31th March 2016

Winter is officially over. Hallelujah, spring is here! The clocks have changed and we have some evening light to play with. So let's make the most of it. Nature is calling and everything is coming back to life!

Life is one big series of experiments

This week was my grandmother's 90th birthday, so the family had a get together. I was sat with my eldest sister watching my two year old nephew playing with a jigsaw puzzle. We were geeking off about how children learn and talking about the learning process.

 Not amused!

Not amused!

I’m fascinated with how we learn. From a young age, my dad helped me to understand that learning is a skill. I now know that there isn’t much beyond our reach, as long as we know how to learn.

Tim Ferriss and Josh Waitzkin are two guys I look up to. They're experts in their craft and they think deeply about the learning process. In a recent podcast (listen here) they discusses how important it is to become a problem solver.

As my namesake once said:

Don’t find fault, find a remedy;
anybody can complain.”
— Henry Ford

Mastering my own health and happiness has been one long problem solving task. Tim Ferriss is a master of self experimentation. His book, The Four Hour Body, is a non stop series of biological experiments. He views life as a series of experiments. The more experiments you run, the more you learn. The more you learn the more successful you can be in any given pursuit.

But self experiment is difficult. It's much easier to listen to the news and popular beliefs. Self experimentation requires patience and persistence. It requires a method of trial and error. It requires the Scientific Method. So let’s take a trip back to school and take a look...

The Scientific Method

Nothing is impervious to corruption, bribery or misperception.  But the scientific method is pretty water tight. It looks a bit like this:

Let's break it down a bit and provide a few examples...

Step 1: Make an observation

One day, after enjoying a few too many cakes, we look in the mirror and see some sizable love handles waving back at us.

Step 2: Ask a question

Wtf! How did this happen? What caused this great injustice?

Step 3: Form a hypothesis

I guess it must be all that cake we've been eating lately.

Step 4: Conduct an experiment to test hypothesis

Let's stop eating cake for the next three weeks. We'll measure our hip to waist ratio now and then again at the end of the three weeks. Let's also measure our weight.

Step 5: Results reject hypothesis

Three weeks of no cake and our weight is the same and we’ve lost nothing off our waist. May be we need to look at the rest our diet diet? Let's return back to Step 3 form another hypothesis. May be it's all those take away meals AND the cake we've been eating.

Step 6: Results accept hypothesis

Three weeks of no cake and the results are in. We've lost three pounds and an inch off our waist. It must have been the cake.

 Mmmmm yummy cake!!!

Mmmmm yummy cake!!!

The Small print

Applying the scientific method requires a rigorous attention to detail. We must try to control as many variables as possible. For example eating a healthier diet may prove to be useless if we are completely stressed out and not sleeping. We should also consider that biology can take it's time to adjust. 

That said, we should pay attention to quantitative and qualitative data. We should track our progress with numbers and with words! Keeping a diary is an excellent way to track how we feel.

Here are a few quotes from the best:

What get’s measured, get’s managed.
— Peter Drucker


If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing.
— Paul Chek

Questioning life

It takes a certain strength of character to stop and question our way of living. The Scientific Method allows us to stop and question our assumptions and then test them. I am looking forward to advances in technology that will make assessing our health much easier.

Right now I am experimenting with something called Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Which will give me a better understanding of stress and fatigue, so I can decide when it's a good time to train and when it's better to rest. Picture from The Heart Math Institute Picture from The Heart Math Institute

Errors in thinking

Many of us reject new ideas before giving them a chance. Whereas others are too easily influenced by what's current and popular. We are all vulnerable to cognitive biases and logical fallacies. Here are a few to get us clued up:

1) Status-Quo Bias

We humans tend to be apprehensive of change. We make choices that guarantee things remain the same, or change as little as possible. We like to stick to our routines, political parties, and favorite meals. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" — an adage that fuels our conservative tendencies.

2) The Illusion of Truth Effect

This is the tendency to believe information to be correct because we are always exposed it. “Repeat something long enough and it will become true". This is a classic when looking at saturated fat. Saturated fat is bad right? Ask yourself whether you know this is true, have you tested this hypothesis?

3) Bandwagon Effect

The tendency to do, or believe things because many other people do, or believe the same. We tend to go along with the crowd, this isn’t always the smartest thing to do.

4) Confirmation Bias

We search for, focus on and remember information that confirms our current preconceptions.

5) Experimenter's or Expectation Bias

The tendency to believe, certify and publish data that agrees with our expectations. And to disbelieve, discard or downgrade data that conflicts our expectations.

6) Observer-Expectancy Effect

When we expect a specific result we unconsciously manipulate the experiment or the data. This should show us exactly what we want to see.

7) Semmelweis Reflex

This is the tendency to reject new evidence that contradicts our current paradigm. A paradigm is a pattern or way of thinking.


After last month's newsletter focusing on sleep, I decided something so important, deserved it's own blog. I also wrote about a scientific phenomenon called Hormesis.


I know a lot of you are busy and don't have time to read longer blogs and some of you just prefer a visual lesson. So here's a selection of the last few videos:


Here are a few of my latest social snaps. I'll be exploring the Peak District a lot more this April, so watch out for some great pictures of me exploring nature!

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Here's a link to my events page where you can learn directly with me. I teach a weekly meditation class and monthly health workshops. Click on the picture below to learn more...


That's all from me and March, take it easy and thanks for reading. Feel free to forward this email onto friends and loved ones. The healthier we all are, the better the world will be, for everyone.

All the best

James @


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