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Show Highlights

With the push from Justin Feinstein at LIBR to get more float centers involved in research, many float center owners are chomping at the bit to push studies forward on the benefits of floating. But where do you start and how do you make it happen?

Graham and Ashkahn discuss this idea and how to do research right, as well as some of the things that might be helpful OR harmful to the world of floating in the eyes of the scientific community. There’s a lot of nuanced things to know about proper research and if you go in overzealous without considering how established science is done, it can harm the reputation of the practice.

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Transcription of this episode… (in case you prefer reading)

Ashkahn: Ashkahn here, Graham over there.

Graham: Graham. Graham here.

Ashkahn: Welcome to our little podcast.

Graham: You on the other end of the headphones. Yeah we have a question today to answer.

Ashkahn: Yes.

Graham: So we might as well just get down to-

Ashkahn: And kind of a new format for us.

Graham: Just exploring it you know, seeing how this works out.

Ashkahn: Today what we’re going to do is answer a question that was sent in to us.

Graham: It is, “what can I do as a center owner to help make sure that float research happens?” Yeah.

Ashkahn: That’s an interesting question-

Graham: Do you have a lot of money?

Ashkahn: Are you a big pharmaceutical company?

Graham: Are you a donor? Yeah I mean you could actually just donate a lot of money to float research that would definitely help.

Ashkahn: Yeah.

Graham: Yeah. Floattanksolutions.com/podcast we’re out.

Ashkahn: This is an interesting one because I think it’s a very common inclination for everybody to have. It’s hard for almost anyone to open a float center without wanting to contribute to float research. And I think a lot of people are into the idea and want to use their float tanks for it and want to even run their own studies or kind of a whole range of different things.

Graham: Yeah there’s like an obvious one/two which is that people get started and then look up all the research about floating and find out there’s not a ton and they’re like “how can I help? How can we get this out faster?”

Ashkahn: And you just see so many experiences that people have coming in and you want to have like something more empirical to point people to and when you want to explain to them what’s happening to people in there and you don’t want to sound like you’re telling all these individual stories. So it makes sense. And there’s some precautions I think when it comes to this idea of doing your own research or trying to support research in some way that are worth knowing.

Graham: Yeah, and Justin Feinstein has been especially vocal recently about this but you can’t just run research. People got in trouble back in the early 1900s up through maybe the 80s or so. Consistently for running especially in psychology these kind of what do you call them unethical there we go, I was going to say evil but. Unethical studies, you’re subjecting people to things that maybe they shouldn’t be subjected to and at some point it was decided, “Hey we should review this project a little more thoroughly, and running serious studies that haven’t been approved you’re kind of a rogue scientist which isn’t looked on very friendly by our national legal system.”

Ashkahn: Yeah. So now there’s all these very regimented protocols and organizations in place to make sure that if people are doing research they’re doing it in a way that is not going to be kind of permanently traumatizing to the people involved or somehow harmful to the people who are participating in your research that that research is being conducted safely.

Graham: So the first step is to make sure that you’re doing this correctly. Which means, I guess let’s back up a little bit too. This is if you’re doing research which is not even perhaps the number one way that you yourself can contribute to a lot of the research out there. But by default going into it if what you want to do is team up with the university, run your own research, or just start asking people questions out of your own center. Just know that there’s some certain protocol that you need to take if you’re doing that.

Ashkahn: Yeah and if you don’t follow it, very likely your data will be unpublishable or to the point where if something does go wrong, you may actively be kind of harming the world of float research, because the general science community looks at that stuff and thinks of it as kind of rogue scientists and doesn’t look kindly on it. So if that’s the direction you’re going, just do your homework and know what you’re doing and realize it’s a little bit more complicated than it seems.

Graham: Yeah, if you want to hear more about that, definitely write-in. Again, Justin Feinstein has been talking of that more. There’s a great episode of Art of the Float, I think where he goes into some more detail about it.

Ashkahn: And he came on our-

Graham: Oh yeah, and we had him here on our podcast.

Ashkahn: There’s an episode of the Float Conference podcast where he talks about, we kind of go over this in detail and a little bit more about what’s required and what things you have to do that I think people don’t exactly think of it first to do kind of legit research.

Graham: And his goal ultimately is to start studies that can be run at multiple float tank centers and kind of just collect these broad data sources. So keep an eye on. He made a site called Clinical Flotation, and I think he plans on updating that project there. It’s also just a great resource too as a side note for going and getting actual pdf copies of full studies that have been kind of, most of the peer reviewed studies out there for flotation, he has not just the references but the full studies. So great place to send other scientists as you are starting to talk to them or if you’re into reading nitty gritty research just to cruise on over and get access to those. It’s very truly at an awesome resource to check out.

Ashkahn: So other than literally doing your own research, how else can you-

Graham: Out of the weeds.

Ashkahn: To the world of float research? I mean like if you do have extra money you could literally donate money to something like the float clinic and research center at LIBR.

Graham: I wasn’t kidding you started a float tank centers. So you probably don’t just have a bundle of like $100000 sitting on the side-

Ashkahn: So I think that’s most people’s exact situation. I mean, most people, the logic is that you have access to float tanks, which is a much rarer thing than necessarily like having money and that’s what you want to utilize to kind of help the float research world. And you can, I mean I don’t think people are doing this as frequently now, but in my mind what could help the research world is more people doing float research and as float centers I think we can help try to spread the word and plant that idea in people’s heads. And especially I think oftentimes the research is coming out of universities.

Graham: Yeah, for sure.

Ashkahn: Students need projects. Grad students need thesises to writes. That’s where so much, when you look at the old float research, so much of it is associated with various universities.

