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Strengthen your mind, body, and spirit like a Navy SEAL

What are you capable of? David Goggins' amazing and grueling feat of persistence shows how tough the human mind can be.

David Goggins: I’m a big believer in doing things that make you uncomfortable. So, we live in a world where we want to be as comfortable as we can. And we wonder why we have no growth. We wonder why—when the smallest thing in our life gets difficult—we wonder why we cower and we run away.

I mean, our whole life is set up that way. Our whole life is set up in the path of least resistance. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to feel discomfort. So the whole time we’re living our lives in a very comfortable area. There’s no growth in that. So for me I realized that. The reason I became 297 pounds is because that was comfortable. What was very uncomfortable was running. What was very uncomfortable was being on a diet. What was very uncomfortable was trying to face things that I didn’t want to face. And I also realized when I was really big: I had no growth. Why? Because I was living comfortable. So I realized for me to find growth I had to face all these different things that made me very, very uncomfortable.

One thing I faced was running. I absolutely hated running. But I knew for me to grow I had to do this thing every single day. I wanted to start callus-ing my mind. I wanted to start becoming a better person. And how do you become a better person? How do you gain mental toughness? How do you become the person you want to be? It’s by constantly facing the things that you don’t want to face. If you constantly run away from things that you don’t want to face, how is there growth? How is there mental toughness? I can give you a class all day long about self-talk, visualization, “eat an elephant one bite at a time”, but if you’re never putting yourself in a situation to actually practice these things you’re never going to grow.

We’re all going through a battle in our mind. A warrior is not a person that carries a gun. The biggest war you ever go through is right between your own ears. It’s in your mind. We’re all going through a war in our mind and we have to callus our mind to fight that war and to win that war. So one example I can give you about callus-ing your mind, about doing things that make you uncomfortable. There’s a book out there called 'Lone Survivor' and there’s a guy named Marcus Luttrell. He was on an operation where a bunch of guys died, and I knew all the guys that died. And I know Marcus Luttrell very well. This story touched my heart. And I basically went out there and found a foundation to raise money for it. It’s called the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. You give 100 percent tuition for—let’s say your dad died in the war. He was a special operator. If that guy had a kid, you get 100 percent tuition to go to college. A great foundation, great people working at the foundation. “I’m going to do this.” So I Googled the ten hardest races in the world. And at this time of my life I was not a runner. I maybe ran ten miles the whole year. I was into bodybuilding, I was into weight training, and that’s what I did.

So I Googled the ten hardest races in the world and what came up number one was this race called the Badwater 135. It’s a 135-mile race through Death Valley in the summertime. So I wanted to get in this race. I thought it was actually a stage race—I thought it was a race where you ran like 20 miles, set up a camp, and then ran 20 miles the next day. I didn’t know people ran 100 miles, 135 miles at one time. I didn’t know it was even possible. I had never even run a marathon.

So I called the race director up, his name was Chris Kostman, and I called him up on a Wednesday. And this is in November. He said, “David, to qualify for my race you have to do 100 miles.” And I said, “100 miles in a calendar year?” I didn’t know what was going on. He said, “No, 100 miles in 24 hours or less.” And I thought that was humanly impossible. He said, “So you’ve got to do that in 24 hours or less for me to consider you in my race.” He goes, “There’s a race on Saturday.” And I called him up on Wednesday. That was four days for me to get ready for this race. And I ran ten miles the whole year.

And so he said, “If you qualify, if you do 100 miles in 24 hours or less, I might consider you in my race.” So four days later I’m out there in San Diego and the race was called the San Diego One Day, where you run around a one-mile track for 24 hours to see how many miles you can get. And so I go out there, I didn’t know what I was doing: I had my Myoplex and Ritz crackers. And I had a blue lawn chair. That’s all I had. And I was going to see my crew person every single mile. And I was going to drink Myoplex and have a Ritz cracker. I had no water. I had nothing.
Went out there, got to mile 20, wasn’t feeling too bad. Around mile 30 I started feeling my shins starting to get extremely sore and I started to develop stress fractures, shin splints. I started feeling the metatarsals in my feet starting to break at around mile 50. By mile 70 I was totally destroyed. And I sat down in the blue lawn chair and I was destroyed. And when a bigger person sits down—I don’t know exactly how much I weighed but I was extremely big, I was a power lifter, I lifted a lot of weights and I was not an endurance athlete by any means. So I sat down on this blue lawn chair, looked at my crew person, and I literally couldn’t stand up. I was destroyed. And I couldn’t go to the bathroom. Well I couldn’t stand up to go to the bathroom. So I sat there and I went to the bathroom on myself. I was destroyed. And I was discolored. I was pale. I was dizzy, lightheaded. I was in the worst shape of my entire life.

