Promoting Polymathic Careers and Lifestyles
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Michael W. Ferguson
I have been a professional singer, a quality control inspector for the Apollo Project, a Director of Strategic Planning, a Chief Financial Officer, an award winning game designer and a financial consultant. Looking at that, one might conclude that I am a businessman, mostly. Nope. I'm a Polymath. Its just that there are more good paying jobs in business than anywhere else, so when I have needed money, that's where I have gone.
I have been a dedicated and systematic lifelong learner as you will discover as you get to know me. Its kind of a hot button with me. If you spend two hours a day learning instead of watching television, by the time you reach my age you will have learned the equivalent of another four or five majors!!! Or a couple of doctorates if you are inclined that direction.
I'm a little obsessive about it. OK, a lot obsessive. Since the end of my college career, I have read on average about two undergraduate or graduate level textbooks a month. Why? I don't know. Why do people go to professional wrestling matches? Because they like to, I suppose. That's over 700 textbooks read. Obviously, I'm not reading 'Intro to Sociology' anymore. I'm reading 'Paleoclimate and Evolution with Emphasis on Human Origins' and 'Supernovae and Nucleosynthesis' (great book, by the way, if you've got the calc).
I say that I am going to learn everything or die trying. I know which way that one is going to turn out, but it doesn't matter. In my research I came across the story of a child prodigy. When he was about 3, he started devouring languages. One day, around the age of 8, having learned about 10 of them, he just stopped. His parents asked him why. He told them he had gotten the answer to his question. 'What was your question?', they asked. He said, 'These languages here are related. These ones aren't.' His mother said to him, 'Honey, they are called the Indo-European language group. You could have just asked someone. This was already known.' I say, 'Mom, you missed the point. Sometimes it really is the journey and not the destination.'
In 1997, I undertook independent research on the evolution of human social and reproductive behavior. Again, why? Because no one knows the answers and that bothers me immensely. The problem is massively interdisciplinary so it required me to do a lot of studying, which, of course, is something I'm going to do whether there is a purpose to it or not. Eventually, this led to the development of the Polymathic Method, a way of systematically searching for and developing interdisciplinary problems. It also led to some very interesting and counter-intuitive conclusions.
In 1998, I undertook research using the mathematics of catastrophe theory in an attempt to understand the near future. This eventually led to the Third Millennium Project, The Third Millennium Implementation Network and Leonardo, a project to create a neural net of e-mailers. We are very excited about this stuff. My head is STILL kind of spinning over it. We're going to change the world. Want to help? <sly grin>.
In late 2000, I and two members of the Triple Nine Society founded the American Polymathic Institute. Our objective is to create the new branch of science, Polymathic Studies and a new type of scientist, the Polymath. We are trying to gain the acceptance of academia and the scientific community. It's a novel idea, and while it is meeting with some encouraging words, it's a tough sell. It zigs where the rest of science zags.
Under the auspices of the American Polymathic Institute, we have also created a social organization, Polymathica. It is intended to bring together people who are lifelong learners with broad interests. We are still small, but we are growing fast. We are a fun and interesting group of people - if I do say so myself. <smirk> Come join us if you want. (True, some of us are flat out geniuses, but most of us aren't. So don't be intimidated. If you like to learn and talk about many different things, Polymathica is the place to be.)
My primary areas of interest are - well, I'm stuck. I'm trying to think of something I'm not interested in. The proper way to snowblow a driveway?
I speak Russian and German passably and I keep chipping away at Spanish. Because of the Internet, we are being confronted with foreign languages at an ever increasing rate. So, at a relatively late time in my life, I am attempting to become multilingual.
My hobbies are bowling, golf, karaoke, dancing, hiking and reading. And of course, loving the two people whose pictures are immediately below. But then, I suppose that's quite a bit more than a hobby.
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