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Shichida, Heguru, Right-Brain Scams

Shichida, Heguru and other so-called "right-brain" learning methods, to put it plainly, have no evidence for their efficacy, and in large part the theoretical statements they make about how the brain and learning works are largely discredited by current learning and brain development research.

These kinds of so-called "schools" should be considered scams for the middle-class and wealthy parents who are largely themselves ignorant about how learning works, and are unable to critically appraise the claims of these schools. At base there is the anxiety of parents for their children to do well, and a willingness to latch onto fantastical claims and pony up from hundreds to thousands of dollars for these kinds of classes. In some cases, there is actual damage done to children as the focus is so much on performance and achievement rather than exploration and engagement in general. In actual fact, these systems are largely the complete opposite of Montessori, which has strong evidence and is the only type of early childhood development program that is research-based:

Right-Brain vs. Montessori

  • Teacher-directed vs. Child-directed
  • Learning material without any research base, vs. research-based learning material
  • Drill and rote learning vs. material manipulation and exploration
  • Predominantly single pace-classrooms vs. predominantly individual pace-classrooms
  • Fantastical claims about every child being a potential genius vs. credible claims about every child being able to achieve self-development and above-average test scores
  • Focus on performance vs. focus on contentment

Critical Reception of Shichida and Heguru

There is very little critical reception of Shichida and Heguru, critical in terms of looking for evidence of claims, both positively and negatively. Essentially these methods and schools thrive in the gullible markets of Asian education hopes and aspirations of credulous, first generation middle-class parents who themselves have deficient education, and live in societies where magical thinking is still very much the norm.

Articles which show some Skepticism about Shichida

Gullible Parents, Wishful Thinking, and Websites that Make Money off of Them

How to Spot Fraud regarding Education Claims

The biggest clues to fraudulent education and learning claims are what is missing, and of course what is highlighted in place of the missing. Like with Sherlock Holmes it is the dog who doesn't bark that should be noted.

What you don't see in fraudulent claims

  • No reference to any scholarly or research articles or books
  • No association with research groups or organizations (other than one's own self-appointed research groups or non-research academic groups)
  • Lack of use of scientific or scholarly terms

Where the focus is for fraudulent claims

  • Media coverage (of any kind)
  • Photos or video of conferences or meetings
  • Single case examples of success taken as the norm
  • Non-scientific, non-experimental performances of individuals
  • Awards of various kinds from various (non-scientific) organizations

These are part and parcel the accouterments of status in the ream of education and professional development, and practiced to the extreme in Asian countries and cultures. Some organizations and self-promoters go to the extent of inventing their own awards, and then having a group award it to their members. A sure-fire piece of Asian-style public relations.

Media Coverage of Shichida Method Classes

Below is partially skeptical media coverage of Shichida classes in Australia, though I still think this is not nearly critical enough, no investigation of claims, just airtime to air them, sad.

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Notes on Sleep

Read This Book on Sleep (2020)

Bill Gates recommends the book Why We Sleep, and it is excellent. All of my notes above need to be revised with this book in mind. I highly recommend reading it, to get more science, less psychobabble.

How Much Sleep is Enough? (2018)

Now that my eldest son is 3 years old, there may be some changes to his schedule (he still takes a nap most days, but he is staying up past his traditional bedtime, so this became a question for me: How much sleep is enough?

Well, there is a range of answers, depending on ages, such as:

Mayo Sleep Recommendations

Age group Recommended amount of sleep
Newborns 14 to 17 hours a day
12 months About 10 hours at night, plus 4 hours of naps
2 years About 11 to 12 hours at night, plus a 1- to 2-hour afternoon nap
3 to 5 years 10 to 13 hours
6 to 13 years 9 to 11 hours
14 to 17 years 8 to 10 hours
Adults 7 to 9 hours

*Note that there are differences in particular circumstances such as illness, pregnancy, and the like.

