Big Picture Science – Science Blunders: Stuart Firestein

by Gary Niederhoff on November 24, 2013

Science Blunders: Stuart Firestein
Part 5 of Skeptic Check: Science Blunders, featuring Stuart Firestein neuroscientist, chair of the biology department, Columbia University, and author of Ignorance: How It Drives Science.
(TRT 12:00)

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avatar Gregory Slater November 28, 2013 at 12:55 am

Thanks for the show.

Firestein dodged Molly Bentley ‘s crucial question about whether it isn’t frustrating to be at the end of your professional career as a scientist and be as butt-ignorant as when you began. I think he’s either disingenuous or delusional when he talks about how much he loves ignorance. I detest our fundamental and enduring ignorance, and all the more so since it is inevitable – it’s crucial role in driving science notwithstanding – just as I hate the inescapability of death. It’s always old scientists who say this kind of thing. Even Feynman succumbed to it when he said he wasn’t so concerned with the final theory but just endlessly peeling back endless layers of the ‘onion’ of reality. Ridiculous. Screw onions and screw ignorance. Regardless of what Firestein says as an old scientist, when he was a young scientist and full of piss, if he worth anything as a scientist, anyway, he was absolutely determined to figure out the world – or anyway, the brain, in his case. So the embrace of ignorance as a wonderful thing is just the pitiful capitulation of optimism to resignation. It’s awful, but there you are. Damn the human condition! Damn it all to hell (please excuse the naughty words as they are absolutely necessary for effect).

-Greg Slater

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