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Elvis Chidera

The importance of stupidity in scientific research — Paper Summary

summary, paper, science1 min read

Author: Martin A. Schwartz

Date: 2008

Link: PDF


  1. Research is immersion in the unknown.

    We just don’t know what we’re doing. We can’t be sure whether we’re asking the right question or doing the right experiment until we get the answer or the result

  2. The author suggest that Ph.D. programs often do students a disservice in two ways:
    • Students are usually not made aware how hard it’s to do research. Doing important research is extra hard.
    • Students are not adequately taught how to be productively stupid.
  3. Productive stupidity means being ignorant by choice. Focusing on important questions puts us in the awkward position of being ignorant.
  4. The author concludes with:

    […] I think scientific education might do
    more to ease what is a very big transition: from learning what other people once discovered to making your own discoveries.

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