Am I good enough to have the imposter syndrome?

Professor Brian Keating
3 min readMar 26, 2024


“I am very poorly today & very stupid & hate everybody & everything. One lives only to make blunders. I am going to write a little Book for Murray on orchids & today I hate them worse than everything so farewell & in a sweet frame of mind, I am Ever yours” — Charles Darwin, 1861

He’s not alone:

“I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.” — Albert Einstein,1955, shortly before his death.

When 2017 Nobel Prize winner Barry Barish told me he had suffered from imposter syndrome, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I couldn’t believe that one of the most influential figures in my life and career — as a scientist, as a father, and as a human — is mortal. He sometimes feels insecure, just like I do. Every time I teach, in the back of my head, I think, who am I to do this?

I always struggled with math, and physics never came naturally to me. I got where I am because of my passion and curiosity, not my SAT scores. Society venerates the genius. Maybe that’s you, but it’s certainly not me. I’ve always suffered from imposter syndrome.

Discovering that Barish did, too, even after winning a Nobel Prize — the highest regard in our field and in society itself — immensely comforted me. If he was insecure about how he compared to Einstein, I wanted to comfort him: Einstein was in awe of Isaac Newton, saying Newton“…determined the course of Western thought, research, and practice like no one else before or since.”And before, against. feel inadequate? Jesus Christ, almighty!

The truth is, imposter syndrome is just a normal, even healthy, dose of inadequacy. We can never overcome or defeat it, nor should we try to. But we can manage it through understanding and acceptance. Hearing about Barry’s experience allowed me to do exactly that. You can learn more about my new approach and solutions to the imposter syndrome in my upcoming TEDxSanDiego talk “Am I good enough to have the Imposter Syndrome?”


I recently sat down with Amber Rose no the “I Hope They’re Not Listening” podcast to discuss education, its future, aliens, and God.

Click here to listen.


“The very processes that make us adaptively intelligent make us perennially prone to self-deception.”

- John Vervaeke

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I had a great conversation with John Vervaeke and Shawn Coyne, two extraordinarily bright minds in the field of artificial intelligence.

John Vervaeke is a renowned philosopher and cognitive scientist. He is an associate professor and award-winning lecturer at the University of Toronto, teaching in the Department of Psychology. His work and research are far-ranging, including topics such as human intelligence, rationality, wisdom, and AI.

Shawn Coyne is a writer, editor, and publisher with over 30 years of experience. He has analyzed, acquired, edited, written, marketed, agented, or published 374 books, including dozens of bestsellers in all genres, generating more than $150,000,000 in revenue.

John and Shawn recently published Mentoring the Machines, a book in which they discuss issues that others like to sweep under the rug. In today’s episode of Into the Impossible, we’ll tackle these issues with them!

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Professor Brian Keating

Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor at UC San Diego. Host of The INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE Podcast Authored: Losing the Nobel Prize & Think like a Nobel Prize Winner