Graham: And especially medical universities are a great resource if you do have one around you.

Ashkahn: And so that’s a thing that I think a lot of float centers have access to. There’s probably some big university not too far away from you, and that’s I would think a great place to reach out to and see if there’s some connection to be made. And that can range anywhere from just trying to connect with professors in maybe the psychology department and give them some free floats and just see if it’s something that sticks or ends up as an idea that’s in their mind so that if they’re working on something with the students, maybe that’ll be an idea that comes up, “Hey, you should do like a float research project for your thesis or whatever.” And to me that’s just kind of one of the more grassroots way that something like this can spread.

Graham: Actually that’s like my preferred answer to this question actually, very seriously just get scientists floating. Sometimes it’s beyond scope to go and prepare a research study and to work with a specific researcher. And even if you get the halfway through designing a study don’t be surprised if all of a sudden that person gets really busy with their other research and has to drop off or if you get really busy with the tank that goes down and now you’re spending all your time on this, you know. So just introducing people who could eventually be influencers, they start spreading the word like kind of getting the buzz about floating, going in the scientific community. No joke I think is actually a very powerful way you could help float research.

Ashkahn: Because those people do have things figured out like IRB approval for their research studies and stuff like that. And then as things progress then you can help even more by giving free floats to a program that they’re trying to do where they’re trying to pull data and allow the access to your float tanks to be a bigger way of contributing to some sort of float data like that. Because that’s a big hurdle for them. If they want to do float research, the idea of them setting up a float tank or multiple float tanks in their own research lab is a huge leap from just wanting to do float research.

Graham: Yeah. So in that sense you can really be an asset to being the scientists in addition to the science of floating, which is Kinda neat.

Ashkahn: Yeah. And just that awareness in general, we’ve done things ranging from right now there’s a student at Reed College here who’s working on a float research program with having people float in our place. And have just ranged down to reaching out to professors like Graham and I at some point reached out to different professors at Portland State University just to see if we could give guest lectures at certain classes that seemed related to floating and ended up going and speaking in the stress management class. And that professor really liked floating and then started spreading it with her other students at a big medical university here, the Oregon Health and Science University. And then at some point the university even just funded half off floats for all of the students of her class to come float two times over the course of their class.

Graham: Yeah. Super cool.

Ashkahn: And it didn’t lead to data that got published, but it did lead to an entire group of med students coming and floating as part of their class curriculum and going on, who knows, those people may eventually end up in a position where they’re doing research related work and now they have float experience under their belt and it’s going to be something that’s more top of mind for them.

Graham: Yeah. And all these little things add up, I mean, yeah, maybe you don’t have $100,000 to contribute to or enough time to work with a researcher to get an IRB approved study going at your local university. But yeah, spreading around some free floats in the right crowds can maybe just as a catalyst really get that going. So yeah, and things like this I think it’s important because we’re really into the wishy washy nature of the universe and the environment, often plans fall apart, often things you never planned for come to fruition. And so it really is kind of creating these fertile fields where the things that you want to happen are just a little more likely to come to fruition. So even if you never see any results of your efforts and you don’t see any local research coming out who knows, maybe some of the stuff coming out nationally or internationally and float research was spawned by just some students who came in and floated at your center.

Ashkahn: Yeah. We believe in you.

Graham: We believe.

Ashkahn: You’re helping more than you may think.

Graham: Yeah. Any other ideas or should we ended on that positive?

Ashkahn: I guess the other thing I’ll say is it’s really easy in the world of floating to be making a lot of claims that may or may not actually be backed by good float research. So another way of contributing to this world of empirical float information is just to take some time and learn about what you can say and what you can’t say, and just be part of the forest that’s spreading information that is more backed the data that we currently do have. We do have some data and understand what it is and be able to say that stuff confidently and make sure you’re not spreading information that’s not backed by empirical data because that’s another reason why things may be more difficult to get funding or to have credibility in the future is because people out there are making claims that aren’t necessarily supported or supported yet until data is actually done on them.

Graham: Yeah. Data is sort of like guilty until proven innocent. It goes the opposite of our criminal system. So yeah. Saying things that haven’t been proven yet isn’t looked onto fondly for sure. And we have a great episode too of daily solutions where we go over different actual claims that you should probably feel comfortable making, and other ones that are pretty common to make that maybe you shouldn’t feel this comfortable making. So it’s a good one to go review. Peter Suedfeld has one, we referenced it in that episode, but also just a great float conference talk on what he thinks is the stuff that you can say and what you can’t say. So also a really good refresher. Oh, and have your staff watch that stuff too.

Ashkahn: Yes.

Graham: When new staff get hired on, train them in the scientific things that they should be saying versus not. I think that’s one of the easiest ways for misinformation to spread is even if the owners is well educated, it says, we have turnover, people come in and out and if the person who happens to be working your front desk that day starts saying outrageous things, that’s just what your customer comes away believing.

Ashkahn: Yeah. We also have a download called the About Float Tanks Guide on our float tank solutions site, which has a kind of listing of the benefits of floating in there and we’ve actually vetted that with the different researchers and made sure we’re not saying stuff in there that is outlandish or just things we made up in our brain or whatever. So another good place to look.

Graham: Alright. And if you have questions of your own-

Ashkahn: You can go over to floattanksolutions.com/podcast.

Graham: And we’ll read whatever you send us.

Ashkahn: Out loud. No filters.

Graham: Right here for the public.

Ashkahn: Yeah, like we just, one word at a time is all we’re taken in so it could be anything.

Graham: Alright, bye. Everyone.

Ashkahn: Bye.

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