What do you care what other people think?
In this week's New Scientist there is Creativity special: Looking for inspiration which discusses the issue of how creativity emerges in the human brain, and why some individuals have so much more of it than others.
The last word was given to various luminaries. One comment caught my eye because it was so close to my own viewpoint:
Lee Smolin (theoretical physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario): "The main ingredients in science are intensive immersion in a problem, fanatical desire to solve it (big problems are rarely solved by accident), familiarity with previous attempts leading to an original critique of where they went wrong, reckless disregard for what other experts think, and the courage to overcome your own doubts and hesitations, which are much scarier than anything anyone else can say because you know best how vulnerable your new idea is."
I think the most important point made above is to have a "reckless disregard for what other experts think". Too much respect for other people's ideas causes you to do their research for them, rather than doing your own research for yourself. You must follow your own nose, but remember to be honest with yourself so you don't fool yourself into thinking that things are going well when they are not.
Lastly, my apologies to Richard Feynman for stealing his book title for this posting.