Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Politics, Presidents and the Same Ole Shit

I find it hilarious how people bitch and moan and complain about the government--about the Democrats and the Republicans, about the lousy President, Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Minority leader...blah, blah, it is the end of the world and the end to our nation. The end of the world prophecy is actually very profitable for many in politics. I spent 60 years surviving the Cold War with the threat of nuclear annihilation everyday. We were sent home from school in October 1962 so we could die in our homes from nuclear war. We were told to stay indoors and do not come out. Hell, we had air-raid drills in school, as if hiding under those old wooden desks, with our coats over our heads, was going to keep us safe from thermonuclear missile strikes. It was a daily threat that was real then.
This is nothing new. North Korea????? Laughable! Learn from history. Abraham Lincoln was a forward thinking LIBERAL elected to government by a radically new, subversive political organization called the Republicans. This happened because the Second Party to the Democrats--the Whigs--were in disorder and fractured.
Guess what: Lincoln was elected, abolished slavery and we went to war over ideology, because Slave Labor kept the Southern Plantation Industry running. Without slaves, the South had no labor force. No labor force, no economy. They went to war to keep their economic prowess intact.
War, blah, blah, blah......good for business in the industrial North...blah, blah, blah...then Peace. Lincoln is assassinated and Andrew Johnson became President. He was a hardcore, corrupt, reconstructionist who wanted to undue everything Lincoln had down, especially freeing the slaves. Johnson was a hardcore Southerner and popular with Conservatives both in the North and especially in the South. Well Johnson's corruption caught up with him and Impeachment began. The House passed it, but the Senate refused to confirm Impeachment.
Sound familiar. There is nothing new under the sun, people. If a man or woman is President, it is because they are self-serving, arrogant rich assholes, regardless. No poor guy ever became president--ever!!!!! They care nothing for the poor, lower middle class and the hard working stiffs who cannot see beyond feeding their families each day. The president--this president included--offers only lip service to such souls, as all have done in the past. Presidents care for the poor, lower income and lower middle class only in regards to the votes you give them for they always blow perfumed smoke up your ass to make you feel seen and important--but they don't give a shit.

Trump is no different than Johnson, or Nixon, or Kennedy, or Bush 1 and 2, or Obama, or Roosevelt 1 and 2, or Andrew Jackson. They are all arrogant, self-serving rich assholes!!! The sooner people understand this reality the better. In the end, it really doesn't matter who is in office as he or she is nothing more than a paper tiger anyway. The USA is run from a deeper more insidious power behind the scenes few ever get to see. Essentially, every President is a dupe for the Shadow Oligarchy running the country! But hey, believe whatever gets you through your day, right????!!!!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Proper Selection and Training Are Mandatory for Good COPs and Good Soldiers & Marines

Ross and Murphy (2018) state, “the problem in many major use of force confrontations, including officer-involved shootings, is the limitations of reaction time necessary for the officer to fully cognitively process incoming stimuli, which can create perceptual distortions” (p. 68).
My question remains: Are the sensory distortions individuals experience in kill or be killed encounters due to such individuals being poorly adapted to and/or selected for such lethal events, as well as being poorly trained and prepared to meet high-risk, lethal force encounters? Well-selected and highly trained law enforcement and military operators do not experience such sensory distortions under the same dire duress of sudden lethal threats. Are we measuring the incorrect set of information when looking to solve the problems of such distortion under duress (Driskell, Salas, Johnston & Wollert, 2008; Hancock & Szalma, 2008; Picano, Williams, & Roland, 2012)?
Do inexperienced, poorly selected and poorly trained individuals experience sensory distortions because all they can do is default to what they know best, which is their base instincts due to their lack of familiarization (proper exposure training and/or experience) to such life and death scenarios? When people are unfamiliar with a potentially dangerous encounter, and cannot escape (run away) or fend (give warning, which takes time to recognize and address the threat) off the threat adequately, however sudden the threat appears, the mammalian brain panics. This panic results in the whole person defaulting to its millions of years of hardwiring. This hijacking of the Executive Functioning through more primitive brain structures (brain stem and limbic system), results in the reported sensory distortions and the individual’s short-circuited decision-making capacity (Cozolino, 2017, pp. 283–322).
I believe when the correct recruits are selected for high-risk operations and environments, who are then properly conditioned for combat duress, will be able to control their decision-making skills, which off-set sensory distortions due to Limbic System influences. This skill-set does require that we first select those with a measurable high resiliency to combat duress, coupled with a controllable, forwardly aggressive emotional constitution. Then these individuals need to be properly prepared for this life and death environment, through correctly implemented stress exposure training. Such individuals will be able to keep their focus on the threat(s) without defaulting to baser instinctions driven by the Limbic System and the Brain Stem’s fight or flight response. Keeping the Executive Functions operating smoothly and quickly so as to not allow the Limbic System full reign during the dire episode involving life and death is a combination of learned skill-set and genetic predisposition to remain calm even under emergency states (Driskell, Salas, Johnston & Wollert, 2008; Hancock & Szalma, 2008; Picano, Williams, & Roland, 2012).


