Monday, January 14, 2008

Going Beyond Our Specialty

This observation from science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein has always interested me:

A human being should be able to: change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, pitch manure, solve equations, analyze a new problem, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects!

I confess that I can do only a few of those.

But that raises some questions:

  • What types of things outside of our "insect" specialties are not a waste of time but actually add to our ability to perform the narrower tasks?

  • Does a wide range of experiences and skills make us better or more confident decision makers?


Wally Bock said...

I wonder how many Heinlein could do? But that aside, it seems like we're more creative people when we have lots of sources of knowledge and experience to draw on.

Michael Wade said...


I have the same curiosity about Heinlein!