Most of what you read from the Quantified Self movement is celebratory nonsense. Without repeating my opinion and how I arrived at it, I’ll direct you to these posts:
- What Weight Lifting Should Have Taught Me About Quantified Self
- Quantified Self and False Pattern Recognition
I’m not alone. There are other voices of reason emerging from the Quantified Self movement. Besides the excellent blog The Unquantified Self, I wanted to draw your attention to two other voices of reason.
Nancy talks about how she detoxed from QS to get healthy.
There are so many variables and inputs we are not sure what to care about.
A lot of the responses are time delayed, they’re interdependent, they’re non linear.
I took a screenshot from the Nancy’s presentation. I love the honesty here.
I love the conclusion she reached. The benefit to her health from Quantified Self was not about quantification, but the mindset that we are in control of our health. Being flexible and exploring are far more important than placing numbers on a spreadsheet.
The closing minutes of this 28 minute podcast caught my attention. Up until the end the guest seemed quite enthusiastic about Quantified Self. Jump to 22:57 to hear the wisdom.
Laurie tracked via a spreadsheet the following:
- Fitbit data (2 years)
- Sleep data using Zeo (3 years)
- Every city she was in
- Upset stomach score
- How many hours she was online
- How much she talked each day
- weight data (more than 3 years)
She has looked for correlation and really hunted for meaning.
I have sat and hunted and looked for patterns. I have done statistical analysis. The real truth is human data is noisy. It is hard to find these big learning [insights].
It is hard to correlate. It is really hard to take any single variable and really know these answers. Particularly when dealing with a sample size of one.
And her conclusion after years of tracking data.
It is hard for me in real truthfulness and say, “Oh I learned these big things about myself.”
The next time you hear a “biohacker” talk confidently about the results of their QS experiment, be skeptical. Human data is messy. Too messy for spreadsheets.