Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review of Leonard Mlodinow's "Upright Tinkers"

This is a review of physicist's Leonard Mlodinow's new book "Upright Tinkers: : The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos."

In it, he debunks the myths about famous scientists and how major discoveries and ideas came about.

With it, he hopes to correct the record on a number of counts. For instance, in order to hash out his theory of evolution, Darwin spent years post-Galapagos shifting through research and churning out nearly 700 pages on barnacles before his big idea began to emerge. Rather than divine inspiration, Mlodinow says, achieving real innovation takes true grit, and a willingness to court failure, a lesson we’d all be wise to heed.

“People use science in their daily lives all the time whether or not its what we think of as ‘science,’” he continues. “Data comes in that you have to understand. Life’s not simple. It require patience to solve problems, and I think science can teach you that if you know what it really is.”

Scientists would agree. Recently, psychologist Angela Duckworth has begun overturning fundamental conventional wisdom about the role intelligence plays in our life trajectories with research illustrating that, no matter the arena, it’s often not the smartest kids in the room who become the most successful; it’s the most determined ones.

As I've said many times on here, there is a lot of value in learning science, even for non-scientists, IF there is a conscious effort to reveal and convey the process of analytic, systematic thinking. We all live in a world where we try to find correlations among many things, and then try to figure out the cause-and-effect. This is the only way we make sense of our surrounding, and how we acquire knowledge of things. Science allows us to teach this skill to students, and letting them be aware of how we consider something to be valid.

This is what is sadly lacking today, especially in the world of politics and social policies.


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