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Why Book Live Entertainment Part 1: The Reason For Live Entertainment Over TV/Movies/CDs/Video Games/etc

You should book live entertainers so that we can make a living. The end.

No, that is not why you should book us and that certainly shouldn’t be the focus of the entertainer either. Long before television and radio, people actually had to get out of the house and go pay to be entertained at their nearest theatre or concert hall / dime museum. This wasn’t like going to the movies, going to be entertained was a special event, people paid a good sum of money, they dressed their best and expected to stay the entire day or at least several hours because various performances would be showcased. Then there came the radio, then the motion picture followed by talking televisions. It was originally predicted that the first commercially available TVs would not sell because “no one wanted to sit in front of a box”. Today there is a television in every room in every house here in the United States and at least one TV in every house in Canada, UK, Japan & Australia (the US is more obsessed about TVs than their counterparts).

There is something that live performance has that television can’t provide – real human contact. One of the best things about going to see a show in a theatre is the intimacy between the performers and the audience. Television doesn’t offer that. Live entertainment also requires more use of imagination from the audience, the use of imagination overload is correlated with increase in creative thinking so there is a psychological benefit to live entertainment as well.

“But it’s so expensive to go to a theatre/concert!”. Yes, live entertainment is more expensive to produce, plus the performers don’t get the wide viewing benefit that cinemas offer. As you’ll see, the cost is nothing compared to the other benefits….

Live entertainment is much more flexible. Say you had a date scheduled but something came up and the event had to be postponed for a later date in the near future. Maybe that’s extreme – lets say you have a specific need that needs to be tailored to – any professional live entertainer be it a musician or a mentalist such as myself should have the capability to make adjustments. You can’t get that with television. Live entertainment once again provides that human factor that many answering machines and TV doesn’t offer.

“Why do you charge so much?” Here is the thing about paying for entertainment – you get what you pay for. That saying is more true here than anywhere else. Those that charge less are usually either not full time or they are starting out and lack the experience. Being a entertainer is a profession much like being a doctor or a lawyer, many of us have spent a lot of time, effort and money in improving what we do, studying what we do, getting the needed training/education. We make a living. Now, this may sound like greed but think about this for a second – take performer number 1 who charged $50.00, performer #2 who charges $150.00 and Performer #3 who charges $500.00. How do you perceive the $50 performer in comparison to the $150 versus the $500? Chances are you perceive prestige and respect for the $500 and you feel cautious about the $50. Your gut instinct knows that you get what you pay for. I have found in my own personal experience that charging more, while not always necessary will not only guarantee that I the performer will be able to rest for a while but that I will be treated better and my job will be made a lot easier. The reason for this is simple – we have respect and we take care of the things that we are most invested in.  Remember something you were given for free? How did you take care of that free thing versus the thing that you had to spend a lot of money on? Assuming that free thing isn’t something that is easily replaceable, chances are you treated the expensive object better than the cheap easily replaceable.

“But I’m Still Not Convinced”… People have been throwing events ever since the wheel was invented – especially the Ancient Greeks & Romans. Parties were thrown in celebration and as an attempt to impress friends. This tradition of throwing parties and subconsciously trying to impress people still resonates to the 21st Century. We spend days planning and investing as much money as possible to make it work. People are looking to have a good time, what better way than to include that human factor that comes with live entertainment?

This was a brief bit of persuasion and I will get into me specifically later on in another blog update.

 

Going For The Gold – Talent Competitions & How To Win Them

I don’t do talent contests very often – they are a LOT of work to get ready for and there is no promise of anything in return but I have done enough contests in my career both in the magic community and before laymen that I know how the game works. To be fair and blunt – the game is rigged but not the way you think. Competing isn’t going to gain you any brownie points but you will learn quickly your short comings and your strengths. If the process isn’t too soul crushing you will become addicted.  Talent agents don’t frequent most contests, a bulk of your audience will be the families of your competitors so they won’t have any interest in your success nor will they think about booking you. In most small contests you will get the honor of watching your competitors do their act and you will quickly start to think you are better or that you may not make it.

