Dum-Dum

brains

After seeing this postsecret today I clicked through the accompanying link a person had emailed in response. I love this article because it rings true. I felt like the biggest rube my first semester last year and thought that everyone else knew so much more than I did. False. They were in the dark just as much as I was, they just hid it well. Or I was too distracted to notice their similar anxiety. Granted, it’s not my PhD, but I still feel like an idiot a lot of the time, though I’ve gotten used to it and am better at disguising it. Aloofness is a winner.

The crucial lesson was that the scope of things I didn’t know wasn’t merely vast; it was, for all practical purposes, infinite. That realization, instead of being discouraging, was liberating. If our ignorance is infinite, the only possible course of action is to muddle through as best we can…

I’d like to suggest that our Ph.D. programs often do students a disservice in two ways. First, I don’t think students are made to understand how hard it is to do research. And how very, very hard it is to do important research. It’s a lot harder than taking even very demanding courses. What makes it difficult is that 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…

Productive stupidity means being ignorant by choice. Focusing on important questions puts us in the awkward position of being ignorant. One of the beautiful things about science is that it allows us to bumble along, getting it wrong time after time, and feel perfectly fine as long as we learn something each time.

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About bunkercomplex

My name is Andrea, and I'm a 23 year old Southern California girl and a newly minted Speech-Language Pathologist. When I’m not high-fiving 8-year-olds for finally producing a good /r/ sound, I fill my time with Peter Gabriel, Ayn Rand, Phil Hendrie, bicycles, Korean stationery, movie marathon nights, and baking. You can email me at bunkercomplex@gmail.com.
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