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How being a scientist affects the way one sees the world


The need for strong motivation in choosing a career
Francis Crick Scientist
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I think, as one remarked earlier, that unless you’re very keenly interested and fairly motivated and I would say almost dedicated, the frustrations and the difficulties, although of course there are rewards, but the frustrations and the difficulties are such that if you don't- aren’t motivated in that way, you’d be well advised not to go into the- into the field. You might just well go away and do something else like make money or whatever you want to do. Well, you must notice that people who make a lot of money are people who are interested in making money. They don’t even need the money, usually. They go on making the money when they’ve got masses of money. So it’s just the same thing again: if you want to make money, you have to be really interested in making money. Same thing with science. And I’m sure it’s true if you want to be a first class musician, either as a performer or as a composer or anything else or a painter. You have to be- to have a strong motivation to do it. You have to think 'That’s the thing that I really want to do, and I don’t want to be bothered with other things'. I’m not sure all careers are like that; it’s a much more relaxed way if you have some rather simple, more routine sort of job, and it has the characteristic that you work from nine to five or whatever it is, and when you go home, that’s the end of that. And you have the weekends off; you don’t have this feeling every weekend that you ought to be doing some work, although you should resist that because you shouldn’t work all the time. But- so I mean, there are other ways of life, and it is more difficult- this is what one saw in the generation of the '60s - there were so many opportunities, that people who didn’t have a strong drive didn’t know what to choose, and they often had difficulties in that way, whereas it probably didn’t matter what they chose as long as they made the choice. But if they kept dithering and wondering if they should do this or the other and so on, they didn’t necessarily perform as well as if they’d made a rather arbitrary choice.

The late Francis Crick, one of Britain's most famous scientists, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. He is best known for his discovery, jointly with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, of the double helix structure of DNA, though he also made important contributions in understanding the genetic code and was exploring the basis of consciousness in the years leading up to his death in 2004.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: money, science, career, 1960s, working life

Duration: 1 minute, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: 1993

Date story went live: 08 January 2010