HUMANITY IS AN INHERENTLY curious species. From the moment of our birth we seek to understand ourselves, the world we inhabit and all the space beyond. Curiosity defines us.
The need to ask ‘what if?’, ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ liberated us from the limits of an existence driven by survival alone and allowed us to become the first species in the history of the planet to live life for life’s sake. Curiosity made us masters of our fate.
Perhaps the ultimate expression of our curiosity is science. If curiosity is raw instinct, then science is curiosity channelled, focused and refined – curiosity can survive without science but science can’t survive without curiosity.
Remove curiosity from science and you tear out the beating heart from the very thing that made us and sustains us.
Yet that hasn’t stopped policy-makers in Canada from attempting to do just that. Last week, Canada’s National Research Council announced that it will only fund science that has a defined economic and social gain – stating that ‘scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value’. In other words, they want to remove curiosity from science.