Cozolino, L. (2017). The neuroscience of psychotherapy: Healing the social brain. New York: W.W. Norton.

Driskell, J.E., Salas, E., Johnston, J.H. & Wollert, T.N. (2008). Stress exposure training: An event-based approach. In P.A. Hancock & J. L. Szalma (Eds.), Performance under stress (pp. 271–286). Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Hancock, P.A & Szalma, J.L. (2008). Stress and performance. In P.A. Hancock & J. L. Szalma (Eds.), Performance under stress (pp. 1–18). Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Picano, J.J., Williams, T.J. & Roland, R.R. (2012). Assessment and selection of high-risk operational personnel: Identifying essential psychological attributes. In C.H. Kennedy & E.A. Zillmer (Eds.), Military psychology: Clinical and operational applications. New York: Guilford Press.

Ross, D.L. & Murphy, R.L. (2018). Stress, perceptual distortions and human performance. In D.L. Ross & G.M. Vilke (Eds.), Guidelines for investigating officer-involved shootings, arrest-related deaths and deaths in custody (pp. 68-95). Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Myths That Are Not: Hick's Law, Mastery Development and Startle Reflex

Over the many years as a martial arts instructor and tactical trainer (beginning summer of 1972) I have witnessed and researched a dilemma that plagues tactical training.
This dilemma involves trainers who always seem to own a law enforcement or DoD background, but rarely harbor consistent and regular lethal force/combat experience. These trainers have spent their entire lives and careers as trainers, but have no combat experience, yet who are very commercially successful.
What I find in these trainers is that they often and erroneously create challenges to SOP Training methods. Now this would be a positive development if their challenges actually offered something more accurate and situationally correct to the high-risk, operational environment. Too often they do not.
The brain loves and seeks novelty. It loves that dopamine rush novelty releases in the brain. It is why novelty is so important in creating successful commercial marketing and curricula. Even when the novelty is BS, the brain (individual) still loves it, until it wears off.
When successful trainers create a challenge to SOP training methods and label the SOP training methods "myths" and "misconceptions," people buy into this, regardless.
Three examples of so-called myths successful tactical/martial arts trainers have generated over the past couple of decades involve Hick's Law, Mastery Development and Startle Reflex.
Let's look at each.
Hick's Law has always been involved in human decision making. But the Law must be kept into perspective. Human decision making under duress is incredibly complicated process, involving the brain/mind components at all levels of operations: genetic predisposition, early development limits, cultural indoctrination, adulthood experience and formal training. Such decision-making cannot be explained with Hick's Law.
Hick's Law only addresses the fact that, if I have ten variables I must check off to finally pick, say, #7, this process takes longer than if I have only three variables that I must check off, to arrive at selecting, say #2. It takes longer to put ten rounds in a magazine than it takes three rounds. That is all Hick's law states. Nothing more.
Too many make Hick's Law in to more than what it actually measures.
Mastery will get thrown into the mix for arguing Hick's Law, stating that those who are experienced will arrive at a decision faster than the inexperienced, when both have the same number of choices. This proves Hick's Law is invalid. Bullshit!
The problem with this argument is that there is confusing in what is being measured--when and where. The concept of Heuristics and Algorithms used to explain how the human brain makes decisions under duress uses concepts that are not the actual mechanisms going on in the brain. Don't mistaken the map for the territory.
The experienced operative, for example, will have consistently developed very specific schematics, overtime, that are placed in long-term memory. Very specific cues in the operational environment generate immediate recall--if the individual is alert to those cue. The familiar schematic that matches the cue is accessed and deployed. Usually it is very useful. The key for this process are the environmental cues and the alertness of the individual to these cues.
Experienced operatives know what to look for and what to discard in the chaos. So essentially, the experienced operative sees one or two cues that fit the correct schematic, while the inexperienced have to search all the existing variables because they have no familiarity. The choice is between a couple or all of the variables, depending on one's experience.
In unfamiliar environments, the experienced operative can actually integrate his intuitiveness (heuristics) seamlessly with his analytical thinking (algorithms), and arrive at a very quick and correct solution to the dilemma without panic--again, experience makes all the difference.
