Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Haley Reading Group: Kim Todd’s “Curious”


[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2015)]

Cynthia A. Campbell

Kim Todd’s “Curious” focuses on how complex and of what value curiosity is. Todd highlights the phenomena of the Surinam toad and the fascination/curiosity associated with it. Ultimately, this article speaks to the human condition of wanting to know “how” and “why” and how that curiosity is piqued.

Todd’s discussion of the breeding habits of the Surinam toad is especially enlightening. At one point, Todd notes that “knowledge of…toad has little practical application” (274). This point indicates that while our curiosity can reveal new and unexpected knowledge, oftentimes that knowledge is limited as it has no value to our everyday life experiences.

After reading Todd’s article, what was one point concerning curiosity that caught your attention? Why was that point or passage important to you? Please provide a page number citation.

50 comments:

Kiana S said...

One of the points that stood out to me the most was that when tracing the evolution, it mostly leads back to women. That women are thrilled with useless information. "Curiosity is the mark of discontent and curiosity is seeing your way out of your place. One of the things that makes us most curious is the suggestion that the world isn't how we think it is." (p.279) Women were hidden from a lot of the outside world to "keep them in their place". It is something you don't normally think of but it seems like such a simple explanation of where it "originated".

Christine sheriff said...

One of the parts of this piece that I found interesting was they compared the toad to curiosity, saying it was like a "strange beast." (pg. 274) I thought they way the writer expanded on this simile was very well done and made me as the reader think about the topic. I also liked the line, "One of the things that makes us most curious is the suggestion that the world isn't how we think it is." which was found on page 279. This is very true, people only become curious about the unknown. This line really stood out to me and made me consider why I become curious at times.

Mackenzie Cohoon said...

The point that stood out to me the most is when it says that "one of the things that makes us curious is the suggestion that the world isn't how we think it is, that our categories are the wrong ones, and the promise is that the answer to our questions will give us a different, fuller, better view" (279). This is important because it reveals a lot about us; it proves that we are never fully happy, therefore we will always be curious because we are always wanting more. It really explains a lot about humanity, and why we do many of the things that we do.

Mackenzie Cohoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kalonji Rumph said...

The quote that stuck with me the most was the following, "Curiosity can be as obsessive as hunger or lechery, swamping the senses. But it is notoriously fickle too, slinking away as soon as it is satisfied."(p.274) Todd's metaphor that she used to describe curiosity was spot on, and I can relate to this exact description of it. As sporadic as curiosity is, so much of our general knowledge stems from it. Humans are about as curious as they come and this is part of the reason we've been able to innovate as much as we have throughout the last two centuries.

Christen King said...

One point that I found interesting was how curiosity has physical and mental effects on you. Your brain starts to increase in activity. Curiosity can dilate your pupils, increase activity in the nucleus, bilateral prefrontal cortex, and parahippocampalgyri (the brains anticipation for reward), & produce and release dopamine (p. 276). I did not know that simply being curious about something could impact your brain as much as it does; it was very interesting to learn.

Gabriel Bressendorff said...

It wasn't necessarily a "point" that stood out to me. The example in the beginning of the excerpt, beginning with "The most disturbing part..." and ending with "... her back is all holes like a drained honeycomb," (pg 273) and the connection formed on page 274 beginning with "Given the strength of the recoil..." and ending with "What is the nature of the itch we call 'curiosity'?" is what stood out to me. It shows that curiosity can go beyond wanting to know knowledge that's good for us, or even useful. It just shows that the human brain craves any and all information, in my opinion.

Jasmyn Kloster said...

The point I found most intriguing can be found in the second paragraph on page 275. It states “Don't unlock the door. Don't open the box. Don't eat the apple. Fairy tales, Greek myths, and biblical stories caution against giving curiosity free rein. The warnings are dire But so often, like Pandora, Eve, and Bluebeard'd wife, we still extend our hand." I found this part interesting because many people, myself included, are scared of trying new things that may seem scary or could maybe not end up the way we want it. But at the same time, we still do these things just to see what he outcome will be, and to face our fears. At the same time, there are also people that are fearless and will explore the unknown without hesitation.

Joke Adanri said...

One point I found interesting was on page 275, when the author explained an experiment done by Henry Nissen studying how irresistible it was for rats to satisfy there curiosity even at the "price of pain". I think that relates a lot to human curiosity, which is a really powerful motivation to influence human behavior even though it may be risky. But because of human curiosity we've been able to discover cures for disease and other modern technology.

Anonymous said...

The point that stood out to me the most was in the first paragraph of page 279. It says, "'Curiosity is the mark of discontent' and 'curiosity is seeing your way out of your place.' One of the things that makes us most curious is the suggestion that the world isn't how we think it is..." I found this interesting because it is saying that the only reason we are curious is because we aren't content with the information we are giving, we always want to know more.

Tyla Lucas said...

What I found the most interesting was Maria Sibylla Meria. A woman with a curiosity for insects and frogs. When I found out she went to "Surinam to investigate, spending two years gathering plants,moths,and lizards raising them through their life cycles, taking notes" (277) I was astounded that a woman's curiosity from the 17th century was so strong she traveled from Europe to South America to study bugs and frogs, with her daughter no less. This was unheard of during this time. It just made me more curious about this woman who risked everything to sate her own curiosity.

Raillane Kamdem said...

