A Delusion of Illusion of Control II

Andrew Charniga


Unreasonable Math

In a rather iconic scene from the 1973 movie “Solyent Green”, Charlton Heston, playing a police detective; accidently steps on a guy (one of many) sleeping on the stairs as he endeavors to leave his 2nd floor apartment building. People are sleeping on stairs and living on biscuits because overpopulation has run amuck in the not too distant future.

The movie was based on the profoundly false, dire predictions of pseudo scientist Paul Erlich; a ‘cryptic drek’. He wrote in his 1969 best seller: “In the next fifteen years the end will come”…. “Humanity is not sustainable” ….in the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”. He is still sought out today by journalists to bloviate his nonsensical dire predictions. 

A methodic of science to predict ‘in the absence of knowledge’ is not just alive and well’ it is predominate; where most scientific papers consist chiefly of an aggregate of figures leading to in many cases a ‘math absent reason’.

A ‘math absent reason’

A ‘math absent reason’ is the backdrop, similar the dire predictions of a “population bomb” of a failure to consider the complexity of factors inherent predictions based on a ‘math absent reason’; which turn out to be not only false, but irresponsible. In point of fact, in the 2020s when stairwells would be expected to be filled with sleeping people; a contemporary view is the just the opposite – depopulation (see Phillip Longman “The depopulation problem).

Most research papers of today are compilations of data; in many cases proving with tables and graphs claims of efficacy of special exercises; purportedly to prove Nordic curls, for instance, or muscle strength ratios between antagonistic pairs (quadriceps/hamstring) as injury prophylactics. This anti – heuristic math is the false front of science; and, as such has spawned meaningless aphorisms: ‘we have data’, ‘evidence based’ and the like. Yet, for example, in spite of, or more likely; because of more than 50 years of research (and a million figures) incidence of the ubiquitous hamstring injury in field sports as well as sports played on courts remains essentially unchanged (Manier, et al.. ).

Consilience of Induction: reasoning without math

A consilience of induction has shown the injury epidemic; especially the non – contact lower extremity variety; ravaging American sport is not connected with extrinsic factors: shoes, playing surface, sport circumstances; even the machinations of cryptic dreks; as these injuries are common across a wide spectrum of sport: baseball, basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse and others (Charniga, www.sportivnypress.com). Indeed:

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves”  Cassius ‘Dear Brutus speech from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

It is patently obvious the ‘math absent reason’ somehow or other exculpates the academics, the medical cadre, strength and conditioning coaches, personal trainers, athletic trainers, physical therapists and others, as casual agents for an injury epidemic. Is that because, just maybe, “..the fault is in ourselves”?

A ‘math absent reason’ is likewise the backdrop for various forms of ersatz training. Ersatz training is nothing more than a cruel a hoax played upon the gullible. Devotees of ersatz training pointedly target those not predisposed to critical thinking (a lot of people). Just how does one run about, jump and so forth with a tight core; as taught/sold by the core and functional training crowd? Especially, as noted by Lederman ( 2007) while at the same time tensing certain muscles, i.e., engaging the gluts?; or  worse yet, a single muscle such as the transversis abdominis )TA); it is next to impossible:

“To overcome the timing problem the proponents of CS came up with a solution – teach everyone to continuously contract the TrA or to tense/brace the core muscle [4, 30]. By continuously contracting it would overcome the need to worry about onset timing. What is proposed here is to impose an abnormal, non-functional pattern of control to overcome a functional organization of the neuro-muscular system to injury: a protective control strategy that is as old as human evolution.” Lederman ( 2007)

The notion hands on instruction of simple mind to muscle gym or therapy room exercises would be an effective override of reflexes is a practical impossibility:

Reflexes are an important element in motor behavior that defines muscle mechanical properties”; reflexes are crucial for voluntary movements, all movements in a healthy animal are produced via modulation of reflexes.” Latash, Zatsiorsky, 2016

Most made – up for sale non-sensicals;  which form the foundation  of ‘ersatz training’ are directly connected to the trainer/coach’s illusion of control (see figures 2&3). The foundation on which is built the trainer/coach’s illusion of control is the unjustified belief in an unrealistic ability to inculcate volitional control of the body’s some six hundred muscles, control over movement of joints, especially muscle actions, movement of the body’s links so as to conform to textbook definitions; and, various propaganda sold at conferences.

