Reading Ideas for the Weekend: Steve Jobs, Young Heretics, and Why Love is the Opposite of UnderwearAuthor: Susan Cain
Here are this week’s reading picks for the weekend:
1. Glenn Kelman on Steve Jobs, the Poet: “I still remember exactly where I was, standing in a Dolores Street apartment with a cereal bowl in my hand, when [Steve Jobs] came on TV to say a competitor had no poetry. It made me think poetry had a place in business and that in turn made me think I had a place in business, too.” – Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, an online real estate agency
2. Freeman Dyson on the importance of young heretics: “The public does not have much use for a scientist who says, “Sorry, but we don’t know”. The public prefers to listen to scientists who give confident answers to questions and make confident predictions of what will happen as a result of human activities. So it happens that the experts who talk publicly about politically contentious questions tend to speak more clearly than they think. They make confident predictions about the future, and end up believing their own predictions. Their predictions become dogmas which they do not question. The public is led to believe that the fashionable scientific dogmas are true, and it may sometimes happen that they are wrong. That is why heretics who question the dogmas are needed. As a scientist I do not have much faith in predictions. Science is organized unpredictability. The best scientists like to arrange things in an experiment to be as unpredictable as possible, and then they do the experiment to see what will happen. You might say that if something is predictable then it is not science…. The prevailing dogmas may be right, but they still need to be challenged. I am proud to be a heretic. The world always needs heretics to challenge the prevailing orthodoxies. Since I am heretic, I am accustomed to being in the minority. If I could persuade everyone to agree with me, I would not be a heretic. We are lucky that we can be heretics today without any danger of being burned at the stake. But unfortunately I am an old heretic. Old heretics do not cut much ice. When you hear an old heretic talking, you can always say, “Too bad he has lost his marbles”, and pass on. What the world needs is young heretics. I am hoping that one or two of the people who read this piece may fill that role.”
(Susan here: I gather that Dyson has all kinds of views on all kinds of scientific and political questions. I’m not familiar with the substance of his opinions. So this post is an endorsement of his views on heresy in general, not on his heretical views in particular.)
3. Love is the Opposite of Underwear: Interesting riff of a commencement speech by author Jonah Lehrer.
Have a wonderful weekend, and East Coast Americans, watch out for that hurricane!