CDC Sleep Recommendations

Age Group Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day
0–3 months 14–17 hours
4–12 months 12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
1–2 years 11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
3–5 years 10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
6–12 years 9–12 hours per 24 hours
13–18 years 8–10 hours per 24 hours
18–60 years 7 or more hours per night
61–64 years 7–9 hours
65 years+ 7–8 hours

Note on bedtime (2020)

The book Why We Sleep is excellent and one main point is to always go to bed and wake up at the same time. One cannot deposit or withdraw sleep from a sleep bank. When facing sleeplessness, there are some specific things to do (limit blue light, no active displays before bed (video, computer screens), don't eat before bed, bedroom cool enough, shower before bed (helps cool core temperature), darkened room, etc.).

Our children are now 3 and 5 years old, needing 10-13 hours of sleep including naps. They usually get 1-2 hour naps but sometimes no nap and sometimes 3 hours. Bedtime is 8pm, though it can be 8:30 or sometimes 9pm before they get to sleep (after reading stories, etc.). Wake up is at 6am or 5am for the older boy if he goes on an early exercise bicycle ride.

Sleep Training (2016)

With teeth and teeth brushing comes the need to sleep through the night, or at least change the nighttime feeding into nighttime watering. Turns out that this happens about the same time as toothbrushing should, or somewhat thereafter.

We are entering the zone of the final few months of the baby's first year. At 10 months, kicking dad throughout the night has gotten a bit old. So it is time to make several changes:

  • Co-sleeping
  • Nighttime weaning
  • More and better tooth brushing

The question is the correct method and also sequencing. Probably the most traumatizing should come first.

Resources for Sleep Training

These articles are from the very informative Dr. Craig Canapari.

Monophasic, Biphasic, Polyphasic Sleep (2012)

There will be sleeping enough in the grave. --Benjamin Franklin

Polyphasic Sleep is when sleep occurs at more than one point in the 24-hour cycle. Otherwise known as napping, it is possible to shorten the length of sleep for all sleep periods and end up with less time overall spent sleeping. The reason this is possible, is that the sleep periods (theoretically) become more efficient in delivering the kind of sleep needed for restfulness. Power-napping is another term for this, but the power part comes from a compression of sleep stages.

Some people are able to supposedly get by on 3 hours of sleep this way, and it has been ascribed to such people as Thomas Edison and Winston Churchill among others.

Benefits of Sleeping Less and More Often

The purported benefits besides an increase in available time (quantity) include as well quality indicators such as increased alertness, creativity and health. However these benefits have been (somewhat) debunked on Supermemo. The main issue that they take with this practice is that sleep deprivation is necessary in order to entrain one's sleep pattern.

Naturally Polyphasic

This is obviously true... Or is it? If my current sleep pattern is not actually natural (quite a bit of historical as well as EEG evidence that humans are naturally diphasic).

Extreme Sleep Conditions

In extreme situations such as battlefields and extreme adventure sports, sleeping less is mandatory for success. Enter the Uberman (aka Superman, Uebermensch).

Uberman Sleep Schedule

The rather heroic Uberman sleep schedule, which is 20-30 minutes of sleep every four hours, is not something I am going to try for. I don't need that much of a change and also, there doesn't seem to be much room for error there regarding the actual function of sleep. Instead, all I need to do as a result is one more hour of productivity without any loss of energy/alertness, etc. I intend to do more reading and more exercise during this time bonus, if and when it arrives.

Five Interval Sleep Phase

My initial experiment (beginning 11-AUG-2012) will be one hour sleep periods five times per day, at approximately:

  • 8am-9am
  • 1pm-2pm
  • 6pm-7pm
  • 11pm-12am
  • 3am-4am

This fits my schedule which is fairly flexible, but needs a 4am wakeup for early morning running, a 10am-12pm classes and 3pm meetings several times per week. This also allows me to have an early dinner (at 5pm) or late dinner (7pm+), and not need to sleep at night until 11pm. Also this would allow me to do a late night dancing from midnight to 3am (which my current monophasic sleep does not allow).

