Saturday, October 18, 2014

The BIG DATA Factory

We clamber for proof
Through the muddiest of spoofs
Living dangerously amidst
The high flying acts

There are ventures galore
Inspired by the vultures of yore
Singing songs without
Beginning or end

In what becomes a tale
Of words that have gone stale
Building castles of glass
That shatter with light

The monster within
Hides it's spectral kin
Forcing the ball and chain
To wreak havoc through gain

From the lofty sight
Where blindness alights
And numbers flow
With outcomes that glow

The wisdom of a few
Finally askance and askew
Turns to search the truth
Hidden deep in their soul

Might one find the fare
That lay hidden in despair
In the catacombs of dust
Filled with shards of rust

The mountain of data
Bury the layers of strata
And only shows the glint
Of someone else's dint

Where are we today
How far did we stray
Where more do we go
Before we lose sight of the goal

That intellect of man
Was made to enhance the clan
And not live in despair
Under shadows of disrepair

Where Big Data lives
And all bow to its gives
Of false gods and premise
As truth lies asleep

Only if p had values
And Odds held ratios
Standards showed no Deviation
Truth would compel us more

To find a needle in the stack of hay
That grows bigger each day
Where no light can shine
And darkness fills the decline

Only time will tell
How this deep dark well
Will unfold its truths
To those who live for proofs

Time marches on
As decay becomes the norm
Through the pseudo in science
Fills ignorance’s blithe

One day soon
When a few stop to swoon
And come to realize
That there are gremlins inside

This big data factory
That hides truth and reality
Under the guise of wisdom
To someone's narcissism

And all that was termed good
Is but darkness under the hood
Where the select flourish
From lies that self-nourish

It might be time
To climb the shoulders of giants
Remember their toil
And the sacrifices they made

See further than you've seen
Dream bigger than you've dreamt
Live better than you've lived
And think inspired!

Intuition beats the miscellany
Of numbers and bits
One piece is never all
And all is not one bit

Science lives through reason
As reason flows in logic
Both are parts of science
Both are parts of the whole

Marry logic to reason
And reason to thought
What then is in store
Is our future life's lore.

Looking for the needle?
Take this exit...

Thursday, October 16, 2014


When intellect was grace and each word imbued with wisdom, humanity craned its collective head to listen. The likes of Newton, Gallileo and Einstein, all were venerated for their reach into the hidden secrets of science and society, so much so that their bones, fingers and brain respectively, were held in awe for centuries.

Sometime in the 20th century a different core of “intellectuals” emerged. These were driven by sycophants, adoring groups and the easily influenced. Joseph Goebbels spoke of the Fuhrer as the “natural, creative instrument of divine fate.” This knee-bending worship led to the creation of tyranny that took seven years of war to demolish. And yet that same thought continues today. From the “broken individuals” who find fame and wealth in Hollywood to the young minds that create magic on a silicon wafer we are engulfed by a sea of the "adoring" and the “adored.”

Equally we find it emotionally satisfying to pin the hopes of the planet earth on the worship of a single human being, who flawed in his humanity, as all humans are, is made to be the one to stop the ocean levels to rise. When reality, cuffed and bound, eventually staggers in, the disappointment is great.

Besides our desire to adore and worship humans, we also have this uncanny want to put non-human entities on the pedestals. The oft-mentioned and mostly deferred to even in the echelons of medicine is the much adored Centers of Disease Control or CDC. The fault lines of this entity of late suggest that even though the brick and mortar in Atlanta has an imposing visage, it is still governed by a group of fallible human beings. The “hissing doorways” in their Level Four containment centers. The highly infectious bacterial agents lying in containers outside of containment areas and the recent debacle in Ebola virus strategies point to the failings of such pedestal exposed ornamental worship, especially when politics and personal fame override the charter of such entities.

