Curiouser and Curiouser, Part I – The Case for Curiosity

Rules of thumb form in every culture, and for the most part, survive because overall, they work. Though for an example of one that should probably die off, search “rule of thumb origin.” It’s widely said that “Curiosity Killed the Cat,” and yet I’ve had a number of cats in my time, and while each has been curious, they all lived to a ripe old age. Curiosity never hurt any of them, though it enabled them to find interesting new perches, fun places to hide and play. And lots of prey.

And with humans, it’s a necessary attribute. Without it, we’d likely accept at face value any “truth” we encountered. So much for innovation, huh? Think about it–leaving the politics aside, the actual words “conservative” and “progressive” speak volumes. Think about what they mean for a moment. Now what if, as an evolving species, we stuck with what our ancestors had always done? What if innovation halted in favor of keeping things the same? The first natural disasters would have wiped out whole regions of us, and disease would have deleted the rest of us, as we didn’t just pop into existence understanding illness or hygiene. Innovation has been key to not just our survival, but our massive prosperity.

We have continually innovated, improved, conquered all but the most challenging of threats to our survival. We have solid homes that protect us from the elements, vaccinations and medicine to protect us from illness and disease, religious and philosophical beliefs which help us cope with stress and anxiety, and our ability to gather food is unmatched in history. Some of us grow our food, others hunt for it. Though most of us use an innovation called grocery stores most of the time. Like politics, we could waste time arguing over which is better, but there’s no denying that buying food in the store saves time. A lot of time. That qualifies it as an innovation, since once we no longer had to spend hafl our day figuring out and acquiring food, we had time to do other things.

And we like our other things!

But, back up a bit. What drives us to innovate? What makes us want to find a better way? Certainly, necessity starts the ball rolling, but after we’ve gotten the essentials handled, what makes us wonder if there’s an even better way, as yet undiscovered?


Progress is not only good, it’s essential. If it helps us accomplish more, and more effectively, it’s wise to choose it. In any competitive situation, whether it’s the commercial marketplace, getting enough food to feed our family, or anything in between, those who are better at it will prosper. Those who struggle at those tasks, or worse, consciously choose to be conservative in their approach, insisting on ignoring technology or any “new-fangled” idea, will struggle in every area. This likely seems obvious to you, and that’s my point–curiosity is as necessary force in our quest for not only prosperity, but even basic survival, as is its product, innovation.

Even if you very much enjoy such things as growing your own food or hunting for it, it’s unlikely you do it the way our ancestors did. Knowing that the old ways were inefficient compared to modern methods, and ineffective, considering the advances tools we have available. You might do this for recreation or a sense of knowing what’s in your food. But the fact that you have time to do it, while still maintaining the rest of your life, proves the point. The improved efficiency through technology and innovation has allowed for hobbies–something our ancient ancestors couldn’t have imagined.

The case so far has been about curiosity and progress in theory. Though also in terms of survival. But where else can we utilize our natural curiosity? Where else would it be worthwhile to amp it up just a bit? In part 2, we’ll apply it to negotiation and opening closed minds. For now, let’s just think about where we encounter dogmatic, closed arguments that limit us in some way. Is there something at work that cuts off communication? Someone in your family or among your friends, so closed off that dialog seems impossible? Begin considering the “where” of that question and then let’s dig into how curiosity can help.

Doesn’t it just make you begin to wonder…?

Copyright © 2022 Chris Gingolph

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