Bootstrap Method to Knowing

Becoming the world’s second-leading expert

by Timothy Wilken
TrustMark 2001 by Timothy Wilken
<< Teaching & Learning Techniques Index

A Secret

I entered medical school in 1966. In my first week, I would learn one of the most valuable lessons of my life.

A fellow classmate and I were in the medical library at our school. We had been reading some science papers assigned in an earlier class, when I noticed he was reading one paper that I didn’t have listed on my assignment sheet. He seemed much more interested in that paper than in those from our assignment sheet.

My classmate would read a paragraph or two and then hurry off to the big medical dictionary across the room. He made so many trips, I surmised the reading must be very difficult.

Finally, my curiosity got the better of me, and I also was beginning to worry that I might have missed getting the assignment to read that particular paper, so I queried him.

First he responded by saying, “No, it’s not part of our assignment, I’m just reading this for myself. The author is a Nobel laureate.”

He started to return to his reading, but then he paused for a moment to look me over, and for some reason he decided to share his secret with me. “It’s something more than that. It is a secret way to learn that my Father taught me.”

I leaned closer and he continued: “When you read and understand the work of a world’s leading expert, you can become the world’s second leading expert.”

At first I didn’t know what to say. The thought was so foreign to me. I said nothing and returned to my study of the assigned readings. Later that evening after class, my mind kept coming back to what my classmate had said,

When you read and understand the work of a world’s leading expert, you can become the world’s second-leading expert.


Could it really be true? Could getting ahead be as simple as finding out who the experts were and studying their most advanced works? To think that I could catch up to a world expert by spending a few hours in the library seemed an oversimplification, and somehow terrible at the same time. Science was supposed to be much harder than that.

In the next few years, I would learn that science is much harder than that and yet discover for myself the deep truth of my classmate’s lesson. Science was hard, and as I began using the bootstrap, I discovered there was nothing easy about understanding the advanced papers of experts. I had somehow missed the implication of my fellow student’s repeated trips to the reference dictionary that morning in the library. Now I finally understood.

There is a shortcut in science, but like most shortcuts, the path is a more difficult one. You can learn fastest from the world’s experts if you are ready to invest the effort to learn the expert’s language, definitions and methods.

Since then, this lesson has served me well. I have saved years of study by using the knowledge of the world’s leading experts to bootstrap myself to a position of better and more complete understanding. And always, with more understanding comes more control.

I have filled my book, UnCommon Science,  with the understanding and wisdom of many of the world’s leading experts. Please make their expert knowledge your own. Please invest a few hours in learning the language and methods of the experts, and bootstrap yourself to a more powerful and positive future.

The non-scientist reader may find some parts of UnCommon Science difficult. Fortunately, it is not necessary to completely master this volume in order to participate in a synergic future.

<< Teaching & Learning Techniques Index