Enough with this hero worship. We should finally come to an understanding that what is at play is “… a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Maybe we should encourage all to gain access to their potential and reap the rewards from the intellect of the many rather than venerate one to the exclusion of the many and make him or her the tyrant that any hero-worship is wont to. Maybe it is time to do some critical thinking on our own rather than rely on some propped-up patron.

Maybe we should let meritocracy rise above mediocrity for those that strive. If we are careful not to suppress it through arbitrary means for fear of loss of political power and self-enrichment and put natural constraints against limitless power, we just might have a functional society. It might be time to let Kant’s “Reason” rise to the surface in our thinking and analyses and Bentham’s “greatest happiness principle” to espouse the “nonsense on stilts” of the natural law. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Sometime ago an elderly man in his 80s walked into a hospital Emergency Room. He had a fever and associated symptoms of influenza. The symptoms cleared after two days in the hospital. Yet he stayed on in the hospital, moving from the Internal Medicine unit to the Intensive Care unit and thence to the Orthopedic unit and finally to the rehabilitation unit.

The crossroads of guidelines and mandates and the cross-currents of ambiguous thoughts create the bed where the conflicts between implied welfare and the resulting seeds of disastrous medicine take root.

On the third day, the potential day of his discharge he (our patient) became slightly confused. The order for an MRI was placed immediately and the results within 24 hours were negative for any pathology. The confusion continued and with it he developed a minor headache. Acetoaminophen (Tylenol) was prescribed that helped abate the headache temporarily. The confusion continued till the fifth day when he became slightly irritable. The reporting nurse asked the physician for assistance and that help came in the form of a sedative tranquilizer. The irritability subdued a bit but for the patient’s sake he had wrist restraints placed on him to protect him from falling off the bed at night.

On the seventh day, he developed constipation and an enema was ordered. During the daytime with assistance he walked to the toilet to relieve himself. Upon returning he had difficulty maintaining his balance and fell on the floor, in spite of the assistance. He was helped onto his bed. He laid there for 12 hours undisturbed due to his ordeal. On the eighth day while changing the bed sheets and rolling him over, the nurse determined his left leg was abnormally rotated. X-Rays were called for and a diagnosis of a left hip fracture was made.

After recovering from his surgery and a short stint in the Intensive Care Unit he was transferred to the orthopedic unit. All medications were renewed as before. His blood sugar levels rose requiring periodic dosing with Insulin for control. His mental disorientation waxed and waned along with the rising and falling tides of headache.

On the fourteenth day, the patient’s daughter asked the nurse what medication her father was being given. A list was proffered reluctantly. She questioned the need for the Statin drugs and a host of others including, Thorazine, Compazine, Insulin. She received appropriate answers for each of the medication and their need.

On the fifteenth day, the daughter asked that no further Statin be given to her father. The health care workers protested but the physician acquiesced to the daughter’s demand. The Statin was discontinued and on day twentieth her father was back to his former mental frame. He was discharged for home on day 21 with outpatient rehabilitation services.

This drama plays out in our institutions and at homes daily. In this case the need for the Statin to lower Cholesterol was a requirement at the institution based on the set guidelines.  Not heeding to the guideline would not win the hospital some useless award for the hospital and potentially risk the wrath of Insurers who would heave a financial penalty upon it. So they followed their protocol to the “T.” A Perfect Score! Yet, the entire chain of reactive medicine stems from the use of that particular drug in this case. Speaking of harm in medicine, maybe it is time to find the keys to that harm where there is no lamplight.

Trace back the history and you will see the folly in the Universal Guidelines that litter the medical scene. Population medicine harms the individual in such subtle ways that more harm follows if not for a careful and dedicated daughter in this case. How many daughters would question such benevolent dictates of the guidelines? Not many, I venture.

So, clearly much is to be reflected upon in our current state of medicine. As physicians are being trained to abrogate their right as critical thinkers, and legions of notepad -carriers scour the halls of the hospitals and other medical facilities in hopes of finding fault, something is gravely wrong in the field of medicine. The “evidence” we all seek to mollify our desire for the “best” practice of medicine through the lens of such correlational science is harming the very people we seek to heal.

