Famous Biologist Louis Agassiz on the Usefulness of Learning Through Observation, by James Clear
The art of comparing objects is a remarkably useful strategy in many areas of life. Take weightlifting, for example.
For the first five years that I lifted weights, I experienced mediocre results at best. I assumed that it was information that held me back. Like many people, I thought that once I found the right workout routine, then I would be set. I was under the assumption that I simply hadn’t reached the next level yet because I hadn’t come across the right information. What I didn’t realize was my search for the perfect pre-made formula was preventing me from observing my actual results.
When I started to observe with greater care and focus, I realized that my body tended to respond better to higher volume rather than higher intensity. I noticed that my foundational strength in major movements like the squat and deadlift was lacking. I was able to use these observational discoveries to tailor my training to my needs and, subsequently, make much greater strides because of it. It was through comparing what I was doing with what was actually working for me that I made progress.
Do the Work For Yourself
“I never pay attention to anything by ‘experts.’ I calculate everything myself.” ~Richard Feynman
When Richard Feynman, the brilliant physicist, was working on a new theory of beta decay he noticed something surprising. For years, experts had been saying that beta decay occurred in a particular way, but when Feynman actually ran the experiments he kept getting a different result.
Eventually, Feynman investigated the original data that all of the expert’s were basing their theory on and discovered that the study was flawed. For years, nobody had bothered to read or repeat the original study! All of the experts just kept quoting one another and used their mutual opinions as justification for the theory. Then Feynman came along and turned everything upside simply because he did the calculations himself.
"Take the facts into your own hands; look, and see for yourself!” ~Louis Agassiz
Pick any industry of life and you’ll find that very few people actually do the work.
Rather than read the original study, most people cite the headline from a secondary source. Rather than spend 100 hours observing every detail of a fish, most biology students would look up the description of the fish online. When most people say, “I read an article on climate change,” what they really mean is, “I read the title of an article on climate change.”
This is exactly why doing the boring work more consistently is actually a competitive advantage. Ignore the expert advice and pay attention to what gets results for you.
Look, and see for yourself.