If there were league tables of culture, Britain would be mid table at best when it comes to philosophy, music, literature, art, physics and chemistry. But it is the Man U or Liverpool of biology and always has been: the circulation of the blood, evolution by natural selection, the structure of DNA, genome sequencing, in-vitro fertilisation, DNA fingerprinting, cloning: the list is extraordinary for a country with 1 per cent of the world’s population. Go Bio-Britain.
– Matt Ridley, Bio-Britain is leading the world in Covid science
OK, British references. “League tables” are rankings of something, from football leagues to universities. But you likely got the point without me ‘splaining. In Matt Ridley’s view, Britain is only OK at philosophy, music, literature, art, physics and chemistry, but it’s extraordinary — the class of the league — at the biological sciences and the technology arising therefrom.
Maybe we personally aren’t extraordinary at anything. Maybe we corporately aren’t either. But we all at least have something we do better than anything else, if not than anyone else.
Find that thing, articulate it, use it to choose business opportunities, make a note of examples of it in your day-to-day operations, write about it in your proposals. In the short term, play to your strengths.
And in the long term? Get better at that thing and maybe one day you *will* be better at that thing than anyone else is. Maybe one day you’ll be extraordinary.
Instinctively, I want to challenge Ridley’s claim that Britain is bare-to-middling in literature and arts. I’d like him to show me an Afghan poet to equal Wordsworth, an Ethiopian composer to compare with Purcell or Handel, a Bantu playwright to match Shakespeare. But then I realize that I see through the filter of the English language. Watt, Faraday, Newton, and others come to me through English, even if they wrote their thoughts first in Latin. I have not read, and cannot read, Copernicus, Ptolemy, and Einstein in their original languages; therefore I know them only second-hand.
Jim – I don’t know how he’s making his assessment, but I find it interesting to look at ratios of Nobel Prizes. Countries have oddball gaps, IMO, and interesting specialties. Half of Canada’s Nobel Prizes are in chemistry and physics; add medicine and that rises to 3 out of 4. https://www.traditionaliconoclast.com/2018/10/06/beams-of-light/