The Dilemma of Curiosity and Its Use

Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special gift, but I am passionately curious.” Certainly, Einstein was being tremendously modest. But, just as certainly, curiosity is a powerful driving force in scientific discovery. Indeed, along with talent and interest, as well as mathematical or other quantitative abilities, curiosity is a necessary characteristic of any successful scientist.

Curiosity betrays emotional passion. It is a state of being involuntarily gripped by something that is difficult to ward off and for which, since one cannot act otherwise, one is accountable only in a limited sense. We all come into the world curious, equipped with the psychological drive to explore the world and to expand the terrain that we think we master. It is no coincidence that a well-known book on developmental psychology bears the title The Scientist in the Crib, a work that traces the parallels between small children’s behavior and the processes and research strategies that are usual in science.