Most Mainstream Doctors Would Fail Nutrition

“A study in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health assessed the basic nutrition and health knowledge of medical school graduates entering a pediatric residency program and found that, on average, they answered only 52 percent of eighteen questions correctly. In short, most mainstream doctors would fail nutrition.”
~Dr. Will Cole

That is amazing. The point is emphasized by the fact that these are doctors fresh out of medical school. If they were never taught this info in the immediate preceding years of intensive education and training, they are unlikely to pick up more knowledge later in their careers. These young doctors are among the most well educated people in the world, as few fields are as hard to enter and the drop-out rate of medical students is phenomena. These graduates entering residency programs are among the smartest of Americans, the cream of the crop, having been taught at some of the best schools in the world. They are highly trained experts in their field, but obviously this doesn’t include nutrition.

Think about this. Doctors are where most people turn to for serious health advice. They are the ultimate authority figures that the average person directly meets and talks to. If a cardiologist only got 52 percent right to answers on heart health, would you follow her advice and let her do heart surgery on you? I’d hope not. In that case, why would you listen to the dietary opinion of the typical doctor who is ill-informed? Nutrition isn’t a minor part of health, that is for sure. It is the one area where an individual has some control over their life and so isn’t a mere victim of circumstance. Research shows that simple changes in diet and nutrition, not to mention lifestyle, can have dramatic results. Yet few people have that knowledge because most doctors and other officials, to put it bluntly, are ignorant. Anyone who points out this state of affairs in mainstream thought generally isn’t received with welcoming gratitude, much less friendly dialogue and rational debate.

In reading about the paleo diet, a pattern I’ve noticed is that few critics of it know what the diet is and what is advocated by those who adhere to it. It’s not unusual to see, following a criticism of the paleo diet, a description of dietary recommendations that are basically in line with the paleo diet. Their own caricature blinds them to the reality, obfuscating the common ground of agreement or shared concern. I’ve seen the same kind of pattern in the critics of many alternative views: genetic determinists against epigenetic researchers and social scientists, climate change denialists against climatologists, Biblical apologists against Jesus mythicists, Chomskyan linguists against linguistic relativists, etc. In such cases, there is always plenty of fear toward those posing a challenge and so they are treated as the enemy to be attacked. And it is intended as a battle to which the spoils go to the victor, those in dominance assuming they will be the victor.

After debating some people on a blog post by a mainstream doctor (Paleo-suckered), it became clear to me how attractive genetic determinism and biological essentialism is to many defenders of conventional medicine, that there isn’t much you can do about your health other than to do what the doctor tells you and take your meds (these kinds of views may be on the decline, but they are far from down for the count). What bothers them isn’t limited to the paleo diet but extends seemingly to almost any diet as such, excluding official dietary recommendations. They see diet advocates as quacks, faddists, and cultists who are pushing an ideological agenda, and they feel like they are being blamed for their own ill health; from their perspective, it is unfair to tell someone they are capable of improving their diet, at least beyond the standard advice of eat your veggies and whole grains while gulping down your statins and shooting up your insulin.

As a side note, I’m reminded of how what often gets portrayed as alternative wasn’t always seen that way. Linguistic relativism was a fairly common view prior to the Chomskyan counter-revolution. Likewise, much of what gets promoted by the paleo diet was considered common sense in mainstream medical thought earlier last century and in the centuries prior (e.g., carbs are fattening, easily observed back in the day when most people lived on farms, as carbs were and still are how animals get fattened for the slaughter). In many cases, there are old debates that go in cycles. But the cycles are so long, often extending over centuries, that old views appear as if radically new and so easily dismissed as such.

Early Christians heresiologists admitted to the fact of Jesus mythicism, but their only defense was that the devil did it in planting parallels in prior religions. During the Enlightenment Age, many people kept bringing up these religious parallels and this was part of mainstream debate. Yet it was suppressed with the rise of literal-minded fundamentalism during the modern era. Then there is the battle between the Chomskyites, genetic determinists, etc and their opponents is part of a cultural conflict that goes back at least to the ancient Greeks, between the approaches of Plato and Aristotle (Daniel Everett discusses this in the Dark Matter of the Mind; see this post).

To return to the topic at hand, the notion of food as medicine, a premise of the paleo diet, also goes back to the ancient Greeks — in fact, originates with the founder of modern medicine, Hippocrates (he also is ascribed as saying that, “All disease begins in the gut,”  a slight exaggeration of a common view about the importance of gut health, a key area of connection between the paleo diet and alternative medicine). What we now call functional medicine, treating people holistically, used to be standard practice of family doctors for centuries and probably millennia, going back to medicine men and women. But this caring attitude and practice went by the wayside because it took time to spend with patients and insurance companies wouldn’t pay for it. Traditional healthcare that we now think of as alternative is maybe not possible with a for-profit model, but I’d say that is more of a criticism of the for-profit model than a criticism of traditional healthcare.

The dietary denialists love to dismiss the paleo lifestyle as a ‘fad diet’. But as Timothy Noakes argues, it is the least fad diet around. It is based on the research of what humans have been eating since the Paleoithic era and what hominids have been eating for millions of years. Even as a specific diet, it is the earliest official dietary recommendations given by medical experts. Back when it was popularized, it was called the Banting diet and the only complaint the medical authorities had was not that it was wrong but that it was right and they disliked it being promoted in the popular literature, as they considered dietary advice to be their turf to be defended. Timothy Noakes wrote that,

“Their first error is to label LCHF/Banting ‘the latest fashionable diet’; in other words, a fad. This is wrong. The Banting diet takes its name from an obese 19th-century undertaker, William Banting. First described in 1863, Banting is the oldest diet included in medical texts. Perhaps the most iconic medical text of all time, Sir William Osler’s The Principles and Practice of Medicine , published in 1892, includes the Banting/Ebstein diet as the diet for the treatment of obesity (on page 1020 of that edition). 13 The reality is that the only non-fad diet is the Banting diet; all subsequent diets, and most especially the low-fat diet that the UCT academics promote, are ‘the latest fashionable diets’.”
(Lore of Nutrition, p. 131)

The dominant paradigm maintains its dominance by convincing most people that what is perceived as ‘alternative’ was always that way or was a recent invention of radical thought. The risk the dominant paradigm takes is that, in attacking other views, it unintentionally acknowledges and legitimizes them. That happened in South Africa when the government spent hundreds of thousands of dollars attempting to destroy the career of Dr. Timothy Noakes, but because he was such a knowledgeable expert he was able to defend his medical views with scientific evidence. A similar thing happened when the Chomskyites viciously attacked the linguist Daniel Everett who worked in the field with native tribes, but it turned out he was a better writer with more compelling ideas and also had the evidence on his side. What the dogmatic assailants ended up doing, in both cases, was bringing academic and public attention to these challengers to the status quo.

Even though these attacks don’t always succeed, they are successful in setting examples. Even a pyrrhic victory is highly effective in demonstrating raw power in the short term. Not many doctors would be willing to risk their career as did Timothy Noakes and even fewer would have the capacity to defend themselves to such an extent. It’s not only the government that might go after a doctor but also private litigators. And if a doctor doesn’t toe the line, that doctor can lose their job in a hospital or clinic, be denied the ability to get Medicaire reimbursement, be blacklisted from speaking at medical conferences, and many other forms of punishment. That is what many challengers found in too loudly disagreeing with Ancel Keys and gang — they were effectively silenced and were no longer able to get funding to do research, even though the strongest evidence was on their side of the argument. Being shut out and becoming pariah is not a happy place to be.

