I am not a professional researcher. I do not collect data to analyze economic trends, nor do I perform experiments to discover medical cure. I do not question existing laws of physics, nor do explore the wonders of the human mind. I do not sit at a desk to create mathematical models to explain seemingly inexplicable phenomena, nor do I go out in the field to identify unidentified objects and organisms.
But I employ research methodologies in my everyday life. I hold a healthy skepticism and try to avoid believing blindly all the things I see and hear. I make systematic inquiries and try to avoid jumping to conclusions. And even when I reach a conclusion, I anticipate exceptions and try to keep my mind open to avoid stereotyping.
In other words, I do a lot of hypothesis testing. Whenever I face an unknown, I do not like to leave it unknown… I grant it further study and discussion. I articulate what it is I want to know about it and come up with a research hypothesis. Then I formulate a null hypothesis, a testable proposition which, if through keen observation and thorough investigation is disproved, will in turn prove the research hypothesis.
A bit too technical? Then let me put it this way: I ask myself an exhaustive amount of “maybe’s” about the unknown, and look for evidence that will make their answers be “maybe not’s,” until I can admit to myself that the unknown is not just a collection of “maybe not’s” but a “definitely not”… i.e., it is similar to what I do here every day!
Why is it important for me to take this approach in life?
Maybe it is because I simply love thinking and this is the way to keep my thoughts organized.
Maybe it is because I cannot resist the urge for knowledge and this is the way to keep track of what I have and have not found out.
Maybe it is because I humbly accept how much I still do not know and this is the way to keep myself from becoming narrow-sighted and unaccepting of the many things that are yet unknown to me.
That is to say, maybe I am not ashamed to say “I don’t know” and have people see me as being unknowledgeable.
But maybe I would be very much embarrassed to remain uninformed and have people see me as being ignorant.
These are “maybe’s” that will never be answered “maybe not” in me. And I cannot wish enough that these “maybe’s” never become a “definitely not” in everyone else. Because if they do, that would mean the null hypothesis is disproved and research hypothesis is in turn proved.
The null hypothesis?
We are fearless seekers of the unknown and welcomingly accept all knowledge we can find.
And the research hypothesis:
We are scared neglectors of the unknown and forcefully reject all knowledge we do not already possess.
How terrifying is this?
A last note: My nation mourns with all others who have had their sunshines taken away in recent acts of terror by scared neglectors of the unknown. But let us not become one of them… let us remain fearless seekers of the unknown to find the way out of the vicious chain of violence.
Rest in peace, fallen sunshines.