The Importance of Stupidity in Research: Today, on that other social network, my grad student Brandie Cross tagged me on this GIF with the title, “My PI when I try to explain why my experiment failed”. I laughed. I was reminded of a wonderful essay by microbiologist Martin Schwartz that made the case for productive stupidity in science. It’s great to feel smart, but it’s more useful to feel stupid. If you don’t feel stupid, are you really pushing the envelope, stretching for that tantalizing little nugget of knowledge seemingly just beyond your reach?
• Albert Einstein said, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”, which has been loosely parsed as the first law of scientific research: E = Herp Derp^2. The beauty of science is that it is perfectly okay to bumble along , mostly getting things wrong, but being insanely elated when we learn something. 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. Hey, it’s not that bad being scorned by the divine Meryl Streep 🙂
GIF: “My PI when I try to explain why my experiment failed”, http://goo.gl/96ub1