human brains operating the same way.

There’s even more if you start viewing the smaller relationships. Get your eyes on the microcosmic and the quantum- cosmic, and your brain could implode.

And this doesn’t stop me from wondering how in the world of rock did Tommy Lee become the fan favorite of the band Motley Crue? He’s the drummer!

Anyway…

There’s so much to write about, but never enough time to write. Do other artists feel this way? Do painters want to paint everything that’s real and unreal in their view? Do they skip from a bowl of fruit waiting to be captured to a birthday cake with teeth waiting for the same thing?

The best part of all of this is the knowing there are infinite subjects, infinite items to behold, infinite stories to be told.

Then, with that view in mind, the too many becomes exactly enough.

Ad of Comparison

If I manage to sell anyone on all three books in this comparison instead of only my own, I think it’d be wonderful. The purpose of this comparison is to show the major differences of these three books, all published in 2022. They’re all good books, though certainly for different audiences.

Hopefully by the end of this comparison an individual will know better what type of book to look for while shopping for a book full of questions. There are a fair amount of these crowding the digital, and the physical, bookstore shelves, so it’s good to know what they really represent. A person could use this comparison to better judge between the other offerings out there as well as the three here.

The three books I’ve chosen to compare are: Ponderous by Kurt Gailey (my own, of course); What Would Plato Think? by D.E. Wittkower, PhD; and Questions That Will Get You (And Others) Talking by Diane Weston.

Diane Weston has an impressive 1000+ questions in her book. Keep in mind though, these are what I would call pajama party questions. In the style of “What is your favorite color?”, pajama party questions are good for conversations. The way to tell if it’s a pajama party question is to look at the wording. Most questions with the word “you” within will be a getting-to-know-you type of question. Those kinds of questions won’t likely give you something to think about all day. If what you’re after is a way to boost creativity, or to ponder the deeper meanings of things, Weston’s book won’t be much help. Ponderous on the other hand has more profound material, such as: “Is Karma a method of blaming the victim?” If you want a way to get people to open up, to break the ice, to start connecting with each other, then her book will certainly give you the tools for those tasks. Her book, Questions That Will Get You (And Others) Talking is currently 11.99$ on Amazon, published by Monkey Publishing, and is 109 pages.

The book by D.E. Wittkower is probably more comparable, more similar, to Ponderous, even though he only has around 200 questions. One reason he has so few is because he leads in to every question, explaining the philosophies. This method could be good or bad. If you didn’t have any idea about the subjects Wittkower goes through, you might want to invest in his one-man explanations. If you didn’t want someone to lead you toward an answer, then you might rather invest in Ponderous and look up the subjects you don’t grasp already through more rounded and multi-person explanations, perhaps with Encyclopaedia Britannica or some other reliable source (never Wikipedia, which is built around submitter’s bias). The good Doctor has done his homework, and relies on studying ancient philosophers for the material. Ponderous, however, delves into the questions one could find while studying more contemporary philosophers like Theodore Sturgeon and Bruce Lee. Sturgeon in particular had the self-discipline to wonder, “What is the next question?” He probably understood when he first asked this that learning is dynamic, while knowledge is only static, which is why questions are so valuable. Lee for sure knows the difference between static and dynamic. He philosophizes throughout his great works on the two concepts in depth.

Presentation matters too, though. Wittkower does a good job with the presentation. Within the pages of his book, he leaves space for note-taking. He also tries to ask return questions for the more controversial questions so that he is playing both sides of the debate. His book may be somewhat narrow in scope since it only deals with subjects brought up by the ancients, but he formatted it well. His book What Would Plato Think? was published by Simon and Schuster, is 16.39$ on Amazon, and runs 225 pages.

Ponderous has 366 questions you can ruminate upon for an entire day, a week, during a meditation session, or during a pajama party if you must. The questions are a little more flexible. Some examples include:

“How many lies make a person a liar?”

“Can you get a tattoo on a prosthetic limb?”

“Why is ‘Question everything’ a statement?”

and

“How did anyone get angry before Heavy Metal music?”

These are existential questions, questions of life’s seeming contradictions, and questions to make the mind reel. There’s room inside Ponderous for taking notes, answering questions, or asking new ones. Independently published through Amazon, it is currently priced at seventeen dollars even, and is 379 pages long.

Ponderous is Published

Ponderous is released!

Ponderous is available for purchase!

What exactly is Ponderous? It’s a self-help book with an eclectic array of life’s most interesting questions, such as:

Why is “Question everything” a statement?

And:

Is karma a method for blaming the victim?

And:

How did anyone get angry before Heavy Metal music?

These are not your average pajama party questions. Ponderous is not about getting to know someone’s favorite color; it’s about having something to ponder each day. With 366 questions contained in its pages, Ponderous is a leap year’s worth of valuable meditation, quality philosophy, or, yes, even questions you could bring to a party.

These are not intended to be questions which somehow lead you to answer “correctly”. These are questions which will lead you to better your skill at asking valid questions. Ponderous may lead you to ask even more. Why stop with the relatively small collection here? You may have your own existential questions. Start asking your own. Write them in the margins.

Ponderous is a journal-style workbook perfect for anyone who wants to know more about life, for those who meditate, for those who enjoy livening up a conversation, and for anyone who enjoys looking back at how they used to think and having a laugh.

Introspection can boost creativity, so Ponderous is ideal for anyone with artistic ambitions. Those who create anything artistic can benefit from a broadening of the mind through playful philosophy.

Ponderous is now available on Amazon.com.