The gossip test

By Grant Jacobs 16/12/2009

What Mad Pursuit - CrickFrancis Crick’s book What Mad Pursuit recounts a test he had for what he should explore that he called “The gossip test”.

Introspection plays an important role in science: you get to ask yourself why you are doing something. It’s part of that thing that Feynman famously described, the “not fooling yourself” thing.

Here Crick was thinking considering how to choose what he was really interested in. His idea was to take note of what he rattled on about to others. Hence “The gossip test”.

You’d have to say that it’d be a great world if we could all work on what interested us. Crick had a few advantages, he’d discovered the structure of DNA, worked on the genetic code and other things before he moved to neuroscience. I guess he found himself talking to others than understanding the brain was an intriguing thing.

That’s not to say that this lovely little concept is of no use to those with few opportunities to follow our interests. It’s an interesting way to sound out what really rattles your cage.

So… what do you rattle on about to others?

What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery

(Sloan Foundation Science)

ISBN 13:9780465091386

(The cover shown above is for the Penguin edition.)

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