Updates on Sleep Experiment

  • Day 1: Took the naps during the day, and had more energy, but got tired (as always) later in the evening. Slept from 11pm-4am. Which means I had 8 hours of sleep (which is more than I usually do). Therefore slept more, ate more, and had more energy.
  • Day 2: Similar to day 1. Took naps (the 2pm was difficult, only 30 minutes and got back up). Instead of the 6pm nap, went for a two hour Thai massage. Then to bed at 10:30pm. Heard the 1am alarm but ignored it. Heard the 3am alarm (to nap again), thought of getting up, but didn't. Heard the 4am alarm and then stayed in bed. Got up at 5am for the run. This mean 8.5 hours of sleep. Even more!
  • Day 3: ...

Conclusion on Sleep

I've learned this isn't going to work out, I am sleeping more, not less. And there are times I put off the nap, can't get to sleep, can't wake up easily, and also the habit of sleeping through much of the night. However, my awareness of sleep and its effect has dramatically increased. There are some studies which conclude that modern man is basically sleep-deprived and this has disastrous effects regarding accident rates, attention in the workplace, not to mention basic physical well-being.

I've come to realize, especially at my advancing age in the upper 40s, that sleep and naps should be grabbed at every reasonable opportunity. Note: This is the same for early-to-mid 50s.

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Sunday on the Bed with the Newspaper

Fifteen years ago, Sundays were best spent on the bed with too much coffee and the Sunday New York Times, a massive amount of information. Indeed, it has been said that the Sunday New York Times holds more information than the average serf in the Middle Ages encountered in their lifetime.

Occasionally we would get up from the bed to walk across the room to where a computer was plugged into the Internet, to look up things on Google (yes, even back then). But the heart of the content was first and foremost printed, folded and delivered to the door (even in Berkeley, California this was possible, as the Bay Area edition of the NYTimes was printed locally). A somewhat expensive but definitely worthwhile pursuit.

This morning as we lounged on the bed, I realized that the same sense of serendipity and engagement with content was happening on my iPhone and with various apps and social media as intermediaries: Facebook, Twitter, Goolge Plus, Isoreader (RSS Feed Reader), all pointed to various pieces of content consumable across the web, and delivered to the 4 inch screen. Granted, it has taken a while to get this curated list of friends, fans, and followees, and RSS subscriptions.

But at this point, it is not the New York Times who does my curration, but dozens, hundreds of diverse sources. Today, as I was readong a New York Times article, I was informed that I was reading the 5th out of 10 articles alloted to me for the month (and this being 13th of July, I will likely exceed this amount). Of course I consume New York Times articles on many devices and browsers, so this was simply one of many cookied environments that the New York Times tries to limit my consumption (since I do not pay the exhorbant subscription price).

This leads me to assume that the New York Times, since it no longer does anything critical to the value chain of my content consumption on a Sunday Morning (besides providing a small slice of that content itself), is very much in danger. In any case, it has indeed taken this long (15 years) to get to a point where the curation of content and the bundling and delivery of that content has been completely disrupted, such that the original sense of wonder as well as satiation which the Sunday New York Times provides (and still does, no doubt) is available and distributed digitally from a diversity of curators and content creators.

Now, my bed is located in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. Definitely out of reach of the New York Times print delivery service, and it would reach me Monday morning, at the earliest. And so the significant disadvantages of print (bulky, physical, costly) are erradicated in one fell swoop. Of course, this content pipeline does require even costlier apparatus, the iPhone, which is why one should definitely short the NYTimes and go long on Apple, just as we have done in my household.

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New Year 2019 CE / 2562 BE

For those not in Cambodia, Laos or Thailand, 2562 is the Buddhist Era (BE) date, which is 543 years ahead of the Common Era calendar.

New Year, The Last Before 2020

Ah yes, the end of a year and beginning of another. A time to reflect, etc., etc. Well, this year much was accomplished and much was not. The small children are developing, which is a joy and fascination itself to witness. For anyone interested in AI/ML, watching children learn is intriguing.

Recession is Coming

Though economists mostly discuss 2020 and 2021, around half of businessmen place the next recession firmly in 2019. Looking at labor markets in China, it seems obvious we are just around the corner.

The Internet is Fake

More and more and more fake at the years go by, and this should not be forgotten even for a day.

Markets Transfer Wealth Upward

Companies' pursuit of high profits is making the top 20% richer at the expense of the bottom 80%, to the tune of 3% in 1996..