The establishment can be fearsome when they flex their muscles. And watch out when they come after you. The defenders of the status quo become even more dangerous precisely when they are the weakest, like an injured and cornered animal who growls all the louder, and most people wisely keep their distance. But without fools to risk it all in testing whether the bark really is worse than the bite, nothing would change and the world would grind to a halt, as inertia settled into full authoritarian control. We are in such a time. I remember back in the era of Bush jr and as we headed into the following time of rope-a-dope hope-and-change. There was a palpable feeling of change in the air and I could viscerally sense the gears clicking into place. Something had irrevocably changed and it wasn’t fundamentally about anything going on in the halls of power but something within society and the culture. It made me feel gleeful at the time, like scratching the exact right spot where it itches — ah, there it is! Outwardly, the world more or less appeared the same, but the public mood had clearly shifted.

The bluntness of reactionary right-wingers is caused by the very fact that the winds of change are turning against them. That is why they praise the crude ridicule of wannabe emperor Donald Trump. What in the past could have been ignored by those in the mainstream no longer can be ignored. And after being ignored, the next step toward potential victory is being attacked, which can be mistaken for loss even as it offers the hope for reversal of fortune. Attacks come in many forms, with a few examples already mentioned. Along with ridicule, there is defamation, character assassination, scapegoating, and straw man arguments; allegations of fraud, quackery, malpractice, or deviancy. These are attacks as preemptive defense, in the hope of enforcing submission and silence. This only works for so long, though. The tide can’t be held back forever.

The establishment is under siege and they know it. Their only hope is to be able hold out long enough until the worst happens and they can drop the pretense in going full authoritarian. That is a risky gamble on their part and likely not to pay off, but it is the only hope they have in maintaining power. Desperation of mind breeds desperation of action. But it’s not as if a choice is being made. The inevitable result of a dominant paradigm is that it closes itself not only to all other possibilities but, more importantly, to even the imagination that something else is possible. Ideological realism becomes a reality tunnel. And insularity leads to intellectual laziness, as those who rule and those who support them have come to depend on a presumed authority as gatekeepers of legitimacy. What they don’t notice or don’t understand is the slow erosion of authority and hence loss of what Julian Jaynes called authorization. Their need to be absolutely right is no longer matched with their capacity to enforce their increasingly rigid worldview, their fragile and fraying ideological dogmatism.

This is why challengers to the status quo are in a different position, thus making the altercation of contestants rather lopsided. There is a freedom to being outside the constraints of mainstream thought. An imbalance of power, in some ways, works in favor of those excluded from power since they have all the world to gain and little to lose, meaning less to defend; this being shown in how outsiders, more easily than insiders, often can acknowledge where the other side is right and accept where points of commonality are to be found, that is to say the challengers to power don’t have to be on the constant attack in the way that is required for defenders of the status quo (similar to how guerrilla fighters don’t have to defeat an empire, but simply not lose and wait it out). Trying to defeat ideological underdogs that have growing popular support is like the U.S. military trying to win a war in Vietnam or Afghanistan — they are on the wrong side of history. But systems of power don’t give up without a fight, and they are willing to sacrifice loads of money and many lives in fighting losing battles, if only to keep the enemies at bay for yet another day. And the zombie ideas these systems are built on are not easily eliminated. That is because they are highly infectious mind viruses that can continue to spread long after the original vector of disease disappeared.

As such, the behemoth medical-industrial complex won’t be making any quick turns toward internal reform. Changes happen over generations. And for the moment, this generation of doctors and other healthcare workers were primarily educated and trained under the old paradigm. It’s the entire world most of them know. The system is a victim of its own success and so those working within the system are victimized again and again in their own indoctrination. It’s not some evil sociopathic self-interest that keeps the whole mess slogging along; after all, even doctors are suffering the same failed healthcare system as the rest of us and are dying of the same preventable diseases. All are sacrificed equally, all are food for the system’s hunger. When my mother brought my nephew for an appointment, the doctor was not trying to be a bad person when she made the bizarre and disheartening claim that all kids eat unhealthy and are sickly; i.e., there is nothing to do about it, just the way kids are. Working within the failed system, that is all she knows. The idea that sickness isn’t or shouldn’t be the norm was beyond her imagination.

It is up to the rest of us to imagine new possibilities and, in some cases, to resurrect old possibilities long forgotten. We can’t wait for a system to change when that system is indifferent to our struggles and suffering. We can’t wait for a future time when most doctors are well-educated on treating the whole patient, when officials are well-prepared for understanding and tackling systemic problems. Change will happen, as so many have come to realize, from the bottom up. There is no other way. Until that change happens, the best we can do is to take care of ourselves and take care of our loved ones. That isn’t about blame. It’s about responsibility, that is to say the ability to respond; and more importantly, the willingness to do so.

* * *

by Dr. Will Cole
pp. 15-16

With the Hippocratic advice to “let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food,” how far have we strayed that the words of the founder of modern medicine can actually be threatening to conventional medicine?

Today medical schools in the United States offer, on average, only about nineteen hours of nutrition education over four years of medical school.10 Only 29 percent of U.S. medical schools offer the recommended twenty-five hours of nutrition education.11 A study in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health assessed the basic nutrition and health knowledge of medical school graduates entering a pediatric residency program and found that, on average, they answered only 52 percent of eighteen questions correctly.12 In short, most mainstream doctors would fail nutrition. So if you were wondering why someone in functional medicine, outside conventional medicine, is writing a book on how to use food for optimal health, this is why.

Expecting health guidance from mainstream medicine is akin to getting gardening advice from a mechanic. You can’t expect someone who wasn’t properly trained in a field to give sound advice. Brilliant physicians in the mainstream model of care are trained to diagnose a disease and match it with a corresponding pharmaceutical drug. This medicinal matching game works sometimes, but it often leaves the patient with nothing but a growing prescription list and growing health problems.

With the strong influence that the pharmaceutical industry has on government and conventional medical policy, it’s no secret that using foods to heal the body is not a priority of mainstream medicine. You only need to eat hospital food once to know this truth. Even more, under current laws it is illegal to say that foods can heal. That’ right. The words treat, cure, and prevent are in effect owned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the pharmaceutical industry and can be used in the health care setting only when talking about medications. This is the Orwellian world we live in today; health problems are on the rise even though we spend more on health care than ever, and getting healthy is considered radical and often labeled as quackery.