Figure 1. The myth of fragile female athlete is a construct of the medical and academic communities; not a line drawn by nature. Large range of motion in joints; elasticity of tendons and ligaments; reflexive relaxation of muscles constitute differentiation; not defects. In point of fact those qualities are injury prophylactic. Charniga photo.

The human body is a complex amalgamation of reflexives designed to respond to the complexity of external conditions; to react to variability, to randomness in the environment; especially with reflexive relaxation of muscles. In effect, an innate complex of reflexes constitute a readiness to implement “variable means to invariant ends”(Lashley 1933).

On that basis, use of exercise machines; weightlifting within or support of heavy metal racks which essentially ‘think for the user’; hands on techniques for “activation of sleepy muscles” exemplify an amalgamation of ignorance. An elite athlete’s coordination, technical proficiency in dynamic sports is developed by means of complex coordination exercises; resistance exercises inclusive; which made up ersatz nonsense do not address; if anything these methods are at best counterproductive (see figures 2 and 3).

Devolution, the descent of man, ‘sleepy gluts’ and the rise of ‘Ass – men’

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra

Figure 2. A “dedicated”, “hard working”, “knowledge hungry”, certified strength and conditioning coach “holding nothing back”; with helping hand buried in a young woman’s nether regions!#?!#? A “touch me, feel me” ‘hands on’ technique to awaken the young woman’s ‘sleepy gluts’???????

If it is indeed the aim of ersatz devotees to hold nothing back; then it is desirable; by all means, they should hold something back; such as the entire premise of made – up – for – sale – exercise – techniques and the perverse predisposition for placing hands on privates (see figure 2).

Although there is nothing problematic about a back (or front) squat; a relatively simple movement; a basic exercise; the problem with the exercise emanates from the the alphabet soup crowd, i.e., academia. Ever since an academic decided bending the knee past parallel would stretch ligaments and thereby harm knees; the medical community; and/on down, to the lowly middle school coach has either avoided this basic, valuable exercise or distorted the basic technique with an assortment alternatives to bending hip, knee and ankle while maintaining a vertical disposition of trunk. Consider the buffoonery depicted in figure 3; the brain child of the “knowledge hungry” coach depicted in figure 2.

Figure 3. At left, a prime example (from the same source as depicted above) of a ‘buffoonery- of -the – bizarre for sale: a made up, anti – mobility, anti – coordination exercise; hucksterism at its finest. A partial bend exercise purportedly superior to squats. The abject stupidity of the made up the exercise illustrated above; is not the crux of the issue. The salient problematic rests with those dumb enough to believe that this ‘hold – onto – a – half – ton – of – metal – partial – bend non- sensicality’ has even a shred of carry over value for athletes. Contrast the anti – mobility buffoonery at left with a simple warm up for weightlifting designed to cultivate and enhance mobility:  to facilitate mechanically efficient movements. Charniga photo on right   

The exercise protocol depicted on the left in figure 3 is purported to be beneficial for athletes training for dynamic sports; and, consequently, superior to an ordinary back squat.  Already a lame assumption of the exercise’s efficacy on the part of coach equivocates into abject gullibility on the part of those attendees of the lecture who are receptive to this nonsense.

The exercise in nonsense depicted in the figure 3 partially illustrates how a fallacy is promulgated into furthering irrationality. For instance, several essays (Charniga, www.sportivnypress.com) of injury susceptibility; demonstrated exercise techniques and methods of training have a basis in a fear of bending; in particular allowing the shin to tilt forward when performing normal squats; as is on display in  figure 3. Fear of tilting shins in squatting is translated into a host of avoidance exercise techniques which in turn, likewise provoke unexpected consequences of the aforesaid avoidance.

For instance, some who advocate squatting with limiting shin tilt; decry a made up technique error – ‘butt wink’. This refers to a rounded back at the bottom of the squat. The main reason for the back rounding; besides a lack of mobility in the spine, at knee, hip and ankle; without question is the artificial limiting of movement of  the shins. There are two alternatives to squat with restricted movement of the shins and maintain balance: 1-  lean forward; and in so doing, place an unnecessary, unjustified strain on the lumbar spine; 2 – round the lumbar spine to keep the area of balance over the feet. Therefore, since tilting of shins is out of the question; shifting strain to the lower back by leaning forward or avoid squatting altogether are the main alternatives (see figure 3). 

Another bizarrie of avoidance of bending ankles along with knee and hip in a simple basic exercise is illustrated in figure 3. The purpose of a slow, stilted, convoluted buffoonery depicted in figure 3 is a perfect example of why we should not “trust the science”. That is to say, the academic credentials (initials) of the coach depicted, obscures the perversity of a phony science.   

