Tag Archives: Body

The Science of Us: Hank Green’s Crash Course in Anatomy and Physiology

As a professor, it’s probably not surprising that I like to learn. Even though I’ve completed a few degrees, I still try to make time to learn new things — daily. In fact, I’ve even shared these learning experiences. There was the Harvard University’s course on Justice with Professor Michael Sandel (I also went through one of his books chapter by chapter), there was my series on cognitive biases, there was MRUniversity’s course in economics, and before all of that, there was Crash Course.

This was probably one of the first video series that I came across that I felt like I actually learned (and remembered!) something 20 minutes after the video finished. I first went through John Green’s (the same John Green who wrote The Fault in Our Stars) crash course in world history. Later that year, John’s brother, Hank, did a crash course in ecology. John also did a crash course in literature. I didn’t realize it, but Hank also went on to do a crash course in psychology.

There are more crash courses than what I’ve just shared, but those are just a few to give you a taste. Anyway, the reason I’m writing today’s post is because I just learned that Hank is doing a crash course in anatomy and physiology.

Anatomy and physiology are two subjects that I’ve always wished that I spent more time with. In fact, they’re two subjects that I think we all should have spent some time with when we were younger. I used to have the idea that it seemed like a good idea if as part of our basic education, we learned anatomy and physiology and not as some form of “punishment” (as I understand some people don’t necessarily like these subjects), but because anatomy and physiology is/are us. Anatomy and physiology are the reason that you’re alive right now. This seems an appropriate reason to try and understand it.

More specifically, ‘anatomy is the study of the structure and relationships between body parts and physiology is the science of how those parts come together to function.’ Hank calls it, “The Science of Us.”

I’m not going into this expecting to remember every minute detail, but I am expecting that I will have a better understanding of how some of the parts of the body come together to function to make me, me! As an example, I was speaking with a massage therapist the other day and she told me that massage therapists often have to translate what their clients tell them. For instance, a client will often come in complaining that they want to work on their shoulder, while reaching for the area immediately adjacent to their neck. As it turns out, our shoulder is actually far closer to the place where our arm connects to our body. The place that this person was pointing to was, in fact, their neck.

When Did our Mental Health Become Separate From our Body’s Health?

I was thinking about the medical system today and it dawned on me, ‘when did mental health become separate from our body‘s health?’ It might seem like a silly question, but think about it for a moment. When you go to see the doctor, the doctor — typically — is there to correct the imbalances in your body, right? S/he asks you questions about your body’s health. How are you feeling? Is your knee any better? Is your head warm? How’s your elbow been lately? Any pain in your stomach? 

What I want to know is, when did general health questions stop including mental health?

I mean, it’s not really still taboo to think that an unhealthy mind can lead to an unhealthy body, right? There’s a whole field dedicated to it — psychoneuroimmunology.

The whole idea of dualism reminds me of a post I read, almost a year ago, that detailed some research about how our health can be affected by our philosophical bent:

Overall, the findings from the five studies provide converging evidence demonstrating that mind-body dualism has a noticeable impact on people’s health-related attitudes and behaviors. These findings suggest that dualistic beliefs decrease the likelihood of engaging in healthy behavior.

These findings support the researchers’ original hypothesis that the more people perceive their minds and bodies to be distinct entities, the less likely they will be to engage in behaviors that protect their bodies.

From a dualistic perspective, bodies are ultimately viewed as a disposable vessel that helps the mind interact with the physical world.

Simply believing (understanding?) that our minds are not separate from our bodies, but that they are one in the same, can lead to better choices that affect one’s health.

I wonder, if as a way to facilitate this understanding in people, doctors started to treat the mind as if it were part of the body and ask questions about one’s mental health during visits to the doctor, would we those who see the mind as separate begin to see it as part of the body?

6 Principles for Living from 2nd Century Indian Philosopher Nagarjuna

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been spending this summer working for , (which, by the way, is a fantastic organization — be sure to check out what they do). On part of my route, I take the , which could use some upgrading. While I’m only on the Metro for a few stops, it gives me time to read. Usually, I read . However, since I’ve moved recently and my mail hasn’t caught up with me yet, I’ve gone back to reading books.

I mentioned that I was reading a by the Dalai Lama. Yesterday, I found a passage that I thought would be good to share:

When it comes to avoiding harmful actions of body and speech, in addition this fundamental rule [the Golden Rule], I personally find a list of six principles from a text by the second-century Indian thinker Nagarjuna to be helpful. In this text, Nagarjuna is offering advice to an Indian monarch of the time. The six principles are as follows:

  • Avoid excessive use of intoxicants.
  • Uphold principles of right livelihood.
  • Ensure that one’s body, speech, and mind are nonviolent.
  • Treat others with respect.
  • Honor those worthy of esteem, such as parents, teachers, and those who are kind.
  • Be kind to others.

Tying up Loose Ends: Or, a Mishmash of Ideas in one Post

It’s been awhile since I wrote a post () and even longer since I wrote consecutive posts ( and ). Obviously, I’d like to have written more, but that’s just not how things have worked out. Regardless, I thought it might be a good idea to write a “post of posts” of sorts. That is, I’ve had a list of “ideas to write about” for over a year. Some of the things on the list are recent (thought of in the last few months) and some have been there for at least 9 months. As a way to inject some fresh energy into that list, I thought I’d write a post where I spent some time talking about a number of things on the list — rather than writing a post about just one of those ideas. Hope you enjoy!

