How to Think Like a Genius 27-Expertise

In-Sight Publishing

How to Think Like a Genius 27-Expertise

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen and Rick Rosner

January 1, 2018

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What about not being afraid to go outside your area of expertise? What about extending it as well?

Rick Rosner: You and I did some pre-talking before we got to the actual talking and I realized that I don’t know enough about a lot of geniuses to talk about them. I basically know about a small group of big geniuses. Feynman, Newton, Einstein, Darwin, just based on them, they gave themselves license to think about anything. And backed it up by acquiring expertise well-beyond their limited fields. Feynman was well-known. He had a standing bet that people could give him any numerical problem within 60 second she could come up with an answer that was within 10 % of the actual answer, and his lectures on physics are famous and they are 3.5 or 4 volumes, and cover just about all of physics.

He pretty much invented the field of nanotech. Even in the last year or two of his life, he investigated the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and came up with the reason that it exploded. He was all over the place and was good at being all the place. He gave himself license to think about anything and then backed up that license with acquired expertise. Ditto with Einstein. Einstein made contributions. He invented the laser on paper. He didn’t really build one, but he came up with the idea.

Even in fields he hated, he hated quantum mechanics. Even there, he contributed all sorts of stuff including a critique in quantum mechanics: spooky action at-a-distance. Which helps structure the understanding of quantum mechanics, the photoelectric effect, which is one of the things that he won the Nobel Prize for is a quantum effect. He, too, ranged all over the place. Unlike Feynman, a lot of his thinking in the latter half of his life didn’t go anywhere.

He was going after the unified field theory. I’m not sure that he came up with anything that is super worthwhile in that area. Newton, I don’t know enough about. Newton was all over the place. He ran the mint in his later years. The royal mint in England. He did all sorts of political analysis. He was looking for secrets. He was religion, and he was looking for secret communications from God in the Bible.

Which we would consider a waste of time now, but I think he thought, at least he presented himself not actually thinking of himself, as always just working to do God’s work by figuring out the universe. I think he thought that God wanted us to figure out the world. That he took it on, and he came up with two huge things in two disparate fields. He came up with calculus and universal gravitation, and then he made contributions to optics. I don’t know what else, but he gave himself the freedom to take on everything that was a scientific issue of the time.

The pickings were easier back then because the science was younger and there were fewer people. I think some people who aren’t confident in their deep abilities probably fearfully stick to a very limited area of expertise in science. If people want to be a genius, you have to expand your footprint. And if you’re lucky, what you learn checking out one area of your discipline will help give analogies and ideas for checking out other areas of your discipline.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


Rick Rosner

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing


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and by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.



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Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen supports science and human rights. Website: