Analytics,  causation and human evolution

books, Brain size, Evolution, Human Brain, Thinking

About a month back I was giving a training to our team on Analytics  and what could be the uses for customers.  During that training I spent a lot of time on how Analytics can be used to do correlation and also causation. These are 2 concepts which a lot of people mix up. So I  spent a lot of time on that, clarifying doubts.

Today I was reading the book “Framers: Human Advantage in an Age of Technology and Turmoil” by Kenneth Cukier, Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, Francis de Vericourt.

I am right now in the first half of the book. There’s a specific chapter on causation.

If you have been following my blog, you would notice that I have been interested in understanding why humans succeeded in advancing so much while the whole animal kingdom and other living beings are where they were millions of years back. Zebras thousands of years back still had the same stripes and ate grass as they do now. But humans moved from stones to weapons to flying and all kinds of other advancements.

I already believed that because the real estate for the development of the human brain was much larger than other animals , it gave our brain more capabilities to evolve physically. The second reason in my opinion was the motor mechanism where we have the concept of grip which helped us to hold things and also walk on 2 limbs rather than four.

One of the things that the authors are suggesting is the fact that humans had two key skills which the other animals did not. One was the ability to see causation and the other were social skills. With causation they were able to think about how the same causes could be caused to have the same effects while with social skills they could ask for help and collaborate.

While some animals do live in colonies, they don’t seem to seek help for achieving tasks. On the other hand even if you were to put 2-3 kids who don’t know each other into a room, you will soon find that they are playing with each other trying to help each other.

As I read further I will see if they have more information on this subject. But for me , now if I have to give another training on Analytics and its uses, I will have some more content to talk about on how causation has helped humans evolve.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Human Evolution

Brain size, Evolution, Human Brain

If you want to see the evolution of humans, one of the best places to observe that is in Madhya Pradesh. Madhya Pradesh is a state in Central India. It is a less publicised state with a lot of unique places to visit. One of relatives was in Madhya Pradesh Tourism and he asked me to invest time to visit places since he knew my interest in seeing nature and historical places.

So I visited Madhya Pradesh 3 times and he used to make my itinerary such that I got a good view of both nature and history. The best time I found to visit the state was from October to March, but if you intend to visit the state its best to visit the website of Madhya Pradesh Tourism.

Now in Madhya Pradesh, near the capital Bhopal, there is a set of caves call the Bhim Betka caves. The uniqueness of these caves is that you can see carvings/paintings made by humans who lived 100000 years ago …yes that’s not a typo, some of these caves were inhabited then. And then there are caves which were also inhabited 10000 years ago. Its a large area, I think its a UNESCO site one of the few where you can see the actual evolution of human beings who lived in India.

If you see the carvings/paintings of the different time maps you can actually make out how the humans evolved in this part of the world. In the carvings which are about 10000 years old, you can see in the carvings that they are using tools. Which means they had learnt by then how to use tools. You also get to see horses and other animals meaning, they had domesticated these animals by then.

The other thing to note is that even a hundred thousand years ago, the humans who lived in those caves had a thought process of trying to depict something on rock even if it was just line figures.

In hundred thousand years, humans have changed so much. The evolution of the species is so amazing.

Which brings me to why have zebras or tigers or sharks or lizards not evolved so much. They still hunt for food and their daily routine is still based on instinct flight or fight responses. This is something which I tried to see even in the Smithsonian museums and other museums around the world.

Two things which I have been able to figure out and my search is still on, is that the motor functions in the fingers of the hand and the space that our brain has to expand in our head has been the two main causes of the rapid evolution of the human race. The space for the brain in animals is virtually non-existent.

Now as per Steven Kotler, the space that exists for our brain to expand has given us humans the ability to keep learning and keep growing further. Now the pertinent question that I keep having is, why did the apes and monkeys not have the space when supposedly we have evolved from the same common platform. I will keep you posted as I learn more because knowing where we came from can help us to know how to go forward.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Eradicating the Writer’s block

Affirmative action, confidence, Evolution, Habits, Human Brain

For all of you who have been reading my blog posts over the last two – three years,  you would have noticed that I used to disappear from writing for months on end.

I would keep contemplating forever for the perfect piece, for the perfect English,  for the perfect graphs.

Which ended up me not writing anything.  And I used to feel lousy also because I was not writing.

Today again I was feeling the same situation.  I  had a very long day in office and I was exhausted.

But then 2 things came to my mind which I have been following over the last 2-3 months.

These are 2 pieces of advice.

One is from Joe Polish who says being prolific is more important than being proficient.  If you will practice enough you will automatically become more proficient- something in line with the 10000 hour rule for mastering any skill.

The second piece of advice came from Russell Brunson in his book Traffic Secrets.  He quotes Gary Vaynerchuk in the book, on how he’s built such a huge following. What struck me as critical was his comment about “thinking like a reporter” who has to put just one news report everyday.

I have taken this to heart and started writing these quick posts which you can read while standing in a line at Starbucks or while your sandwich is getting ready at Subway.

How this has helped me is that it has eliminated the pressure on me to write the perfect piece. Instead now I write about whatever is going on with me during the day or on whatever I am working. Also because I am writing consistently, it has improved my confidence, my brain now resists less, and it is on the way to forming a habit.

I would suggest the same for any activity, be relentless, be prolific, do the small things continuously and they will become a habit.

Till next time

Carpe Diem!!!

Refined sugar – the biggest poison

Evolution, Habits, Health, Human Brain

Today my post is short, even though the topic is quite dense. I am not a medical doctor, nor am I a nutrionist, so I will only give you some very short pointers. If you can also research yourself and reduce your consumption of direct and indirect sources of refined sugar then in the long run it will be tremendous.

My father in the early 90s had started warning me about the ill effects of refined sugar and the long term impacts of its usage on the different organs including the brain.

When we are young we don’t actually realise all the impact of this advice.

As I started getting a little older, I realised whenever I was in the US and had breakfast included with my room, I used to end up eating a lot of pancakes with maple syrup, doughnuts and all the possible sugary items. After that I used to get such a drop in my energy level in a couple of hours, that I wanted to just drop on the bed.

So I started avoid getting rooms with breakfast and rather started going to the local Subway to have a large sandwich with coffee.

Today with recent research its becoming more and more clear that refined sugar is not only a cause of diabetes which is the root cause of a lot of other ailments but also a cause of dementia and other brain related diseases. If we are going to be living longer but our brain is going to deteriorate we will end up being a vegetable. That’s a very scary situation for me.

I now have a target on myself to not take more than 2 tablespoons of sugar directly or indirectly every day. I used to love sweets and chocolates. So initially this did hurt me quite a bit. But I have consistently improved.

Today if I have a milk chocolate in the night (my preferred time for eating sweets was after dinner) then I get up feeling groggy. I don’t know the reason for this but high carb diets in the nights also now make me get up groggy.

I have moved to having more jaggery which has a low glycemic index and dark chocolates with more than 55% cocoa. Lets see how much further I can reduce the sugar intake.

Have you experimented with reducing your intake of refined sugar. What have been the benefits you have observed. I will love to hear your comments

Till next time

Carpe Diem!!!