The Two Things
November 03, 2011 Opinion, Culture
The Story of the Two Things
A few years ago, Glen was chatting with a stranger in a bar. When he told him he was an economist, the stranger said, “Ah. So… what are the Two Things about economics?”
“Huh?” Glen cleverly replied.
“You know, the Two Things. For every subject, there are really only two things you really need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important.”
“Oh,” he said. “Okay, here are the Two Things about economics.
One: Incentives matter.
Two: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
Ever since that evening, Glen has been playing the Two Things game. Whenever he meet someone who belongs to a different profession (i.e., a profession he hasn't played this game with), or who knows something about a subject he's unfamiliar with, he poses the Two Things question. This got me to thinking, naturally, what are the two key things about science? Is that too broad? How about then, what are the two things are biology? Chemistry? Metabolism?
I'll start with what I know best: Metabolism.
1. Catabolism makes energy
2. Anabolism makes things the cell needs to divide, survive
Remember, these are not just important things; these are the key things, distilled down to the essentials of the discipline.
What are the two things in your field?
Instructions: In the comments below, list your area, and the two things about it. Feeling ambitious? What are the two things about Science? For inspiration, see some of the contributions to Glen's list here.