Nobel Laureate Barry Barish and His Imposter Syndrome

How uncommon is it for a successful scientist to encounter imposter syndrome? According to Nobel Prize-winning physicist Barry Barish, it’s a common occurrence, and one he admits to personally facing.

“I think anybody, if they actually think about it, has it,” Barish said. “I have a psychoanalyst for a wife, so I can’t avoid the self-reflection.”

In this candid interview with UC San Diego physics professor Brian Keating, Barish reflects on his life as a scientist and what it was like to be awarded the Nobel Prize.

He describes the humbling experience of signing the official Nobel book in Stockholm and seeing the signatures of all the physicists he’s idolized, like Albert Einstein and Richard Feynman.

“If that isn’t a moment when you feel like you don’t belong then something’s wrong with you,” he said. “[Imposture syndrome] is a feature we all have, and you should just be aware of it.”

Barish says to accomplish something, you need to have a spirit of gambling and adventure, a swagger and willingness to fail, which is probably the most important quality.

Watch this enlightening interview, What It Means To Be Curious With Nobel Laureate Barry Barish.

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