How Ignorance Drives Science

Stuart Firestein

with Stuart Firestein

Chair of Columbia University's Department of Biological Sciences

How Ignorance Drives Science

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Moe and Stuart discuss the importance of ignorance and how it drives science. Knowledge is a big subject, says Stuart Firestein, but ignorance is a bigger one. And it is ignorance–not knowledge–that is the true engine of science.

How Ignorance Drives Science

After reading, Don’t Trust Anyone Who Offers You the Answer, a short article in Harvard Business Review earlier this week, I was reminded why those who know don’t say and those who say don’t know.  It certainly takes courage for someone to say “I don’t know,” still far too many still see it as a sign of weakness.

In his article, Neil Bearden hails Nassim Taleb as the modern day Socrates, largely due to his uncompromising honesty and relentless quest for truth.  Taleb, who’s best known for his blockbuster books, Fooled by RandomnessBlack Swan and Anti-Fragile, convinced us that what we don’t know is far more relevant than what we do know, and like Scientist Stuart Firestein, warns us against the delusion of our own biases.

Firestein’s book, Ignorance, looks at the upside of ignorance and why it’s essential to our growth.  As you might expect, it starts with a question.