A Delusion of Illusion I: When More is Less

Andrew Charniga



The plot of the 1957 movie 12 Angry Men centered around the deliberations of twelve jurors tasked with deciding the guilt or innocence of an 18 – year old murder suspect. Imbued with Hollywood stars of the day including Henry Fonda; most would see it as a typical Hollywood drama. Few would view it as dramatic exercise in critical thinking; which it was.  

When the twelve convene to deliberate; they discover eleven are convinced the suspect is guilty. One is not. The juror who is not convinced (played by Henry Fonda) explains to the other jurors; even though the evidence is overwhelming; he has doubts; nothing is so cut and dry.

He then begins to express his doubts of the veracity of the eye witness testimony and physical evidence – from a standpoint of critical thinking. Eventually the other jurors begin to fall in line of the same process of critical thinking; with most offering logical reasons for doubt; which in turn, leads to the suspect; who up until this time seemed certain to be headed for the electric chair.; found not guilty.

With so much information for sale; and, at the same time; so many charlatans and hucksters converging on the world of collegiate and especially professional sport; critical thinking  in a world filled with knowledge for sale; is a quality in woefully short supply.

Considerable remonstrance has been devoted in the misinformation series of essays to debunking various hucksters, charlatans, i.e., phony exercise scientists.  The commonality, characteristic of this class of salespeople; mostly made up of purveyors of phony science; is they typically peddle knowledge and/or paraphernalia to those not predisposed to critical thinking.

Many who are easy marks to the purveyors of phony science are intellectually so malleable; they are not predisposed to critical thinking. Consequently, little effort is devoted to ascertain the veracity of  the phony science for sale;  purportedly peer reviewed facts, and the like. What is a peer anyways? Are there peer classes and peer degrees at university? What about peers who check to see if the peer reviewers actually are peer qualified?

A factor which contributes considerably to blurring any reasonable line of credibility are the speakers selected for presentations at national conferences of certification organizations such as the NSCA.

Presenters can receive continuing education credit towards maintaining his/her certification status, i.e., knowledge and/or expertise conferred by proxy. Vetting the presenters’ knowledge by the certification organization typically is not a priority. Hence, a sort of de facto corroboration of presenters’ credentials and subject matter by means of their selection to present makes it less likely the presenters’ audiences will dismiss the subject matter; engage in critical thinking. Because:  

A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence, it has no critical faculty.” (Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, Sigmund Freud)

Selection of speakers of dubious competence who espouse even less than dubious ‘evidenced based’ information for national conferences is part and parcel the greater aim of certification organizations. They thrive on ‘buy to certify’ competence for sale; which in turn, enables certified coaches to market expertise to various schools, universities and even professional sport teams. Here is an example of a ‘buy to certify’ sales pitch:

“NSCA certifications are for dedicated, knowledge-hungry, hardworking strength and conditioning professionals (see figure 1). When you have an NSCA credential on your resume you elevate yourself (see figure 1). You become the standard that employers seek when hiring strength and conditioning positions (see figure 1). NSCA certifications can help differentiate you from the competition (see figure 1) while joining the ranks of some of the top experts in the industry.”  NSCA.com

“see me, feel me, touch me, heal me”, Pete Townshend, 1969 from the rock opera Tommy

Figure 1. An example of a delusion of an illusion of control overestimating the influence that our behavior exerts over uncontrollable outcomes.” Yarritu, I. et al, 2014). A “knowledge hungry” male strength coach (who subsequently resigned under fire) ‘elevates’, i.e., applies made – up for sale nonsense, ‘performance reflex reset’ (RPR) with a hands on technique to ‘reset’  a female athlete’s reflexes???? For in – depth instruction of the intricate technique of ‘resetting’; an ‘elevating’ ersatz training administered by a ‘certified’ professional, see : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pbNQrRoQCc&t=38s

An unanticipated outcome of a delusion of an “illusion of control”  buffoonery for sale (aka ‘RPR’) in the real world of collegiate athletics: 

“The USA Today report also cited multiple allegations of sexual harassment against former strength and conditioning coach…  “An unnamed player said Pe…..a touched her inappropriately while applying a physical therapy technique known as reflexive performance reset. https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/report-texas-tech-womens-basketball-coach-created-toxic/story?id=72190930

Ersatz training & Contagion of Standardized Ignorance

Two unfortunate outcomes emanating from ‘buy to certify’ certification organizations are 1/ a contagion of standardized ignorance, 2/ the introduction and inculcation of ersatz training. 

