1-Sentence-Summary: Curious is your guide to becoming more intelligent by harnessing the power of inquisitiveness and outlines the true nature of curiosity, how to keep it flourishing to become smarter, and what you might unknowingly be doing to suffocate its power.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
If you’ve been around little children, you know they tend to ask a million questions about everything. In fact, a kid between ages three and five asks a staggering 300 questions a day, on average! Each and every one of us is born with this innate desire to understand the world around us. Our remarkable ability to ask why is really what separates us from animals.
As we get older, we tend to get less inquisitive about our world. Whether this is because we’re running life on autopilot or we lose interest in learning new things. It’s sad that we lose this interest, or curiosity about the world around us. And professionally, this can hurt us without us realizing it.
In the book Curiosity: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It, author Ian Leslie explores our human nature to be curious. He also teaches how and why our curiosity tends to fade with age and how we can rekindle our need to understand. You’ll learn that by doing this, you will excel in school, in your career, and in your personal life.
Here are the 3 greatest lessons I’ve learned from this book:
- To become more inquisitive, learn how to utilize the two types of curiosity.
- Depending on how you use it, the internet will either make you smarter or cause your intelligence to decay.
- The wisest people in the world are the most curious, and they feed their curiosity by asking a lot of questions.
Are you curious about what this book can teach you about becoming smarter? Let’s get right to it!
Lesson 1: There are two types of curiosity that will help you develop this trait better.
Leslie explains that curiosity can be broken down into two basic types: diversive and epistemic. Diversive curiosity is the kind where we crave the novelty or newness of something we haven’t encountered before. It is good for getting us interested in a new topic, but often it can be superficial and impulsive, such as the need to know about a celebrity break-up.
At its worst, this is the type of curiosity that keeps us aimlessly scrolling through our Facebook newsfeed instead of getting work done. The people who make “clickbait” articles know all about this natural curiosity, hence how they can keep us clicking on new, pointless articles for hours.
The second type, epistemic curiosity, is a deeper need to know something new that requires more effort on our part. It takes work and focus to keep learning about this subject, and we can delve much deeper. We see this kind of curiosity in professional scientists and artists.
A good example of this is Charles Darwin. Discovering a strange barnacle on his journey to South America sparked his curiosity and set him on an eight-year study of this one creature. This dedication to learning is no doubt the reason that he is in our history books today.
All of this is not to say that we should only have the second type of curiosity. In fact, the author teaches that we actually need a combination of both. Diversive curiosity is good for familiarizing you with a topic, while epistemic ensures you dig deeper and become specialized in that topic.
Lesson 2: The internet can either hinder or help your intelligence depending on how you use it.
Most of us can agree that the internet can both hinder and help learning. Never before have humans been able to look up anything, and in seconds, have everything there is to know about that subject. But even though we have access to all of this knowledge, many of us use the internet to watch videos of cats and read comments of strangers arguing.
We have yet to really fully take advantage of the internet as a learning tool. A study found that children spend about ten hours a day on devices, but sadly, the majority of this time is spent on entertainment. Interestingly, the internet actually widens the intelligence gap.
There is a growing cognitive polarization in the world, which is a division between the curious and the incurious. The curious spend their time on the internet learning. The incurious spend their time on entertainment and their interest in learning wanes.
It is believed that this disparity will further widen disparities through the education system. Those who are curious will continue to learn and do well in school, and their willingness to learn will help them accomplish more academically and professionally. Those who aren’t curious will not thrive as much in these ways, widening the gap.
It’s easy to just want to blame the internet for hampering our learning, but in truth, epistemic curiosity is a choice that we must make every day if we want to learn. Frankly, the author says, the only person responsible for making you stupid is yourself.
Lesson 3: Asking a lot of questions is the secret of wise people that keeps them curious.
The author encourages us to ask ourselves how many questions we ask in a day. The truth is, you should probably be asking more if you want to learn. Our asking questions is essential to us discovering the information we need. In addition, studies teach us that we can encourage others to ask questions by asking questions ourselves.
Children whose parents ask more questions will in turn ask more questions themselves. Class also plays a role in children’s question-asking as well. Middle-class children ask more “why” and “how” questions than working-class kids. This difference is seen as young as age two and gives middle-class children a higher chance of academic success later on.
As adults, we often ask fewer questions because we’re afraid to seem ignorant or were just too busy. History shows us that choosing ignorance over asking questions can lead to disasters. An example of this is the financial crisis of 2008. Bankers trading complicated and volatile financial products could have stopped and asked about the consequences of their risky actions, but they chose not to care, and we all know how that turned out.
Curious is a fascinating book! I’m confident that learning and applying these lessons to become more inquisitive will make you smarter than everybody around you. I’ve always loved asking questions, and this book gave me an even greater appreciation for it!
Who would I recommend the Curious summary to?
The 35-year-old that loves to learn about psychology, the 55-year-old who doesn’t see why the internet is making them dumber, and anyone that wants to become smarter than most people.