Sunday, March 29, 2009


The sin of Sloth or laziness is not something I deal with much - in fact quite the opposite, I can be a bit of a workaholic.

Well I am consumed by this book right now, writing and researching for hours upon hours each day. I'm trying to take a day or two off just to reset the mind once in awhile, usually during the week.

The good news is that I am starting to see some heat around the book. I've just had a few more people agree to interviews. And I spoke at a marketing conference this past week in Las Vegas (City of Sin?) and was integrating some of the concepts of the book into my presentation and discussions with other folks in the marketing world. There seemed to be a lot og genuine interest in the topic and I'm excited!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This blog and an ongoing dialog

I created this blog to track my progress in writing this book, and a few people have nicely decided to follow along :)

Primarily though, while I am conducting research and in the writing process, I just wanted a place to store thoughts that won't make it into the book, and to reflect upon the journey itself.

My hope is that if I get published, this can be a record of everything leading up to the publishing date but that it then may grow to an ongoing center of discussion about topics and themes raised in the book.

In the meantime I welcome comments and will respond when possible, even to negative ones! I will say, though, that I'm unlikely to respond to anonymous comments. If people want to participate in the discussion they should to do so openly!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Anarchy in the USA?

You can't really write a book about human sins without touching upon value systems. I've spent the day researching and writing about human morality. As with so many's amazing how different we all are and yet how much we share.

Every person has a unique set of values and we filter our perceptions of the world through our value systems. But somehow most of us manage to get along! I live in New York and while New Yorkers are not the most outgoing and friendly people in the world, it's amazing that all of us are able to be fairly civil to each other.

It's our innate need not only to survive as individuals but as groups and communities that work. Anarchy just wouldn't work!

Monday, March 16, 2009

People's time

A number of people have turned down my request for interviews, for a number of reasons.

I certainly understand that people are busy and that they have their own lives and pursuits, so I don't begrugde anyone who says "can't do it" to my request (though some are nicer about it than others).

I do wonder, though, if I would have better success with them as an reporter for the New York Times or 60 Minutes. This might be a real-life example of the vanity trait affecting the development of this book!

Ah the trials of a 1st time writer :P

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Getting answers

My originally conveived structure for Curing the Human Disease was that the majority of the book's focus would be on the Seven Deadly Sins, with a chapter devoted to each.

However that is not where things are headed. First of all, there are quite a few books on the sins which will do a more in-depth and probably better job at exploring each sin. Secondly, my book is really about why we are the way we are - essentially using the seven sins to explain a set of shared human traits.

Then I am getting into the questions of "so what do we do about it?" I'm happy to say that I didn't know the answer to that in the beginning of my journey but I think I am getting somewhere with it. I am seeing commonalities across my research and interviews that are very interesting and insightful...I don't want to sneak peak too much here but I am starting to get excited :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Chemistry vs. cognition

I am doing research on lust today and have delved into the brain chemistry behind this sinful trait.

It turns out that there are hormones driving lust, as there are for romantic desire and long-term romantic love.

As the chemical level, lust is driven by the hormone testosterone - in both men and women. Someone who is very lusty tends to have an increased output of testosterone. And in fact drugs that lower testosterone levels (like Depo-Provera) tend to also reduce libido.

Romantic desire has more to do with dopamine levels and long-term love is connected to a hormone called oxytocin, which is also involved in the feelings of love we have for our family and close friends and even feelings of affection towards strangers (kind of funny how similar the word sounds to oxycontin).

It's interesting to recognize how much chemistry is involved in our development of feelings. It begs the question - are we in control of our hormones or do they control us? As in - do I make the decision to be in love after which my body will produce oxytocin to support that decision, or, is the oxytocin released on it's own based on other factors, causing me to be in love?

I am going to address this question of chemistry vs. cognition at some length in the book. I suspect that our conscious and unconscious minds have more to say about what chemicals our bodies produce than we might suspect. It's a tricky question but one I am looking forward to exploring.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The interdisciplinarian

What's so interesting about my journey in working on this book is the various disciplines that I am drawing from.

For centuries the seven deadly sins were primarily a religious precept but to tell the story through a modern lens I must become a student of psychology, neurology, philosophy, biology, anthropology, sociology, poliltical science, genetics and yes, theology.

This kind of interdisciplinary research is just needed if I'm to give this story the holistic focus it deserves.

Monday, March 2, 2009


History is littered with genius. And in many instances the most educated people in history have designed our systems of laws and government, our scientific methodologies, our educational systems and even some of our greatest works of art.

It seems that it's only in America and in recent times in which the people who strive for and reach the highest level of educational achievement are subject to the ridicule of the masses. Why is that? Is it the sin envy gone terribly awry?

I bring this up because I'm today transcribing my interview at Harvard University with Dr. Steven Pinker. He is by so many degrees more educated and intelligent than I am and his insights so brilliant - I have a hunch I could publish just the transcription of our interview and it would hit the mark.

I have enormous regard for the well educated, especially those who've managed to remained founded in the realities of the living world, as Pinker has. I will certainly be including many of his words in my book and thank him again for his generosity of time and thoughtfulness in speaking with me.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Seven Sin Survey

I've created a quick survey (just 2 questions) about the 7 deadly sins.

If you have a second please respond to my survey!

Thanks :)