10. K. Adams et al., “Nutrition Education in U.S. Medical Schools: Latest Update of a National Survey,” Academic Medicine 85, no. 9 (September 2010): 1537-1542,
11. K. Adams et al., “The State of Nutrition Education at US Medical Schools,” Journal of Biomedical Education 2015 (2015), Article ID 357627, 7 pages,
12. M. Castillo et al., “Basic Nutrition Knowledge of Recent Medical Graduates Entering a Pediatric Reside): 357-361, doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2015-0019,

Despite Growing Burden of Diet-related Disease, Medical Education Does Not Equip Students to Provide High Quality Nutritional Care to Patients
by Millie Barnes

The reviewed studies consistently found that medical students wanted to receive nutrition education to develop their skills in nutrition care but perceived that their education did not equip them to do so. Students cited both quantity and quality of their education as reasons for this — poor quality and under prioritization of nutrition in the curriculum, lack of interest and expertise in nutrition among faculty members, and few examples of nutritional counseling during clinical years to serve as models for emerging doctors.

Furthermore, students uniformly reported having a lack of required nutrition knowledge, which was also found through testing. For instance, one study found that when nutrition knowledge was assessed in a test, half of medical students scored below the pass rate.

Five studies assessing curriculum initiatives found that they had a modest positive effect. However, most nutrition initiatives were employed opportunistically as a once-off activity, rather than being integrated in a sustained way into the medical curricula. Innovative initiatives — such as online curriculum, hands on cooking experiences, and learning from other health professionals such as dietitians — showed short-term and long-term benefits for patients and health systems. Therefore, the authors call for more funding for innovative curriculum initiatives to be developed and implemented.

minor frustration

minor frustration

Posted on Jun 9th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
I’m feeling a bit frustrated with Gaia at the moment, but this is partly because I’ve been busy with family lately and haven’t had enough time.  I have various pods and blogs on email notification that it takes quite a while just to sort through all of that.  When I’m busy, that leaves me no time to blog.

Gaia is such a humungous community that I can feel overwhelmed.  I still feel like I’m barely beginning to get to know people.  Whereas, in some smaller online communities I’ve joined, the getting-to-know period was much shorter.

I came here to blog, but I also wanted to connect with other bloggers.  So far, I haven’t been successful in this.  I joined a bunch of pods and have posted quite a bit.  But I get the sense that most bloggers don’t post in pods much and most pod members don’t blog much.  I’ve gained a number of friends almost all of which invited me as a friend, but even so few of them ever comment in my blogs.  I go out of my way to comment in the blogs of others, but few of those people comment in my blog in return.  Many people who are the most active bloggers also seem to be the least active commentors in other people’s blogs.  And a few of the most active bloggers don’t even seem all that interested in responding to comments to their own blogs.

Basically, connecting is an issue.  Deborah mentioned that the blog comments between Nicole and I felt like a private conversation.  That surely isn’t my intention.  And it wouldn’t feel that way if more people responded.

However, I’ve come across bloggers who have been around since the beginning of Zaadz… and some of them get very few comments in their blogs.  It seems that there are a few bloggers that get lots of comments and a vast majority of bloggers that get few.  I guess its just like popularity in normal life.

Another aspect to my minor frustration is that I wonder if the reason for a small number of people commenting implies a lack of interest in the topics I blog about.  There are several reasons I can think of. 

First, I tend to blog about very intellectual topics.  And, yet, the intellectual crowd around here seems mostly limited to integral folks which I haven’t been drawn to blog (or post) much about. 

This bring me to the second reason.  I tend to write about very alternative viewpoints which by definition aren’t shared by the vast majority.  I wouldn’t be surprised that many of the books I read aren’t read by anyone else on Gaia… The Melancholy Android anyone?  

For the third… I’m not the most positive and activist person even in the normal world.  And certainly not on Gaia where positivity and activism is idealized above all else.

I’m not having a pity party.  Or if I am, it isn’t my purpose for blogging about this.  I want to connect with others in such a way that it causes them to be interested in connecting with me.  I want to blog, but not in isolation.  However, the more I try to reach out to connect to others, the less time I have to blog.  Should I simply do my own thing in my blog and just stop worrying about whether or not others care about what I blog about?

Part of me wonders if I fit in with the Gaia community.  As I’ve said elsewhere, I do resonate with the community here, but the question is whether the community resonates with me.  Whatever the case, I doubt I’d find another blogging community that I’d feel more comfortable with or in which it would be easier to connect with others.  I do like the sense that Gaia feels like a genuine community and a very active one at that.

More importantly, I’m just frustrated because my time is limited.  I always have to choose how to spend my time especially as I can be very thorough in my writings.  Should I spend more time blogging and less time posting in pods?  Should I take all of those pods off of email notification?  Should I limit myself to only one pod?  Should I stop trying so hard to connect with others and simply trust that the like-minded will find my blog on their own?

I like Gaia and don’t plan going anywhere.  I’m just trying to figure out how to improve my experience here… and how to decrease my frustration.

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about 10 hours later

Enlightened.thinker said

Hey Marmalade….I have had frustrations like you are experiencing and understand completely…

When I first came here I spent hours commenting on blogs of others, and I still try to comment when I can…as to integral topics, well I am not that astute on those topics and frankly do not like Wilbur stuff. That being said, I do love intellectual topics and stimulation here.

I also do not like PODS. I have been crucified in them and what I love to do, like you id I spend my time doing that. i blog first for myself…and if others resonate I feel blessed…I do agree may people blog and no one comments, I think I used to spend 8 hours a day commenting…and of course try to comment back on mine too…it gets to be a rather daunting task!

I ridded myself of most POD groups and have kept 4. I check them about once every month or so…too busy otherwise. Then each day I hit the blog friends and read as much as I can. Mind you  teach online lit and they blog and I comment on their posts and also will be taking a masters class online, so my time here may become more limited…but this place has been a source of inspiration and love, so I do not want to lose it..

I also try to email people here every once in awhile, or at least post grapevine stuff…but first and foremost I like to blog…and try to make time each day at least to answer the QAR.

I also disabled all the notifications for people who are friends that blog. I check the friends blog selection anyway, so why get double notice?

I have 355 friends here now… and this is no brag or anything…and it is not because I need to be popular…I turn no one away who wants to be a friend, and many of them do not blog but read silently…many read and do not comment…there is a sense of being “naked in public” but why take them off if they wsh to stay? If there are people who blog I try to write something and most of the time, writing it comes ith great pleasure…as this comment does…it strikes a chord.I also find new and fascinating people all the time, like yourself and love to follow progress!

People everywhere are funny and come with differing expectations of what they want and need…and I have taken some hiatuses from this place for various reasons…I hate to see people leave that I have found here, but we all have our own reasons for moving on…and i hope not to, but cannot promise anything in this world! LOL

Limited time is problematic…but do what you love first, just for yourself…blog that thought or idea. I realize it is frustrating to feel no one is listening…but remember this is your journey and all you do and say and feel is a wonderful legacy to your journey…

I’ll be checking in with ya…and I am glad you wrote this…it is important to voice how one feels always in honesty and release! And you are a great writer!


Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 10 hours later

Nicole said

Ben, there is so much here to respond to that I will just have to take it one point at a time

1) Frustration with Gaia due to real life interfering with Gaia – not being flippant, because many of us who are most active on Gaia experience this. Many is the time that I am just warming up with replying to a pod or commenting on a blog and work or some other important real life thing arises. Over time, I have learned to flow with it, to accept that later is soon enough to respond to that blog or that great post.

