In Hoffa’s Shadow

21st May 2020

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

In Hoffa’s Shadow: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth, by Jack L. Goldsmith.  Since Barb lives in the Detroit area (she has lunched at the old Machus Red Fox, where the notorious Hoffa was last seen), she can’t help but take an interest in the fascinating life and strange vanishing act of long-time Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa.  This book provides an unusual take on Hoffa’s legacy. Hoffa’s foster son, Chuckie O’Brien, was probably the most dedicated of all of his followers—yet Chuckie has been accused by almost everyone of having facilitated Hoffa’s disappearance.  This book, by Chuckie’s own foster son, upstanding Ivy League lawyer Jack Goldsmith, burrows deep into the mindset and zeitgeist of unions, the mob, the FBI, and much, much more. A thought-provoking take on loyalty and love.

Extraordinary Kids Summit

Don’t miss Trish Keiller’s incredible online conference about how to help your kids in this new world of unusual ways of learning. Barb’s interview airs on Saturday, May 23rd and will be available for free for 72 hours.

A Background Noise Generator to Help Your Creativity

Research has shown that a little background noise can actually be an enhancement for creative work.  Here is a wonderful little website that can generate just the sort of coffee-shop-like sounds that can be most helpful.  [Hat tip Scott Mathews, Lead Mentor of our follow-on course, Mindshift.]

Low Carb Diet May Reverse Age-Related Cognitive Decline

For those of you hoping to fight off the gradual decline in cognition that drips on over time, it looks like help may be at hand in the form of a low-carb diet, as noted in this article by John Anderer in Study Finds. And indeed, there are several books (The Alzheimer’s Antidote, The End of Alzheimers) providing at least some evidence—although the strong claims must be taken with a big grain of salt—that low carb or keto is very helpful in not only improving cognition, but perhaps staving off dementia. There’s also interesting evidence that keto diets may help with radiation therapy and chemotherapy in cancer, and perhaps even help prevent cancer’s return:  Keto for Cancer, How to Starve Cancer Without Starving Yourself, Tripping over the Truth, see also this research review and the results of this randomized control study. (But see this interesting study on the adverse effects of fried foods. Yes, Barb admits to a bit of cognitive dissonance sitting down with her Hero Hubby for dinner the other night with a Big Mac, broccoli, and a bottle of wine…)

Side Thoughts on Books about Food and Nutrition

We review a broad variety of books on our Cheery Fridays, because it’s all part of the learning experience. Nutrition is a particularly important aspect underpinning cognition, so we can’t help but review a fair number of books on that topic. We’ve been surprised over the years at how controversial nutrition books can be—particularly if a book we might recommend hints that all aspects of vegetables and grains aren’t perfect (as with The Plant Paradox or Eat Fat, Get Thin). Nutritionists and autodidact eating experts do not read the book we review, but instead simply forward us links to critical videos and articles that often blatantly and unfairly mis-characterize the book and its contents. The real challenge here is that the critics writing these critical articles and producing these critical videos have their own books and products they want to promote—and what easier way to establish themselves as experts than to trash another supposed expert?  There are undoubtedly many crackpot books on nutrition out there, but some of the worst, in our experience, are written by the self-same critics that we are often pointed toward.  

Nutrition is a fraught area. Sometimes there is an enormous body of past literature implying that a new approach (ie, low carb) is unhealthy, or the research literature may hint at, but not yet confirm a new approach (eg, keto for cancer, avoiding certain lectins in autoimmune disorders). Against-the-grain authors pointing to holes in the literature and to the implications of recent research findings can easily be vilified. After all, the critics say, there’s little science to back up the new approach.  This is why nutritionists who depend only on “solid, broadly confirmed science” can also risk being trapped in the mistakes of the past. It’s important to be aware of the past, but also be flexible—realizing that authors writing even imperfectly about new areas can sometimes open our eyes to new and helpful perspectives.

Hacking Learning

Here’s  Diego Lainez’s podcast with Barb on “Hacking Learning.”  

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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