Ignorance Drives Science - But Not James Randi

For years I’ve been banging on to my know-all friends that if the universe is infinite – then so too is knowledge.
So in the words of the comedy waiter Manuel on TV: “I know NOTHING Mr Fawlty!” and that goes for the world’s top thinkers too.
I always say that the clues for tomorrow’s science are likely to be among the anomalies of life – things that don’t fit that we’re so far ignorant about – stuff we talk about on this group all the time.
So when I came upon this TED video with scientist Stuart Firestein talking about his book Ignorance – How It Drives Science I thought finally the paradigm shift was almost here.

The blurb with his book said much the same thing:

Knowledge is a big subject, says Stuart Firestein, but ignorance is a bigger one. And it is ignorance―not knowledge―that is the true engine of science.

Most of us have a false impression of science as a surefire, deliberate, step-by-step method for finding things out and getting things done. In fact, says Firestein, more often than not, science is like looking for a black cat in a dark room, and there may not be a cat in the room. The process is more hit-or-miss than you might imagine, with much stumbling and groping after phantoms. But it is exactly this "not knowing," this puzzling over thorny questions or inexplicable data, that gets researchers into the lab early and keeps them there late, the thing that propels them, the very driving force of science. Firestein shows how scientists use ignorance to program their work, to identify what should be done, what the next steps are, and where they should concentrate their energies. And he includes a catalog of how scientists use ignorance, consciously or unconsciously―a remarkable range of approaches that includes looking for connections to other research, revisiting apparently settled questions, using small questions to get at big ones, and tackling a problem simply out of curiosity. The book concludes with four case histories―in cognitive psychology, theoretical physics, astronomy, and neuroscience―that provide a feel for the nuts and bolts of ignorance, the day-to-day battle that goes on in scientific laboratories and in scientific minds with questions that range from the quotidian to the profound.

Turning the conventional idea about science on its head, Ignorance opens a new window on the true nature of research. It is a must-read for anyone curious about science.

I found Stuart speaking similarly in other videos
But then my chin dropped and my heart sank.
For there in a YouTube video was my new hero Firestein lecturing to the James Randi Foundation!
So why should a man deploring science travelling the same old tracks ...speak to a group to whom status quo science is sacred and the unknown is taboo and woo?
I got some clue watching his talk to the sceptics


He mentioned that Michael Shermer had reviewed his book with criticism he hadn’t considered.
Shermer wrote here:


Shermer Quote - "And I worry slightly that an overemphasis on our ignorance about this or that claim opens the door to creationists, Holocaust deniers, climate deniers, and post-modern deconstructions who wish to challenge mainstream scientists because of religious or political agendas. Acknowledging our ignorance is good, but let’s acknowledge and celebrate what science has confidently given us in the way of well-supported theories. "

In his talk to the Randi crowd Firestein does address this.... but rather weakly I thought.
And I still wonder what he was doing there in the first place......any ideas Skeptiko forum members?

Just a thought but wouldn’t Firestein make a good interview for Alex?