2) No time to blog – well, lately I haven’t blogged. Not exactly not having time, but my time being so dedicated to Alan and my friends on Gaia, and my business obligations, that blogging just doesn’t come up as something I do much. But again, for me, that’s ok, because I know for example there are days when I will have more time, like today, and more inspiration – my blog goal for today is to do one big future meet-up plan blog so I can get everyone talking about meet-ups I will be animating in one place.

3) Gaia being a humungous community – feel overwhelmed: I appreciate the fact that you still feel like you’re barely beginning to get to know people.  I have been here for coming on two years and people still say to me, do you know so and so? and i don’t. But that’s ok. What can work is finding the right sized network of active bloggers and staying connected with them. Also, our God Pod is a cozy community where scale is not yet a problem.

4) To blog, but also to connect with other bloggers – I think you  have been quite successful in this, given that as you rightly point out, most bloggers don’t post in pods much and most pod members don’t blog much.  Most people do not consciously and consistently comment on blogs, so that the few of us who do tend to stand out and be well known in the community as frequent commenters. You are certainly one who goes out of your way to comment in the blogs of others, but yes, at first, few of those people will comment in my blog in return.  There has to be a mutual connection, but we’ll talk about that more in a bit.

5) Many people who are the most active bloggers also seem to be the least active commentors in other people’s blogs, and some of the most active bloggers don’t even seem all that interested in responding to comments to their own blogs – this is true. Many of those who do respond to comments regularly do so quickly and lightly (like me) and all of this has to do with time constraints and priorities.

6) Connecting is an issue – blog comments between us felt like a private conversation – I know it wasn’t your intention, but there are several aspects that make it so. First, we post very long and detailed comments to each other, so most people would feel they didn’t have the time even to read all that, and maybe they would feel that if they did comment, they would have to be as detailed and they couldnt. Also, though, the more we get to know each other, and the closer we get as friends, the more personal the blog comments get and the more personal, the more it looks like an exclusive conversation. So I think it was a good point Debye made.

7) Bloggers who have been around since the beginning of Zaadz… and some of them get very few comments in their blogs. – a few bloggers that get lots of comments and a vast majority of bloggers that get few – popularity: I find the people who get the most comments tend to do so usually for one of three reasons – they post something very provocative, maybe even suggestive, and people start going to town commenting; they have a “blog party” of some sort and invite a crazy amount of comments; and – i think this is the biggie – they invest deeply in people’s lives through steady, daily grapevining, blog commenting, pod participation, PMing and off Gaia activity, so when they blog, their friends are deeply drawn to respond. John and Shirl and BB and Peridot are good examples of two or three of the above, depending on the person and of course those who are three out of three are going to hit the jackpot for getting comments.

The truth is, to reap big on Gaia, you have to sow very heavily. You can invest an insane amount of time writing detailed comments and blogs and pod posts, but if people are not feeling connected with you enough for whatever reason, you can get very frustrated because that massive investment is reaping little in the way of dividends for you.

8) lack of interest in the topics blog about – very intellectual topics and intellectual crowd around here seems mostly limited to integral folks –  very alternative viewpoints, unusual  books –  not the most positive and activist person even in the normal world.  And certainly not on Gaia where positivity and activism is idealized above all else:

I think you’re being very insightful here. It’s true that people blog and comment about things that tweak their interest. I have gotten into many a discussion with you where initially there was only one aspect that drew me in, but as we discussed, I realised that there was a hidden gold mine in your blog and got more and more into it. But what drew me in most initially was our friendship. As you have mentioned, you have blogged about things just because I am interested in them, and that has really been a powerful draw for me for two reasons – because I am so interested, but also deeply touched that you would go to that kind of time and trouble for our friendship and better understanding something or someone I care about that much.

Yes, your blogs are very intellectual and non integral, and I’ve noticed too that such blogs are marginalised for all the reasons mentioned in the above points. Similarly the very alternative viewpoint and minority tastes in literature do make it less likely that you will find enough people to connect on a regular basis, all above things being equal. And not being the most positive and activist person – again addressed above in terms of heavy heavy sowing and reaping.

9) not having a pity party, want to blog, but not in isolation, but the more reach out to connect to others, the less time to blog. Fitting in with the Gaia community.  Whether the community resonates with  you, time is limited. how to choose?

This is the crux of the matter. Again and again I see people reach a level of frustration for usually a number of the reasons you mention, and others you haven’t like negative interactions, being unfriended, feeling stalked, etc etc, and just blowing and disappearing.

Very few, like Mary recently, and like you here, really take the time and energy consciously to work through why they are frustrated and how they can be happier. Each one who does, though, usually reaches a place of happiness. In some cases it means leaving Gaia, but mostly it’s just adjusting to a more comfortable way of Gaiaing. As you say, you can choose to limit to one pod, or mostly to one pod. Comment deeply but on less blogs. Blog as much as you need without giving energy to whether or not people comment, because we cannot guarantee outcome.

I feel confident that you will find your way, because you are such a clear and deep thinker with heart.

debyemm : Tree Hugging Dirt Worshiper

about 12 hours later

debyemm said

Ben & Nicole,

Well, I didn’t mean it as a criticism.  I just felt like I was at a party, where 2 people are having an interesting conversation that I happen to overhear.  What to do?  I’d love to join the conversation but the 2 are so “involved” in communicating with one another, it feels on my outside position like an intrusion.

I feel sad to have caused frustration but that wasn’t my intent and Ben wrote me the kindest note that made me feel very welcome.  I am also glad that Nicole understood that my willingness to express “feelings” brought to light a perception that others reading may have had but weren’t willing to step in a little closer and say, hey, I’d love to enter the conversation, though I’ll admit I’m a bit lost as to exactly what you are talking about – it does sound so interesting, I do want to learn something from you.


Waving wildly at my friend Aley who never seems to lack for comments on her blog …

 Meenakshi : ~

about 12 hours later

Meenakshi said

Ben, this is the kind of thing many feel on blogs or pods both on and off-line: why are people not responding to me? 
I’m sure most bloggers feel this way; but I’ve realized through the years of having off-line and on-line groups; that only a small minority of people who read, will actually write. There are all sorts of reasons; but in the end, it really boils down to one thing:
you came to blog which can be enjoyable in and of itself; then, having come here, you realized you enjoy networking.

Now would you mind if it is done more in pods than in blogs?  You could link your blog to a pod —and if you aren’t pod-ded out already, I would invite you to do this in the Gaia Networking – Enhance Your Community Experience; on
 Networking on Blogs board. Otherwise, can I provide a link?

In that synchronistic way of events; I was going to start a discussion on this topic; and it would be great to see how to handle this. That still does not mean we will get more comments, but who knows! We could provide tips for each other.

I’m going to read Nicole’s and Aley’s comments now.

**Preachy tone alert**: The best thing I’ve learned about disappointment, is that I need to change my thought. Or sometimes, to let the thoughts flow and not hold on too much to any one. I have found disappointment to take so much energy; that I can find more time if I just let it go.

And then I find that I am probably not acknowledging each of my friends who have commented on my blog. Why should it be numbers? As a qualitiative reasearcher, I know how even a small sample can be representative of a larger one.