19397173_1884882981785685_255207297144744222_n
Competing isn’t something I do much, it’s a lot of work with no guarantee of anything in return. I’ve accumulated 6 awards total throughout my magic career but these 4 are honorable mentions. The big one on the right that looks like a beauty pageant trophy is the one I received today at the McCracken County Fair Talent Contest- the other 3 I got all in the same year

Before I go any further allow me to share with you my competition / award resume:

FBLA Region 2 Talent Show 2008 – 2nd Place Most Talented

McCracken County Fair Talent Show 2017 – 2nd Place

The following awards were not from contests per se but from my overall contribution to my industry but I include them because it took talent and time to get them:

IBM Ring 37 Spirit of Magic Award 2009

IBM Ring 37 Young Magician Of The Year 2009

I no longer have the score sheet to prove the following but I know it existed at one point:

                                      IBM Ring 37 Magic Contest 2011 – 4th Place

Every magic or talent contest I did not place in came extremely close and if I can remember I will upload scanned copies of the score sheets so you’ll know how close.

Now here are the secrets to winning a talent contest in general. Mind you, judging is very subjective and the decisions are final and the hard work you put in may add up to nothing (which is why I don’t do these things often). Here are the secrets to winning:

* Be Original                                                                                                                                           * Get The Crowd To laugh

If you are planning on competing in a magic contest these are helpful guidelines: if you manage to do all of the following you will more than one of these you will most certainly win. Judges in magic contest are judging the participants on the following:

*Originality                                                                                                                                              * Technique                                                                                                                                  *Overall Entertainment.

The most recent talent contest I entered which was just this past Saturday (6/24/17) was a county fair talent show some 45 minutes away from home. There were about 3 dancers, 1 instrumentalist, about 26 musicians/ singers and only 1 variety entertainer (me).

Talent contests teach you humility 

When and if you get to watch the other competitors you will see what you are up against. I have seen very good fellow competitors who I honestly thought would do better than I did, and sometimes they did. But with my last contest – along with every contest I have entered and placed in – originality triumphed. What I was doing wasn’t new, I never reinvented the wheel – I was not everyone else. I provided the judges and the audience a recess from the musicians.

Now that’s originality in non-magic contests….

If you are a magician thinking about competing in a contest – originality means 1044394_10200569440532169_1132731596_nsomething different. Originality in magic IS reinventing the wheel, doing something no one has ever done before. IT IS HARD, a lot of times I thought I had created something new only to find out that it had been done before ( me preparing for the 2009 IBM International Gold Cups back in 2009 was spent experimenting and having my spirit crushed because  when I found out what I had come up with, was not new).

There is a financial bias in the magic contests – those who can afford a contest coach and director are the ones guaranteed to win or come in close.

No matter what type of talent contest you enter – you will NOT win your first time. Contests are not a monolithic structure, what worked in one is not always going to work in another, many times it takes 2 -3 tries at the same contest ( 2-3 years of attending and competing).

WHY IN THE HELL would someone go through the trouble of competing if the odds are stacked against them? One simple answer – it is FUN, you WILL meet people, you Will make friends with your competitors that may last for a lifetime and it keeps YOU ON YOUR TOES and exposes you to your own short comings. Plus the feedback you get from the judges can be life changing.

What is the competition culture like? Is it toxic? Backstabbing? No, everyone gets along fine. Everyone is experiencing the pressure and know that it is evolutionary beneficial to be helpful to each other than a hinder. In BIG contests such as America’s Got Talent, Britain’s Got Talent, Australia’s Got Talent, Belgium’s Got Talent, The International Brotherhood of Magician’s International Gold Cup & Gold Stage, The Society of American Magician Competition and the FISM – competitors will wait in what is called the Green Room. They are barred from watching the other contestants but they have access to light refreshments and they can mingle with their competitors – or do quick rehearsals and tech checks while they wait. It can take HOURS before you or anyone else can leave the Green Room. It is best to just keep to yourself, everyone should be mentally preparing themselves and distractions can really peeve some.

Most talent contests won’t give you anything in return but you can use the results as marketing leverage as I have done both with the Press and in my marketing media.11896206_10205752051854213_6503114309543324701_n

 

Bad Advice I Overheard At The Local Coffee & Donut Place

I’m 26 and a half years old. I’m legally, intellectually and biologically an adult and I try to do adult things even though I have never been this old before. One of my daily or at least bi-daily activities is wake up and go to the local donut place. I go there mainly to get out of the house, drink a glass of iced coffee and read some. It helps me wake up.  There are always the usual customers – I don’t talk to anyone because my mission is to wake my brain up and plan the day.

