On Not Knowing

Michaelyn posted a great blog about not knowing stuff.

I find “I don’t know” to be a much more satisfying answer than “God works in mysterious ways.” Not knowing opens up a whole new world to explore. There is so much potential knowledge held in that little statement. The “mysterious ways” answer only stifles curiosity. When adults tell children “Well, He works in mysterious ways,” I feel like they’re really saying, “You’re asking too many questions. Stop wondering and just believe what we say.” There’s just no way that answer would satisfy my thirst for knowledge.

Yes.  That.  Check out the whole post to get a glimpse of a side of science that is often overlooked: it’s incredible demand for humility.

I often tell her that I’m envious that she gets to learn all this cool stuff about physics.  It’s a real treat to get to hold onto her coattails while she does it (and really attractive when she talks about science).

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • sisu

    Not knowing opens up a whole new world to explore.

    yes! This! I love it when my kids ask me questions I don’t know the answers to. I say “I don’t know either! How can we find the answer?” My hope is that they grow up to be critical thinkers with a healthy skepticism.

    • papango

      If you asked my great-grandmother a question she didn’t know, or didn’t want to answer she would say “That’s what he said when he fell off the ladder” and change the subject. Unsurprisingly, my grandfather had a massive thirst for knowledge and was always making us write down things we asked about so we could look them up at the library. And I think it worked as you hope it will with your kids. ‘Imma look that up’ is something of a family motto.

      • sisu

        that’s awesome, thank you!

  • http://www.ziztur.com Flimsyman

    Yup, that’s a great post. *genius scientist lady-friend fist-bump**

  • stephenfoster

    My frequent second sentence to my granddaughter is, “lets look that up”.

  • procrastinator

    Stashed this away many years ago:
    “I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did.
    I said I didn’t know.”
    – Mark Twain

  • NotAProphet

    Reminds me of Penn Gilette’s response to that odious little twerp Piers Morgan.


    • NotAProphet

      Hah, spelling fail, and it’s right there in the video preview!