Monday, March 23, 2009

On Being Stupid...

Last week, this card was posted on PostSecret prompting a reader to share this link to an article about the importance of stupidity to scientific research. Martin A. Schwartz of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Virginia speaks of the challenges many Ph.D. students feel when doing research. They feel stupid and incompetent as the creator of the above postcard did.

These students are often used to getting good grades and having answers to questions, having things clearly defined. But research presents an opposite sort of exploration. It is a journey into the unknown. If the answers were easily found, someone would have found them already. They haven't been found, which is why research is done. So, an acceptance of one's own ignorance is necessary to do really good research, an acceptance most of us don't how to encourage.

Schwartz echoes the conclusion I have reached in this great science experiment I call my life:

"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."

Amen, fellow scientist. Amen.

tall penguin


matt said...

To be found wrong in science is to enrich the whole of science! :)

Nooshbaby said...

Quite interesting. I like that quote.