Curiosity

22/01/2008

Seth Godin does it again in Curious. At some point we stop searching and settle for the mediocre.

While doing research in forestry I can see many explanations that seem to be ‘good enough’, otolaryngologist being held as precious pieces of wisdom. ‘Wood basic density is the canonical driver for wood quality’ and we kept (and some still keep) on nodding and working on that basis, approved wasting years and budgets into oblivion. This is just one example of the lack of curiosity.

Why do we stop questioning? It is safer to go with the mass: one can even build a career out of this. Dissent and alternative explanations are frown upon, because they add uncertainty to our orderly world. Uncertainty brings out fear and resentment, because we are — apparently — increasing our ignorance when following our curiosity. As John Archibald Wheeler put it:

We live on an island of knowledge surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.

Some people are deeply uncomfortable with this thought.

Filed in quotes, research

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