Coming Out Of the Scientific Closet

I have worked in “show business” all of my adult life. I started out at age 19 playing the bass. I very quickly became an impresario, hiring other musicians for concerts and recordings. Then I wrote and published some plays which have done pretty well. Then I got into doing video and television. And now I appear as a speaker.

So as a speaker, it’s not surprising that I tend to think of myself as an entertainer. But, things are changing.

I was once speaking to a group of doctors, and the head guy came out and, referring to “Principles of Applied Stupidity,” said I was a “scientist.”

That really surprised me, as most people tend to focus on my musical / Boston Pops resume. But he was right. In my natural state (and playing the bass was not my natural state, believe me . . . it was just a way to make money), I am constantly doing “data analysis” in my head. Granted, in the pit of the Schubert theater playing “Annie,” I was analyzing a very odd kind of data, but still, I could not help but fall into doing an anthropological study of the musicians I observed around me. I was just trying to make sense out of the apparently nonsensical data that was being presented to me every day.

My first book, “Real Men Don’t Rehearse,” emphasized my ability to make people laugh while telling a good story. But even then, there are two highly analytical chapters: one is about how practicing works at the professional level, and the other is about the patterns one finds in the names of conductors. (It was meant to be a joke, but I made up these pseudoscientific hypotheses about how a conductor’s name must have five syllables, unless they have a Z or a V in it, then they can go with less, and it is frighteningly accurate.)

But clearly, in my last two books (“principles” and “rich kid”), I have been veering more and more into what I now know are called the “behavioral sciences.” I practice a little bit of anthropology, some psychology, some history, but all of it is heavily influenced by my artistic training, which gets me away from a linear mechanical approach.

I’m constantly trying to come up with a good “elevator pitch.” And while I used to define myself as an author and a speaker, those are just delivery systems, that’s not what’s in the truck. So I think it’s fair to say that I qualify as a behavioral scientist, and now that is what I speak about– in an entertaining way of course.

© Justin Locke

 

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