…”conscious control has been found to be highly disruptive to expert movement and performance efficiency.”  (Bielock, et qaal, Carr, et al cited by Toner 2015)

Figure 4: What should be considered a ‘normal’ exercise technique: squatting until the legs are fully flexed with shins tilting forward. All the muscles of the lower extremities are active; with soleus and other ankle muscles playing a synergistic role to stand from the squat. There should be no confusing the obvious benefits to strengthening the legs with this technique and the preposterous nonsense depicted in figure 3. The problem with a technique of squatting by  limiting movement of the shin forward is the lower back will round at the bottom is avoided by allowing shins to tilt forward.  Charniga photos.    

‘New Think’: ‘thoughtless thinkers’ buy into exercise machines and ersatz training

Latash and Zatsiorsky (2016) defined the following concepts; which in turn, elucidate how it is possible one circumstance leads to another and ultimately  unanticipated problems: 

1/ “Motor task constraints: the constraints imposed in order to execute the planned motor task.”

2/ “Instructional constraints: The motor task constraints defined by an instructor, experimenter, competition rules.”

3/ Intentional constraints: the motor tasks imposed by the performer.” (Latash, Zatsiorsky, 2016)

For instance, three aspects of exercise protocols stemming from instructions of conditioning coaches, therapists, personal trainers, academics, doctors and so forth; serve to show how unanticipated outcomes arise from inconsequential thinking. The following types of constraints: motor task, instructional and intentional; as defined by Latash and Zatsiorsky, 2016; are concepts whether consciously or unconsciously, are abused on a regular basis by conditioning coaches, various exercise hucksters, charlatans of misinformation, academics, therapists and others.

For example, numerous examples of made up dumb exercises and techniques such as those depicted in figures 3 &5; amply illustrate how one false belief and/or, beliefs; snowball, indeed cascade head long into enhancing injury susceptibility.

In performing the knee bend/1/4 squat exercise depicted in figure 3; the trainee adheres the first constraint: motor task constraint; the purpose of which is to confine knee, hip and ankle within a small amplitude of movement (a 1/4 bend); while at the same time stifling kinesthesis, by holding onto a metal rack. The necessity of holding and balancing the barbell in place on the shoulders is likewise stifled by using as special bar which does not require the athlete hold onto it to balance. The imposed constraints of the exercise protocol involve minimal flexion of lower extremities, minimized balance, minimal kinesthesis; and, in general, a composite of low – skill -simplification of an already profoundly low skill exercise.

During performance of the exercise in figure 3, the instructor would, without question, cement the imposed constraints of the movement with “instructional constraints” (#2), i.e., give verbal instructions for performance of the pseudo squat exercise so as to create the misleading impression the exercise involves such complexity; a step by step instruction is needed.

Finally, the trainee self – imposes “intentional constraints” of movement pattern based on the prior two constraints such that the exercise is so volition dependent; any possibility of developing reactive skills is non – existent. This is not to say, that one silly exercise makes one susceptible to injury; however, most made up for sale exercises involve the same three factors of inculcating volitional constraint; and, as a result someone who does enough of these exercises loses; or, even worse yet never develops the ability to react to changes of condition.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra

Figure 5. Examples of a ‘terrible triad’ at work: motor task constraints, instructional constraints and ultimately intentional constraints at work. This warmup for squatting  (far right) exercise epitomizes the power of buffoonery over reason. Note artful positioning of instructor’s hand to guide the elite female weightlifter’s activation of ???. The joke of a warm up exercise for squatting as depicted in figure 5 ; with rubber bands and the coach’s finger; an example of a snake oil salesman at work.

Consider the bizarrie depicted in figure 5. Made –  up exercises which typically enhance the susceptibility – to – injury – landscape: motor task constraints coupled with instructional constraints to warm up for squat with made up exercises for shoulder stability. Just what is shoulder stability? What is shoulder instability? What would make an  Olympic lifter’s shoulder girdle so disfunctional as to need; let alone, benefit the bizarre, made up isometric nonsense depicted in figure 5? For the record; a weightlifter needs to maintain mobility in the shoulder girdle with suppleness of tendons and ligaments. If, for no other reason, enhanced suppleness in the shoulder girdle comes in handy, in the event the need arises to release tension very rapidly to drop the barbell and avoid potential injury (see figure 6).

