Who is David Epstein?

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Complex World is the New York Times bestselling book by David Epstein in a Specialized World and the Sports Gene, both of which have been translated into over 20 languages.  

He formerly worked as a scientific and investigative reporter for ProPublica and as the host of Slate’s renowned “How To!” podcast.

He formerly worked as a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, where he co-wrote the piece that revealed Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez had used narcotics.  


David has spoken on five continents about performance science and the uses (and misuses) of data; his TED Talks (here and here) have been seen over 11 million times. Three of his stories have been optioned for the film: a Sports Illustrated piece about the only living Olympian who survived a concentration camp; an Atlantic/ProPublica article about the DEA‘s tumultuous search for Chapo Guzman‘s rivals; and a 2016 “This American Life” told the story of a woman with two rare diseases who shares a mutant gene with an Olympic athlete.David holds master’s degrees in environmental science and journalism and has co-authored a study published in the journal the Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research.

Social Media

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David Epstein at Twitter

Read more about the Author here.

Inspiring Talks by David Epstein


Notable quotes

  • “We learn who we are in practice, not in theory.”
  • “You have people walking around with all the knowledge of humanity on their phones, but they have no idea how to integrate it. We don’t train people in thinking or reasoning.”
  • “Modern work demands knowledge transfer: the ability to apply knowledge to new situations and different domains. Our most fundamental thought processes have changed to accommodate increasing complexity and the need to derive new patterns rather than rely only on familiar ones. Our conceptual classification schemes provide scaffolding for connecting knowledge, making it accessible and flexible.”
  • “The challenge we all face is how to maintain the benefits of breadth, diverse experience, interdisciplinary thinking, and delayed concentration in a world that increasingly incentivizes, even demands, hyperspecialization”
  • “Whether chemists, physicists, or political scientists, the most successful problem solvers spend mental energy figuring out what type of problem they are facing before matching a strategy to it, rather than jumping in with memorized procedures.”
  • “Learning stuff was less important than learning about oneself. Exploration is not just a whimsical luxury of education; it is a central benefit.”
  • “The more confident a learner is of their wrong answer, the better the information sticks when they subsequently learn the right answer. Tolerating big mistakes can create the best learning opportunities.*”
  • “Like chess masters and firefighters, premodern villagers relied on things being the same tomorrow as they were yesterday.”
  • “The precise person you are now is fleeting, just like all the other people you’ve been. That feels like the most unexpected result, but it is also the most well documented.”
  • “Everyone needs habits of mind that allow them to dance across disciplines.”
  • “Our work preferences and our life preferences do not stay the same, because we do not stay the same.”