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Polymathics is what polymaths and polymathists do: learn lots of different things. It is not the depth of your learning that counts so much, but its breadth. There is a synergy in having multiple areas of competence, mastery and expertise- even if we can't agree exactly what constitutes each of these things- the more areas you cover the greater your ability to cross-fertilise knowledge to great effect.

This blog has 100s of articles covering a wide variety of subjects- polymathics, becoming smarter, the simple life, travel, self-help and writing being the main pillars of the project. 

I also give occasional talks and consulting converstions on polymathics and a few other things. 

Much of it spins off from the 10 books I have written, all available at Amazon among other places. The latest two being:

Click on the below to see it at amazon: 

Zenslacker- 101 things to bear in mind when you're doing nothing

This is available for kindles only. It's a very short book and is designed for people who need a few good ways to breakout of feeling time and spirit poor.

The other one is:



Click here to get to Amazon for my new book: RED NILE

Sunday Times (May 19 2013) say: "Robert Twigger's ambitious biography of the Nile is an unexpected triumph...a scintillatingly colourful account of a river and a region Twigger knows intimately...an elegiac moving book...hugely entertaining...probably the author's magnum opus"

For a different take on exploration and new expeditions go to theexplorerschool.com

"No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit." Helen Keller.


gamify or painify

If you have something to do which isn't that enticing- such as a tough exercise routine- it pays to gamify it with fun and rewards. But if it can't be gamified you can painify it. This means you can play tough guy as you 'tough it out' and go through the pain barrier(s) with flying colours. Feels good afterwards. Both strategies work.


hear me on the radio

I appeared on monocle radio last year talking about the Nile. I'm at the end of the show so you can fast forward if you like using the handy button at the bottom of the screen...



progress and freedom

'Progress without the promise of freedom is no blessing.'

Peter Drucker


agile minds not factfarting number jugglers

In this week's New Scientist there is a plea for 'agile minds' rather than yet more science graduates to solve the so called 'STEM crisis'. Michael Brooks, curator of the Waterloo Global Science Initiative Learning 2030 summit (wgsi.org) states that the surprising thing is that theoretical physicists and even the CEO of Lockheed said that more science graduates is not the answer. While it is true that low level positions can be filled by numerate graduates- there is actually not a problem here. Wages haven't risen in this area for a good reason- there isn't a real shortage here. The probem is higher up. The conventional science graduate seems to lack organisational, communication and management skills. So a gap opens up where the real creative work needs to be done. Brooks suggests a big change in the way people are recruited into university is required. What is required are people who can think creatively, broadly and communicate clearly. In other words- they need people skilled in polymathics- multiple mastery.


Is friendmaking a good strategy?

The first rule of strategy is that there should be unity of command. As Napoleon said, “better a bad general than two good ones.” You cannot have two plans- there can only one.  Therefore, if strategy means acting according to a preconceived plan rather than the ad hoc optimising of what works and minimising of what doesn’t, then a single commander and a highly effective chain of command is required. In effect, a tyranny.

Yet equally effective (especially in a world where air and sea can be crossed with relative ease) is having friends and allies. But the ability to make friends is not usually compatible with being a tyrant. Big men are usually lonely men. One substitute for friend-making ability is sharing a common powerful ideology- Stalin didn’t like Mao but he helped him a great deal.

To change the focus a little, you can observe the tension between tyranny and friend making at something as ordinary as a dinner party. Sometimes a brilliant guest will hold the floor and everyone is mesmerised. Then one tricky customer will start gathering the scattered resistance to such an attention getting performance. The great speaker will be isolated- he had an audience but no friends. Gradually the tricky customer will coordinate a sort of passive resistance, even mockery of the great man, who finally, beaten, wonders again like a wounded Napoleon at the idiocy of lesser men…



who do you want to look after you?

People want to be looked after.

It's a right and proper thing in kids, but not in adults.

People on the dole want to be looked after by the state.

People in jobs want to be looked after by the company they work for.

People working for Fuck You money want to be looked after by money.

Academics want to be looked after by the university system.

Writers want to be looked after by their publishers.

Of course this isn't ALL people in these professions. Not you or me of course...



rename, reframe

As an ex-member of a cult put it: "The last thing you want to tell someone who is brainwashed is that they are brainwashed." And this applies to any attempt to 'convert' someone to your point of view. I find I'm always out there trying to make converts to some new idea I happen to be interested in. And I'm very alert to people trying to convert me. The one area where I'm open- something I haven't heard about before- the weird practices of a newly contacted tribe or a piece of cutting edge brain research. If people think they've heard it before they switch off straightaway- one reason for avoiding familiar ground or giving old dogs new names....