Don’t shy away from complicated answers

Claire Fisher

Did Mark Twain have a mustache? What does the fox say? Who was that guy who won “Jeopardy” a ton? If you’ve ever wondered anything sometime in the past five years, you’ve probably discovered that the answer is easy to find. We can just ask Siri or Google anything we’ve ever wondered about. With this ease of access to information, we run the risk of not asking questions when the answers are difficult to find.

Often, when the answer doesn’t appear right away or isn’t on the first website clicked on, we become discouraged and decide we just don’t know. What do we use water towers for and how do they work? Who invented the first automobile? When the answer starts to get a little complicated or isn’t readily available, we give up. It’s important for us to stop giving up, we need to not shy away from complicated questions with complicated answers.

Important questions in life don’t have easy answers and we need to be using our natural curiosity and critical thinking skills to answer every question.

If the question is “will Hillary Clinton make a good president?” or “is immigration a good thing?” you’re unlikely to get Siri to give you a definitive answer. You’re likely to get a wide range of answers and a plethora of different viewpoints.

In this case, giving up when Google doesn’t give you a succinct, easy-to-understand answer is detrimental to society. In order to have an effective government we need people to do their research and think things through, especially when they aren’t easy to understand.

It might seem ridiculous to apply this logic when we’re just talking about that thing we were wondering with our friends on friends on Friday night, but by giving up on difficult-to-find answers we are essentially saying it’s fine not to think about things.

Even if the question is “in which Goofy Movie do they make the Leaning Tower of Pisa out of cheese whiz?” our lack of interest in the answer when things get difficult is a statement that we don’t want to think. And while that attitude is certainly appealing after we spend all week in college shoving information into our minds, we’re essentially shutting down our natural curiosity.

Natural curiosity is the force that drives true discovery and innovation. Without random questions, without wondering how things work, or how things could be better, the world would remain stagnant. If Benjamin Franklin had checked some sort of reference book (you know, the old Google) looking to answer the question “what is lightning?” and given up when the answer was inconclusive, we wouldn’t be using electricity the way we do now. We need people to have natural curiosity and then to do something about it for society to move forward.

We need to take the time to do the research and use critical thinking and our best judgement to come to an educated conclusion. Just like when we write research papers and have research questions for classes, our critical thinking skills need to transfer over to that natural curiosity we find ourselves having over seemingly important issues.

Next time you’re sitting around with friends and somebody asks “what are dreams?” and the answer isn’t as simple as you’d hoped, don’t just put your phone down and declare defeat. You’re going to run across important questions someday that require you to be able search for and think about the answer, so encourage you’re natural curiosity, keep looking, and find the answer.