from the world's big
Relationships, science and self-help: A Q&A with Paul C. Brunson
You know the old Facebook line: relationships are complicated. Paul C. Brunson, the Modern Day Matchmaker, knows that better than anyone else. And his new book, IT'S COMPLICATED (BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE): A MODERN GUIDE TO FINDING AND KEEPING LOVE, approaches self-help with a new angle: by mixing experience, science and plain old common sense. Here, Brunson talks about relationship "rules," the tools of a modern day matchmaker, science and self-help, and the concept of soul mates.
Q: What inspired you to write IT'S COMPLICATED?
BRUNSON: There were a couple reasons. The kind of big, overwhelming reason was that I am a big reader. On my desk I always have a stack of books from a variety of genres about relationships. I might have a pickup artist book, a Neil Strauss type thing. It could be more like anthropology, you know Helen Fisher type deal, or some modern marriage stuff like Lori Gottlieb. I’d always have like six, seven books and I’d use them as a reference whether I was working with a client or going out to a seminar. It just hit me that I have not yet been able to find one book that synthesized all of these various genres and breaks it out in a very simplistic way for those that are seeking to be in a relationship or maintain their relationship. I thought, wow, if I can grab part of the best concepts from these books as well as the experience I've had with my clients and my own personal relationship with my wife and I could really create something fresh and unique.
Q: Do you really think that there is a specific set of "rules" that works for every relationship?
BRUNSON: That’s a great question. Yeah, I definitely do. I think that if you distill it down to the basics then absolutely. I think if we get super nuanced, then no, you can’t universally apply it. But when you think about something really simple like you have to truly love yourself before you can go about loving someone else, then, yes, absolutely. If you think about needing to have a strong communication skills and actually understand what that means. Yeah, absolutely. You have to be able to resolve problems and conflict resolution--it's the kind of the underpinning of any successful relationship whether it's love or business. So I definitely think that there are some rules that universally apply and then there are others that definitely do not.
Q: As the Modern Day Matchmaker, what kind of tools are in your toolkit to help bring the right people together?
BRUNSON: Lots of things. But it's the science piece of the puzzle that I’m actually most jazzed about. For so long it’s been poets and artists and authors writing about this thing called love and it's all been about what's derived from our hearts. The science community is now telling us that love is directed from other places, mainly our brain. That is a concept that in 2012 is still not grasped by the mainstream. I believe that once we start to grasp that concept and understand that we actually have a lot more control over love and over our relationships than we previously thought, that translates into creating hope. And so when we get down to what’s in my toolbox is, it's really about dispelling all those myths out there about relationships.
Q: One of the things I love about the book is that you say that love doesn't have to last forever. That challenges what everyone is looking for--doesn't it go against the fairy tale?
BRUNSON: To make that statement is controversial. The big question I always get is how do you know if someone is the one, my soul mate? And I believe that you don’t know that person is the one until it’s done, until love has met its end. In my opinion, soul mates are made, not found. But, the more important thing, is the fact that we lose love and then we gain love and we lose love again. I really think that’s a cornerstone of humanity, and it’s something that once we accept it becomes very empowering because we realize that if we have lost love in our lives that we can gain it back again.
Q: What kind of person should use a matchmaker?
BRUNSON: First, there are all kind of matchmakers out there. I wish we were a more regulated industry. But from my perspective, you have to be willing to work as hard as we do. Our clients have reached the extent of trying what they feel to be everything, they feel like they've exhausted all of their options. They've tried new things, gone out with friends, gone online, tried to do everything they could to find someone. They haven't lost hope--but they feel like they need more assistance. That's the right time to come to a matchmaker like me.
Q: Given the changing nature of marriage, does it make sense anymore?
BRUNSON: Marriage makes sense for certain people and not for others. Marriage is not for everyone. I believe that society has kind of told us, and still, to a certain extent, is saying that everyone at some point everyone should be married and if you don’t get married you’re a failure. But marriage is not for everyone. That being said, there are many, many, many benefits to marriage. Benefits as it relates to the individual but also benefits as it relates to community and society.
Q: So given all the science that's out there about relationships, what should people interested in finding and keeping a mate be paying attention to?
BRUNSON: I believe that there are variables that can be controlled, that can allow us to love better, if you will. Love in a stronger way, communicate in a healthier way, bond in a stronger way. But we have to understand the science of it. It's very powerful. If more people inquired about the science of love there could be a much stronger connection. And it's going to play an increasingly larger role in shaping how we date, why we do it, how we do it in the future. And that's a very cool thing.
IT'S COMPLICATED IS AVAILABLE WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD.
