How does our focused attention relate to what we call “consciousness”? What types of attention are out there, and what are the functions of each type? Professor Michael Graziano explores this and more in his book Rethinking Consciousness: A Scientific Theory of Subjective Experience.
Author Michael Graziano is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University, and he has written multiple books on neuroscience, evolution, and human nature. The Graziano Lab at Princeton focuses on the brain basis of consciousness, based on attention schema theory, which was formulated by Professor Graziano.
I talked with Professor Graziano about his book and concepts related to consciousness. The mechanistic approach he brings to the topic is something that I am able to relate with.
what Professor Graziano works on with students in the Graziano lab
how the brain basis of consciousness is studied, and ways that we accept consciousness as defined
what the attention schema theory is, and how the model has two functions for daily living
the way that signals compete with each other in the computational process of attention
how a frog’s form of attention differs from that of a person, and the types of awareness that exist
what “biased competition” is, and and the battle for incoming stimuli to the cortex
why covert and overt attention are both needed, and how they differ
consciousness only being present in a few types of organisms/mammals
the concept of affordance, and how the brain works tirelessly as a prediction machine
why consciousness is defined as a hard problem, and if that difficulty can be usurped with some research method
I like people who put their thoughts out there, and furthermore, when they have a “Principles” page on their website that describes the thoughts that guide them. Cameron Porter joins on episode 238 of the show, not only as a former Major League Soccer striker on various teams, but as a current founder and funder for AlleyCorp, an organization that builds transformative companies in New York City.
At AlleyCorp, Cameron “…is responsible for new company R&D, due diligence on seed investments, as well the development of internal tools/initiatives.” Regarding his academic experience, he “… studied computer science at Princeton University where he was recognized as an Academic All-American and William Winston Roper Trophy finalist for high scholastic rank and outstanding qualities of sportsmanship.”
how Cameron ended up in the founding/funding category at AlleyCorp, transitioning away from his professional soccer career [2:20]
the concept of how greatness is not able to be planned, and the way this message has attached to Cameron’s path [3:40]
what a long-term perspective can provide, and an example of a project that took this perspective into account [5:20]
some of the takeaways that Cameron got from his time at Princeton, including those related to people [6:55]
the way that Cameron sees the soccer portion of his career in relation to what he currently does [10:20]
some differences that may have existed between Cameron and some of his fellow soccer players [12:00]
what led Cameron to playing in the position of striker on the field [14:00]
examples of a fork in life that Cameron had other than the knee injury that impacted his career [14:00]
the concept of whether something will matter in 5 years [18:20]
creation versus consumption, and Cameron’s principle of looking at output instead of input, personally or in the workplace [22:45]
incompetence over malice, and how to look at the feedback or commentary that others send to you [26:45]
perspective on fear, alternatively looked at as uncertainty [30:00]
whether Cameron thought he might have some sort of large injury before it happened on the field [32:10]
entropy in socialization and life, and the way that Cameron would want entropy to be represented in his outputs/projects [34:00]
how podcasts are not as constrained in direction as some other mediums that exist [37:30]
if Cameron would make a podcast, and what it would be about [39:00]
whether audio, video, or text input/output is most preferred by Cameron for content purposes [42:45]
I sure enjoyed having Cameron on the episode. His thoughts are clear, and on point, and he has a warm nature. To the potential of a follow-up episode in a year, to compare the deltas from where he and I were at during the time of this episode. To more good things. You can check out his website at incremental.nyc
Does the mind have less depth to it than is readily assumed? Are we able to multitask at all? Professor Nick Chater joins on episode 236 to discuss the qualities of the brain that give it depth or the illusion of mental depth.
Professor Chater is Professor of Behavioral Science at Warwick Business School, has over 200 publications, and has been editor for Cognitive Science and Psychological Review journals.
His research focuses on the cognitive and behavioral sciences, including reasoning, decision-making, and language. He has done experimental, computational, and mathematical studies of basic mental processes.