As a professor [yes, Aley, me too, but many years ago]; I was given a piece of advice by the college  Principal–“If you can touch the life of even one student, think yourself successful.” To which I will now add: “you may never know whose life you have touched. So, listen in that silence and let each voice count.”

I think you have reached out and done many positive things; and surrounded as you are, by dear friends here, I am certain…as I can see above my comment that Nicole is, that you will get over this minor frustration as a pebble in your path.

After all, you have spoken for many.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 13 hours later

Nicole said

again, Ben, forgive me, but I would like to respond to Deb and Meenakshi.

Deb, no, I didn’t experience it as a criticism at all, I just wanted to continue to clear up the fact that we are open to people joining the discussion.But I totally know that party feeling and understand especially if we are getting into deep waters and sort of an in way of talking (as close friends tend to do) that it would make it harder to jump in. Thanks so much for articulating all that.

Meenakshi, I was telling Ben that I feel that this would be a good blog to link to for the Mod Pod and the Ambassadors, and he is happy for me to link to those. I believe this is a key Gaia issue, as so many experience these feelings.


Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 14 hours later

Marmalade said

I titled this blog post ‘minor frustration’ and I did so intentionally with the lower caps.  I was just expressing how I was feeling and it isn’t meant as a criticism towards anyone.  Everyone has different reasons for being here and everyone chooses different ways to spend their limited time.

To be honest, Gaia (and the people here) has gone beyond my expectations of it.  I’ve never come across a community as active as this one.  My frustration isn’t anything unusual because I often feel frustrated early on when joining an online group, and this feeling was magnified by how large Gaia is.  Frustration is an emotion which is valid in and of itself no matter what reasons or rationalizations I give for it.  My expression of emotion is more important than the words I used to express it.

My frustration isn’t specifically about Gaia.  I’m just trying to get my bearings in a new environment.  I’m at a point where I realize how limited my time is.  Also, I’m figuring out the social dynamics of the place overall and the social dynamics of various groups.

I wasn’t really expecting that many people would respond to this blog.  My feelings are serious in that my criticisms aren’t exaggerations, but I wasn’t attempting to start a serious discussion.  I would’ve put more thought into it before posting if I knew it would be interesting to others.  I mostly just thought ot  it as self-expression.

I was a bit worried that someone might respond critically towards my criticisms.  I’m certainly not in a mood to try to defend my position because I don’t have much of anything that needs defending.  I’m actually pretty darn happy with Gaia.  My venting of my frustrations came off strongly because I was feeling frustrated in general… I just spent 2 weeks non-stop with family and little time for myself.

But I am glad a discussion has started.  And I appreciate all of your comments here.  I’ll probably comment more later.

ps Deborah, I wasn’t frustrated by your comments.  My frustration was just a general mood and you just happened to post at the same time I was feeling this way.

Samme : Prince of Rainbows<3

about 14 hours later

Samme said

These are what I do on how I maximize my productivity and enjoyment here at Gaia and I want to share this for those who will read or listen;

1.  I click on the Groups tab and then My Groups.  I only visit those pods that have a “new” attached at the end of the pod name.  I don’t click on the pod title but rather on the word “new” that little orange thing.  This will show the  newest post  to the oldest.  I only read what’s new and comment if I want to.  Of course I have to post new materials on my own pods that I cultivated.
2.  For reading the blogs of my friends, I place my cursor on the word “blog” and then underneath that click on the word “friends”.  This will show a page of all my friends’ recent blog going down the page.  I go down the line, read and if I want to comment, will do so. 
3.  I comment on a lot of people’s blogs when I can.  I also write on their grapevine and mind you, not copy and paste. 
4.  I “tag” my email on gaia so I can quickly go back to ones I need to go back to. 
5.  I joined all pods that came my way.  I even join pods that I stumbled upon. 
6.  I do not delete other people’s posts or mine as this might be seen by somebody in the future and it just might help them deal or cope with whatever they are going through. 
7.  I have no right to place judgment on anybody. 
8.  I always pick myself up and keep on going even though I am alone on my journey.  But maybe sometimes when I look back there will be somebody following.
9.  I smile cause that is the extra incentive.
10.  I always say thank you and hope that I don’t forget.
Thank you,

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 15 hours later

Marmalade said

Nice list.  I always like when people numerically list their points very clearly and concisely.

Some of the things you mention are what I’m now figuring out.  I too want to “maximize my productivity and enjoyment”.

Thanks for your contribution,

debyemm : Tree Hugging Dirt Worshiper

about 16 hours later

debyemm said


Thanks for the hint about finding friends blogs – wow – something really new I have just learned after a year and a half here.


Glad I wasn’t your frustration.  I understand now the larger context.


Alluvja :  Love In Action

about 17 hours later

Alluvja said

Hi Marmelade,

I see you around in conversations and always enjoy reading your comments.
When I first joined Gaia a copple of months ago I was so overwhelmed and wanted to respond to so many things that I found myself staying up all night for a while! Of course that doesn’t work for long.
There are many discussions I enjoy but I am simply making choices and just react once in a while for it takes too much of my time. I am not frustrated with Gaia but I do share some of the disappointment especially in the friends area. In general the friendship thing is great and I am happy to connect in this way with many people but there are some cases I just don’t know how to go about it.
I am trying to keep connected with friends, either by saying hello once in a while thru the grapevine or commenting in pods or blogs, or e-mail. Now because of timelimits I don’t feel it always has to be a lot of stuff,  but I want to indicate that I do think about them and am interested. What is disappointing to me is that some people who invited me to be their friend never even take the time to maintain some kind of contact or even comment on a response or letter etc. That’s ok for a while to me for I also feel it should not be an obligation, people can just want to withdraw for a while etc., but if I added them as a friend and never hear from them and they don’t respond to any of my initiatives  I am really wondering what is the purpose of friendship.  Is it just a matter of hoarding as many friends as possible on your profile? There are people that ask questions or suggestions in their blog or in pods and then I take the time to respond and I never even hear from them. I think that’s crude and I’ve been thinking about deleting those ‘ friends’    but I kind of find that hard as well, so  how do other people deal with that I am wondering?

I don’t get a lot of visits or reactions on my blog , not even from my friends which I  kind of feel dissappointed about  but  I find blogging foremost an avenue to express some of my thoughts and feeling and if people want to share I welcome that very much but i have chosen not  to invest to much energy into getting frustrated about it.
With pods I feel a bit different. You engage in a pod to communicate. Now in active pods there is enough response but in pods that are less active I find it embarassing that at first joining a pod some people put in a hello as introduction, or a nice poem or whatever and they simply never get a reaction, not even from the pod cultivator. That’s happened to me and I’ve seen it happen to other people. That I find frustrating. That is also why I reacted to Nicoles question in Gaia Support on the possiblity of making a list on the activity of pods rather than the amount of members.

Well Marmelade, I think eventhough at Gaia we hold the intention to be the change we want to see happen, we are all people with our beauty and our flaws so in that respect it is a lot like real life. And a great opportunity  not only to share but also learn  to deal with our frustration of unfullfilled expectations etc.
You see what I have learned from this thread of yours is that I shouldn’t take it so personally. It apparently also happens to people that are active in all kinds of interesting discussions, have great blog etc.
Thank you for sharing, Marmelade and see you around.


Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 20 hours later

Nicole said

hi Ben, i feel guilty that because i decided to publicise this blog so much you have had to deal with people who are genuinely frustrated! thanks for being so gosh darned sweet about it.

I know you are really happy here most of the time and of course so am I, but I am delighted that we are talking openly about some of the difficulties.

Sometimes minor things could make a big difference. For example if new people knew what the colours of people’s names on their friends list meant (I just figured that out LOL) and how to find their friends’ blogs and how always to clipboard their comments so they don’t get eaten by the Gaia monster, there would be a lot higher satisfaction.

How do we support and communicate with each other to make our Gaia experience the best it can be? Gotta run but back later this aft. love you all!

about 20 hours later

Enlightened.thinker said

One thing I have learned here Ben is that the blog that is no big deal, or the blog you may have whipped out rapidly, can have wings you would never have expected!

There is no judgment here at all, and even minor frustrations can be catalysts for change…

so ….enjoy and revel in the wonderful blog you have posted, and also in the fact that so many wise “ole” Gaians have responded with love! LOL

The wind takes these blogs and we all feel the breeze!

And WOW Meenakshi! I knew tou were a prof i my heart of hearts!

Enjoy the journey Ben, we are all here with you…and that is a wonderful blessings!


Bowing deeply to you all my dear friends! And waving back frantically at Deb!

~Kes : be cause

about 21 hours later

~Kes said

Great Blog Group!!!  The end result is so worth reposting.  I get overwhelmed at times of where to post and do read some blogs without acknowledging or adding to the comment section because this site is such a spiritual candy store. There are so many awesome viewpoints and I keep coming back for more and hope I can exchange some of my own experience because I receive so much.
I have found that if I sit too long at the computer it can become introverting so I go outside and either take a walk or do some work in the garden to become more extroverted.  Reversely if I am out doing heavy work, it is calming to sit here and share with my worldly friends.  This helps.
I have a “do it now” policy where I answer my e mails first then check the rounds on my groups and either just read or post if I feel I can contribute.  I am guilty of not commenting on everything I read and will start pushing the “I like it button” or give seeds or comment on the grapevine as a courtesy while I am in their moment.
If things get to serious for me, I post a youtube or write something upbeat and create more insouciance in my attitude as the physical world does align up under that showing we are as spiritual beings more senior to seriousity. 🙂  I even hang out in the play pod if I find myself too solid.
If there is a pod that requires me to come up with a more detailed answer then I just do that and allow it time but then that day don’t make the rounds.I do check the “new” orange tab and find that there are more active people to help share with.  Basically I treat things as a circle or a cycle of action to start the blog or comment or pod, go through the change of reading and adding to the motion and ending it to where its done.  Then when I route off of the computer I do something to extrovert like take a walk or just go outside and give myself space.
Hope this helps.  Thanks for posting such an insightful and most helpful blog.

Mamakat : Voyager

1 day later

Mamakat said

Hi Marmalade!

From one cat to another, I hear you…I’ve been up and down about this blogging business since I’ve been here.  I guess my only advice to you is BLOG FOR YOURSELF–it’s a free soapbox, journal, and self-discovery tool all rolled into one!   And it’s also a way for a wandering traveller to suddenly find you on the road.  I’ve met a lot of kindred spirits here that way. 

You have a special light to share with the world and we WILL see it eventually.  Thank you for being you and for sharing yourself with this community.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

“but if I added them as a friend and never hear from them and they don’t respond to any of my initiatives  I am really wondering what is the purpose of friendship.  Is it just a matter of hoarding as many friends as possible on your profile?”

I’ve wondered about this. 

I’ve been reluctant to invite lots of friends because it seems kind of weird.  Many people seem to invite friends as a way to connect with others before they even really get to know the person.  I’d rather get to know someone first and then use the friend invitation as a way of deepening an already developing connection.  I don’t want lots of connections… just a few that feel meaningful to me. 

Even so, I do usually accept friend invites when they come my way.  But I can’t help wondering what purpose it serves in most cases.

“There are people that ask questions or suggestions in their blog or in pods and then I take the time to respond and I never even hear from them. I think that’s crude and I’ve been thinking about deleting those ‘ friends’    but I kind of find that hard as well, so  how do other people deal with that I am wondering?”

So far, I’ve posted around quite a bit.  And, mostly, I don’t concern myself too much about my comments after posting them especially the more brief comments.  The main reason is that I get distracted by all of the new opportunities to post that I forget where I’ve already posted.  This is a problem in itself as I’d like to keep better track of my own activity.  Hopefully, I haven’t left anyone hanging in a thread I responded to.  I’m still working out an efficient method of keeping track of everything.

I try to focus mostly on pods and blogs that are more active.  The main place I’ve been posting on is the God Pod and I follow the discussions there very closely… partly because I’m a mod there.

“I don’t get a lot of visits or reactions on my blog , not even from my friends which I  kind of feel dissappointed about  but  I find blogging foremost an avenue to express some of my thoughts and feeling and if people want to share I welcome that very much but i have chosen not  to invest to much energy into getting frustrated about it.”

Yeah, people either comment or they don’t. 

The best decision I’ve made so far on Gaia is to join and be active on the God Pod.  I’ve met many interesting people there.  Its where I connected with Nicole and she has been a helpful guide in figuring out this Gaia community. 

I don’t see the God Pod as taking away from my focus on blogging.  Some of the members there also blog.  And many blogs (including some of my own) get posted in discussion threads.

“With pods I feel a bit different. You engage in a pod to communicate. Now in active pods there is enough response but in pods that are less active I find it embarassing that at first joining a pod some people put in a hello as introduction, or a nice poem or whatever and they simply never get a reaction, not even from the pod cultivator. That’s happened to me and I’ve seen it happen to other people. That I find frustrating.”

I’ve joined inactive or less active pods.  But, for the most part, I’ve limited my postings to more active pods.  Sadly, some of the pods that look the most interesting have gone by the wayside.  I’d attempt to revive some of them If I thought I could and if I had more time.

Thanks for your detailed response!  In fact, thanks to everyone for all of the detailed responses.  I love to give and receive thorough comments.  Its ironic that its this blog entry that has ended up as being my most popular so far.  🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

“Limited time is problematic…but do what you love first, just for yourself…blog that thought or idea. I realize it is frustrating to feel no one is listening…but remember this is your journey and all you do and say and feel is a wonderful legacy to your journey…”

That is good advice.  I do love blogging.  For sure I never run out of thoughts and ideas… its nice to capture them in words before they slip away.

“hi Ben, i feel guilty that because i decided to publicise this blog so much you have had to deal with people who are genuinely frustrated! thanks for being so gosh darned sweet about it.”

I really don’t mind.  I’m enjoying the discussion.

“Sometimes minor things could make a big difference. For example if new people knew what the colours of people’s names on their friends list meant (I just figured that out LOL)”

Would ya mind sharing what those darn colours mean?  I had noticed them.

“From one cat to another, I hear you…I’ve been up and down about this blogging business since I’ve been here.  I guess my only advice to you is BLOG FOR YOURSELF-it’s a free soapbox, journal, and self-discovery tool all rolled into one!   And it’s also a way for a wandering traveller to suddenly find you on the road.  I’ve met a lot of kindred spirits here that way.”

