Say you’re in a science career (or thinking about one). Say that you actually want to be as successful as possible at that endeavor.

Given those two prerequisites, then we can make a logical deduction that you want your brain functioning as optimally as possible. Because science is, first and foremost, a thinking endeavor. Without clear thinking, I don’t think that you can do good science. And if you’re not doing good (or great) science, your career will go nowhere over the long haul. There’s too much competition.

If for some reason that doesn’t describe you, and you don’t want to succeed (or have a smart, clear, focused mind), then do this one thing:


Yep, that’s it. In case it’s not clear “how to” do that, here is my five-part checklist for becoming stupid and dysfunctional:

  1. Make sure to check your email every 2 minutes, or better yet, have it alert you as soon as new email comes, and go check it immediately
  2. Make sure to have your Twitter and Facebook feeds open at all times of day, and always be up on whatever the “buzz” is at each moment
  3. Be at the ready on your phone at all moments, and also be sure to call people regularly just to check in and chat
  4. Make sure to read or listen to the latest news morning, noon, and night so that you can distract yourself further
  5. Especially make sure that the first thing you do each day is check your newsfeeds, emails, and all those types of things to make sure you didn’t “miss anything”

And a bonus one for real extra credit:

6. Make sure when you’re on a break or holiday to be checking your emails constantly, just “in case” something comes up that you need to attend to.

That’s it.  I wish I could make it more complicated than that, but that’s all you have to do.

My source? A study by Dr. Glenn Wilson, who found with strong statistical signficance that subjects who were multitasking showed a 10-point drop in IQ compared to those who were in quiet concentration.

While his results have been taken to the extreme by some folks on the net who now claim that “multitasking is worse that pot smoking for your intelligence,” Dr. Wilson never actually made the latter claim.

But that doesn’t nullify the original.  It tells us that we know how to easily and readily thwart ourselves in a mentally demanding science career.

And it also tells us how to do the reverse: by not multitasking.

Seriously folks, it is not that complicated.  If you aren’t secluding yourself with some quiet focused time every day, you will not succeed (at least not to the extent that you could).

So if you can’t get yourself to stop multitasking, then I’d suggest you start asking yourself: do I really want to succeed at this, or am I just doing it because it’s the thing to do right now? If that’s your reason for doing science, you should be seriously thinking about doing something different about now.


If you want more clarity on getting funded in our currently crazy environment, I’ve got a free online training that will teach you how to get your reviewers excited and ready to fund your project. Sign up here.

    1 Response to "How to become “stupider”"

    • Prof. Peter T. Kissinger

      Those graduate students who ride a bicycle while texting at Purdue have been giving local orthopedic surgeons lots of practice.

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