Professor Chater’s research and past content, as well as his educational history
how the myth of unconscious thought is not applicable
why multitasking is not the way that the brain is built to handle projects and tasks
the way that the material in Professor Chater’s book connects with the interpreter concept from past episodes
how little we can see with our eyes at any one time
risk-seeking qualities versus risk-averse nature in decision-making
how feelings are invented in response to physiological base responses and other processes underneath
the way that some are able to have a sense of other’s feelings, like Gary from a past episode
if it is reasonable to look at what we do in a stimulus-response form of maneuvering
I was glad to have Professor Chater on the show. You can check out his faculty page to see his breadth of publications.
Episode 235 comes into the forefront with master trainer and fitness coach Kai Boyer. Her coaching style comes with a great sense of the physiology behind movements. She has solutions for how workouts should be adjusted, in order to make up for gaps in muscular fitness building.
Kai provides a lot of services through her coaching, including a weight loss program, strength training, high performance sports training, interval training, post-surgical rehabilitation, and mean plan building. The main philosophy of her training is the concept of Kaizen, which is about little improvements over time.
I like that concept because we can deconstruct most things in life into little battles to work through, and then the large thing is no longer large. It’s like one of those physics activation energy graphs having a lower required activation energy for the goal you want. Kai uses it for fitness (and her name is in the word Kaizen), but it is able to be applied to various life hurdles.
how Kai got into the fitness category in the first place
the way that Kai built her current client base, and the types of individuals she has worked with in recent times
why nutrition is so important to fitness, even though it doesn’t fit the intuitive thought that the workout is the main component
what Kai eats during a normal week, and what a person would want to include in their diet to be able to build fitness
what workouts to add in to example workout programs to fill in gaps that may exist
how most people don’t like to stretch, and what that can lead to
where certain sports players usually get injured
how many days of strength and workout training one should have as part of a healthy week
whether a person should be more focused on calorie reduction or workout increases, based on their current plan
Having Kai on the show was neat, and she is a straightforward individual. You can check out her site and what she brings to the table at Kai Boyer Fitness.
Episode 234 gets into the swing of things with guest Dean Hallett, Founder & CEO of Hallett Leadership. During his 17-year tenure at Fox Studios, where he served as CFO, Dean developed a unique and highly effective 9-month leadership training program for early and mid-career managers. The program’s success at breaking down silos across Fox, and fostering a culture of collaboration, led to Dean’s promotion to Senior Executive VP of Operations & Management. Today, the program Dean pioneered at Fox is called the Accelerated Leadership Program (ALP), which “develops tomorrow’s leaders today.”
Decades of experience in a space is something that gives refinement we highly desire when we are looking for a person of quality. Dean has some baseline rules for leadership, as well as understanding of how to facilitate levels of leadership underneath him.
I spoke with Dean about a variety of topics related to leadership, his experience at Fox and Disney, personality traits that matter in organizational leadership, and more.
how Dean deviated from his earlier public accounting track to his positions as CFO of large corporations
why being somewhat introverted can bring value to an organization, and how introverts sometimes have the most to offer
what some examples of Dean providing leadership consisted of
how the reward structure of a corporation affects what people target their efforts toward, and how shifting this reward structure is important for improved culture
what some of the qualities are that Dean looks for in people working around and under him, to have a highly-effective organization
why letting people work their own way and be creative leads to positive and potentially surprisingly positive results
how Dean feels about feeling comfort in life, versus expanding one’s zone
what books have been read by Dean for understanding, including Collaboration Begins With You by Ken Blanchard, and The Tao to High-Performance Leadership by Jack Zwissig
why storytelling has a compelling force to it
how being fearful of training and developing your people sends them away, as opposed to the alternative
It was a pleasure to speak with Dean during this episode, and hear some other stories about his life experiences. He is a full person, as I would describe it, and is on the way in his new path. I always connect more with individuals building their own name and entities. You can check out his coaching material at Hallett Leadership.
