Science is really about ignorance

In a recent TED talk blog, In praise of ignorance (http://blog.ted.com/2013/09/24/in-praise-of-ignorance/), Jessica Gross writes:

“Science, we generally are told, is a very well-ordered mechanism for understanding the world, for gaining facts, for gaining data,” biologist Stuart Firestein says in today’s TED talk. “I’d like to tell you that’s not the case.”

Instead, Firestein proposes that science is really about ignorance — about seeking answers rather than collecting them. He ‘fesses up: “I use this word ‘ignorance’ to be at least, in part, intentionally provocative, because ignorance has a lot of bad connotations and I clearly don’t mean any of those. I don’t mean stupidity, I don’t mean a callow indifference to fact or reason or data,” he explains. “I mean a kind of ignorance that’s less pejorative, a kind of ignorance that comes from a communal gap in our knowledge, something that’s just not there to be known or isn’t known well enough yet or we can’t make predictions from.”

Firestein explains that ignorance, in fact, grows from knowledge — that is, the more we know, the more we realize there is yet to be discovered. The purpose of gaining knowledge is, in fact, “to make better ignorance: to come up with, if you will, higher quality ignorance,” he describes. “The purpose is to be able to ask lots of questions — to be able to frame thoughtful, interesting questions — because that’s where the work is.”

Stuart Firestein: The pursuit of ignoranceStuart Firestein: The pursuit of ignorance

> Worth watching! <

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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