Saturday, February 02, 2013

Pursuing Knowledge Is Never Useless

As an inveterate researcher, I have often advised those engaged in the lifelong quest for knowledge that the relevance of a specific finding may rest in doubt for years, perhaps a lifetime. In a puzzle in the order of magnitude and complexity that is life, a missing piece oft remains undetected until its adjacent counterparts have been discovered. On her aptly named site Brain Pickings, Maria Popova cogently encapsulates a seminal 1939 essay by U.S. educator Abraham Flexner on “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge.” As Flexner rightly observes, “The world has always been a sorry and confused sort of place.” Thanks to Popova and Flexner, however, a tad less.

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