Humans have evolved to become more domesticated, and there are multiple variables at work causing this shift. It wasn’t always this way, and human species have had a two-sided relationship with virtue and violence a long period of time. Dr. Richard Wrangham, author of The Goodness Paradox, joins on episode 233 to discuss this shift and relationship.
Professor Wrangham (PhD, Cambridge University, 1975) is Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University and founded the Kibale Chimpanzee Project in 1987. He has conducted extensive research on primate ecology, nutrition, and social behavior. He is best known for his work on the evolution of human warfare, described in the book Demonic Males, and on the role of cooking in human evolution, described in the book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Together with Elizabeth Ross, he co-founded the Kasiisi Project in 1997, and serves as a patron of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP).
It was neat to talk with Professor Wrangham about the ways that evolution has impacted humans as they have progressed. We also included some material on his understanding of cooking and its impacts.
how proactive and reactive aggression differ, and why that is important
some of the ways that Professor Wrangham has done research on chimpanzees to understand more about humans
where humans stand on the threshold of reactive and proactive aggression
the elements that separated Homo sapiens from the other species of humans
how intra and inter group cooperation without expectation of future returns works in principle but struggles in person
the impact of capital punishment as a way to reduce societal reactive aggression via conformity
the window of socialization that exists early in life
how the leaders of alpha males of a group impact the rest of the group, and what happens when they die off or are vanquished
As a sociologist and physician, Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis has done research on social networks and the socioeconomic, biosocial, and evolutionary determinants of behavior, health, and longevity. His most recent book Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society shows how evolution has united humanity and put us on a fitting path of progression.
Dr. Christakis is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University. He received an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and an M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health. His Ph. D. in sociology is from the University of Pennsylvania. He was voted one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2009.
His book Blueprint was recently mentioned by Bill Gates in a tweet, as well as on his Gates Notes website. He mentions that Robert Sapolsky of my past reading (Behave) gives “…you a framework down to the biological and hormonal level, while Christakis focuses more on person-to-person interactions.”
what it means for society to have developed into a way of being that is good, and why evolution may have directed that way
how relationship dynamics like monogamy or social structure would develop in similar environments given enough time
why a fixed social environment creates one type of winning people, and a fluid social environment creates a different set
the impact that removing a leader of a group has on the group
what repeats in society from millions of years ago to now
how pair-bonding can be impacted by certain neurotransmitters, and what this represents about us
the kind of research that Dr. Christakis has done, and his views on the current social networks that are popular in society
the way that some past recurring events were responses to human needs, though those civilizations may have not known the “why”
what unintentional, intentional, and artificial communities can tell us about the way people function as a group
When it comes to anti-aging research, Dr. David A. Sinclair of Harvard Medical School is on the forefront of research and innovation. He joins on episode 231 to discuss his new book Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To.
Dr. Sinclair, Ph.D., A.O. is a Professor in the Department of Genetics and co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School. He is best known for his work on understanding why we age and how to slow its effects. He obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics at the University of New South Wales, Sydney in 1995.
He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at M.I.T. with Dr. Leonard Guarente where he co discovered a cause of aging for yeast as well as the role of Sir2 in epigenetic changes driven by genome instability. In 1999 he was recruited to Harvard Medical School where he has been teaching aging biology and translational medicine for aging for the past 16 years. He was also on TIME magazine’s 2014 list of the “100 most influential people in the world”.
Dr. Sinclair’s background, and what led him into the field of anti-aging research
what it is about adversity that leads to a chemical response in the body, across sirtuins and more
how aging is not yet thought of as a disease, and how that can change through communication efforts
why society and people can seem stuck in a slowed form of evolution as compared with where we are headed
why studying organisms fighting adversity, similar to how Dr. Cockell studied extremophiles, is the way to find most answers
how stress at a cellular level is different from psychological stress that releases cortisol in the bloodstream
what it means to have senescent cells accumulate in the body as one ages over time
how an optic nerve was regrown in a mouse, and what that means for our potential nerve-based regrowth
what kinds of demands Dr. Sinclair has on his time with regards to the research he does
how the Horvath Clock represents true age of a person beyond external appearance and other metrics
This was an enjoyable episode, and book, that is right on the forefront of aging research and technology. Dr. Sinclair is very active in this space, and it shows. You can check out his website, the book on Amazon, or some of his research.
