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Monday, February 6, 2012

Science and the NFL

Mere hours after the Super Bowl, I already miss football.

In addition to the stress-relieving role that watching NFL games plays in my life, there are a surprising number of lessons and truths that come out of the games that I can apply to our research at the Windbridge Institute. Here are a few...

It usually takes well over three hours to do what on paper should take one. During planning, always overestimate the time it will take to, say, transcribe a reading or write a paper.

You can have a bad play but you can't have a bad day. I heard a commentator say that once and it really struck home. This same sentiment is conveyed in the football movie The Replacements (one of my guilty favorites) when Falco, the QB, talks about quicksand. The bottom line is accepting that setbacks will happen but knowing that letting them get to you, multiply, and bring you down is not an option.

(3) No matter how mad you are, unsportsmanlike conduct is never okay. I am dealt a lot of situations that feel like holding, tripping, clipping, and facemask yanks with no officials around to call the penalties and no automatic first downs to be found anywhere. During those times, a well-placed cleat to the throat seems appropriate, but keeping my cool and remembering I can't make advances in our understanding of consciousness ejected and from the locker room.

(4) Receivers shouldn't turn and run until they have secured the catch. Don't start a new line of inquiry or try a new methodology until the current one is complete and written up. This is often difficult to do in a field with limited resources and a perceived need to always be doing the next cool, new thing. Our mantra at the Windbridge Institute is "You can do it fast or you can do it right." This is why I haven't written a book yet. I have several studies currently in progress and only when the results of those in will we have a full picture of mediumship. The ball is at my fingertips but I still need to secure it before I can run it into the endzone.

(5) This one may be the most important one: People (let's face it: mostly if not exclusively men)---who don't really have any idea how the game works and all of the decisions that are carefully made prior to and during each game---will continually post comments online about how a game (or a season) should have been coached. This type of cowardly behavior used to get to me (so much so that my husband Mark kindly decreed that I was no longer allowed to read online comments). Then I realized that NFL coaches get slammed repeatedly (and usually ignorantly) and they don't let it upset them or affect the decisions that they make. They just do their jobs the best way they can and often succeed in spite of crabby, snotty public opinion. Remember mere weeks ago when hordes of people wanted World Champion Giants head coach Tom Coughlin's head on a platter? Good thing hordes don't run the show, eh? After opening participant recruitment for a specific study recently, we got a lot of flak from certain vocal keyboards making grand claims about how we were doing our research wrong WHEN THEY DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE STUDY'S HYPOTHESIS OR RESEARCH QUESTIONS WERE.

To those online detractors of the way I perform my research, I say (while trying to remember lesson #3) you are more than welcome to: get a PhD in a scientific field that trains you in methodological design; turn your back on a lucrative career in a mainstream science and attempt to pay your mortgage each month; start an independent research organization with no seed money; develop a screening and testing system that selects a team of the best mediums in the world; design and perform studies for several years that eliminate normal explanations for the results WHILE keeping in mind all that you have learned about how mediumship actually works; and repeatedly publish your results in a peer-reviewed journal. Go ahead. I'd welcome more qualified people doing this and similar research. But only then will what you have to say have any impact whatsoever on how I coach my team. Until then, you are but the buzzing of flies to Vigo.

And go Broncos (uh, next year).

PS - If you'd like to know what I was doing to keep me so busy that I haven't posted anything here in months and months (plus info on what I have planned in 2012), please see the Windbridge Institute New Year Note.