Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It by Ian Leslie

Summary
  1. Leslie outlines why curiosity is core to what it means to be human, how to foster it in children and how to help yourself remain curious throughout your life
Key Takeaways
  1. Curiosity, asking the question of “why” is uniquely human. Curiosity is unruly and the trait of misfits and rebels but is the only means of progress and innovation
  2. The more you know and the closer you look at anything, the more interesting and miraculous it becomes
  3. People generally split between those who look for the most straightforward way and those who want to truly think and understand
  4. Curiosity requires a lot of effort to be fulfilled
  5. Curiosity is a muscle and habit. Must practice consistently
  6. Diversive curiosity sparked by anything new (news headline, tweet, etc.) and necessary to explore and discover new things but unless you give yourself the time to deepen this discovery and truly understand it, it becomes a useless distraction. This deeper curiosity is referred to by the author as epistemic curiosity and is the core of this book. Empathic curiosity, that of others thoughts and feelings, another key theme
  7. The beauty of learning is that it takes you out of yourself. Reminds you that you are part of a much bigger Picture
  8. Sometimes hard to understand why people put in huge effort into endeavors that have little immediate use but evolutionarily this may have been useful to survive (read animal tracks, sounds)
  9. Culture allows humans to adapt to any circumstance by not having to reinvent the wheel
  10. Curiosity is codependent and contagious. How curious we end up depends a lot on our caretakers encouragement
  11. Curiosity stems from intellect, emotions and drives
  12. When inconsistencies are massive we tend to ignore and if too small don’t care. Sweet spot is right in the middle
  13. Information fuels curiosity by highlighting ignorance and this makes us want to close the gap
  14. The more we know about a topic the more curious we become about it
  15. Fear kills curiosity
  16. Curiosity is underwritten by love (secure baby/mom relationship)
  17. Puzzles vs mystery – definite answer vs foggy/unknown question and answer
  18. Not being able to reach answers quickly or easily helps fuel productive frustration
  19. We learn better and forget slower when it is difficult. The ease of Google search is therefore both a blessing and a curse
  20. Curiosity has gone through periods of being thought of as a virtue and vice
  21. Surrounding yourself with people who have different interests, expertise, skills, patterns of thought, etc. is extremely valuable to growing and learning
  22. Novels offer us a type of simulation of how to handle our real life scenarios. Interpreting emotions and improving empathy
  23. Machines are for answers, humans for questions – Kevin Kelly
  24. One of the most important and difficult questions we need to ask ourselves is “what do I want to learn?”
  25. We have actually become more parochial and less serendipitous since the spread of the web. Most people listen to domestic music and news than ever before
  26. Grit, conscientiousness and curiosity are three leading indicators of success
  27. Important to foster curiosity and question asking in kids by also asking them many questions
  28. Best leaders ask the best questions
  29. Success and power can easily breed willful ignorance
  30. Most important teaching factors include feedback, quality of instruction and direct instruction
  31. The greater your store of knowledge, the more analogies and unique combinations of ideas (aka new ideas or innovations) you’ll be able to come up with. This wealth of knowledge also compounds over time
  32. Knowledge begets knowledge. The more you know the more and easier you can learn
  33. 7 ways to stay curious – stay foolish, Learn as much as you can about as many topics as possible, let your subconscious mull it over once you have given a problem a lot of thought, Sleep a lot,
  34. Success tends to reduce curiosity as people become isolated and rigid
  35. Speaks to breadth vs depth of knowledge. Recent trends have pushed the benefits of generalization to the forefront but above anything else, having multiple models to work with is extremely helpful
  36. Fundamental question is nearly always “why?” and not “what?”
  37. In negotiations, must be curious enough to understand other sides point of view and what they really want
  38. Vital to be able to zoom in and see the details of a problem and out to see the bigger picture
  39. “Thinkerer” – someone like Ben Franklin or Steve Jobs who is great at tinkering and then acting on what they’ve learned
  40. When we put our focus on the future or some future outcome, we become very bored with the present. Make truly experiencing the present a priority
  41. Being able to find things, especially mundane things, very interesting is a great skill and is correlated with happiness and better relationships
What I got out of it
  1. Interesting book on curiosity and how it is what makes us human and propels us to invent and try new things, helping the human race progress to ever new heights