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You say you want a revolution

I seem to be undergoing some kind of mental revolution. I've changed my mind on things before now--I try to stay flexible--but this feels like it's a different order of magnitude.

Do you have that experience? Where you catch an idea from a book or an article, and it blooms and expands until it takes over your brain, and changes major beliefs, and makes you re-examine tons of stuff you haven't examined in years? And then you start deliberately reading more, and taking new actions based on the new thoughts in your head, and pretty soon you're leading a different life?

I have barely begun to articulate this change to myself, so this post is mostly an attempt to start mapping it, and find out if anyone else is in the territory.

The first big way-marker was Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants, which I read in October and have been through four times since. Among other things, it made me reconsider my rejectionist stance on certain technologies, notably in medicine (I'm getting my first-ever flu vaccine tomorrow as a result).

Perhaps more importantly, it stripped away--completely and probably forever--my "magical past" or "golden age" thinking, my entirely unexamined assumption that there was some better time in the past when food was pure and people were naturally healthy and in touch with the physical world--and that it would be good or even possible to return to it.

Visiting Kevin Kelly's blog led me to The Quantified Self, whose ideas dovetail well with my natural tendency to log, track, and quantify the things of my life. The idea is that we can see trends and evaluate what is through data.

From TQS I found Joe's Goals, Your Flowing Data, The Happiness Report, and a bunch of other reality-based self-tracking tools to supplement what I was already doing with calorie-counting at Livestrong.

Last Friday I ran across Greta Christina's Blog and in particular her challenging post Skepticism as a Discipline. And that was it, man. The turning point. Suddenly, whatever remained of my own magical thinking about one of the overarching problems of my life (being fat) just crumbled.

And there behind it was this new idea:

Human beings almost certainly evolved to eat ALL THE FOOD in anticipation of winter and drought and bad hunting. We still eat ALL THE FOOD, but thanks to technology, winter and drought never come.

So there are two choices: keep doin' what comes naturally and continue to get bigger and bigger till my joints fail, or exercise discipline, employ technology (I bought a bathroom scale yesterday), believe the science, accept responsibility, and face reality: 1900 calories a day is never going to feel as yummy and "natural" as the 3700 or so I've been eating.

Well, going to work every day doesn't feel that terrific either, but I do it because I accept that it's necessary. Reading, writing and math didn't come naturally either: I had to be carefully taught. Good things have resulted from those "unnatural" disciplines, however, and I'm ready to take on a new one.

I expect I'll be writing more about this subject, and I apologize in advance to my friends who are annoyed or troubled by it. Please feel free to skip.

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