Professor Helmuth Nyborg

Anecdote 3/4

Hans often did not proof-read what he dictated, so it went to the printer as soon as the secretary could put it on paper. Once he better had. He discussed Spearman’s “Eduction of relations and correlations” and the secretary mistook this for “Education of relations of correlations”. A major mistake, one might say, but Hans just smiled.

Anecdote 1/4

One morning I came 20 minutes too late for an appointment with Hans because I was stuck in the heavy London traffic. “No problem” he said “I read a book in the mean time”. Witnessing my somewhat skeptical face, he turned his chair and reached for a thick book in the book-shelves. “See” he said “this author has written about personality for years. Having been so many years as I have in the field, it is only a matter of spotting what’s new.”  Hans often reviewed several books over a week and published many of the reviews.

Anecdote 2/4

Adrian Furnham told me that he once asked Hans to write a chapter for a book he was about to edit. Adrian knew positively that Hans did not have a manuscript on that topic at the time, but a brand new chapter nevertheless arrived fully edited a week later. When I asked Hans about the correctness of the story, he just smiled his typical introvert smile and said quietly: “Well, no. I dictated the chapter over a couple of mornings, but had to wait for checking a few of the references”. His famous book: The biological basis of personality was dictated over fourteen days while Hans was on holiday with the family at the Isle of Wight. What a holiday. 

Anecdote 4/4

One evening Hans, Sybil, a secretary and I visited Hans’s favorite Dickens-restaurant in London, and I told Sybil about my most recent book, Hormones, Sex and Society. During this Sybil interrupted Hans and the secretary with a: “Hans, listen to what Helmuth just said”. As soon as I had repeated the sentence for Hans, Sybil turned to me again, Hans to the secretary, and the previous conversation continued. This happened several times, and I actually got the suspicion that Sybil simply used Hans as a sort of notebook. Half a year later Hans published a long and precise review of my book. His memory was fantastic.