Mar 02, 2021

18 Quotes from Range book by David Epstein

Hello friends. This post is a collection of quotes from the book - Range by David Epstein. For too long, we’ve believed in a single path to excellence. Start early, specialize soon, narrow your focus, aim for efficiency. But in this groundbreaking book, David Epstein shows that in most domains, the way to excel is something altogether different. Sample widely, gain a breadth of experiences, take detours, and experiment relentlessly.


The challenge we all face is how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience, interdisciplinary thinking, and delayed concentration in a world that increasingly incentivizes, even demands, hyperspecialization. - Range, Introduction

Our greatest strength is the exact opposite of narrow specialization. It is the ability to integrate broadly. - Range, Chapter 1

In the wicked world, with ill-defined challenges and few rigid rules, range can be a life hack. - Range, Chapter 1

Everyone needs habits of mind that allow them to dance across disciplines. - Range, Chapter 2

That is what a rapidly changing, wicked world demands - conceptual reasoning skills that can connect new ideas and work across contexts. - Range, Chapter 2

Knowledge with enduring utility must be very flexible, composed of mental schemes that can be matched to new problems. - Range, Chapter 4

Analogical thinking takes the new and makes it familiar, or takes the familiar and puts it in a new light, and allows humans to reason through problems they have never seen in unfamiliar contexts. It also allows us to understand that which we cannot see at all. - Range, Chapter 5

Successful problem solvers are more able to determine the deep structure of a problem before they proceed to match a strategy to it. - Range, Chapter 5

A mind kept wide open will take something from every new experience. - Range, Chapter 7

Because personality changes more than we expect with time, experience, and different contexts, we are ill-equipped to make ironclad long-term goals when our past consists of little time, few experiences, and a narrow range of contexts. - Range, Chapter 7

The larger and more easily accessible the library of human knowledge, the more chances for inquisitive patrons to make connections at the cutting edge. - Range, Chapter 8

In a race to the forefront, a lot of useful knowledge is simply left behind to molder. That presents another kind of opportunity for those who want to create and invent but who cannot or simply do not want to work at the cutting edge. They can push forward by looking back; they can excavate old knowledge but wield it in a new way. - Range, Chapter 8

Specialization is obvious: keep going straight. Breadth is trickier to grow. - Range, Chapter 9

The best forecasters view their own ideas as hypotheses in need of testing. Their aim is not to convince their teammates of their own expertise, but to encourage their teammates to help them falsify their own notions. In the sweep of humanity, that is not normal. - Range, Chapter 10

Seeing small pieces of a larger jigsaw puzzle in isolation, no matter how hi-def the picture, is insufficient to grapple with humanity’s greatest challenges. We have long known the laws of thermodynamics, but struggle to predict the spread of a forest fire. We know how cells work, but can’t predict the poetry that will be written by a human made up of them. The frog’s-eye view of individual parts is not enough. A healthy ecosystem needs biodiversity. - Range, Chapter 11

Told in retrospect for popular media, stories of innovation and self-discovery can look like orderly journeys from A to B. Sort of like how inspirational-snippet accounts of the journeys of elite athletes appear straightforward, but the stories usually get murkier when examined in depth or over time. - Range, Conclusion

Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you. Everyone progresses at a different rate, so don’t let anyone else make you feel behind. - Range, Conclusion

Approach your own personal voyage and projects like Michelangelo approached a block of marble, willing to learn and adjust as you go, and even to abandon a previous goal and change directions entirely should the need arise. - Range, Conclusion