The Science of Stupidity: Why being stupid is not always a bad thing

While searching for a topic to write a 2 minutes science fix on for this week, I stumbled across an article by Martin A. Schwartz called “The Importance of stupidity in scientific research.” This article stated that “science makes us feel stupid, that we actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid. For almost all of us, one of the reasons that we liked science in our academics is that we were good at it due to our innate fascination with understanding the physical world and our emotional need to discover new things. But it was limited to taking courses, getting the right answers on exams and scoring highest marks. The point of the exam isn’t to see if the student gets all the answers right. If they do so, it’s the faculty who failed the exam. The point is to identify the student’s weaknesses, partly to see where they need to invest some effort and partly to see whether the student’s knowledge fails under some particular circumstances.

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Being accustomed to getting the answers right and focusing on important questions will put us in the awkward position of being ignorant. Especially when we enter into a scientific research, where 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. That is, if we don’t feel stupid, it means we’re not really trying. Therefore, confronting our `absolute stupidity’ is a scientific education that can ease what can be considered to be 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.” This made me realize why many bright students feel discouraged, when they enter into their professional life because they don’t realize that feeling stupid means we are probably doing something valuable!

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Further Tripping…

A guide to staying stupid all your life!

About Sanjay Rajarao

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