I give a hearty ‘meow’ to that!  I have had similar thoughts.  All I can do is put it out there.  I just enjoy expressing my views and sharing info.  I know that when I’ve done web searches that some of the most useful info and insightful povs can come from blogs.  The more I blog then the more opportunity for connections to happen.

“this site is such a spiritual candy store.”


“I have a “do it now” policy…”

You sound so systematic.  It sounds impressive.  I’m much more haphazard in my methodology

“If things get to serious for me, I post a youtube…”

Youtube is awesome.  I try to break up my serious blogs with a silly video or two.

Thanks all!  Please come again.  🙂

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

Exactly Ben! Now why would the Gaia devs set up something as helpful as this and not explain it? Sigh.

If a name is orange (or red) on your friends list or in the members list of a pod, it means the person is online, if it’s blue he or she is offline. I only figured this out because a friend asked me about it, and I noticed that all the orange ones were those who had recently visited , so deduced what was happening.

My friend instantly made the link with the red pill, blue pill from the Matrix, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Gaia devs had that in the back of their minds when designing this feature LOL

Yeah! I’m glad all my blog pimping worked out for you, Ben. At first I was worried it would get negative but it’s turned out to be a great resource.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

Thank you Nicole for enlightening me.  There is only one problem.  I think my colours are broken because your name is always orange.  🙂

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

um… blushing

guess i’m busted eh? LOL hopeless Gaia addict

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

1 day later

1Vector3 said

Hey Ben, I am rushing off to my day and will read more thoroughly and respond more later, but I myself certainly do not “value activism and positivity above all,”   and I think you know I’m as much a minority reader and thinker as you….

And I hope you have good sandbags around your house…… heard unpleasant things about the Iowa River…..

More later, OM Bastet

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Flooding problems, Ben?

Marmalade : Gaia Child

2 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Om and Nicole,

Thanks for the concern.

No, flooding isn’t a problem directly where I’m living even though I’m only a short walk away from where it is flooding. The main part of Iowa City is on higher ground. Most of the buildings near the river are University and businesses.

The water levels are still below what they were in ’93. But it won’t peak for another week or so. The same buildings that were flooded 15 yrs ago probably will be flooded again. It makes one wonder why anyone would’ve built there in the first place. Cheap land I guess.

I was walking down by the river with my parents. It was interesting to see all of the fortifications that were being built with concrete and sand bags. The water was getting darn close to the bottom of the bridges, but so far they haven’t been closed around here.

Now the Reserves have been called in. I saw 5 large army trucks hauling sand. Whatever they’re going to do, they better do it quick.

There is one neighborhood down by the river. I’m sure the people living there are quite worried. It doesn’t look good for them as the park next to that neighborhood has now essentially become a part of the river.

OTOH the ducks seemed to be having a good time.

We were just hit by a tornado a couple years back. Mother Nature just won’t leave us alone.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

let’s pray that the reserves etc do the trick so that neighbourhood by the river doesn’t get flooded!

Alluvja :  Love In Action

3 days later

Alluvja said

Hello Ben,

I want to thank you as well for your detailed reaction at my comment. I find it helpful to hear how others are dealing with these ‘minor frustrations’.  Fortunelely they are ‘minor’  to me too and more and more I am just accepting that things are just the way they are and i am focussing on all the beauty and communications that ís going on here.
In that respect I thought it would be nice to share here 2 unexpected wonderful things that happened thanks to Gaia: I met my first 2 Gaia members life!   One of which was already a friend here on Gaia but I didn’t actually know at first she lived in the Netherlands as well(cos she’s not dutch) and how close by she lived!  I visited her today in Amsterdam and we had dinner and a great time!  And then yesterday I went to an evening that was announced here on Gaia on the dutch pod by a member from the Netherlands that had been part of the organization of a filmmaking event and yesterday 10 short spiritual films were presented. The makers had the challenger do do that in 48 hours, and the winner got a sum of money to make another spiritual movie.
So I thought I wanted to share that because so many members are from the US and abroad that i found it quite amazing connecting with these people without really having looked for it!
The universe is so abundant!

Have a wonderful day,
Love and light,

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

Hi Alluvja, is one of the Dutch you met Arjan? That is so cool!

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

I’m back!  The internet kept coming and going after I posted my previous comment here, and then I lost my connection entirely all of yesterday.  The flooding must’ve knocked out some important lines.  I have much I want to catch up with here on Gaia, but I don’t have the time at the moment.  I’m going to do some volunteer work down by the river.  I’ll probably be able to post some tonight.

Nicole, I’m almost certain that the neigbhorhood by the river is flooded by now.  I doubt the sandbags would hold as we got more rain last night.  It flooded in ’93 and we are above that level.  The river is at about 30 feet and will continue to rise for another week.  We are already past the record high point and it will increase by at least another few feet.

All the affected areas have been evacuated.  No one should be in danger, but there will be much property damage.

Alluvja :  Love In Action

3 days later

Alluvja said


I saw the water floods on TV and it was mighty bad. I want to wish you and all the people in your community all the best and hope plenty of help will come to prevent that worse things happen. It’s good that people are evacuated and for now the safety of people seems secure,  but still I saw some of the sadness on the faces of people who lost a lot of personal stuff.  It must be terrible to find your homes so damaged. I remember when i was a little girl there was a terrible flood in the south west part of the Netherlands, many people lost their lives and many more their homes. After that the engineers started to make out famous Delta works. But now with all this climate stuff new and even better things have to be constructed. The Netherlands have a lot of history and experience in fighting the water. But we can never stop being aware, half of the country lies beneath sealevel. Some of our finest engineers are working now in the New Orleans area.
Anyway do your good work and bless all of you.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

4 days later

Nicole said

Yes, you are the world leaders in protection from the sea, of necessity.

Oh dear, Ben, that is a very difficult situation for your area….

Marmalade : Gaia Child

4 days later

Marmalade said

Hello Alluvja,

Thanks for you kind thoughts.

I did some sandbagging.  I’m sure I’ll feel it in the morning.

Unfortunately, almost all of the areas previously sandbagged have been breached.  That neighborhood was flooded, but I didn’t see it and so I don’t how bad it is.  A large part of the campus by the river is flooded.  I’m hoping the art museum is up high enough.

There are three locations they are still trying to protect.  Two of the areas are the water plant and the elctric plant which are both directly on the river.  If the water plant is flooded, then of course the city’s water would be undrinkable.  The other area is the University library which is also close to the water.  That is where I was volunteering.  It will probably be fine, but its hard to tell as the water might rise another 4 ft. 

All of the volunteers were much more focued in these last few areas and the sandbagging was going quickly, but there isn’t much to be done other than wait.  Sandbagging can only do so much.  in the areas where it flooded past the sandbags, it probably had very little to do with the water going over.  There was such a vast area they were trying to protect that they were spread too thin.  The library is being protected on the side facing the river, but upriver its already breached and so may flood the library from that side.  The problem is that they were planning based on their experience from ’93 which is no longer applicable.

