Rejected by the army

During a psychiatric examination for the army to serve in the postwar occupational forces in Germany, Feynman decided to answer questions accurately and honestly. The result was remarkable, if not w totally unexpected: he was classified D, for 'deficient', as his replies apparently showed symptoms of insanity. Examples:

'Do you think people talk about you?' — 'Sure, when I go home my mother often tells me how she was telling her friends about me.'

'Do you ever hear voices in your head?' — 'Sometimes when I have listened to a person with a foreign accent; for instance I can hear Professor Vallarta say Dee-a, dee-a eelectric field-a.'

'How much do you value life?' — 'Sixty-four!! 'How are you supposed to measure the value of life? — 'Yes, but why did you say sixty-four, and not seventy-three for instance?' — 'If I had said seventy-three, you would have asked me the same question.'

Feynman's attitute to organisation and authority is illustrated by a $10 bet he made with Victor Weisskopf, the then-director of CERN, that he, Feynman, would never accept a 'responsible position'. The bet was duly made in writing, with the definition of a 'responsible position' as one 'which by reason of its nature, compels the holder to issue instructions to other persons to carry out certain acts, notwithstanding the fact that the holder has no understanding whatsoever of that which he is instructing the aforesaid persons to accomplish'. Feynman collected his $10 ten years later, in 1976. Evidence could not be found that he had given instructions that he could not understand himself.

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