THE IMPORTANCE OF STUPIDITY IN SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH.
“Science makes me feel stupid too. It’s just that I’ve gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid. I wouldn’t know what to do without that feeling. I even think it’s supposed to be this way.”“Let me explain.” – continues the professor :
“Productive stupidity means being ignorant by choice. Focusing on important questions puts us in the awkward position of being ignorant. One of the beautiful things about science is that it allows us to bumble along, getting it wrong time after time, and feel perfectly fine as long as we learn something each time. No doubt, this can be difficult for students who are accustomed to getting the answers right. No doubt, reasonable levels of confidence and emotional resilience help, but I think scientific education might do more to ease what is a very big transition: from learning what other people once discovered to making your own discoveries. The more comfortable we become with being stupid, the deeper we will wade into the unknown and the more likely we are to make big discoveries."Note : A similar essay was published in the Journal of Cell Science 121, 1771 (2008)
BONUS QUOTE: from Richard Feynman.
“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
- from ‘What is Science?’, presented at the fifteenth annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, in New York City (1966) published in The Physics Teacher, Vol. 7, issue 6 (1969)