I had been in three Hell Weeks, Ranger School, all these different training programs, and this was the worst situation I’ve been in in my entire life. I thought I was literally dying. And all I could think about was, “How can I get out of this chair. I have 30 miles to go.” And after everything I had gone through, I realized that the human mind, if you can put it in a very quiet, calm place and get it to calm down and not be so spastic, that you could possibly make this work out for you. “How bad are you really?” So I calmed myself down and I had to make this enormous thing small.

I had 30 more miles to run and my body was in the worst shape in my entire life. The worst pain I ever felt in my life. So I broke this 30 miles thing down. I broke it down to small chunks. I calmed my mind down. I had to get water, had to get potassium, had to get sodium. I had to stop being so dizzy, because I had to be able to stand up. So my dizziness went away after about an hour. I was able to stand up now. And I was going around this track at, like, a 30-something-minute mile.

And I’ll never forget my crew person saying, “Hey.” I got to mile 81. They said, “You’re not going to make the time.” I had 24 hours and I was going so slow, taking so much time. This is when I realized that the human mind, once everything gets connected, once the mind knows you’re not going to quit something, it’s going to try to find more. It’s going to try to give you more. Once it realizes you’re not going to take the path of least resistance—you’re going to stay here until it’s done—my mind and my body and my spirit became one for the first time ever. For the first time ever it became one. And I went to a level that I never thought was humanly possible for myself or anybody else.

And in that shape that I was in, I was able to run 19 miles. And I ran 19 miles and did 100 miles—I actually did one more mile—I did 101 miles in 18 hours and 56 minutes.
I’d overcome so many obstacles in my life, and this was the final crucible for me. And I got through it, and at the end of this race was such clarity to me. And it was just the most amazing thing I ever did in my life. And it was just the most amazing thing I ever did in my life.

What could almost destroy the body and mind of the only person to complete Navy SEAL training (including two Hell Weeks), Air Force tactical air controller training, and U.S. Army Ranger School? David Goggins is tough, but in an effort to raise money for the Lone Survivor Foundation, he took on a challenge that tested him more than any of his military experiences: the Badwater 135. This is an ultra-marathon event that requires participants to run 135 miles in 24 hours in the peak heat of Death Valley. Goggins wasn't a runner at the time; he was a bulky power lifter, and he only had four days to prepare for the qualifying race. He needed to run 100 miles in under 24 hours. So how did he do? Here, he tells the story and in doing so shares a lesson on human potential, mental toughness, and why you won't grow as a person if you always choose the path of least resistance. You can follow David on Twitter and Instagram @davidgoggins and Facebook.

Why it’s hard to tell when high-class people are incompetent

A recent study gives new meaning to the saying "fake it 'til you make it."

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • The study involves four experiments that measured individuals' socioeconomic status, overconfidence and actual performance.
  • Results consistently showed that high-class people tend to overestimate their abilities.
  • However, this overconfidence was misinterpreted as genuine competence in one study, suggesting overestimating your abilities can have social advantages.
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Maps show how CNN lost America to Fox News

Is this proof of a dramatic shift?

Strange Maps
  • Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
  • Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
  • A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses

Dramatic and misleading

Image: Reddit / SICResearch

The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.

Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.

The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.

Let's zoom in:

  • It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
  • By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
  • Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
  • In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
  • Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
  • By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.

"Frightening map"

Image source: Reddit / SICResearch

This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?

  • "The end is near."
  • "The idiocracy grows."
  • "(It's) like a spreading disease."
  • "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
For others, the maps are less about the rise of Fox News, and more about CNN's self-inflicted downward spiral:
  • "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
  • "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
  • "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
  • "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."

Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:

  • "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
  • "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
  • "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
  • "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."

"Old people learning to Google"

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)

But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:

  • "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
  • "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
  • "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
  • "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."

A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.

The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.

One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.

Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.

It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.

CNN, Fox and MSNBC

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison

For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):

  • Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
  • MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
  • CNN: 706,000 (-9%)

And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.

The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
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Mother bonobos, too, pressure their sons to have grandchildren

If you thought your mother was pushy in her pursuit of grandchildren, wait until you learn about bonobo mothers.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Mother bonobos have been observed to help their sons find and copulate with mates.
  • The mothers accomplish this by leading sons to mates, interfering with other males trying to copulate with females, and helping sons rise in the social hierarchy of the group.
  • Why do mother bonobos do this? The "grandmother hypothesis" might hold part of the answer.
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