There is a great short piece on WSJ.com E.O. Wilson, biologist and professor emeritus at Harvard. His little essay argues that kids who are not great at match should not automatically rule out a career in the sciences:

Wilson makes an emotional case for general brilliance over mathematical prowess as the true key scientific discovery:

Pioneers in science only rarely make discoveries by extracting ideas from pure mathematics. Most of the stereotypical photographs of scientists studying rows of equations on a blackboard are instructors explaining discoveries already made. Real progress comes in the field writing notes, at the office amid a litter of doodled paper, in the hallway struggling to explain something to a friend, or eating lunch alone. Eureka moments require hard work. And focus.

Ideas in science emerge most readily when some part of the world is studied for its own sake. They follow from thorough, well-organized knowledge of all that is known or can be imagined of real entities and processes within that fragment of existence. When something new is encountered, the follow-up steps usually require mathematical and statistical methods to move the analysis forward. If that step proves too technically difficult for the person who made the discovery, a mathematician or statistician can be added as a collaborator.

This is an interesting viewpoint and it’s something economics, a discipline that has become obsessed with being seen as mathematically rigorous and therefore a “real science,” should keep in mind.

WSJ subcribers can read the full piece here: here:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323611604578398943650327184.html?mod=lifestyle_newsreel

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Posted by Carlos Alvarenga

Carlos Alvarenga is the Executive Director of World 50 ThinkLabs and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business.

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