Maybe it is time to rethink?

Monday, September 29, 2014


“Paint with an airbrush!”
“Yes but all that paint-scatter?”
“Mask the edges!”
An un-blinded Algorithm

We employ methodologies with limited views and with one broad stroke of the brush to wipeout any hidden flaws. The truth seeks but under the colossal weight of dried ink it remains muffled and hidden, like a masterpiece painting it lies submerged under the spray of a modern airbrushed abstract. Eventually the leveling scythe of assumptions and probability science shows its obverse edge.
What if… we had a blind algorithm that went about sniffing through large pieces of data, snaking its way and exploiting each path, determining the cost of each path and all successor events that preceded and followed in each of those paths to arrive at a goal that no one pre-selected, in other words, blind vectoring into a sea of options. The blind algorithm would blind the researcher and would dive down into the sea of amorphous data. The Artificial Intelligence would guide it through the maze just as a modern day Robotic vacuum cleaner dodges and bumps against furniture in a room. This would prevent the ebb and fracture of the scientific culture currently in progress.

O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a
king of infinite space—were it not that I have bad dreams.

Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very
substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

What would happen?

We might get results that would surprise us all. It might eliminate certain prejudices of thought. It might conflate some, inflate others and deflate concretely held paradigms. It might through aggregation of such information form a shape more akin to reality then prophesied through the false gods of statistical fiat.

What then?

Would humanity consider those potential alternatives via a more clear vision rather than the dark lenses of doubt? I am afraid so. The well entrenched busy-bodies would still want to extract their pound of flesh, but their premise would be mortally weakened. Their narcissistic grist would be reduced and their mills dried would seek redemption. To reduce the risk of such posturing or "gaming" the system with the algorithm, one might consider sending a second algorithm-bot which could constantly modify the prime algorithm's behavior when under threat from outside manipulations.

Humans love to seek the truth; beneath the stone, the dark side of the moon, the distance from the moon and the elliptical orbit of the planets. They desire real evidence but often fail in their goals mired in the gutter of soft, pliable and manipulated evidence. Medical literature is bugged with a significant amount of pseudo-science. This form of pseudoscience comes from selected variable sources that attempt to create a reality that is nonexistent. These useless dribblings on our zeitgeist mar the tattered tapestry of our being even further.

A blind algorithm run amuck in a Data-warehouse would produce some sparks of discontent as it bumps against dead ends, ricochets through the “bump and grind” and the stochastic information finds the critical path to a heretofore unrealized solution. This ultimate critical path would use efficiency, expediency and find pecuniary limits to realize the least resistant and best pathway. Or, then it might just prove an existing paradigm. Such a confirmation would equally have immense credibility and usage. The flowering colorful proofs from random analytics would shed more light and do more for humanity than the gunmetal gray of a postured regulatory missive!

Imagine if a large pool of patient data demographics that included age, sex, race etc. and in addition family history, dietary history, exercise habits, thrill seeking or a quiet lifestyle, use of any prescribed and over the counter medication and myriad of other information is floating around in the dark unreflective waters. The blind algorithm would tease outputs that we may not have contemplated. Instead of selected data, univariate analytics or even controlled multivariate analytics, the randomness of “chew and spit” of the esoteric data for the “right taste” could/would reveal outputs of immeasurable weights and benefit…or not. It certainly would be worth the endeavor.  variables would then indeed be variables, not chosen and picked like fruit from a tree, the correlations would indeed be obvious and used within the algorithm and the regressions would point to the future with a focused light. The p-values would have meaning and the Confidence Intervals would be tightly bound. Even Fat tails would be obvious and not hidden under the weight of mathematical jujitsu to make “nice.”

