What do strength training, craft beer, MMA, and social media have in common?

Written by
Matt Perryman

What do strength training, craft beer, MMA, and social media have in common?

Step back from the weird question and let’s get abstract for a minute.

The 80/20 effect is everywhere. What wins, wins. Second place doesn’t count.

Where the 80/20 law rules, selection culls the losers without mercy.

Algorithm-izing our whole reality turned everything into an 80/20 kill-zone.

It’s a fat-tailed world now. Winners win and the losers disappear into the void.


Information is “too cheap to meter”. Knowledge for any field you can imagine (and many you can’t) is a few keyboard-taps away.

A blessing, you say?

It was. Still is. But it comes with a price we didn’t see coming.

Anyone can cross-reference all the Known Facts. Contribute to discussion groups. Hash out the best practices and never-dos.

Myths and half-truths don’t survive the scrutiny. The ineffective ideas are the losers. What wins — the good ideas — keeps winning.

That’s how you get MMA strikers + grapplers pulling the mask off the traditional martial arts and their gurus and dominating the fighting sports.

You get a generation or two convinced that squatting, benching, and pulling for 5×5 three days a week is the best way to train… and everything else is useless.

Your beer selection shifts away from cheap rice lagers to a wide range of brew styles and brewers…. which then consolidates into a glut of Hazy IPAs and the slow death of any other style.

Your health becomes becomes the target of 10,000 new recommendations, therapies, diets, and drugs… which makes you the play-thing of managers with lab coats and credentials (who behave more and more like an unquestionable priesthood).

Your conversations and information access opens up into the untamed internet… most of which then falls under the control of four Silicon Valley companies.

The optimizing circuit doesn’t have any brakes.

What you feed into it, you get more of.

What wins keeps winning.

That’s good when you’ve got a discipline which is nothing but a collection of stories, fables, myths, and legends, without any systematic order to them.

A little order never hurt any practical art or skill.

But there is such a thing as too much.

Ice is as hostile to life as boiling water.

Letting the algorithm “improve” everything is one thing.

But have you notice that few of us ever ask whether it’s worth doing, or ought to be done?

Throwing light on the dark patches can be a good thing. That doesn’t mean that staring into the sun is good for you.

You know what?

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