After volunteering, I walked along the river and it was truly amazing.  There is nothing surprising about the flooding as all of these buildings were knowingly built in a floodplain afterall.  Silly humans.  What was amazing was just nature being nature.  The City Park was entirely flooded along with the road on the other side making the water there about 4 times as wide as the river normally is.  Approximately where that road is was where a tributary of the river flowed 100 or so years ago.  The river was just reclaiming it from the humans that filled it in.  A flooding like this is nothing compared to something like a monsoon, but still its awesome to witness.

Meanwhile, other parts of the US would love some of our water.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

4 days later

1Vector3 said

You were generous, Ben, and there seems to be a lot at stake there. Wow.

I can’t understand how people can live and build in flood-prone areas. I can only understand how I can knowingly continue to live in an earthquake-prone area. Potentially BIG quakes. ROTFL !!!!!!

I don’t have a TV, but your descriptions give a good sense of what it’s like there. The only good thing about these disasters is people pulling together….

Blessings to everyone there and everywhere,
OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

You bring up a good point Om. 

I was thinking about this.  Why do we help others even when they’ve contributed to their own troubles?  One could say that you help others because one day you may need help, and that is a practical attitude.  My answer is that we help others because we can… not because they’ll necessarily help us later, not because they will appreciate what we do for them, not because they deserve it, and certainly not because we will be rewarded in heaven. 

As you say, the good comes from people pulling together.  This good remains good no matter what the results of all the effort.

For instance, I give my spare change to the homeless sometimes, but I don’t worry about what they do with it.  If they get drunk or buy cigarettes, then so be it.  At the same time, I’m sure some people I’ve given change to bought food with it.  Whatever the case, my reason for giving to them is not in hope that their life will be turned around.  When I give, I do so because I want to.  I feel the act of giving in itself can be good if its done with no strings attached.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

4 days later

1Vector3 said

Perspicacious analysis, Ben !!!!!! I am totally aligned…… It’s sooooo highly beneficial to let go of results. As a teacher, that’s been hard for me, but now I do my teaching and can walk away knowing I did my best to help someone “get” it, and if they don’t, so be it. Sometimes I don’t even bother to check if it’s not an ongoing relationship. I used to obsess about whether people “got” it, and fret and pour out tons of smothering effort !!!

The worst disaster I think I’ve personally been in was the multi-state blackout of fall 1965. I was in Manhatten. We thought for awhile it was WWIII. The stories of generosity are amazing….

OM Bastet

Nicole : wakingdreamer

4 days later

Nicole said

it is great to see the human spirit rise to these challenges though we don’t wish them on anyone

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

12 days later

Marmalade said

Back to the topic of the Gaia community…  Dave wrote a blog recently that relates.  And I wrote the following comment:

Interesting experience you’ve had.  I think it can take a while to connect to such a large community as this.  Its easy for newcomers to get loss in the masses.  As I’ve belonged to other communities, I realized this was an issue early on.  The reason I joined and posted on pods was because I figured that was probably the only way I’d connect with the community at large.

When I came here, I just wanted a place to blog.  I wasn’t really looking for another community as I’ve belonged to many.  But I did want to connect if only just to get some comments on my blog.  Also, I’m so used to writing online via thread discussions that blogging felt kinda lonely.

Its strange because, even though I’ve wanted to connect, I’ve resisted inviting others as friends for the most part.  I rarely even use the seeds.  The other communities I’ve joined didn’t have these kinds of functions and they seem weird to me.

I have looked around for people with similarities to my interests and worldview.  If someone seems to have some things in common, then I’ll put their blog on notification and watch it.  If I end up being interested enough to comment on their blog, then I can invite them as a friend.  But I don’t want my friend list to be too long.

Like you, I’ve looked for other active bloggers, but activity isn’t enough.  I look for bloggers who write more than short answers to the question of the day, and I look for people who comment a lot in other people’s blogs.  I also look at their profile, but that often doesn’t say much.  I do look at the picture, but that doesn’t figure into my decision making to any great extent.  However, if a picture looks too light and fluffy, then I’m wary.  I’ve found light and fluffy pictures often signify light and fluffy blogs.

I have used the resonance thingy a bit.  Its quite a nice little feature.

I’ve only tried the friends of a friends approach in an haphazard way.  I watch my friends blogs and the blogs on notifications.  When I see a comment I like, I’ll check out the person’s profile and blog if only to get some context for where they’re coming from.  But this has led to me inviting that person as a friend at least on one occasion.

This friends of friends thing is interesting.  It creates these little groups that are semi-enclosed.  I’ve noticed that many of my friends tend to have the same friends.  But then I sometimes come across someone outside of my circle of friends and they have a large set of friends who I’ve never even seen around.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

12 days later

Nicole said

thanks Ben! That was an interesting blog and discussion.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

12 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Nicole!  You’re welcome.  I decided to link to Dave’s blog because it related to this one, but also because this so far has been my most popular blog and so I figured it would give some advertising to Dave’s blog.

That was a good demonstration of Gaia community.  Meenakshi commented on Dave’s blog because she noticed I had.  You commented there because you followed the link I provided above.  Then Centria noticed you commented over there and followed over with her own comment.

I’m sure that kind of thing becomes even more common when you’ve been here for a while.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

13 days later

Nicole said

indeed! in the end we are all following each other around in a mad mixy daisy chain lol

Interesting Books, Alternative Views

Here are three books I haven’t read, but I’ve recently heard interviews with the authors which makes me interested in the books.  I list them together because they seem to have something in commom in that the authors are taking alternative perspectives on society.

Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
~ Barbara Ehrenreich
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
~ Dan Ariely
SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
~ Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
I might read these books eventually or else I’ll see what others have written about their ideas.  In particular, Ariely’s book intrigues me.  If there is one thing I’m sure about in life, it’s that humans are irrational.

Journalists and Bloggers

critical-massing.jpg(Wikipedia) Michael Massing is a contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review. Michael Massing received his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard and an MS from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He often writes for the New York Review of Books concerning the media and foreign affairs. He has written for The American Prospect, The New York Times, The New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly. In addition to his magazine contributions, he has written on the War on Drugs in his book, The Fix (2002), and on American journalism, Now They Tell Us: The American Press and Iraq. Massing received the MacArthur Fellowship in 1992.

(photo from The Huffington Post)
Michael Massing talks to Charles Petersen about the rise of blogs and the ascent of online journalism.
The News About the Internet (Volume 56, Number 13 · August 13, 2009)
By Michael Massing
The FDL network, The Seminal community blog
By earlofhuntingdon
Grasping Reality with Both Hands blog
By Brad DeLong

Well, I wrote a somewhat extensive analysis which was erased when my computer or the internet went fluky.  Basically, mainstream journalism is too often sadly pathetic and the blogger journalists are the new muckraker journalists who are forcing mainstream journalists to face their biases and their false objectivity.  If democracy is to survive (or made into something more than a pretty ideal), then it will be up to civic journalists to speak truth to power.  It takes someone who isn’t comfortable (who isn’t established and fully respectable) to afflict (call a spade a spade) the comfortable (the rich and powerful).  Mainstream journalism is only as good as the civic journalism that forces it to be good.  Left to its own devices, mainstream journalism (i.e., corporate journalism) would be nothing but propaganda that would destroy democracy at its roots.