Anyway the young cashier who always takes my order when I’m there was on her break and she sat down in the loveseat in front of me. A regular began chatting her up. I paid no attention to the conversation but I heard that they were talking about what she planned to do once she goes to college. I began adjusting my attention to the conversation because I felt that it was going to get interesting. The regular who was chatting her up was about in his late 60’s maybe early 70’s and he gave this young lady the single worst advice anyone could give to a young person;

” Study whatever makes the most money”.

It may be a generation thing or the regular had no idea what he was actually saying. I wanted to interrupt  – I couldn’t get my thoughts in – I regret I couldn’t interrupt this conversation but going to school for money is the single biggest mistake you can make.

You’re passion and curiosity is what should drive you to study at a university. Your passions should be what fuels you. It’s really the only thing that can truly motivate you to get up in the morning. I hope the young cashier doesn’t end up following this sad piece of advice or else she will be destined for a long miserable and pointless existence.

Let’s say you do live for the money – the money being the only reason for your existence, the only reason why you get up in the morning. When will enough be enough? How will you fair when there is an economic apocalypse?

There is a trend – a soul sucking relationship that follows those who have fallen in love with money; paranoia, anxiety, narcissism, apathy and anti-social personality disorders. There is also the addiction aspect – your brain thinks money is a drug and the obsession for money can activate the same reward system the brain uses when on drugs. http://www.npr.org/2009/08/07/111579154/study-your-brain-thinks-money-is-a-drug

I’m not trying to say money is the enemy – however most people have an unhealthy relationship with money. Most people are psychologically too immature to have money. Right now at this moment 6.9.17 @ 9:46 AM I am broke. I am broke for the first time in a LONG time. This month was an expensive month and I’m not at all worried because I know this is only until tomorrow when I get paid and I had invested pieces of my wealth into assets and investments so I am not in a “financial starvation mode”.

I’m not going to talk about investing here but if you need to reevaluate and renegotiate your relationship with money I suggest picking up the book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and stop putting money as the top priority for your existence

Street Performance – The “Ugly” Truth

I have a few street performances under my belt.  I don’t consider this my target venue but on occasions I’ve found that it can be a powerful business move and I do it at least twice a year or sometimes more. Many people have the misconceptions about street performances or street magicians in general. You think of street shows you think of a one or two things; a homeless person trying to make a quick buck or an eccentric (like David Blaine or Criss Angel) going around and interrupting strangers to show them something for the camera. The former is probably more closer to reality than the latter.

Street performing is NOT walking around and interrupting strangers. Yes people are taking 30 seconds to a full hour or so out of their day to watch you but it isn’t random – it is planed by the performer. Be the performer a musician, a magician, clown, juggler – whatever- each street performance is strategically planned out by the performer prior. The location, the clothing, how the performer intends to interact with the pedestrians walking by, how they will deal with the police or anyone who tries to give them trouble – all of it is well planned in advanced.

My earlier days in street performing I was honestly under the delusion that you had to be spontaneous and bug the living Hell out of innocent people in order to build a crowd. I’ve grown out of that mentality thanks to a book I will recommend later on.

Street performance that you see David Blaine do on TV does not exist. Street magic does not exist, it is a simple term used by the television networks to boost ratings. If you attempt to perform the same way as Blaine and Angel – your success rate will be ZERO. People do not like being approached by strangers. People are too busy and people are too cautious.

Busking on the other hand is what is meant by street performing. Busking is the art of attracting attention, building a crowd and passing the hat. Busking is the oldest form of theatre. I won’t go through the fine details in the busking process here – I do recommend picking up The Secret Art of Magic by Eric Evans & Nowlin Craver ( this book has been long out of print but you might be able to find it used on the web.) This book is two books in one – it is The Art of War by Sun Tzu and the Secret Art of Magic all in one. There are no revelation of methods in its pages – it is a guide book using Chinese warfare wisdom for the busker.

The two greatest threats a busker will face while out performing is the weather and the police. Being an outside performer – you are at the mercy of the weather. As for the police – they will look for any excuse to shut you down. Even though the right to assemble is a protected right and the right to travel is a Universally declared human right- many cities in the US have felt the need to charge performers or fine them for not paying. Usually the fee for a permit is $15 and it can cover you for a full year. When you are stopped by the police (even if you have a permit – some may insist that what you are doing is still illegal) just cooperate and leave the area. ( I am not an attorney,  I will not go any further in giving you legal advice – use your best judgments – or you can purchase a pocket US Constitution from the ACLU at their website).

