David Epstein is the author of the forthcoming Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, and of the top 10 New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene, which has been translated in 21 languages. (To his surprise, it was purchased not only by his sister but also by President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.) He was previously a science and investigative reporter at ProPublica, and prior to that a senior writer at Sports Illustrated. David has given talks about performance science and the uses (and misuses) of data on five continents; his TED Talk has been viewed 7 million times, and was shared by Bill Gates. Three of his stories have been optioned for films. David has master’s degrees in environmental science and journalism, and is reasonably sure he’s the only person to have co-authored a paper in the journal of Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research while a writer at Sports Illustrated. David enjoys volunteering with the Pat Tillman Foundation and Classroom Champions. An avid runner, he was a Columbia University record holder and twice NCAA All-East as an 800-meter runner.
David is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Sports Gene, a deep dive into the balance of nature and nurture in physical skill acquisition. He has been an investigative reporter at ProPublica and a sports science writer at Sports Illustrated — reporting on everything from drug cartels to a rare mutant gene that helped one woman become an Olympic medalist sprinter, but stripped another of her ability even to walk. His 2014 TED Talk on the progression of records in sports was one of the 20 most viewed of the year. Prior to journalism, David thought he was going to be a scientist and was living in a tent in the Arctic Circle conducting research. He was a walk-on 800-meter runner at Columbia University, but graduated as a university record holder. Whether it be in medicine, sport training, or a typical work environment, he’s interested in illuminating differences both of nature and nurture that we can use to guide each individual toward optimum performance.
Contrary to what the title suggests, The Sports Gene exemplifies the multi-disciplinary thinking and anti-specialization this podcast will seek to advance over the months to come. The Sports Gene is really David’s sincere and laudable effort to illuminate the timeless conversation about the balance between nature and nurture.