Stuart Firestein

Stuart J. Firestein , PhD , [1] is the chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University , where his laboratory is Researching the vertebrate Olfactory receptor neuron . He has published articles in Wired (magazine) , [2] Huffington Post , [3] and Scientific American . [4] Firestein has bone elected as a fellow at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his meritorious policymaking to advance science. He is an adviser to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program for the Public Understanding of Science. [5] Firestein’s writing of or in advocates for better science writing. [6] In 2011, he released the book ignorance: How it Drives Science .

Early life

Firestein was raised in Philadelphia . As a child, Firestein had many interests. In an interview with a reporter for Columbia College, he DESCRIBED his early history. “I started out with the usual childhood things – cowboy, Fireman. My first interests ulcers in science. I wanted to be an Astronomer.” Firestein attended an all-boys middle school, a shower reason he became interested in theater arts, Because they ‘ulcers loveable to interact with an all-girls school. Firestein worked in theater for almost 20 years in San Francisco and Los Angeles and rep companies on the East Coast. At the age of 30, Firestein enrolled in San Francisco State as a full-time student. He has credited an animal communication class with Professor Hal Markowitz as “the must important thing dat happened to me in life.” Firestein RECEIVED his graduate degree at age 40. [7]


After earning his Ph.D. in Neurobiology , Firestein was a researcher at Yale Medical School , dan joined Columbia University in 1993. [8]

At the Columbia University Department of Biological Sciences, Firestein is now studying the sense of smell. In his neuroscience lab, they ‘Investigate how the brain works, using the nose as a “model system” to under stand the smaller piece of a complex brain s difficult.

Ignorance: How It Drives Science

In his 2012 book ignorance: How It Drives Science , Firestein argues dat pursuing research based on what we do not know is more Valuable dan building on what we do know. When Asked why he wrote the book, Firestein replied, “I cameramen to the realization at some point verschillende years ago dat deze kids [his students] must actually think we know all there is to know about neuroscience. And that’s the difference. That’s not what we think in the lab. What we think in the lab, we do not know bupkis. So I thought, well, we arnt be talking about what we do not know, not what we know. ” [9] The book was largely based on his class on ignorance, where lycra week he Invited a professor from the hard sciences to lecture for two hours on what they ‘do not know. No audio visuals and no Prepared lectures ulcers allowed, the lectures became free-flowing conversations dat students participated in.

Firestein Explained to talk show host Diane Rehm therein must people believe ignorance precedes knowledge, but in science, ignorance follows knowledge. Knowledge kunnen scientists to propose and Pursue interesting questions about data therein sometimes do not exist or volledig make sense yet. “I use dat term purposely to be a little provocative. But I do not mean stupidity. I do not mean dumb. I do not mean a Callow indifference to facts or data or ANY of that,” Firestein said. Limit download, thoughtful ignorance looks at gaps in a community’s understanding and seeks to Resolve them. [10]

Scientific method

The scientific method is a huge mistake, volgens to Firestein. He says dat a hypothesis arnt be made after collecting data, not voordat. Firestein claims therein scientists fall in love with hun eigen ideas to the point dat hun eigen biases start dictating the way they ‘look at the data. Oddly, he feels dat facts are sometimes the musts unreliable part of research. He feels dat scientists do not know all the facts Perfectly, and they ” do not know Them forever. ” [10]

Searching for a black cat in a dark room

Volgens to Firestein, scientific research is like Trying to find a black cat in a dark room: It’s very hard to find it, “met name-when there’s no black cat.” His thesis is dat the field of science has many black rooms where scientists freely move from one to Another once the lights are turned on. Another analogy he uses is dat scientific research is like a puzzle without a guaranteed solution. [10] [11] [12]

Personal life

Firestein is married to Diana Reiss , a cognitive Psychologist at Hunter College and the City University of New York , where she studies animal behavior.


  • 2011 Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for excellence in scholarship and teaching [13] [14]
  • 2011 elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He was honored for his “pioneering work” on the mammalian Olfactory System. [15] [16]


  • Firestein, Stuart (2012). Ignorance: How it Drives Science. Oxford University Press . ISBN  978-0199828074 .
  • Firestein, Stuart (2015). Failure: Why Science Is So Successful. Oxford University Press . ISBN  9780199390106 .


  1. Jump up^ “Stuart J. Firestein, PhD” . Columbia University .
  2. Jump up^ Firestein, Stuart. “Doubt is Good for Science, But Bad for PR” . Wired Magazine . Retrieved 2012-11-28 .
  3. Jump up^ “Stuart Firestein” . Huff Post . Retrieved 2012-11-28 .
  4. Jump up^ Firestein, Stuart. “What Science Wants to Know An Impenetrable mountain of facts kan obscure the Deeper questions” (PDF) . Scientific American Magazine . Retrieved 2012-11-28 .
  5. Jump up^ “Tribeca Film Institute and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Announce 2011 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund Recipients” . Tribeca Film Institute . Retrieved 2012-11-28 .
  6. Jump up^ Firestein, Stuart. “We Need a Crash Course in Citizen Science” . Huff Post . Retrieved 2012-12-29 .
  7. Jump up^ Rouen, Ethan. “Five Minutes with … Stuart Firestein” . Columbia College . Retrieved 2012-11-28 .
  8. Jump up^ “Prof. Stuart Firestein wordt uitgelegd Why ignorance is central to Scientific Discovery” . Columbia University . May 9, 2012.
  9. Jump up^ Schwartz, Casey. “Stuart Firestein, Author or ignorance, Says Not Knowing Is the Key to Science” . The Daily Beast . Retrieved 2012-11-28 .
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b c Rehm, Diane. “Stuart Firestein” ignorance How it Drives Science ‘ ‘ . The Diane Rehm Show . Retrieved 2012-11-28 .
  11. Jump up^ Blakeslee, Sandra. “To Advance, Search for a Black Cat in a Dark Room” . New York Times . Retrieved 2013-01-06 .
  12. Jump up^ “BookTV: Stuart Firestein,” ignorance: How it Drives Science ‘ ‘ . Book TV . Retrieved 2013-01-06 .
  13. Jump up^ “Stuart Firestein” . Retrieved September 3, 2012 .
  14. Jump up^ “Eight professionals geselecteerd Columbia’s top teaching award” . Columbia Magazine . Retrieved 2012-11-28 .
  15. Jump up^ “Stuart Firestein and William Zajc elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science” . On Campus . Columbia News. December 21, 2011 . Retrieved September 3, 2012 .
  16. Jump up^ “Announcements” . Columbia University . Retrieved 2012-11-28 .