Professor Steven C. Hayes of the University of Nevada is prolific in the category of psychological research. He has put out over 600 scientific articles and 44 books. Most of his research has been in the categories of human language and cognition as they relate to reducing human suffering. He has built a form called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is psychotherapy using mindfulness and acceptance.
“Dr. Hayes has been President of Division 25 of the APA, of the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. He was the first Secretary-Treasurer of the Association for Psychological Science, which he helped form and has served a 5 year term on the National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse in the National Institutes of Health.”
He joins me on this episode to discuss topics from his book “A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters”. It was a great nonlinear discussion that brought up a lot of insights.
why you need to be continually putting effort in some category to have a chance in it
how those who are not ready for the difficult have no chance to acquire the great
what it takes to pivot toward the things you are interested in
how so many of your thoughts can run on auto-pilot until you deconstruct the steps leading to them
where you need to go mentally to clear up a past issue and come to a conclusion
We bring it live on episode 229 of the show with a fellow podcaster – Mark Metry of the Humans 2.0 Podcast. He has had wonderful guests like Robert Greene, Mark Manson, Safi Bahcall(previously on my podcast as well), and more.
Mark brings a lot of momentum to the table, across his episodes, speaking engagements, social media postings, and more. He has a company called VU Dream, which is focused on application of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.
how Mark started his speaking engagements, and where he sees it going
who some of Mark’s memorable guests are, and what he took from his discussions with them
how a podcaster can improve their reach
what one can do to avoid the life of quiet desperation
why one should keep exploration in their mind when making daily decisions, so as not to stick in an exploitative pattern
what some goals are that Mark has regarding his upcoming career
Glad to have Mark on the show. You can check out his podcast on podcast services under the name Humans 2.0. He is also on Twitter at @markymetry.
Professor Bill Sullivan of Indiana University School of Medicine joins on episode 228 of the show, and we discuss his book Pleased To Meet Me: Genes, Germs, And The Curious Forces That Make Us Who We Are, along with related topics.
He is a Professor with a Ph.D. in Molecular & Cell Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, who had focused on genes for drug-resistance in a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. He has experience with epigenetics, parasites, germs, gene expression, and more. Professor Sullivan also has written for numerous outlets like Scientific American and What Is Epigenetics.
I enjoyed speaking with Bill here, and we covered a variety of topics from the book, as well as some extended questions I had from the book’s framework.
how taste can be different in different people based on ability to be a “super taster”
why your gut bacteria is so important in assisting regulation of your mood and well-being
what makes some people more prone to addiction, and the percentages associated with some levels of addiction
what type of environments contribute to drug use, versus the ones that make drug use seem less appealing
how mood requires a balance of many different parameters
why a polygenic trait like height is desired, and what it represents of the person who has it
what epigenetics has to do with adverse childhood experiences and their lasting impact on an individual
Professor Sullivan’s material is available on his website, and his new book is available on Amazon.
Do you heal someone by handling their frantic responses to life, or do you look to respond to their inner child who isn’t fulfilled? Therapist and healer Satya Ya Atma joins on episode 227 to discuss healing and the inner person that we can respond to.
Satya brings both a healing practice and a matching style to the framework. I first noticed her having what might be called a chic jungle type of look, and it matches her larger scale message of connecting. She comes from Israel, and was recently in Peru and Brazil in relation to setting up her practice.
how healing is like getting to some of the inner layers of an onion or one of those Russian dolls
where Satya came from, and how that influences her personality or connection with people of that area and elsewhere
why you are only able to see as far as you have traveled mentally or physically thus far
how adults can either be like their inner child or be trapped in a crippling comfort zone
who you should try to change, and whether that should only be you
how rationalization might be a method to keep away from feeling one’s own internal emotions
Glad to have Satya on the show~. You can check out her site at Open To Love.
