This is Your Brain On Awesome Thoughts on the world from a student of the mind

21Jan/10

Informed ignorance

Hello to the one or two readers that happened to stumble across this page!  Considering the fact that this is my first post, I'll ask that you allow me a bit of wiggle-room as I start whiddling down my blogging skills into what will hopefully become a finely-tuned website about science, creativity, wonder, and all sorts of other cool stuff.

Given that you know nothing about me, perhaps a brief introduction is in order:  My name is Chris, I'm a Master's student at Tulane University.  I work in a cognitive neuroscience lab, although I'll likely be moving on to a different city, different school, and different research come June.

I am a scientist, but these days this term seems to carry so much weight.  I don't work in a lab coat, don't carry a pocket calculator with me, and certainly don't begrudge the creative fields that don't follow the empirical method.  On the contrary, I hope to nourish and encourage the artist in me, to find a middle ground between the hard logic of scientific work and the fluid beauty of the creative process.  I do not aspire to be either a scientist or an artist, but both at the same time.

My desire to do research, to learn about the mind, and to interact with others who share this interest comes from my amazement at the world and the wonder of not knowing the answers to a problem.  I know that sounds a bit contradictory.  Science is supposed to be about figuring out the answers, dispelling our preconceptions about the world, and shedding light on our ignorance in order to obtain some sort of objective truth.  These things are certainly part and parcel with the scientific pursuit, but they are not the driving forces behind the best science.  Ignorance is.

You tend to realize two things when you first partake in scientific research: one, that the experiment didn't work out how you thought it would at all, and two, that this is perfectly OK.  Oftentimes, the most insightful research uncovers facts about the world that we weren't even intending to look at, that we never could have predicted ahead of time.  This is the beauty of science, this is the engine that drives inquiring minds.

Over the next few years in my life, I hope to come to terms with the monstrous sea of ignorance that stands before each and every one of us.  I hope to look upon the vacuum of all that I don't know, and feel comforted in the fact that I will never be able to comprehend even the tiniest fraction of all that is out there.  And thank god, for if we ever "figured it all out," what else would we do with ourselves?