in IRDL, Professional

Knowing what we don’t know

In writing about my research experience, I find myself wanting to emulate Ta-Nehisi Coates, who describes his own column for The Atlantic as an exercise in thinking aloud. In a recent interview that followed up on his piece, The Case For Reparations, Coates reflected on having the humility to acknowledge what we just don’t know:

We don’t understand how much we don’t understand. And it’s quite a bit. It’s really, really quite a bit. And I think, when people say, oh, you’re just advocating another study because you’re punting. No, you just have no idea how much you don’t know. You know? We just don’t. It’s quite a bit.

Question formation requires knowing what we don’t know. But sometimes posing a question makes visible our assumptions about what we know and what we don’t.

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