There is one other threat to the street performer – it statistically never happens but one should still use caution – other people. This is a bigger problem in Europe than it is in the US – pickpocket thieves like to stick close to street performers – picking the spectators blind. There is also the off beat chance (You probably never will have this happen to you) that someone in the audience will try to rob you as well. Best line of defense is keep everything close to you, locked up when not in use and never leave your items unattended.

Why Open Mic Nights -or Free Entertainment Is KILLING Local Artists.

There are some good in Open Mic sessions for performing artists – it’s a laboratory to test out unproven material without risking anything – the venue doesn’t have to risk paying Cummings_BrickandStone.jpgfor a failed experiment and you don’t have to worry about paying the venue to perform your unproven material. If you are a beginner in the world of showbiz it’s a good way to break out of your comfort zone and get used to standing in front of people (there are better ways to do this – such as taking public speaking classes at your local University but lets set that aside for the moment).

Open Mic can seem like a good way to raise public awareness about your existence and what you do however it is a huge gamble:

Cummings_BandsawBoxOpen Mic Nights are to the professional entertainers as Walmart is to small local business – it’s free and it eats the little man up. By default people are drawn to FREE or low cost commodities. Why risk a few $$$ when you can get instant gratification for FREE or cheap? The problem with instant gratification is that you didn’t work for it. Problem with free or cheap commodities is that you didn’t work for it – the psychology of feeling contempt sets in. Things people don’t invest in – they will treat with the uttermost disregard and content.  Walmart knows that people would rather get that instant gratification and feel bitter about it later than to risk a little and see high results. This is why Super Markets like Walmart & Sams Club HURTS small local businesses.

 

Smart people know that there is satisfaction in high quality and high price. High price/fee means high quality.

I see this all the time – most who perform Open Mic are not very good entertainers nor are they professionals. They lack the discipline that comes with living from the trade. As consequence they treat their “craft” like the audience treats them – with disregard, 18199418_1859179687689348_3662437954234856956_ndisrespect and contempt.  If you are a entertainer looking to go pro – do not stay too long in the open mic arena. I can easily equate open mics to magic clubs – only 1 or 2 are professionals and the rest haven’t got a clue what to do and they help you foster bad habits that will prevent you from advancing and you end up in a vicious cycle.

“But you are overgeneralizing Jordan” you maybe thinking to yourself – It’s not overgeneralizing when you see a consistency in the results – free shows will always get you free shows. The ONLY time you should ever take up a free show or service is if you are auditioning for a clientele – much like a car dealer lets the buyer test drive a car before a deal is made. People love choices but you should never make the offer a permanent thing – DEMAND a fee. Untitled

You should always charge what you feel is you are worth. If you feel you are worth $1,000,000 then you should probably charge $1,000,000 (but be realistic about it or you may severely damage your prospect pool). I don’t give everyone the same fee – my corporate clients is a different story – but for general consumers I try to match fee with a wide variety of variables that I won’t mention here ( to keep my competitors ignorant).

I have luckily never came across this personally but I have heard it being asked from my industry peers – why do you charge so much? There are two answers to the question and Heath Ledger’s Joker gives a good solid answer. Cummings_Bitch,TryMe

The second reason is because showbusiness is business and money is the blood of business. You need to spend in business and as Dan Kennedy wisely stated – the business that spends the most survives.

If life was perfect and simple I can make a wager that many entertainers would have no problem doing things for free or low cost.

I bought my first house in the late Spring of 2015. It was a Duplex. Almost a year later my tenant notified me that her hot water heater had busted. During the process of getting it replaced I asked my real estate agent if the hot water heater on my side had been recently replaced and I got a confirmation. So my tenant got her hot water installed brand new. This previous February (2017) MY hot water heater exploded as well. I was confused. I later found out that the previous owner DID replace my hot water heater – the key word is replaced but not brand spanking new. The old owner of the duplex was a cheapskate who was contempt with low pay and low quality at the sake of sparing expense. Both hot water heaters were 15 years overdue even though they had been installed a year before I bought the place. There is a positive relationship between quality and price. When you pay cheap for live entertainment you will get low quality entertainment. You cannot expect to pay $50 for an adult ticket to a Broadway show and expect a good show – it never happens. Broadway will never sell themselves short like that- they spend well over $5,000,000 + putting a show together, getting it advertised, paying the actors and crew, why would they sell a front row adult ticket for $50? There is no motive.