We bring the stream of consciousness on episode 226. This one covered a variety of topics I had not planned for before the episode started. I handled a few things during the episode, which was nice to add variety, and I mentioned them during.
Part of this episode was about how I’m prepping differently for when I interview Dr. Christakis, in connection with understanding people more holistically. People are not one-faceted individuals, but have layers of experiences and connections.
We don’t do things in a vacuum, and the collective of humanity traveling through time has no unknowns that have been added during the process of entropy reduction. Enjoy the episode~
why looking through all the interviews of one of my upcoming guests is a great way for my interview to go better
how each person is not just a single element, but a combination of their experiences and connections and happenings
what planning the next week or month can do for personal productivity, management of highs and lows, and fulfillment
how things can be light now and heavy later depending on when you handle them
why you can’t think away a feeling that you are in, and how you roll in a feeling until you get out of that headspace
how figuring something out clears an issue, while leaving it untouched lets it show up as soon as possible
The show continues forward with Scott H. Young on episode 225, coming out on the launch day of his book Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career. The book is a guide to master hard skills quickly in any category, including languages, science, programming, and more.
Knowing of Scott for many years, this was a great opportunity to connect with him around the same time that his current book was coming out for people to read and take note of. I first found Scott’s blog when I was writing on my blog Timeless Information, and his content always made sense to me as valuable material, and this was only the case with a few blogs at the time.
We had a great chat here, and Scott is thoughtful about all the content he has put out in text, audio, video, and illustrated form.
how ultralearning methods can lead you more quickly through the process of understanding than conventional learning methods
what the MIT Challenge that Scott created was about, and how he documented his process through the experience
why the likely improvement or adjustment to the general school system is likely to come from outside the built-in system that exists
what it is that leads to the title of the book being Ultralearning, instead of just the title Learning
how you distill and refine the essence of learning well, by looking at individuals who have learned a lot quickly
what it can take to see problems from a broader perspective that sees the macro features and gives less weight to micro details
what languages Scott has learned, and how he would quickly learn a language in a new country
how the feel you have during learning can be more important than a specific method you should use to learn
You can check out Scott’s content across the internet. His book Ultralearning is available on Amazon. Separate from that, his blog that I read from back in 2009 continues to have great content that he writes, his Twitter @ScottHYoung includes his quick insights or thoughts (along with series’ of tweets), and his YouTube channel showcases some of his learning adventures and interviews or discussions about books. I see Scott continuing to put out content in the learning and growth categories for years to come, growing his audience and reach. To more great things~.
We all process things a bit differently, and I like to look at what I missed and what I can work on. I like to keep my ego from building, by sharing and talking and thinking through times. I like to come out a more understanding person who is more connected.
This episode is one where I present a few quick messages about things I got to understanding. There might be future content to go deeper into the topics I mentioned here, or I might go into other ones. This is my way of solidifying what I figured out, sharing with someone it could help, and bringing some energy forward.
Here are some show notes:
why you should do for yourself what you seek out for others to fulfill
how light can become heavier when you don’t handle your end
when you should over-communicate and what kind of person it might help
where you can take things when you include the other person
how I process a relationship or experience to come out more whole on the other side of it
what it means to give yourself the love that you seek outside
how you can look at growth experiences in a smooth light
There may be more across these topics or alternate ones. These are the more analytical end, but part of the message here is about handling that part so the warmth and connection can persist.
Physical therapy and home health is one thing, but empowering others mentally by countering their loneliness is another thing. My friend since high school Brian joins on episode 223 of the show to discuss his interest in putting out content, speaking, empowering people, and battling widespread loneliness.
