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Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science Paperback – May 4, 2010
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
College is for learning how to think. Learning "Why?" something occurred is much more important than a few facts (eg. the reasons for the rise and fall of the Roman Empire are more important than the birth date of Julius Caesar). It is better to simply know which books hold details you will need than to overload oneself with facts that never will be repeated. On the other hand, new ideas usually need new facts.
Students should choose courses that naturally interest them, and if one's grades are not largely a, they likely have not yet found their intellectual calling. One should narrow down their career objectives while still in college.
The academic world abounds in triviality. Choose a young thesis adviser - the older ones' expertise is most likely in fields that long ago had seen their better days, leaving devotees with diminished job expectations. Those breaking new ground inevitably threaten minds continuing in old ways. Extend yourself intellectually through courses that initially frighten - eg. math is necessary to pursue the frontiers of genetics. Never accept invitations to senior faculty homes unless you have reason to anticipate a very good meal or a fetching face.
Exercise exorcises intellectual blahs.Read more ›
There are several interesting ironies in the book. At the end of each chapter is a list of "Manners" describing career advice, yet much of Honest Jim's behavior (chasing undergads, writing unflattering portaits of his colleagues in the Double Helix) is extremely unmannered. Additionally, some of the flourish he adds as head of the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory (expensive renovations on his home) are at odds with the financial mess he was brought in to fix.
The quality of an autobiography, though, shouldn't be judged on a character assessment of the writer. The book gives a non-technical view of the life of one of American's most reknowned scientists, and provides a much broader view than he provided in the Double Helix. The "Manners" do indeed provide advice for junior scientists. Perhaps most important, it isn't boring, and that's a trap hard to avoid in scientific autobiographies.
You've written this story three times now. The first, "The Double Helix," is possibly the best history of science ever written. The second, "Genes, Girls, and Gamow: After the Double Helix," is undoubtedly the worst -- I had to wash my hands repeatedly from the offal emerging from each page. Now we have, "Avoid Boring People," a modest step up from the last. I'll leave it to the New York Times to decide whether or not this rendition of the same material is boring and to others to critique whether your use of "Manners" in the title of each chapter indicates you have the foggiest notion about etiquette. But the little science that appears in this book is shockingly bad in at least three instances.
First with regard to emphasis: Anyone not familiar with the history of Molecular Biology would conclude from this book that the second most important discovery of the 20th century (after your discovery of the structure of DNA) was the isolation of the lac repressor by Wally Gilbert. Nonsense. What about the breaking of the genetic code (1 sentence), the development of recombinant DNA technology (1 sentence) or even the development of DNA sequencing techniques for which Wally shared the Nobel Prize (not mentioned at all)? The repressor story has always been overblown in part because of Jacque Monod's incorrect insistence (that you initially bought into) that all regulation was via repressors and that activators didn't exist.
Your second mistake is the claim that Alfred Tissières failed to break the genetic code because his preparation of polyadenine had aggregated. Nonsense. PolyA is about as soluble as salt. The reason his experiment failed is the same reason Marshall, Heinrich and I failed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
<<<<<i have found WATSON'S book rather boring, and I believe that being a good scientist does not guarantee anything else, at all. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Francesco Comis
Written by a staunch racist. Being black and working in scientific research field, I have come across and worked with many of his type. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ti Kelel
I barely got through this book for all the name dropping. You should avoid this book.Published 11 months ago by Romy
On the one hand, it provides a detailed account of Jim Watson's career and discovery of DNA, so on that account it succeeds, but on the other hand Jim Watson is a fairly unlikeable... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jack Baxter
I found it a bit dry but am not that interested in James D. Watson - my husband was more interested in the human genome project and I feel that not everyone who contributed was... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Mary Wheeler
I would have liked more about Dr Watson's ideas and less about all the people he met during his life.Published on May 15, 2013 by Pedro Rivero
This was a very good deal, especially for a hardcover book! There was marking on the book, and clear signs of use, but the inside had no marking.Published on December 31, 2012 by jspr
Double Helix by James Watson is one of my most loved books about doing science, so I anticipated a very interesting reading about Watson's life from childhood until leaving Harvard... Read morePublished on May 29, 2012 by Greenrat
What a disappointing book. I am afraid the author did not heed his own advice, and went ahead and wrote a boring book. Read morePublished on May 17, 2010 by Francsois