Studies of coffee, chocolate and red wine proving goodness for the heart created through selected dataset by those industries to prove the primary aim of the researcher would indeed be a thing of the past. As John Ioannidis points out currently 54% of the studies are not validated or reproducible lends further credence to blinding the algorithm for real “Evidence’ in Evidence Based Medicine!
In the end, the numbers themselves do not deny us our humanity but the calculated decision to stop being human but the complete devotion to reliance on an obtuse and self-motivated junk science.
Let us therefore use the combinatorial force of computer science for the purpose it was designed. Let us start looking for the keys to reality in the dark and not only under the lamplights. Let us use Big Data for all its worth! 

We all have dreams…

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


 The Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS II) examined the risk of cancer mortality in obese men and women in the U.S. They reported that obesity is associated with a significant increase in mortality from multiple cancers, including esophageal, colorectal, liver, gallbladder, pancreatic, breast, endometrial, cervical, ovarian, renal, brain, kidney, and prostate cancer; non-Hodgkin lymphoma; and multiple myeloma.

 It has been estimated that overall overweight and obesity cause approximately 20% of all cancer cases.  International Agency for Research on Cancer has reported that obesity causes 39% of endometrial cancer cases.

Asia-Pacific Cohort Collaboration set out to to specifically examine the association of cancer mortality with BMI. They reported a significant increase in the risk of mortality from colon, rectal, postmenopausal breast, ovarian, cervical, and prostate cancer and leukemia in overweight and obese individuals from this population.

The CPS II study examined the association between diabetes and cancer mortality in 467,922 men and 588,321 women in the U.S. After 16 years of follow-up, they found a significantly increased risk of mortality from bladder, colon, pancreatic, and liver cancer in men and from pancreatic, colon, and breast cancer in women with diabetes. In the CPS II study, an inverse association was found between diabetes and prostate cancer mortality.

After 26 years of follow-up, in addition to finding an increased risk of mortality from bladder, pancreatic, breast, liver, and colon cancers, they reported that diabetes was associated with an increased risk of oral and pharyngeal cancer, breast cancer in men, and endometrial cancer in women.
The Metabolic Syndrome and Cancer Project (Me-Can) cohort in Austria, Sweden, and Norway is examining the association between the metabolic syndrome as a whole and its individual components on the risk of cancer. From this cohort, the investigators have reported that higher glucose levels were associated with an increased risk of liver, gallbladder, respiratory, and thyroid cancer and multiple myeloma in men, and pancreas, bladder, endometrial, cervical, and stomach cancer in women.

Syllogisms aside, if infections cause inflammations, by Giuseppe Peano’s logic, cancer must to some degree come from an infection.

A more apt question would be; does inflammation promote cancer? The answer to this statement is more apt to be a yes.

The most well-known is the disease Ulcerative Colitis. In this disease there is generalized inflammation of the colon.  This constant inflammation leads to intestinal crypt deformation and a 43% chance of colon cancer within 25-35 years.

PMNs produce enzymes/cytokines to evoke the inflammatory and immune response. The immune cells are provoked via a protein product liberated by the (TAM1) or T cell activated Macrophages. This product is called TNFa. TNFa promotes another agent called NFkB that sends signals to the immune system via IL6 (a cytokine). This signal essentially motivates the immune system with an “intruder alert” warning.

In the immune system, the NFkB is designed to eradicate the potential for injury but in the tissues the mischief it creates is a whole different ballgame.

This leads to the continuous inflammatory response and further production of the TNFa and by shared cross-talk the production of NFkB in the infected tissue cells. 

The overabundance of the NFkB leads to signaling via the STAT3 and IL6. The latter agent induces COX2, which stimulates the Prostaglandin E or PGE. This final agent then provokes the inflammatory response. The continued inflammation leads to a constant provocation of the tissue cells and a self-sustained vicious cycle of cytokine production that induces the cells to grow or proliferate. Somewhere in that confluence of this potpourri of enzymes, a genetic mutation lives or occurs and a cancer is born.