Furthermore, an elite lifter such as the one pictured in figure 5 has executed overhead lifts (snatch, clean and jerk alone) by the tens of thousands over a period of many years training. That all that work, would, in any way shape or form, result in ‘unstable’ or weak shoulder girdle is a joke. The question as to how much extra work on the shoulder strength should be done is one most athletes and coaches fail to ponder. The fact this question is rarely raised is obvious from the number of lifters competing at international events with shoulders wrapped in (pain) kinesio-tape.

While the ‘teaching’ of an elite lifter to restrict movement of knee, hip and ankle in 1/2 squat ascent holds with coach’s finger and rubber band (figure 5) is antithetical to a regular squat seems benign: the lifter ends up  consciously imposing intentional constraints to perform what should be a simple exercise. Hence,  the carry over to squatting under the barbell in the classic clean can only have only a negative outcome (see description of hip injury at AG below).

It is a practical impossibility to devise a series of constraints to perform a simple squat movement with the elite lifter when the coach is clueless the biomechanics (figure 5).      

Figure 6. It is highly unlikely the elite lifter depicted in the figure could react to loss of balance by releasing the barbell with relaxed muscles, stretching tendons and ligaments; if his skill – set were a product of “constraint training”; like wise were his shoulder girdle in need of isometric induced “stability” exercises. Charniga photo.

Consequently, a miss (figure 6), or fall; which on the surface should seem rather benign, even sport specific; can result in a inexplicable injury; presumably if one is stiff – as – a – board from  “Olympians secret exercise” with rubber band and kettlebell. On the other hand, missing a snatch lift (figure 6) is no big deal so long as the lifter’s shoulders have not been artificially ‘stabilized’.  

The concepts of motor task, instructional and intentional constraints further justifies the consilience of induction; confirmation for enhanced injury susceptibility put forth in previous essays resulting from various forms of ersatz training. A significant factor not considered by purveyors of ersatz training is implementation of intentional constraints (especially the isometric holding exercises depicted) invariably lead to increased internal resistance to movement emanating from unnecessary muscle tension; which, has to be present when an athlete endeavors to move about burdened with these constraints. 

Consider for a moment a connection between the anti – mobility’, ‘anti -coordination’ shoulder isometrics and the slow – made up – squat – warmup – exercise depicted in figure 5 with likely consequences in the real world of weightlifting competitions.

The Olympic medalist depicted in figure 5 showed the following results over time after ersatz training in in the USA.

2021 Tokyo Olympics:   87 + 115 = 202

2021 Commonwealth Games: 88 + 113 = 201

2022 WWC: 87+ 113 = 200 (reportedly suffering from wrist injury incurred while training in USA)

2023 AWC: 85 + 109 = 194

2023 WWC – did not compete

2023 Asian Games: 83 + 108 = 192. Suffers hip injury trying to fix 117 at the chest (see anti – mobility squat warm up with bands constraining movement at hip, knee and ankle; plus finger).

An unfortunate outcome of the quest for ‘stability’ resulted in the athlete regressing from a total of 202 kg to 192 kg, or a loss of about 10%; with a hip injury to boot: “Her hip gave way as she got into position and squatted while lifting the barbell… She collapsed on the ground and hit her back”.

The unfortunate outcome of the trainer’s (figure 5) illusion of control most typifies a well known principle of psychology:

“As other self-serving biases, the illusion of control is seen as a self-esteem enhancing mechanism that allows people to take credit for successful actions and to deny responsibility for failures” (Bradley, 1978; Heider, 1976).

Another example of inappropriate placed finger with a super elite weightlifter (figure 7) to achieve what aim other than buffoonery?  

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Yogi Berra

Figure 7. A super elite female weightlifter; indeed, a gift of nature;  excoriated by huckster with deviant digit and far more hair than brains.

How and why do these oddball circumstances occur? The simple explanation: the gullible buy into a ‘new think’ of the huckster’s phony claims. They (the hucksters) count on three basic levels of acceptance; as best expressed by meaningless aphorisms: “it is evidenced based and it is new and improved”.

In actuality, the ‘evidence’ for “evidence based training” embraces multiple levels of acceptance of standardized ignorance:

/ it is new and improved;

/ it is for sale;

/ it is hawked by means a repetitive redundancy of meaningless, or, otherwise ambiguous aphorisms; designed to preclude questioning the validity of the claims: “super slow training”; “evidence based training”; “HIT”, “functional training”; “core training”; “reflexive performance reset”; “velocity based training”; “derivatives training”; “TRAMP”; “sleepy gluts”;“posterior rotator cuff engagement”, and so on.


