That was the opening line of marketing guru Seth Godin’s latest blog, and in my opinion, one of his best. He attributes the quote, or at least the first part of it, to C. J Cherryh. The full C. J. Cherryh quote is “Ignorance killed the cat. Curiosity was framed.”
The attitude of “curiosity killed the cat” is so blinkered, and downright scary. Yes curiosity can be dangerous – but only if you’re ignorant. Curiosity removes that ignorance. It is one thing to tell a three year old child that curiosity is dangerous – if left unchecked they could seriously harm themselves, but to continue to do so for anyone else is just promoting ignorance, why is even more dangerous. It is not the child’s curiosity that leads them to stick their finger in a plug socket, it’s ignorance of the results.
So much of what are world is today is built on the groundwork of great men’s curiosity. The Age of Enlightenment and the rise of science owes so much to people being curious about where the huge bones lying around were from, about what lightning is, about how do this better and that faster. Curiosity is directly responsible for the internet that you’re reading this post on today! Hell, Curiosity is even on Mars because of curiosity!
The dark ages and the lack of progress for hundreds of years before the enlightenment seem to be characterised by a deliberate embracing of ignorance. Far more people died in that period from diseases that are treatable now, thanks to people’s curiosity, than have been killed by people’s curiosity. Curiosity has created a world where people rarely die from anything other than the side-effects of growing old.
Anyone who tries to say that curiosity is a bad thing must be ignored! Though you should also be curious about why they thing curiosity is bad…