Scientific Stupidity

From a great essay on scientific stupidity:

The crucial lesson was that the scope of things I didn’t know wasn’t merely vast; it was, for all practical purposes, infinite.

While the essay specifically addresses the change in perspective required to successfully complete a Ph.D., I couldn’t help but to think about the same idea from the standpoint of an undergraduate institution. So much of the focus at this level is on establishing the foundations of modern biology, getting students prepared so that they can begin identifying questions at the frontiers of biology for themselves some day. The ways in which we go about helping to lay those foundations will have a tremendous impact on how easily they make the transition from student to discoverer. If we show them that the things we know today were unknown yesterday, that somebody took a chance and waded into the infinite sea of possible explanations and began rejecting some, then I think we have done our students a service.

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