Friday, August 21, 2015

How to Become and Expert in Anything


This is a an extremely cool interview with Neil Degrasse Tyson, perhaps one of the most rock star scientists of our time. He talks to PopSci from the point of experience on how to become an expert, what that means, and what comes with it.
To be an expert means you are on the frontier, making discoveries, thinking thoughts never before dreamed of. I’m an expert in astrophysics.
I don’t generally share opinions. It may not feel that way because I speak passionately about what I know, but if you look at my tweets and books, I hardly ever express opinions—because I don’t care if you have them. I don’t care a rat’s ass. As an educator and as a scientist, I care only that you are scientifically literate.
The more informed you are, the more empowered you are to think for yourself, and the more representative our democracy will be.
Don’t come to me to debate whether climate change exists. If you’re coming to me in that fashion, you do not understand how and why science works. You’re expressing an opinion, and I’m expressing a fact.
Successful people are driven without regard to their social life, love life, or the opinions of others. Every one of them has a story saying, “Here’s a list of people who said I should do something safe.”
To be genius is to be misunderstood, but to be misunderstood is not necessarily to be genius.
I am the consequence of my life experience. Everything that has happened to me has summed to be what I am. If I jumped back in time, I would derail that learning curve, so I don’t have any urge to go to my younger self and say, “Do this, not that.” What would that mean? Making mistakes contributes to your wisdom.
It’s not that we fear technology, it’s that we occasionally take it for granted, and when we do, we discount the brilliance and work that went into it. You’ll say, “Oh, we don’t need to increase the funding on science; I’ve got my smartphone. We don’t need to go into space; I’ve got weather.com.” Well, where the hell do you think you got the image of the hurricane that just tore up Galveston, Texas?
If you want a career in science and technology, well, you better hang out with some geeks. Go ahead. They are a friendly people. They’re not talking about the clothing you are wearing. They’re not talking about your waistline. It’s just, “Who are you, and do you have interesting things to say?”
No matter what you do, you need to be able to fail and know how to recover from it in order to one day succeed. There is no successful person who has never failed. Think of the lessons you learn every time you fail. It’s the people who ignore those lessons who basically check out of that contest permanently.
The fastest way to end a career in science and technology is if you’re guilty of fraud. No one will listen to anything you publish thereafter. The greatest statement you can make to a scientist is to pay no attention to his or her science.
When you are first in the world to know something, there’s nothing like it. There is no salary, there’s no car you can drive to substitute for that feeling.
This is from PopSci, interview done by Cliff Ransom