Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A great example of the power of positive thinking.

A great example of the power of positive thinking, especially for those pessimistic about 2015:
"Back in 1939, Dantzig was studying for his PhD in statistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He arrived late for class one day and found two problems written on the board. He thought they were the homework assignment, so he wrote them down, then went home and solved them. He thought they were particularly hard, and it took him a while. But he solved them, and delivered the solutions to the teacher’s office the next day.
A great example of the power of positive thinking.
Turns out, the teacher had put those problems on the board as examples of “unsolvable” statistics problems — two of the greatest unsolved problems of mathematical statistics in the world, in fact. Six weeks later, Dantzig’s professor told him that he’d prepared one of his two “homework” proofs for publication. Eventually, Dantzig would use his solutions to those problems for his PhD thesis.

Here’s what Dantzig said about the situation: “If I had known that the problems were not homework, but were in fact two famous unsolved problems in statistics, I probably would not have thought positively, would have become discouraged, and would never have solved them.”

Dantzig solved these problems because he thought they were solvable. He thought that other people had already solved them. He was just doing them as “homework,” thinking everyone else in his class was going to solve them too."

Excerpt from a talk by Ben Goertzel

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