Coaches and personal trainers who flaunt their certification status after completing tests and such, are able to enter the workplace of schools, universities and professional sport ranks sporting these credentials. For the most part, standardized ignorance (certification credentials) are required for placement in most schools and universities. Indeed, the claim of certified initials:

“You become the standard that employers seek when hiring strength and conditioning positions.” NSCA.com

Those who are most susceptible; lacking capacity for critical thinking; are ones most likely to be impressed by university initials and certifications. The preeminent hazard to the health and well being of unsuspecting athletes emanates from the fact most of the recipients of initials and certification certificates practice a form of standardized ignorance. That is to say, what should stay in the classroom; nonetheless is put into practice in the real world; where book learning and test taking skills are of little value. 

In essence, the problems perpetrated by standardizing ignorance from all the education and certification; arises first and foremost, from the fact most (conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, personal trainers and so forth) end up all on the same page of inculcating ersatz training exercises and protocols of “constrained volatility”. 

Examples of ersatz training and protocols as expressed by made for sale meaningless aphorisms and/or ambiguous euphemisms are: evidence based; core training; functional training; reflex performance reset (see figure 1); velocity based training; derivatives training; RAMP; HIT. 

Ersatz (artificial, inferior substitute and imitation, Merriam Webster) training encompass artificial, inferior and imitation methods for sale; validated by and subsequently sold; even if by proxy; through certification organizations, speaker presentations at national conferences, manuals and uploading of internet videos of presentations.

An outcome of ersatz training for sale is the acceptance of a ‘standardization of ignorance’, i.e., certification credentials; the more initials the more ignorance. That is to say, the more is less effect. This takes place across a rather wide spectrum professions. These ideas become mainstream in that people from multiple disciplines are all on the same page of phony protocols: ‘activate the gluts’, ‘tighten the core’, ‘evidence based’ (whose evidence??), and so forth.  

For example, if these, and, there are many, ‘buy to certify’ organizations provided prospective conditioning practitioners with sound information and/or practical skills; would silly incidences, stemming from  made up nonsensical, ersatz training which are popularized and passed on as science at conferences and various clinics; such as the one described above and illustrated in figure 1; be rare occurrences? Of course not.   

Another example, which is typical the utter insanity of the ‘delusion – illusion of control’  and occupies the core of many, if not most ersatz training for sale; involves the all too common technique of a coach/practitioner’s step by step; in many cases hands on (see figure 1) instruction of exercise techniques to inculcate conscious control over range movement in joints; and, especially, conscious control of specific muscle activation; purportedly for efficacy and safety. No one stops to question whether these techniques are practical, even plausible, let alone if there is any reasonable possibility the hands on training will carry over to the athletic field or court. For instance:

“…assume that planning of an action is associated with planning of involvement of all the involved output elements (degrees of freedom). This seems highly unlikely given the motor redundancy/abundance typical of all motor actions and numerous studies documenting variability of the trajectories of elements over repeated movements even during movements performed by the best trained subjects’  (Bernstein, 1930)

In a classic experiment, father of motor learning Nicolai Bernstein showed (referenced in the quote above) no single repetition of even a simple movement (a blacksmith hammering) repeated thousands of times were ever the same. In effect, this was a 20th century confirmation of what Greek philosopher Heraclitus proclaimed thousands of years earlier: 

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”

Essentially the same concept was expressed by Lederman (2007); who adroitly nullifies the whole premise of the euphemistic core training and functional training combined. Both of these ersatz methodologies pitch a ‘constrained volatility’ approach to exercises where one is to learn and perform exercises while tensing rectus abdominus and/or core muscles; and, likewise activating (tensing) gluteus muscles; a dissonance of non-sensicals because:    

  “….it would be next to impossible to contract a single muscle or specific group.” Lederman, 2007

Figure 2. A rapid shifting of the body in opposite directions; fast movements dramatically varying postures; produced by very fast muscle contraction and even faster muscle relaxation are qualities that cannot be taught with ersatz techniques for sale. Yet these self same qualities are indispensable abilities for athletes in dynamic sports. Charniga photo.

The “next to impossibility of contracting a single muscle or specific muscle group” (Lederman, 2007); recognized at least from the time of Russian scientists, Ivan Sechenov, Ivan Pavlov and Nicolai Bernstein; of course makes ersatz training not just impractical; an impossibility; an unfortunate ‘no – sale’ for the hucksters.

Furthermore, the likelihood step by step ‘ersatz training’ will be effective is very low because another factor typically not taken into account. One risks a “paralysis of analysis” (A.Moran, 2004) where the athlete gets so caught up in the mechanical “intentionality” (Moran, 2004) of the of sport exercises; an automation of motor skills, which are in effect, reflexives; become a practical impossibility. The end result are stilted athletes; incapable of smooth, skillful transitions in the performance of complex motor patterns; and, accompanying their stilted movements, a greater potential injury susceptibility .