It appears that the NFkB causes about 500 different reversible and irreversible actions within the cellular DNA through epigenetics (Modulating the gene function by virtue of minor or major pressures from micro RNA, Histones etc. imposed on the genome) So not only is this cascade in flow, but other mechanisms are also being cumulated and promoted.

Specific COX-2 inhibitors (Celexecob) including aspirin and other NSAIDs (Advil. Aleve etc.) the increased incidence of polyp formation and cancer is reduced many-fold in patients with ulcerative colitis, in Familial Polyposis Coli and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Interestingly, the mitochondria undergo stresses via infection and inflammation by releasing Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS). 80% of all ROS is produced by the mitochondria. These reactive or nascent radical elements (when released within the mitochondria) lead to damage to the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which leads to loss of energy needed for cell growth and function, cell senescence and finally cell death. In the aging process, mtDNA damage occurs over decades. While in infection-inflammation scenario the time is shorter. These ROS and RNS liberations are directly related to the TNFa and NFkB production.

Breast Implants: Recent studies have shown a higher risk of Malignant Lymphoma arising in the breasts of patients with breast implants. Questions remain as to the inflammatory link as the probable causality.

Mutation of the c-Myc and the K-Ras genes lead to the production of TNFa and NFkB, both within the tissue cells and the mitochondria spontaneously thus liberating the ROS and RNS (Oxidative Stressors)

Aspirin. A large meta-analysis of eight studies done by Rothwell et al revealed that those individuals talking daily aspirin had a 60% lower risk of colo-rectal cancer and a 30% lowered risk of other solid malignancies.

Natural agents: Fruits, vegetables, legumes and spices are notable in their ability to reduce inflammatory response.

Curcumin used in curry has been shown to decrease the levels of Y+TNFa and NFkB in the blood of individuals consuming curcumin when exposed to inflammatory provocations. In addition there was a reduction by 40% of abnormal crypt formation in the intestines of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which also is proof positive.

Green Tea, Red wine, grape juice and other bioflavonoid also reduce the ROS liberation and the inflammatory response.

Hippocrates: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Potential mechanisms:
Increased insulin secretion from the pancreas into the portal circulation may lead to increased hepatic growth hormone–mediated synthesis of IGF-1. High-normal levels of insulin, C-peptide, and IGF-1 have been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers in epidemiological studies.

An analysis of 12 prospective studies reported that men with serum IGF-1 levels in the highest quintile of the population range had an odds ratio of 1.38 for developing prostate cancer, compared with men with the lowest IGF-1 levels not all studies have reported positive findings.

In vitro, both IGF-1 and insulin stimulate the proliferation of tumor cells lines. In vivo animal studies have demonstrated that endogenous hyperinsulinemia increases the growth and metastasis of mammary tumors, while increased circulating IGF-1 levels increased the growth and metastases of colon cancers in mice.

Many tumors are known to overexpress the IR, and some studies have reported that higher expression of the IR is associated with a worse prognosis.

Therefore, in obesity, diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome, glucose may be playing a role in concert with hyperinsulinemia, inflammation, adipokines, and altered estrogen levels.

Similarly, increased endogenous estrogen levels have been reported to increase the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer twofold. Obesity has long been known to be associated with increased circulating estrogen levels, due to increased aromatase activity in adipose tissue. In addition, insulin-resistant women have suppressed hepatic production of sex hormone–binding globulin, leading to increased levels of free estrogen. More recent studies have also demonstrated that obese women express increased levels of aromatase in breast stromal tissues, the expression of which is increased by inflammatory mediators including TNF-α, IL-1β, prostaglandin E2, and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)
The estrogen receptor (ER) and IGF-1R are known to have significant cross-talk in the normal mammary gland and breast cancer.

Obesity is considered a state of chronic inflammation. In obesity, adipocytes increase in size and have a greater number of macrophages. Adipose tissue macrophages secrete a number of inflammatory molecules including IL-6 and TNF-α.

