In praise of ignorance

TED Blog

“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.”

[ted_talkteaser id=1827]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…

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