The Mastery argument that I see being challenged is about the length of repetitions and practice needed to reach mastery.
I have witnessed everything from 5,000 repetitions to 10,000 hours of hard work are required to achieve Mastery. But mastery of what? Are we talking mastery of correctly repeating a motor skill, a series of combined motor skills, or complex decision-making, choosing the correct actions to resolve a lethal threat before us? What does the "mastery" involve?
Mastery is complicated and cannot be reduced to a set formula of number of hours of repeated actions leading to said mastery. The only thing we can accurately say about mastery of skills needed to successfully navigate high-risk environments, is that it takes time and exposure to that level of risk.
Not only is time and actual exposure necessary, we must successfully, correctly engage those skills repetitively, in this high risk environment. There is NO way to do it easily, quickly and without risk to the operative, who is preparing for this high risk environment.
In Vietnam one had to engage in 90 days of consecutive combat to earn his CIBS. That in itself speaks volumes to Mastery.
The last argument is the Startle Reflex. Entire curricula are based on engaging actions under serious sensory distortions brought on by the startle reflex--gross motor skills, tunnel vision, stances squared to the threat.
First off, the startle reflex is just that--a hardwired reflex that cannot be negated. Responses to that reflex can be conditioned, however. We DO NOT NEED TO BE SLAVES TO OUR BASE INSTINCTS UNDER THREAT OF DEATH.
Every mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian harbors a startle reflex. It developed through our evolutionary need to quickly avoid threats and redirect attention to that potential threat. The periaqueductal gray of the brain directly activates the unconditional fear response. This reflex is ubiquitous, discrete and brief.
Since this reflex has been carefully studied back in the late 30s when high speed film was developed, we know that there are a set of standard motor responses all humans elicit under startle. This is an override system, activated when a sudden environmental event requires immediate attention. Even radical novelity can cause the startle. It is sensitive--NOT SELECTIVE.
Physical responses involve an eye blink, a forward movement of the head and characteristic facial expression. There is a raising of the shoulders with a slight forward cocking, a motion of the upper arms somewhat away from the body, with a bending of the elbows, giving rise to forearms and hands.
The forearms rotate inward so the palms face each other, more or less and the fingers clinch. There is a tightening of the abdominal muscles, a bending of the knees, and a motion of the upper body forward from the hips.
The entire reflex is designed to get the organism to react first and then assess, with the organism stopping immediately what it is doing. The idea is for rapid avoidance of a potential danger--like stepping on a snake. It doesn't mean we automatically default to sensory distortions.
Overtime, the organism learns to pair secondary cues and tertiary behaviors with the potential threat cue--noise, vision, movement. Loud noises still cause me to seriously duck and protect my head. These are conditioned responses in conjunction with the original unconditioned responses.
So as we can see, we cannot negate the startle, but we can work off of that startle and learn more appropriate responses to our threatening environment that provide us a higher degree of survivability in that operational environment.
We can learn to keep our Executive Function working and churning out correct decision-making with subsequently correct situational responses without our brain stem's/limbic system's default taking over, generating unwanted sensory distortions.
The startle reflex itself can become our useful cue to which we now forcefully exhale, allowing our positive self-talk to be triggered by the exhale--actually saying: "Shit! This sucks...but this is what we can do..." and then move from that point of control at millisecond speeds.
Brain stem/Limbic system operate a 50 milliseconds, while the Executive prefrontal lobe works at 500milliseconds, which is STILL VERY FAST. We can learn to think very fast--even when trainers say, "There is no time to think--you can only react." BULLSHIT!
When we are shooting to kill threats, we had better be thinking critically, and engaging target- discrimination with every single round we break into every single threat we shoot, or we are negligent.

So as we can see, myths are often fabrications from trainers who simply don't understand the fully story and then fabricate erroneous but novel theories from partial, incorrectly understood variables. Be careful.