The problem of Richard Feynman

Galileo's Pendulum

Richard Feynman (1918-1988) Richard Feynman (1918-1988)

[Updated again — see note at end of post] Very few heroes can survive scrutiny unscathed. They all have flaws, by virtue of being human. However, hero-worship blurs those flaws,  leveling them: truly nasty aspects of a person’s personality or behavior become on par with little quirks and eccentricities. In that way, we justify our worship. If everyone is a little flawed, then it doesn’t matter if our heroes are too. Right? They’re only human!

But what if a hero was a sexual predator, someone who admitted to some really creepy behavior? What if this person also happens to be a Nobel laureate, a founder of a whole field of research, and an admirable thinker on a number of complicated topics? How do we deal with the two realities together?

In short, how do we cope with the problem of Richard Feynman?

Richard Feynman the…

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