Back to Open Mic Sessions… I have seen a positive correlation in Open Mics, the Venues that host them and the demographics of the people who attend (but don’t perform) in them – Blue Collar, underpaid, grumpy often drunk as a skunk middle agers with an income of less than $25,000 a year. There is also a positive relationship between what a performer is getting paid/ charging and how the clientele will treat them – again people care for the things that they invest in. If you are hoping to charge $500 – your clientele are not going to be in the Open Mic audience. There is also a high probable chance that those in the audience are NOT listening to you – they are spending their hard earned money on booze and with the inhibitions of alcohol – they can hardly give a rats ass for what you are doing. They aren’t paying to see you – why should they care? Why should they even bother asking you for business when they can just come see free entertainment at the price of booze?

The only good thing Open Mic can provide for a professional entertainer is a laboratory to test unproven material. I wouldn’t waste any energy in trying to market to the crowd that attend – your pitch will fall on drunken deaf ears.

Epigenetics- Your Genes Are Changing & You May Have Some Control.

We’ve all been exposed to genetics in basic High School biology. Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) is the sacred LEGO block of

4×4 Punnett Square – a simple model for understanding probability of inheritance. Some punnett squares can be even more complex.

Nature. The DNA strain is a double helix made up of genes (groups of nuclei). Each gene carries with it a trait that is either expressed in an organism or is recessive. That’s it, that’s the most basic of High School Biology. Unfortunately that is what many people think – you have the gene because your parents had the gene and it is their fault for giving it to you and there is nothing you can do about it.

The study of genetics began with the study of heredity. The idea that the offspring exhibit traits similar to that of their parents has been known as a fact for a long time and for a long time genetics was that simple. Charles Darwin was probably one of the most noted forefather o

This Double Helix contains all the genetic information that makes you you

f the field of study. It was his observation that led him to his legendary idea of Evolution By Means of Natural Selection.  Charles Darwin did not have the knowledge or the technology to understand why – it wasn’t until 1865 – some 10 years later that Gregor Mendal  started conducting experiments on plants. It wasn’t until 1953 that the double helix model was created by Francis Crick & James Watson. At that time the genetic code was cracked. At the same time it was discovered that DNA duplicates – thus allowing cell growth. As a review because it should be well known by the reader – the genetic code is Adenine, Thymine  (AT) & Cytosine & Guanine ( CG) as base pairs, always in that pair. The arrangement of the base pairs creates a trait that is either recessive or dominant.

That is how basic biology has been taught. HOWEVER

it is much more complicated….

GENES don’t do just one thing. In fact – there are specific types – each active in certain cells of the body. You have genes specific for neurons, skin cells, red and white blood cells, etc etc. You also have regulatory genes – these genes control what genes get expressed and when. Regulatory genes are the on-off switches. You also have Master /PAX-6 genes which are responsible in the development of the embryo of an organism.

Albert Bandura was an American Psychologist who is most noted for his study with aggression

Child Beating On The Bobo doll After Watching An Adult – Lets Blame The Parents

in children. In his 1961 study, Bandura had children in his laboratory playing in a small room with double mirrored walls for observation. The key focus of the room was the bobo doll (a large inflatable punching bag in the shape of a clown, a classic children’s toy). The children paid no mind to the large toy, not until a research assistant entered the room and began to punch and kick the doll. After leaving the room the children began to mimic what they saw the adult do – punching, kicking and beating the crap out of the toy. Not surprisingly when the study was made public – the public lost their mind. It was confirmed in the eyes of the public that behavior and other traits are a result of the environment – a suspicion created and fueled by the Behaviorists at the time – Behaviorists like Pavolv & John B. Watson who militantly defended the notion that the environment alone makes us what we are rather than inheritance. The 1960’s was a time of the fear of the “refridgerator moms” – parent’s who didn’t provide enough emotional support to their children would end up having delinquent children no matter what.

Luckily – the study of epigenetics has taken the world of biological sciences by storm – specially the areas of neuropsychology, cancer research, HIV and Stem Cell studies. Epgenetics is the study of the relationship and interaction between genes and the environment. As it turns out – the outside environment has some degree of influence on how a trait is expressed (or if it gets expressed at all).

While Epigenetics has take

You Thought You Were Off The Hook. It’s common knowledge that smoking & drinking while pregnant can have severe consequences on the embryo of a child – stress while pregnant can be just as risky.

n much of the blame off of the parents – the mother is still not off the hook just yet – while genes are turning on and off from the environment as we go about our lifespan – prenatal stress from the mother can also play a hand. Prenatal stress can also play a hand in a child’s risk for Neurogenic Syndrome Disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the child’s sexual orientation or whether they will have behaviors stereotypical of male or female.

