Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"A BET OF SORTS..." (CVS, Obesity, Aviation and Transposons)

What drives human behavior is an argument that has long populated the minds of men and women. Indeed what does?

Is it…?

Ah but then I will give it away too soon.

So let’s look at the social milieu, the push and pull of things and slow emergence of society. Society is dynamic and the equilibria are based on a simple Nash equation. Nothing happens in a social vacuum. Nothing, except a freaked out mind!

We all take risks, don’t we? Of course we do. Getting out of bed to confront a new day is a sort of a potential risk. What dreams might materialize into reality, is the confounding question that haunts the present over the past. You see, there is a certain bet we all make on a daily basis. To each his own bet, though, because living life is an individual enterprise and such thoughts and actions are rarely shared.
Today we learn that obesity is the realm of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. All these ailments have a scientific basis to them. The root cause is anchored in inflammation. So why is the populace still indulgent in the cheese-steaks, the donuts, and other excesses? Well there is also perhaps another reason lurking behind the behavior, and we will get to that too in a little…

And while on this unstructured communication let us look at smoking and drinking. Both such societal norms are curses of enormous vehemence against the human health and overall survival. Yet we maintain our path in spite of warnings on billboards, on the back of buses travelling at high speeds and heart rending ads on the television.

So what gives…?

Humans! (Read: Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk ~ Peter Bernstein)

We are an unstructured evolving beings, gathering, collating, enriching, codes of all assumptions and collection of all experiential referents, which are turned into rhythms that flow into societal behaviors. And we make bets on ourselves, all the while looking and peeking at others. A smoker gathers in the company of other smokers and re-calibrates his or her thinking that there is no harm and what little there is, is ratified in their minds as okay.  He or she finds rationales in archived pseudo-scientific literature to pull data for his or her own mental defense. A type II obese diabetic may find the endorphin release from a sugar rush of a comfort food too difficult to give up. An alcoholic the same! We find solace in the company of other like-minded. That is our inherent religion.

What it is, is the ongoing silent communication within the carefully bounded rationales of the mind!

The other day CVS  decided to take a short term loss for a long term gain benefits to humanity to stop selling cigarettes. It would seem like a good marketing gesture by the company. And all the pundits and experts bowed and prayed to the neon gods they made” that the company found a new religion, with adoration on all fours. But does that really modify the behavior of an individual? I think not. Only education works and a constant flow of real information that people can assimilate and from where they can grow their understanding. So while on its face it might appear a cause celebre. It rarely is.

A similar gesture of “good will” seems to have slid down the Aviation  docket the other day as a “product enhancement” about having pilots with BMI of 40 to undergo a sleep apnea evaluation. This was steeped in no particular study, NTSB finding or for that matter in anything remotely scientific. But there it was. The long arm of the pseudo-science and polity it appears was trying to appease their managerial gods and appear benevolent. It will now as it should require public opinion and a sprinkle of scientific facts before such enactments are deemed mandates. Should obese pilots be grounded? Better yet should obese pilots  undertake some measure of self critique to gain better health? These simple questions simultaneously infringe upon and exploit human endeavor. Mandates are fraught with group-think impositions at best. Appearing to protect by laying down a padded cell is a fragile state that collapses in a heap. It is as Nassim Taleb points out in his book Anti-fragile that human endurance, their survival and "Things that gain from Disorder" are embedded in exposure to and benefiting from risks. The exposure, both experiential and knowledge from others makes us strong! And the longer we mask and hide from the little whips and scorns of life, the more the potential for a calamity - the huge fat tail of a thing! The Transposons (or jumping genes) jump to strengthen the DNA for its survival against the ravages of other microbial life forms. So why this timid stance to create a padded protective cell?

Common sense is rare in today’s circle of intellectuals, especially the “experts” who surround themselves with the same self-fulfilling prophecies of “I am right and you are wrong!”

So in answer to what drives human behavior, question, and the answer you might have guessed by now…it is the Bet of Sorts we all make, against the Odds.

As humans we are all risk takers. It is grafted in our DNA. That is why we landed on the moon and sent the Rover to scope out planet mars. It is why we build things and keep modifying them as we learn our mistakes to make them right. It is why we travel to far away places to learn what was and is over there. It is why we are humans! But Common sense is not that common, because it needs to be cultured. And anyway if you really come down to it...if the middle-man was not paying for the healthcare bills, medical care would be cheap and none of this hue and cry would occupy the media-scape. Now would it? Just a thought.

As Mr. Spock would say:

“Live Long and Prosper!” –and gain Liberty through Knowledge and Understanding.

No comments:

Post a Comment