Increased IL-6 levels have been implicated in the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma and ovarian, prostate, and breast cancer.

IL-6 has also been implicated in the development of breast cancer metastases by inducing changes in cells that lead them to have greater invasive and migration properties: a phenomenon known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition. TNF-α has also been seen to play a role in tumor promotion. TNF-α is associated with increased colon tumor growth in animal models and with more aggressive prostate cancer and in breast adipose tissue has been shown to increase the expression of aromatase. 
Studies have demonstrated cross-talk between IL-6 and epidermal growth factor receptor signaling in epidermal growth factor receptor–driven breast cancer.

Knocking down IL-6 was also associated with a decrease in the number of tumor-associated macrophages. Tumor-associated macrophages are a source for cytokines and TNF-α and may contribute to tumor growth and metastases.

Low adiponectin levels and high leptin have been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancers in a cohort study nested within the Women’s Health Initiative cohort. Leptin is also a proangiogenic factor and increases the expression of matrix metalloproteases (MMP-2 and MMP-9) that are important for cell invasion.

The bottom line is simple: Obesity is linked with chronic Inflammation and the latter drives the wheel of misfortune (cancer).

"Live Long and Prosper: Eat less (consider fasting a few days a month a prelude to healthy living), Exercise more (Walking daily for an hour) and De-stress a bit (don't take everything seriously)."


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Friday, September 12, 2014

TIME to say "HELLO"

Can we quantify and qualify everything we do?

Is that a good thing?

Think about the latest craze about wearables. Our heart rates, respirations, movements are being monitored and stored in some digital universe for retrieval later by us or someone else all the time. There are methods measuring the measures that measure our progress or lack thereof. There is a constant cacophony of “talking heads” on television that it is a must for the 21st Century being to make certain that each step is quantified, each wink immortalized, each view in the mirror, mirrored to the world and each thought expressed. The makers of the wearables are eager to have you buy the latest greatest gizmo and attach it to your limb, body, ear or eye in the hopes of gathering data about the “pathetic’ populace that is so out of touch with itself in staying healthy. In so doing they are tethering us into this virtual world of electronic emptiness.

I wonder…

What did the older generations do?

Really what did they do?

Asking a 90 year old and his response is simple. “We played stick ball in the streets and our elders watched from the sidelines keeping a watchful eye on traffic.” He added, “”We played football with a stuffed toy, or jumped in a brook nearby to cool down.”


“Yes and we were as thin as rails.” I could throw a stick like a javelin, hurl a ball as a hammer throw and swim like a fish in a lake. Yes we did all that and more!” He closes his eyes to the present in search of a distant but a pleasing past.

Now we have a constant flow of gadgets and gizmos galore that a 3 year-old can expertly navigate to the latest You-Tube video of Disney character in under ten seconds and there sit with eyes staring at the flicker of the screen, mesmerized by the limits of time during which the adult seeks refuge in their virtual world transgressions.

Is the progress we seek that is around us today, the progress we sought in days past? Apparently it is, after all we are here. The verse has changed. Maybe it needs a revision?

Asking a 20 year old and her response is simpler. “Umm…” as her eyes are glazed over by the flicker of her computer screen.

We want connections, we want to be liked for all the selfish reasons, we want to have a constant wave of onlookers that give “thumbs up” and a one word response of “Great, Brilliant, Excellent,” or the implied sentiment thru, “LOL, LMAO or some other contrived messaging that appeals to the vacuous nature of such connections.” We fear direct contact for fear of appearing stupid, or quiet or humble. We fear our real life persona might not hold up the candle to the digital persona we have crafted. And we are constantly in the narcissistic jungle of “how much and how many” virtual beings we have. Whereas taking a "selfie" is an immediacy for gratification, drawing a sketch is losing oneself on the road less traveled, which brings with it unimaginable happiness and satisfaction.

