The Myth Buster

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The Myth Buster

January 26, 2015

Intellectual Ventures (IV) founder and CEO, Nathan Myhrvold, is the subject of a trailblazing profile in the latest edition of Intelligent Life, the bi-monthly culture and lifestyle magazine from The Economist. Over several months, in three different countries and many an espresso, Nathan and reporter, Alex Renton, cover everything from his childhood definition of wealth to the rewards of being a generalist today.

Here are just a few of our favorite passages:

“Myhrvold is not well-known outside geekdom and the arcane world of intellectual property. But he may be more useful than most great thinkers.  When did Stephen Hawking or Pope Francis actually do something that might improve your daily life? Myhrvold, who had a post-doctoral fellowship under Hawking, achieves that quite frequently.”

“His stock in trade in using rigorous analysis to dismember a sacred cow. ‘We do it like that because that’s how it’s done’ is a red rag to him, whether uttered by the dinosaurs when Microsoft was rising to challenge them in the 1980s, by the energy firms that resist the possibility of safe, cheap nuclear power, by development economists who can’t analyse statistics or by a chef trying to justify a hallowed (but scientifically empty) cooking gambit. For Myhrvold, myth-busting has been a life’s work, the means to a fortune and a bundle of fun.”

“What’s he like as a boss, I ask Pablos Holman? He grins. ‘I love Nathan. He has a great sense of humor, a great attitude, he's really, really smart. Even in what you know about. I know a lot about computers, but I have trouble keeping up with him. I’ve seen him do that to biologists, paleontologists, to oceanographers … With him, you see what’s possible when somebody doesn’t super-specialise. It’s one of the things that’s really sad about the scientific community, that you make yourself a scientist by becoming the world’s greatest expert in the smallest possible field. Nathan not only became somebody who could work deeply across different fields of science, but also appreciate the experts. And he can round them up, people who would never consider talking to someone else about their problems, and get them to cooperate.’ So what’s bad about him? What would you change? ‘I’d probably work on his wardrobe a bit.’”

For the full story, read on here.

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