The “Pursuit of Ignorance” Drives All Science
“One never notices what has been done;
one can only see what remains to be done.”
— Marie Curie
“Scientific knowledge increases at an exponential rate.
Curiously ignorance does not similarly decrease.
The basic activity of science is in fact confronting ignorance,
and often producing more of it.”
— Stuart Firestein
You’d think that a scientist who studies how the human brain receives and perceives information would be inherently interested in what we know. But Stuart Firestein says he’s far more intrigued by what we don’t. “Answers create questions,” he says. “We may commonly think that we begin with ignorance and we gain knowledge [but] the more critical step in the process is the reverse of that.”
… So I’d say the model we want to take is not that we start out kind of ignorant and we get some facts together and then we gain knowledge. It’s rather kind of the other way around, really. What do we use this knowledge for? What are we using this collection of facts for? We’re using it to make better ignorance, to come up with, if you will, higher-quality ignorance.
Still curious? Read Firestein’s book Ignorance: How It Drives Science.