Re-program yourself and you will win a Nobel Prize
by phil on Saturday Feb 14, 2004 12:03 PM
I bet you or I could figure out what caused the Big Bang, or how life first began on Earth.
To solve these kinds of problems, you have to solve the right problem first. Rather than focusing on the actual biochemistry or astrophysics, I'd focus on retooling myself. I believe this strategy works because I know that the person who will make scientific breakthroughs will not have superhuman abilities, but rather a finite set of skills that you and I are only a few steps removed from.
Take the "Origin of Life" problem, for example. The first trait that I would install in my system is a great love for biochemistry. This can be achieved by surrounding yourself with others enthusiastic about your field. You can also search for little shreds of enjoyment you already have--like maybe you like studying how elements compound and become building blocks--and then you push yourself to amplify that enjoyment. You say to yourself, "Wow, this is interesting because ..." and eventually you'll learn to love that field.
You also need to be open-minded. Go read a pundit that you repulse, like Ann Coulter and try to see why she might be correct. Other rational skills such as being free of logical fallacies are necessary to be effective. Being rational would give you an edge over 99% of the scientists out there. Even "leading lights," like Stephen Jay Gould, make logical errors, so if you can sharpen yourself better than Gould, you've got a head start.
Then you'll need technical aptitudes, such as an ability to memorize facts and an ability to synthesize and generate creative solutions. There are self-help books on Amazon.com that will give you those skills.
You will also need some physical characteristics, such as having the energy and concentration to read journals for hours or spend days at the lab. With modern nutrition these days, though, such capacities are only a few behavioral changes away.
And finally, the person who will solve these problems will have great social skills. He will be in contact with so many pioneers at the edge of his field that he will only need to step a little beyond to reach the goals.
The point of this post is to make it clear how simple it is to achieve success of brobdignagian proportions. To realize this just understand pure cause and effect: some person will be the cause of a major breakthrough in science, but this person is just the consequent of other previous causes. If you can re-create those antecedent causes, why can't the breakthrough manifest through your efforts?
And imagine if Universities focused on engineering more apt kids, rather than socializing them on cocktail party wisdom, mankind would solve these great mysteries in a tenth of the time.
Don't be quick to resign things as unachievable by saying that it requires innate "talent." While some fields, like pro basketball, require genetic prowess, the sciences can be conquered with ontogenetic cleverness: just know where to devote your attention.
Bob said on February 14, 2004 1:28 PM:
It's the transformation economy, dude. Eventually people will pay to be transformed into what they want to become. Ostensibly this is what the educational system does today, but we all know better. ISIS to the rescue...
I'll put my full notes on the book up there someday...