Photo Credit: Jeff Davies/Shutterstock.com
Join Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and best-selling author Charles Duhigg as he interviews Victoria Montgomery Brown, co-founder and CEO of Big Think, live at 1pm EDT tomorrow.
Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
A study looks at the performance benefits delivered by asthma drugs when they're taken by athletes who don't have asthma.
- One on hand, the most common health condition among Olympic athletes is asthma. On the other, asthmatic athletes regularly outperform their non-asthmatic counterparts.
- A new study assesses the performance-enhancement effects of asthma medication for non-asthmatics.
- The analysis looks at the effects of both allowed and banned asthma medications.
WADA uncertainty<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzNzU0OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMDc4NjUwN30.fFTvRR0yJDLtFhaYiixh5Fa7NK1t1T4CzUM0Yh6KYiA/img.jpg?width=980" id="01b1b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2fd91a47d91e4d5083449b258a2fd63f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="urine sample for drug test" />
Image source: joel bubble ben/Shutterstock<p>When inhaled β-agonists first came out just before the 1972 Olympics, they were immediately banned altogether by the WADA as possible doping substances. Over the years, the WADA has reexamined their use and refined the organization's stance, evidence of the thorniness of finding an equitable position regarding their use. As of January 2020, only three β-agonists are allowed — salbutamol, formoterol, and salmeterol —and only in inhaled form. Oral consumption appears to have a greater effect on performance.</p>
The study<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzNzU0Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTIzMDQyMX0.Gk4v-7PCA7NohvJjw12L15p7SumPCY0tLdsSlMrLlGs/img.jpg?width=980" id="d3141" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ebe7b30a315aeffcb4fe739095cf0767" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="runner at starting position on track" />
Image source: MinDof/Shutterstock<p>Of primary interest to the authors of the study is confirming and measuring the performance improvement to be gained from β-agonists when they're ingested by athletes who don't have asthma.</p><p>The researchers performed a meta-analysis of 34 existing studies documenting 44 randomized trials reporting on 472 participants. The pool of individuals included was broad, encompassing both untrained and elite athletes. In addition, lab tests, as opposed to actual competitions, tracked performance. The authors of the study therefore recommend taking its conclusions with just a grain of salt.</p><p>The effects of both WADA-banned and approved β-agonists were assessed.</p>
Approved β-agonists and non-asthmatic athletes<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzNzU1MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzkxODk0M30.3RssFwk_tWkHRkEl_tIee02rdq2tLuAePifnngqcIr8/img.jpg?width=980" id="39a99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b1fe4a580c6d4f8a0fd021d7d6570e2a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="vaulter clearing pole" />
Image source: Andrey Yurlov/Shutterstock<p>What the meta-analysis showed is that the currently approved β-agonists didn't significantly improve athletic performance among those without asthma — what very slight benefit they <em>may</em> produce is just enough to prompt the study's authors to write that "it is still uncertain whether approved doses improve anaerobic performance." They note that the tiny effect did increase slightly over multiple weeks of β-agonist intake.</p>
Banned β-agonist and non-asthmatic athletes<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzNzU1Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjI3ODU5Mn0.vyoxSE5EYjPGc2ZEbBN8d5F79nSEIiC6TUzTt0ycVqc/img.jpg?width=980" id="de095" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="02fdd42dfda8e3665a7b547bb88007ef" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="swimmer mid stroke" />
Image source: Nejron Photo/Shutterstock<p>The study found that for athletes without asthma, however, the use of currently banned β-agonists did indeed result in enhanced performance. The authors write, "Our meta-analysis shows that β2-agonists improve anaerobic performance by 5%, an improvement that would change the outcome of most athletic competitions."</p><p>That 5 percent is an average: 70-meter sprint performance was improved by 3 percent, while strength performance, MVC (maximal voluntary contraction), was improved by 6 percent.</p><p>The analysis also revealed that different results were produced by different methods of ingestion. The percentages cited above were seen when a β-agonist was ingested orally. The effect was less pronounced when the banned substances were inhaled.</p><p>Given the difference between the results for allowed and banned β-agonists, the study's conclusions suggest that the WADA has it about right, at least in terms of selection of allowable β-agonists, as well as the allowable dosage method.</p>
Takeaway<p>The study, say its authors, "should be of interest to WADA and anyone who is interested in equal opportunities in competitive sports." Its results clearly support vigilance, with the report concluding: "The use of β2-agonists in athletes should be regulated and limited to those with an asthma diagnosis documented with objective tests."</p>
Certain water beetles can escape from frogs after being consumed.
- A Japanese scientist shows that some beetles can wiggle out of frog's butts after being eaten whole.
- The research suggests the beetle can get out in as little as 7 minutes.
- Most of the beetles swallowed in the experiment survived with no complications after being excreted.