Resistance is Needed

Invest in those things that provide value, ongoing, only.

Canis Major - Robert Frost

The great Overdog
That heavenly beast
With a star in one eye
Gives a leap in the east.

He dances upright
All the way to the west
And never once drops
On his forefeet to rest.

I'm a poor underdog,
But to-night I will bark
With the great Overdog
That romps through the dark.

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Time Horizons in Terrible Times

For various reasons, now is a terrible time (in the world). At the same time, my own time horizons have shifted due to having young children. My eldest may graduate from high school in 15 years, give or take a year or two. Fifteen years from now is 2033, which is a bit mind boggling. Though to be honest, 2018 is a bit crazy as well, having snuck up on us, in some respects. How can our actions remain relevant in the face of the likely dramatic and mostly unknown changes we will face by 2033? This is an actual question that deserves at least a method, an approach. To begin, it seems that we need an understanding the kind of world we hope it might be and the skills and abilities needed to get it there. - Human and humane - The robots have not taken over (everything, yet) - Resiliant, and moreso, able to rebound from severe shock (antifragility) What is most plausible as important and relevant to that time in the future includes: - War for talent and winner-take-all trends continue - Population demographics will shift, but current living populations and at least some continuation of demographic trends will have important effects - China and Thailand will be in population decline; India will have likely added 200m to its population and surpased China as most populous; USA will have increased by 10% to 360m. Indonesia will have increased by nearly 15% with likely 300m. Regarding some of the bad actors, I sure hope that by 2033 we see a vast diminishment of Facebook, at the very least. We need to see it as a very bad actor (profiting from and thereby enabling bad actors), and as something to shun. Gamification in general seems to be a bad idea, since it develops short-term reward-seeking behavior and has implications for personality development and psychological health. The ability to think deeply and reason effectively, and to fundamentally love truth and love wisdom. And with this kind of impetus to also include a strong safety net and services dealing with public health both physical and mental. A bias towards action and foremost action that is directed to realizing a better outcome in the world. Mere consumerism and mere activism are neither not enough. Embodying the mustering of forced directed toward the long term in a bohemian lifestyle rather than a political movement. That is a better lived reality, and one that is harder to attack and overturn. Yet it is fundamentally committed and progressive.

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Work Hard, Have Fun, Make History

Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs have similar insights when it comes to hiring the best. This is equally relevant when one is building a school. Hire the best teachers possible, if you want a high-performing school.

Three Questions When Making a Hiring Decision

From the 1998 Amazon Shareholder Letter: It would be impossible to produce results in an environment as dynamic as the Internet without extraordinary people. Working to create a little bit of history isn't supposed to be easy, and, well, we're finding that things are as they're supposed to be! We now have a team of 2,100 smart, hard-working, passionate folks who put customers first. Setting the bar high in our approach to hiring has been, and will continue to be, the single most important element of's success. During our hiring meetings, we ask people to consider three questions before making a decision: - Will you admire this person? If you think about the people you've admired in your life, they are probably people you've been able to learn from or take an example from. For myself, I've always tried hard to work only with people I admire, and I encourage folks here to be just as demanding. Life is definitely too short to do otherwise. - Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they're entering? We want to fight entropy. The bar has to continuously go up. I ask people to visualize the company 5 years from now. At that point, each of us should look around and say, The standards are so high now -- boy, I'm glad I got in when I did! - Along what dimension might this person be a superstar? Many people have unique skills, interests, and perspectives that enrich the work environment for all of us. It's often something that’s not even related to their jobs.

Steve Jobs on Hiring Truly Gifted People

> In Software, and it used to be the case in Hardware, the difference between the average and the best is 50 to 1, maybe 100 to one.... > > I've built a lot of my success off finding these truly gifted people, and not settling for B and C players, but really going for the A players. And I found that when you get these A players together, when you go through this incredible work to find these A players, they really like working with each other becuase they've never had a chance to do that before. And they don't want to work with B and C players, and so it becomes self-policing, and they only want to hire more A players. And so you build up these pockets of A players and it propagates.