/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2023/a-delusion-of-illusion-i-when-more-is-less/

Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2019/why-safe-is-unsafe/

/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2023/say-it-aint-so-poe/

/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2022/new-wave-insanity/

/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2022/a-velocity-based-training-vbt-scam/

/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2022/tree-stump-training-and-initials-mechanisms-of-injury-susceptibility-part-2/

/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2022/arthur-jones-angry-agnotological-angel-of-strength/

/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2023/a-delusion-of-illusion-i-when-more-is-less/

/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2023/say-it-aint-so-poe/

/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2022/new-wave-insanity/

/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2022/a-velocity-based-training-vbt-scam/

/ Charniga, A., https://www.sportivnypress.com/2022/tree-stump-training-and-initials-mechanisms-of-injury-susceptibility-part-2/

/ Charniga, A., {“Shouldn’t female weightlifters be injury prone”} https://www.sportivnypress.com/2018/reflexive-release-why-female-weightlifters-arent-injury-prone/

/ Mendrin, Natasha MS; Lynn, Scott K. PhD; Griffith-Merritt, Halecia K. MS; Noffal, Guillermo J. PhD, “Progressions of Isometric Core Training”, Strength and Conditioning Journal 38(4):p 50-65, August 2016. | DOI: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000233


Ansovitch:A huckster’s exercise in ignorance: cites article too stupid to read which in turn makes the listeners to the lecture pathetically culpable not to follow – up

Figure. Hocus pocus applied to a super elite weightlifter. No discernable rhyme nor reason other than to further the illusion of control the uncontrolable.


Figure. From left professional baseball player fractures wrist swinging a bat (fouling off pitch). On right elite female drops barbell twisting wrists in the process by 135 kg barbell – uninjured. Charniga photo on right.

Achilles ruptures; ankle and hamstring injuries rise after ‘strength coaches came along. citing article he is too lazy/stupid to even read – too busy selling machines

Quotes of Arthur Jones (the founding father of the injury epidemic in USA sports?) (see Charniga, A., www.sportivnypress.com

The central nervous system definitely does not program in detail displacement of effectors, joint rotations, muscle forces, joint torques and muscle activation patterns. This is clearly impossible given the dependence of all these variables on the current external conditions, which are never 100% predictable. Latash, Zatsiorsky, 2016

The Delusion Illusion of Control of Movement Patterns

An psychologist’s definition of Illusion of control is an overestimation of one’s actions to affect a desired outcome. This, irregardless, how illogical, improbable one’s actions can in fact accomplish such an outcome. 

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

Ingenious ignorance

The impracticality of programmed movements up close and personal to be executed by the athlete from a distance to the hands on programmer.

“As other self-serving biases, the illusion of control is seen as a self-esteem enhancing mechanism that allows people to take credit for successful actions and to deny responsibility for failures (Bradley, 1978; Heider, 1976). In that way, when people acting to obtain a desired outcome face a random sequence of successes and failures, they may tend to view themselves as responsible for successes and attribute failures to other causes such as, for example, chance (e.g., Langer & Roth, 1975).


Charniga, A., “Hamstring Injuries in Sport”, www.sportivnypress.com

Charniga, A., Arthur Jones: Angry agnotological angel of strength”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “How is it possible weightlifters are stronger?”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “The derivatives myth”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “Speed in weightlifting: an optical illusion”, www.sportivnypress.com

/ Charniga, A., “Distinctions between static (powerlifting/bodybuilding) and dynamic (ballistic/weightlifting) expressions of strength in resistance exercises ”, www.sportivnypress.com

Charniga, A., “There is no System”, (parts 1 – 4). www.sportivnypress.com

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

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Roman, R.A., The training of the weightlifter {1962; 1968; 1974; 1986} Fizkultura I Sport, Moscow. English translation of the 1986 version translated by Andrew Charniga sportivnypress, Livonia, MI USA

/ Roman, R.A., The press, the snatch, the clean and jerk, The snatch, the clean and jerk {1970 & 1978 respectively. English translation Andrew Charniga. English translation of 1978 version: Sportivnypress, Livonia, MI USA

/ Zhekov, I.P., Biomechanics of the Weightlifting Exercises, English translation: Sportivnypress, Livonia, Michigan, Original publication in Russian: Fizkultura I Sport, Moscow, 1976

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/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVGob8DrjD