The complexity inherent dynamic activities such as football, basketball, baseball, soccer and the like, preclude any useful, practical application of ‘ersatz training’. Yet, ‘ersatz training’ ideas are widespread in practice to prepare of athletes for the field or court by means of de facto certification of standardized ignorance. By its very nature, dynamic sport forestalls usefulness of simplistic mind to muscle; inculcated step by step activation of specific motor patterns with constrained amplitude of movement strength exercises; variability controlled machine exercises; and so forth.

Perils of celebrating, crying in baseball, gas in mass?

The aberrant; now – new – normal; high rate of non – contact lower extremity injury in the mass participation American sports of football (collegiate as well as the NFL), basketball, soccer, even baseball {see Charniga, www.sportivnypress.com) are proof positive when so many of those involved are on the same page (athletic training, conditioning, rehabilitation and other hands on practitioners) there is no evasion of culpability for the littered bodies ingrained with artificially induced fragility. For instance, consider three season ending, before the (2023) season even starts, injuries to major league baseball players:

Celebrating; so much as hopping up and down; a ‘perilous play’ in professional baseball?: 

“GM Billy Eppler announced Díaz suffered a full-thickness tear of the patellar tendon in his right knee during Puerto Rico’s on-field celebration….will have surgery Thursday and the recovery time is generally eight months.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVmzQYIwTfcStar

Even striving to be ‘safe at home’ can be unsafe:

Gavin Lux tore his right ACL and sprained his right LCL, effectively ending his 2023 season. Lux was running the bases in the sixth inning…..his right knee buckled awkwardly after a couple of steps. https://www.mlb.com/news/gavin-lux-carted-off-with-injury

The two examples of fragile professional baseball players; taken collectively with the injury to the first baseman reported below; corroborates further, a consilience of induction proposed in previous essays. The same injury landscape across different sports (football, basketball, baseball, soccer) confirms the premises the playing surfaces, the footwear and other extraneous factors are not culprits of aberrant injury in the aforementioned sports. The commonality of the injuries is inseparably linked with the relative uniformity of approach peculiar the practitioners: the strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, personal trainers, physical therapists and doctors are all on the same wrong page.

Even the now common use of the term non – contact injury (‘a non – contact lower extremity injury’ phrase has been oft repeated in the misinformation series, Charniga, www.sportivnypress.com) confirms athletes in even low contact sports are become fragile.  Since when is playing first base such an at risk endeavor for contact injury that the term: ‘non – contact injury’ is used?   

“Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins was carted off the field Thursday because of a non-contact injury to his left knee. Hoskins suffered the injury while attempting to field a grounder.” https://twitter.com/JeffSkversky/status/1638956933771309056

These examples reinforce further, indeed, corroborate the correctness of the reverse – engineering – of – injury – mechanism concept of ascertaining the root cause of aberrant non – contact lower extremity injury.

This concept was introduced in previous essays (see Charniga, www.sportivnypress.com). This ‘root’ consists of an amalgamation of professionals applying irrational techniques, methods and protocols to elite athletes across a wide spectrum of sports. A resultant proliferation of non – contact lower extremity injury; under rather, ordinary, benign circumstances; such as the examples cited above from  major league baseball forms an inseparable link between sports performed on different field of play, in different footwear, under different circumstances and different stress/strain energies subject the lower extremities.

For instance, consider this bizarre example of a ‘more – is – less – overbearing – oversight’. Major league baseball compiles extensive medical data on each player, such that; apparently, any ache or pain; any perceived abnormality; however insignificant, is meticulously recorded (https://www.wsj.com/articles/carlos-correa-minnesota-twins-new-york-mets-physical-11673440551?mod=hp_featst_pos3). For example:

“Typically, if a guy has been playing for four or five years, you might have 1,000 trainer notes,” said Stan Conte, the Marlins’ senior director of medical services. They’re very short: ‘This guy had a little shoulder pain. We gave him some ice and he was able to play that night.’ 

Is it even possible to compile “1,000 legitimate trainer notes” over a span of four or five years on a single player? We are talking about young, not just healthy, elite athletes at the pinnacle of their sport; who are part and parcel the big show. Is anything too trivial? What about a notation the player farted in church? Would he be assigned special exercises? a weak core? teach him to activate his gluts? After all, you can’t have a player passing gas in mass! 

Figures 3-4. If a compiling of 200 – 250 athletic trainer notes a season are required to safe guard the health and well being of a professional baseball (male) player; the notes on a female or a male weightlifter engaged in a sport where the body is routinely subject exponentially greater stress/strain energies; would be expected to fill a notebook of such size as to dwarf Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Charniga photos.  