Epigenetics & You

Much like everything else – we have some control of our own destinies. We may not be able to help ourselves in determining when we will be born, who our parents will be or what area of the world we are born into but we are not the victims of birth. Just because your parents or grandparents had a trait doesn’t necessarily mean

“You Are Not Your Genes” – Dean Ornish (TED Talk)

you will obviously have the trait too (dominant exhibition of the trait). It simply means you are a carrier and at risk for that gene to be expressed. If cancer runs in the family – you might want to put on sunscreen, avoid alcohol and tobacco as much as you can. If diabetes or obesity runs in the family – you can help your situation by watching what you eat, exercising at least 3 days a week for 20-30 minutes. There are many steps one can take to help yourself. Your genes are the gun – how you set your environment up is your trigger..

Reference:

Association of Psychological Science (2012) Bandura & Bobo. www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/observer/obsonline/bandura-and-bobo.html#.WK-mKG_yt0w

Grezinko, N., Schmitz, R. (2012) Maternal Stress During Pregnancy: ADHD Symptomatology in Children & Genotype. J Can Acade Child & Adolescent Psychiatry http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3269259/

DNA From The Beginning Master genes control body plans www.dnaftb.org/37/

Bio Explorer History of Genetics www.bioexplorer.net/history_of_biology/genetics/

Ornish, D. You Are Not Your Genes. TED Talk

 

The A-Hole Wolf

There are many myths and misconceptions in science that need to die;

“Autism is caused by Vaccines”, “Gun mufflers silence the sound of guns”,  “redheads and blonds are going extinct”, “Humans only use 15% of their brain”, “One dog year is equal to 7 human years” are a few of many myths and misconceptions people have that science has long since DEBUNKED.

An overlooked misconception – or shall I say a misinterpreted piece of pseudoscience is the idea of the “Alpha Wolf”.  The idea behind this myth is simple; wolf packs are governed by a single patriarch – a male who has risen to the top of the social ladder by brute force. This “alpha male”, according to the myth has access to all the food and the females he desires and any other male who tries to interfere with the “alpha” in his sexual prowl will either be killed or chased out of the pack. There is just one problem with this narrative; it never happens in the wild.

The origin of this myth goes back to the 1960’s when a researcher by the name of L. David Mech made observation notes of a wolf pack. This observation made note of aggressive anti-social behavior the wolves had. The findings were published in the 1970’s and titled; “The Wolf: Ecology & Behavior of an Endangered Species”. The observation was junk science to begin with. The observations were made on…. Wolves raised in captivity. Wolves in the wild do not behave as Mech noted in his book. Science has corrected itself, Mech himself even noted corrections in his website and his book was revised and reprinted in 1981.

No problem -no damage done right? Wrong!

A simple revision has stopped millions from proliferating the myth. National Geographic’s “Dog Whisper” hosted by “professional dog training guru” Cesar Millan has given the myth some steroids. Millan has been busted numerous times using animal behavior modification techniques that border animal abuse and cruelty. His methods stress that the dog owner must be the “alpha of the pack” by resorting to physically punishment and even psychological torture of the dog.

No matter how you may try and pretend – dog brains are not human brains. Dogs, much like young human children lack the ability to link cause and effect. While smacking a child before they touch a hot stove is effective, and pulling a dog back with the leash from sniffing a dead animal is effective – if your learning model is based solely on punishment – neither the dog or the child will learn. Science has found that positive reinforcement is a far better teaching model than positive punishment.

The consequences of using punishment heavy learning techniques has been fully understood and is equally applicable to all higher level animals (dogs, humans, non-human primates, etc). Consequences can range from repeat offense, learned helplessness, resentment, stress, depression and sometimes severe psychosis. Go to any dog park anywhere in the US and you will see the Alpha technique be used and it always ends in disaster – the animal re offends,  the animal becomes aggressive out of frustration and even someone else’s dog becomes the target of the punishment.

Lets step away from the Animal Kingdom and look at the dangers of the “Alpha” paradigm in human society:

While humans are biologically and anatomically animals – we possess a cognitive ability that is not present in any other organism. Attributing and translating animal behavior into humans doesn’t work – in fact human society is stratified and rigorous. So much so that we categories our own species into groups based on sex, weight, height, geographical location and economics. While it is theoretically possible to have social mobility – it only happens once in a blue moon and only when certain steps have been met.

