Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science

James D. Watson

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From a living legend--James D. Watson, who shared the Nobel Prize for having revealed the structure of DNA--a personal account of the making of a scientist. In Avoid Boring People, the man who discovered "the secret of life" shares the less revolutionary secrets he has found to getting along and getting ahead in a competitive world.

Recounting the years of his own formation--from his father's birding lessons to the political cat's cradle of professorship at Harvard--Watson illuminates the progress of an exemplary scientific life, both his own pursuit of knowledge and how he learns to nurture fledgling scientists. Each phase of his experience yields a wealth of age-specific practical advice. For instance, when young, never be the brightest person in the room or bring more than one date on a ski trip; later in life, always accept with grace when your request for funding is denied, and--for goodness' sake--don't dye your hair. There are precepts that few others would find occasion to heed (expect to gain weight after you win your Nobel Prize, as everyone will invite you to dinner) and many more with broader application (do not succumb to the seductions of golf if you intend to stay young professionally). And whatever the season or the occasion: avoid boring people.

A true believer in the intellectual promise of youth, Watson offers specific pointers to beginning scientists about choosing the projects that will shape their...
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