The more comfortable we become with being stupid
(via) Sometimes you don't expect titles like that in scientific press but "The importance of stupidity in scientific research" by Martin Schwartz in Journal of Cell Science is an intriguing read. Some excerpts I liked:
"we don't do a good enough job of teaching our students how to be productively stupid – that is, if we don't feel stupid it means we're not really trying. I'm not talking about `relative stupidity', in which the other students in the class actually read the material, think about it and ace the exam, whereas you don't. I'm also not talking about bright people who might be working in areas that don't match their talents.
Science involves confronting our `absolute stupidity'. That kind of stupidity is an existential fact, inherent in our efforts to push our way into the unknown. Preliminary and thesis exams have the right idea when the faculty committee pushes until the student starts getting the answers wrong or gives up and says, `I don't know'. The point of the exam isn't to see if the student gets all the answers right. If they do, 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 at a sufficiently high level that they are ready to take on a research project.
Productive stupidity means being ignorant by choice. Focusing on important questions puts us in the awkward position of being ignorant. (...) 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."
Why do I blog this? although I fully agree with the importance of absolute stupidity in scientific research, I think it's also an important attitude in design research. Some ideas to be explored later about this issue.