The Earliest Ancestor of the Alpha paradigm in humans comes from Herbert Spencer who extended Charles Darwin’s Natural Selection into human society. Spencer’s Social Darwinism was a misinterpretation of Darwin’s work and stressed that the only way you can have social mobility is by violent ruthlessness – much like Mech’s wolf.

Very recently has the Alpha paradigm crept its way into the dating scene and it became a best seller with Pick Up Artists and it branched off into other subcultures of misogyny. PUA constituents were (and still are) encouraged to be violent and to never take NO as an answer. It mustn’t be said of the disaster this has caused, in the dawn of 2014 Elliot Rodgers went on a bloody rampage in Isla Vista California  – days prior he made numerous YouTube manifestos and every single one of them have elements of Spencer’s Social Darwinism & Mech’s botch study.

The myth of the Alpha doesn’t seem to be dying faster. We can speed up the process by being vocal, learning correct research based dog training, reading animal behavior research and cracking down on any sort of testosterone inspired violence.

Beware of Junk – Science

I know I said I was going to continue covering play, creativity and genius this month but something came up and I felt like I needed to address it. Yes I’m beating a dead horse but the horse hasn’t completely died which is why it is important that we keep having this conversation….

JUNK science is alive and well  just as fake news despite the crackdown by social media outlets and Google.

I was pushed to comment on this after watching a TED talk video by Molly Crockett a neuropsychologist (AKA neuroscientist). Crockett talks about how marketers use junk science in their marketing efforts to get us to buy a product. Claims like “this will make you smarter”, ” improve your memory” or in the case of lumosity.com “extreme brain training for a healthier brain.”

You may know this already but you may not be as familiar with it. What is pseudoscience? Pseudoscience also referred commonly as junk science is any statement that use scientific principles without actually having any basis in science. Pseudoscience attempts to make a theory without a hypothesis and a hypothesis without any data. Pseudoscience claims are post-hoc assumptions made in a factual statement. Another possible characteristic of pseudoscience is that their claims cannot be tested scientifically (mainly because their theory was made prior to any data collection).

In Marketing, commerce, etc. Pseudoscience can be as innocent in appearance as simply appearing to look scientific. There are two ways you can convince someone that something has more credibility simply by wearing a white lab coat or showing someone a picture of a brain.

While little white lies at times can be harmless – they can be downright dangerous. Pseudoscience is often supplemented with various logical fallacies – the most noted ones to date are anecdotal claims. Anecdotal claims have given strength to pseudoscience such as the anti-vaccination movement, big foot sightings and faith-healing. The anecdotes often go along the lines of ” I know of someone who knew someone who died a week after receiving that new vaccine” or ” I know someone who was seconds from death when all of the sudden we saw improvements just moments after such and such said a prayer.” Anecdotal claims almost always go against well established fact. Vaccines are safe, sure on occasion someone may experience an allergic reaction, vaccination injuries have been known to happen but it’s rare.

Another tactic pseudoscience utilizes is one of our most primitive of emotions – fear.

                          

When IBM’s  Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in a game of computerized Chess in 1997 it marked the first time an artificial intelligence defeated a chess champion. As one would believe – the fear that A.I would dominate our species was of great concern.

20 years later and despite all the worries of the uninformed – Artificial Intelligence is no more smarter than it was back in 1997 or the 1940’s. Computers have yet to gain autonomy. Despite for Google’s push for autonomous vehicles – computers cannot identify objects the same way that humans can. The war between man and the machine is at a stand still.

Fear is one of the oldest emotions we experience, it’s understandable for survival unfortunately pseudoscience advocates use this human vulnerability to their advantage.  Despite not having a single shred of evidence – many doomsayers proclaim that the apocalypse will occur every New Years.

Pseudoscience & fear-mongering are detrimental to the progressive nature of Science and discovery. Fear that X would lead to Y and cause Z are what lobbyists use to dissuade the funding for scientific research. Fear that vaccines would cause irreversible damage to the human body only leads to to those who need the vaccine the most (children ) from getting it plus the onset of super bugs that come about as a result of mutation from having infected a unvaccinated host.

There is a cure to Pseudoscience – that is real science. You can fight against pseudoscience by asking hard questions, demand evidence, question authority, question any website with a .com or a .net.