A fun yet provocative look at the importance of staying curious in an increasingly indifferent world
Everyone is born curious. But only some retain the habits of exploring, learning, and discovering as they grow older. Those who do so tend to be smarter, more creative, and more successful. But at the very moment when the rewards of curiosity have never been higher, it is misunderstood and undervalued, and increasingly monopolized by the cognitive elite. A "curiosity divide" is opening up.
In Curious, Ian Leslie makes a passionate case for the cultivation of our "desire to know." Drawing on fascinating research from psychology, economics, education, and business, Leslie looks at what feeds curiosity and what starves it, and finds surprising answers. Curiosity is a mental muscle that atrophies without regular exercise and a habit that parents, schools, and workplaces need to nurture.
Filled with inspiring stories, case studies, and practical advice, Curious will change the way you think about your own mental life, and that of those around you.
In this curiously uninspiring study, British journalist Leslie (Born Liars) superficially draws on science, psychology, and history to survey the evolution of curiosity in human life and culture and to lament its supposed recent decline. Leslie tracks the evolution of "diversive curiosity," which opens our eyes to the new around us; to "epistemic curiosity," the deeper and more disciplined kind of curiosity; and to "empathic curiosity," which causes us to wonder about others' thoughts and feelings and gives curiosity its deeply social quality. He then offers a brief historical survey of curiosity from the ancient world through the Middle Ages, when curiosity was often viewed as subversive and thus not encouraged, to the "age of questions," beginning with the Renaissance and going up to the mid-20th-century, when curiosity drove scientific developments. Leslie dubs the period from around 1945 until today the "age of answers," when the ready availability of answers to any question fostered a lack of curiosity about the world. As an antidote to the waning of curiosity in our time, Leslie offers seven ways to stay curious, including staying foolish, asking the big why, being a "thinkerer," and turning puzzles into mysteries, but the book's blandness mirrors the corporate and advertising worlds toward which it is geared.