It’s Kind of a Funny Story () – I saw this movie awhile back and thought it was rather good. The premise is that a teenager checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward. Some very serious issues are addressed and I think they were done so in an appropriate manner.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never () – This whole list won’t be of movies, but I thought I’d group the two. I saw the “Justin Bieber Movie” sometime this past summer. I didn’t really know too much about Justin Bieber, just that he was pretty famous with the younger age groups. While this movie wasn’t necessarily an unbiased biography, it definitely did showcase how much hard work Justin invested in himself. Hard work (by itself) will not get you where you want to go all the time (for example: ), but it will go a long way to getting you where you want to be.

What if the car (automobile) were invented today? – I wonder if the car were invented today, would we accept it as is? Meaning, given everything that goes into making the car and everything that is affected because of the car (read: environment), I wonder if consumers would accept it as a product.

Nordic spas – This past summer, just before moving to DC, I spent some time at in Quebec. It was the first time that I’d seen the idea of (hot, cold, hot) in an establishment. Growing up in Canada, it was a common thing — in the winter — to sit in the hot tub for awhile, jump in the pool for a minute (or the snow!) and then get back into the hot tub. I remember trying to find some scientific evidence to back this up as a (positive) thing for the human body, but I couldn’t find anything. That’s not to say that there isn’t any out there.

Blowing in a dog’s face – I find it interesting that dog’s don’t like it when someone blows in their face — but — they can’t wait to stick their head out the window when you’re driving down the road. I wonder if this has something to do with carbon dioxide (on the exhale of someone blowing in their face) vs. oxygen (from the car ride).

Jaywalking – Intuitively, I would think that laws against jaywalking would have been written with a focus on keeping pedestrians safe. Believe it or not — this was not the case. I forgot where I heard it (maybe NPR?), but did you know that jaywalking was — in a way — instituted because of the automobile associations lobbying legislators? In doing some research for this (part) of this post, I found from three days ago talking about this very thing.

Visioning for a job? – Have you ever noticed how couples plan for a baby? Even before they’ve conceived, (sometimes) they’ve bought the crib, painted the room, and are in a sense, planning for this new part of their lives. I wonder why this is normalized, but doing the same thing for a job is viewed with some disdain. Why shouldn’t someone wake up and get dressed as if they’re going to work (even though they may not be)? They could even go to the “office” (library?) and prepare themselves for work.

Secret to happiness – Short and sweet. The secret to happiness is not wishing things were different from they currently are.

Evolution of the electric car – I wonder if there’s a special (or one in the works?) on the evolution of the electric car. I remember reading that the electric car was first invented in the 19th century, but fell out of favor when the internal combustion engine was invented (see: ).

People’s relationships to their body – It’s interesting to see how people relate to their body (in general) in comparison to how they relate to their body at a place where the body can sometimes be more prominent (at the gym or the beach).


That’s narrowed down my list to four! Three of those are “recurring posts” (, , and personality tests). There is one post that I do want to dedicate some time to, so I didn’t want to shorten it here. Look for it in the next little while.

Health & Beauty Products May Not Be So Healthy and Beautiful

When was the last time you looked at the label of the deodorant, face cream, shampoo, or soap you use? For some time, this was something that I was not concerned about and it was more out of sheer ignorance. I didn’t know any better. When I learned about the world of “natural” skin products, I was — without a doubt — appalled! I couldn’t believe the sorts of things that companies would put into products. I really hope that the intention was never malicious. Anyway, let me walk you through some of my logic.

Take a clove of garlic and peel it down to a piece about the size of your thumbnail. Now, take off your shoe (and your sock) and Wait between 2 and 3 minutes, and I’m fairly certain, you will taste garlic. Yes, taste garlic. The garlic will not have moved from between your toes, but in your mouth, you will taste garlic. Why? Simple. For one, the body is infinitely connected. Two, humans don’t just breathe through the nose/mouth, . [Here are two other articles that support the idea that oxygen is absorbed through skin: and .]

Really, I implore you to take 5 minutes to experience this viscerally. It may really have an effect on the way you think about your body. Interesting fact: the integumentary system (the organ that makes up your skin and appendages []) . So now that we know that our skin is so important to the function of our body, what do we do with that information?

Well, consider that “” Wouldn’t you want to think twice about the kind of deodorants/antiperspirants you put under your arms? I recently came across an older (February of 2010) post by recently who had collected some of the information about regarding the kinds of requirements that companies must follow in order to have their products approved. It’s a little scary the lack of transparency in this area. You’d think that it being the kind of things that we put on our body, daily, that there’d be more oversight.

Luckily, there are , just like there are organic fruit and vegetables. And just like with organic fruit and veggies, organic may not always mean what we think it means. I learned this the hard way with the word “natural.” Intuitively, you’d think that something that said “natural” contained nothing ‘harmful’ in the product or in the making of the product, but (legally) speaking, something harmful (like poison for instance), can still be natural and included in a product, theoretically speaking, of course. If you’re curious about whether or not the product you’re considering purchasing meets some ‘higher standards,’ I’d advise you check out . They have quite a number of products rated in this department.