My world view and professional approach, as explained by Thor

‘They’re specialists, the whole lot of them, and they don’t believe in a method of work which cuts into every field of science from archaeology to botany. They limit their own scope in order to be able to dig in the depths with more concentration for details. Modern research demands that every special branch shall dig its own hole. It’s not usual for anyone to sort out what comes out of the holes and try to put it all together.’

Carl was right. But to solve the problems of the Pacific without throwing light on them from all sides was, it seemed to me, like doing a puzzle and only using the pieces of one color.

– Thor Heyerdahl, Kon-Tiki (1947)


5 thoughts on “My world view and professional approach, as explained by Thor

  1. I’ve always been partial to this one:

    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, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    -Robert A. Heinlein

  2. Excellent! Except the only thing I can do on that list is pitch manure. Got work to do.

    I’m not down on specialization. I just find there are challenges, problems worth solving that are solved by taking the specialists’ output and crossbreeding it. And those are the ones I find interesting.

    Example from professional life: “How do we secure our company’s information?” You’ll need a network security specialist, yes, but if that’s all you’ve got, you’re not even close to solving the problem.

  3. Love the quote. Specialization has its great moments. Its when we use it as a stamp to muddle through every problem that we see its serious downside.

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