Brian Dy (PT, DPT, CKTP, CSCS) is a Doctor of Physical Therapy practicing in Seattle, Washington, and he works with patients on their physical ailments. He has recently had an interest in a light transition to forms of speaking and writing in the personal development space. This is a space I have resided in for some time, and so it only makes sense for him to join on the show.
what Brian has been doing in recent years, and what he seeks to do for others
how listening is important, and what makes him a good listener
what the loneliness epidemic is doing, and why it is a category worth responding to
where Brian has been posting articles, and where he may spread his content in the future
how I have known Brian, and things I like about his personality
what a breakup can do to a person, and where it might leave them for months or even years
how loneliness pervades our society, and how it leads to damage beyond the momentary pain
Glad to have Brian on the show. He says things more directly than most, and this is an appreciated feature. Check out his recent articles at Living Your Life. Look out for more~. Onward we go.
The Bay area is a region of technology, higher-level education, and much creativity. There is soul and flair and venture capital. A lot is going on in a small and dense space, and this ignites stories of results, challenges, and struggles. Author Cary McClelland interviewed and collected stories from numerous individuals across the region, and presents a message about what Silicon City is.
From his bio, “Cary is a writer, filmmaker, lawyer, and rights advocate whose work has taken him around the world. He met his wife in San Francisco, where they settled down and built their first home. They now live in Brooklyn with their son.” From talking with him, he is an individual with consideration for the people around him, who is able to feel what the conditions can be like. He also has the ability to present what he sees and feels in text and video form, so as to relay a message over.
I enjoyed my talk with Cary, and list the show notes here:
what led up to the ability and interest in speaking with and interviewing numerous individuals in the Bay area
how much the Bay was headed to by individuals looking to jump on a quick rush without a long-term vision
where the soul of the Bay comes from, and how it connects to adversity
what leads to Balkanization of segments of the region, and if it is more of a decision by the wealthy or a dynamic process
how the merging of the two worlds in each city, with one being better off, can be looked at
why individuals have to decide whether to commute or stay in their cars to live and work around the bay
and much more articulation provided by Cary
There is a lot to learn from this episode. The region of San Francisco and its local counties has a lot of weight attached to it, in terms of energy, activity, money coming in and being transferred, and creativity. It is important to look at where it is headed, how its people are doing, and what this says about cities elsewhere.
People pushing a risky or new message are in a difficult spot, because the support for their moment is not high. They have to work well with others who do things in a more steady form. In the book “Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries”, Safi Bahcall discusses the importance of and ideas behind keeping innovative ideas from being lost into the abyss.
Safi is a technologist, business executive, and author. He got his BA summa cum laude from Harvard, and his PhD from Stanford. He worked as a consultant for McKinsey, and then co-founded a biotech company Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp. developing cancer drugs, which he served as CEO at for thirteen years. He also worked with President Obama’s council of science advisors for future national research.
Here are the show notes for my episode with Safi:
how Loonshots are separated into two types based on product or strategy
what it takes to get an innovative idea through an organization
how Vannevar Bush was a big part of the basis for research and development in the United States
where the 150-person rule for groups comes from, and why it applies to both social networks and corporations
what Dr. Bahcall learned from his school and work experience throughout the recent years
when to listen to others and take their message into account as a CEO
how a lone individual can only do so much based on the structure of the scenario they are placed in
how structure trumps culture as far as application
Understanding risk is an economic way to understand the decisions and systems in our communities and finances. Economist Allison Schrager looks at risk in fields at the more extreme ends of the spectrum, to understand it with less noise in place.
Professor Allison Schrager teaches at NYU, and has a PhD in Economics from Columbia University, with her Bachelors from the University of Edinburgh. She is an economist, journalist at Quartz, and cofounder of LifeCycle Finance Partners, LLC. She has contributed to The Economist, Reuters, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
what sex work can teach about risk management, and how Allison looked at a specific brothel to understand the value proposition
where in life you have your risks managed, whereas you have them completely ignored in other categories
when to take a risk and when to lean towards the safer option
why you should define what risk and reward mean to you, so that you can take and seek levels complementary to your nature
how to include your human irrationality into your risk modeling
what it takes to get the most bang for your buck in the department of risk-taking
how hedging and insurance are methods used to master your domain
what you can expect in your assessments, and what type of room you need to leave for unanticipated events
where the perspective of the world has gone, in terms of having control of the world you live in