One has to wonder to what lengths major league baseball will resort to the NBA’s practice of sitting players for games; and/or restricting playing times. The NBA calls the practice of depriving ticket holders the show they paid for, ‘load management’; an ambiguous euphemism meant to obscure the core issue of the day: brittle basketball players, i.e., better to risk splinters in the behind sitting on the bench, than career threatening non – contact lower extremity injury ( see Charniga, “Of flat tires and brittle basketball players”, “Of Ankle Breakers and Glass-ket-ball”, www.sportivnypress.com). 

Figure 5. The idea that practice of explosive exercises, with  large amplitude of bending at the hip, knee and ankle; such as the classic snatch; cultivate injury prophylactic qualities is outside the comprehension of devotees of ersatz training. Charniga Photo

“It’s a brutal part of the business.” {sitting star players on the bench for safety} Steve Kerr (AKA a Typhoid Mary of basketball)

For example, consider the following: https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/36105747/kyrie-irving-5-ruled-mavericks-change-course

The practice of sitting multi – millionaire NBA players out of a game or games is become routine. The players are highly paid entertainers. They need to ‘rest’ in the middle of the season; in some cases a mere few weeks into the season. Euphemistically denoted ‘load management’; it is an ambiguity designed to mask the core issue. ‘Load management’ has become an thorny issue in the NBA. The average price of  ticket to an NBA is the range of $60 – $90.00. If for example, a parent brought, say, two kids to a game; imagine the fans’ disappointment after shelling out more than $300.00 (parking, refreshments) to watch their favorite players risk splinters in the behind riding the bench instead of playing.

It has been shown (Charniga, www.sportivny.com) the popularity of the three point play has as much, if not more to do with this play being safer than driving, cutting for the basket to shoot. It has become the ‘long shot’ of choice; even though the chances of scoring a goal recede along with the increasing distance from  the basket. The fact of the matter is, there is significantly less chance of injury chucking the ball from the cheap seats.

For example, the decision to sit the below listed players was made by management. The issue of players’ susceptibility to injury playing a game they are contracted to play for millions of dollars; is undoubtedly the underlying reason for benching players. Hence, the euphemistic ‘load management’ serves to sidestep, in effect to obscure the new normal of a proliferation ‘glassketball’ players  in the NBA. The actual possibility, the medical, training, and conditioning staffs are “fragilizing” super elite basketball players; and, not some extrinsic root cause of injury susceptibility; such as shoes, playing surface and so forth is obviously, not a consideration. 

For instance:    

“All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and four key Dallas Mavericks role players sat out Friday night’s 115-112 home loss to the Chicago Bulls, a defeat that eliminated the Mavs from play-in contention. The Mavs announced late Friday morning that Irving (right foot injury recovery), shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (left ankle soreness), small forward Josh Green (rest), and power forward/centers Maxi Kleber (right hamstring injury recovery) and Christian Wood (rest) would all sit out against the Bulls, essentially for precautionary reasons. All-Star guard Luka Doncic played the first 12 minutes, 35 seconds before sitting out the remainder of the game.” https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/36105747/kyrie-irving-5-ruled-mavericks-change-course

One would logically conclude benching five key players and limiting another to 12 minutes; is a role for the man with the credentials to make such a decision: the coach; not for a ‘clueless Cuban’. 

The incidences cited further encapsulate the essence of the delusion of the illusion of control at work. The ‘load management’ and other likewise  euphemisms of core training, activation of gluts, functional training, the resetting of reflexes; all meaningless, designed to project a phony narrative the amalgamation of coaches, therapists, trainers, and so forth, did all the right things to prepare athletes for the playing field, court. They are not at fault if and when the players get injured; nonetheless, are ready take credit whatever went well as a result of their actions”; all delusional.


/ Latash, M.L., Zatsiosky, V.M., Biomechanics of Motor Control; 2016

/ Lederman, E., “The Myth of Core stability”, CPDO Online Journal (2007), June, p1-17. www.cpdo.net 

/ Willardson, J., Developing the core, NSCA, Human Kinetics, publishers, 2014.

/Yarritu, I., et al, “Illusion of Control”, 2014 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4013923/

/ Charniga, A., Why? So many flies keep dropping in the NFL’s barbeque”. www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “Say it ain’t so Poe”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “Hamstring injury in sport”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “Hamstring prophylaxis fallacies”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “It is all connected” I-III; www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “Reverse engineering injury mechanism: Achilles tendon ruptures and the NFL”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “Achilles tendon ruptures and the NFL”, Practical solutions to the problem of Achilles tendon rupture and the proliferation of injuries to the lower extremities of football players, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “There is no system” I-VI; www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “New wave insanity”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “Why Safe is Unsafe”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “Of Flat Tires and Brittle Basketball Players”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., Of Ankle Breakers and Glass-ket-ball”, www.sportivnypress.com).