Maybe it is time to recognize that measuring, messaging and living in the digitally archived virtual world is not the real reality. It limits activity, which limits the fecundity of the brain and makes us all lethargic. This virtual existence damages our real connections, isolates us into compartments and groups and cabals that function to self-glorify. It makes for an under-nourished mind, a weaker thought and a “followers” instinct-a drone, rather than a leader’s virtue.  

Maybe we should learn to “feel” the touch, “hear” the angst of another being and “see” the wonder in someone’s eyes. And from there gather what is and what needs to be.

Maybe it is time to power down the wearables. Shut the flicker on the screen. Stop looking at the digital world for a response and move into existential reality.

Maybe it is time to say, “FUGGADABOUTIT!”

And maybe it is time to say, “HELLO!”

.....Rather than just write it an be governed by "Morons," Peter Drucker's term for computers.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

SOLITUDE, the Power of SILENCE and the neon gods!

Several years ago upon walking into the room of an elderly patient in the hospital, the noise of my heels on the floor startled her out of a sleep state or so I thought. I apologized and she shrugged it off. She was 91 years old with a long history of chronic leukemia. Two days later, I happen to walk into the room when her husband who was 90 years sat by her bedside. He was holding her hand and as I approached she was again startled out of her reverie. Again with deep apologies I examined her and noted her progress and left the room. She continued to improve and was discharged a few days later. I realized as I reflect back on that time; the power of silence.

There is something to be said about the power of silence. We are constantly inundated with powerful messaging, the clink and clang of technology, the seduction of verbal contact, the force to communicate to everyone, to no one in particular or just reclaim the beast of “being alive.” Where has all that solitude gone?

A person seeking solitude was at first considered a hermit, now he or she is considered an antisocial and in some circles labeled as an anomaly of human behavior. Yet we are forever trying to hide in our rooms, bury our ears beneath pillows to drown out the noise, wear noise-cancelling headsets, turn up the volume of the music that feels good to drown out the cacophony of daily life. Why?

There must be an edge to silence over noise!

What is it?

In Finland the power of branding to increase tourism has taken on a whole new meaning. The country has espoused and advertises the “Silence” to attract tourists as the quiet getaways from the humdrum of daily chaos. And they are winning over the hearts and minds of their segmented population. Wealthy citizens of this world buy islands to escape the ticker-tape of life. Why?

Children growing up, sleep for 12-14 hours a day during their first year of life, this sparks neural growth and their brains increase three times in neural density and synaptic connections. Mice brains relegated to silence also grow more neuronal density. In humans, with neuronal density and a plethora of new synaptic connections, new ideas take shape from old memories and experiences that are stored within. From new ideas come new actions and the world changes! We make better decisions away from the constant noise that robs us of our peace and inner strengths.

Professional skiers, swimmers, runners, and other athletes before any performance will close their eyes and imagine their moves. Why? Because in the quiet of their brain they are able to evoke the countless hours of positive imagery developed and stored during practice and training. Some wear headsets tuned to their favorite music, others just the noise-cancelling headsets for silence.

As the daily grind and the cacophony to join this that and the other, to be known, to be heralded, to be retweeted, to be liked or to be commented about takes over our being, but through it all, the quiet seems also to have a quiet resurgence. In the 1980s 9% of the adult population was single now that number has steadily climbed to 16%. Solitude is not an illness or a disease of the mind. It is a conscious voluntary act of living in harmony. Just like silence is not measurable in ounces or pounds, in dollars and cents or in good and bad, solitude too is without metrics, except maybe in happiness!

Solitude and silence does not mean the absence of love and friendship. It means the opposite: tethered to the wings of silence, the two achieving greater heights in thought, in friendship, in love, in affection and in living.

The 90 year old lived for a few more years in the firm and ever present loving hand of her husband. When they passed away it was within a month of each other. The transference of the sole energy of each other’s silent love ceased and life became meaningless for the survivor. Their love was in the silence and their touch.