I recently read a great essay, "The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research" by University of Virginia biologist Martin A. Schwartz in Journal of Cell Science. Excerpts:

"… how hard it is to do research. And how very, very hard it is to do important research… What makes it difficult is that research is immersion in the unknown. We just don't know what we're doing. We can't be sure whether we're asking the right question or doing the right experiment until we get the answer or the result."

"… we don't do a good enough job of teaching our students how to be productively stupid -– that is, if we don't feel stupid it means we're not really trying."

Adam Robinson responds:

That is a wonderfully illuminating essay, at once humble and bold.

When it comes to the scientific method, it is taught that central is the notion of the falsifiable hypothesis. Easier said than done for some personality types, as their need for positive reinforcement nudges them towards being debilitatingly conservative on how far they'll venture forth. Nary a bold stroke attempted for fear of ultimately appearing "wrong." Then again, being right is overrated. Too often it's enervating.





Speak your mind


Resources & Links