The point that stood out to me in the passage was curiosity being "as obsessive as hunger or lechery....But it is notoriously fickle...slinking away as soon as it is satisfied" (pg 274). This resonates with me because I remember being so fascinated with the world as a kid. I wanted the answers to everything and actively sought them out. When I finally got those answers as I got older though my curiosity shrank more and more. Suddenly I'm not curious at all as to how the world works, and live my day to day not even thinking about it.

Stella Nguepnang said...

A point that I found really interesting from Kim Todd's "Curious," is that every discovery we have ever made spouted from curiosity. It is something I never realized and it came with a bit of a shock. I realized how much curiosity impacts our day to day lives. I believe that the need to know something is actually what makes us and made us human. We learn more with curiosity and this article made that very clear.

Ivyanne B. said...

I thought that this passage was very interesting. One thing that really stood out to me was when it said " Curiosity can be as obsessive as hunger or lechery, swamping the senses" (pg.274). This stood out because I never though of curiosity like this. Once you look into it you can really see that curiosity can be a hunger. I also didn't realize how curious I am as a person and how I crave to know more information, whether watching a t.v show and continuing to watch episode after episode to figure out what happens next. Or when I want to learn more information about a topic I'm learning about. I never realized how much curiosity helps up strive to learn new things every singe day. I feel like it also helps aid in different discoveries because it pushes us to do new thing and learn more than we ever thought we could learn.
-Ivyanne B.

Alliyah M. said...

A quote made by Kim Todd that I found interesting was after she discussed how woman usually use curiosity as a way to gossip and attain useless information; "One of the things that makes us most curious is the suggestion that the world isn't how we thing it is, that our categories are the wrong ones, and the promise is that the answer to our questions will give us a different, fuller, better view (279).

This quote accurately depicts the reason why curiosity has such an influence on humans. Humans can often remain in a cycle of constantly being unfulfilled about certain aspects of our lives. Now it's clear that the reason behind this is due to curiosity being human nature. We constantly strive to understand more and achieve more in life.

Thomas Moses said...

One of the points that stood out to me most was when Kim Todd said, "One of the things that makes us most curious is the suggestion that the world isn't how we think it is, that our categories are the wrong ones, and the promise is that the answer to our question will give us a different, fuller ,better view." This point shows that us as humans will never be satisfied with the knowledge we already have. We will also want to know more because we are still unsure about a lot in the world.

Daeja Daniels said...

Daeja Daniels

One thing that the author said that I found interesting was how curiosity has not just mental effects on the body but physical ones as well. I wouldn't have thought that something peaking your interest would affect you in these ways. The author says " These intellectual questions spurred a physiological response. Curious students pupils dilated. Activity increased in the caudate nucleus , the bilateral prefrontal cortex, and the parahippocampal gyri, which scientist interpreted as the brain anticipating a reward. " (pg 270).

Ronnie Akpan said...

One concept that really intrigued me was mentioned around pages 276-277 which dealt with how humans and animals have very similar features. One question that was asked was wondering if animals could get sunburns like humans can. This is cool in my opinion in the way that we, as humans, can delve into research about an animal's different systems in the brain that can allow us to know if certain humanistic features can also be copied by animals too.

Lena Searcy said...

I have to say this article was so far my favorite, the author made some funny and interesting points about curiosity and what it means to humanity. She pointed out that curiosity had been described as something bad and sinful throughout history but also shows that it can lead to personal revelations. She points out Sibylla Merian who spent years of her life studying metamorphosis therefore deifying expectations about women and science. The author also says curiosity makes us question what we know about the world, it is why people are so fascinated by things that make them curious. Page 276 says "...Curiosity triggers the production and release of dopamine...the mind becomes receptive, wakes up; that little mink grows hungry." It was interesting how she talked about curiosity being human nature. It can be subjective, but in the end we can't help our own curiosity.

Jonathan Sanchez said...

Todd's article was very interesting. Opening it up with the Surinam toad really aught my attention and sparked my curiosity. The big point in the entire article is how people viewed curiosity as evil or morally wrong. on page 275, Todd talks about Thomas Brooks, an English preacher saying that curiosity is basically a sin, specifically adultery of the soul. This interesting to me because I am religious and I feel curiosity is good in some ways because it can strengthen your faith. so in a way, I both agree and disagree with the idea of curiosity being bad. Granted, Thomas Brooks was preaching during the early 1600s so his ideology is quite dated.

Kiara Coker said...

First and foremost, the imagery that was used by Kim Todd really drew me in. She says things like "Mating, they summersault through the water, the female dropping eggs on the male's belly when the pair is upside down."(273) It was almost like I was watching it with my own eyes. I chuckled once I made the revelation that the way she talked about these disturbing animal made me want to see one first hand, so on youtube I went! Curiosity is a skill that develops early on, everything we do as babies are based on curiosity "Hey, whats this? Let me just put it in my mouth!" This skill is definitely apart of human nature and I am entirely grateful for it because we wouldn't experiment and research to get all the information we know now.

Jayla Pierce said...

In “Curosity” it made me think about where curosity gets you. Without curosity would we know the things we know now? All the things that were brought up in the text were discovered because someone was curious enough to what to know more about it. In the text it says, “Curosity can be as obsessive as hunger or lechery, swamping the senses.” Curosity can make us do some adventurous things. Look at Kim Todd left her husband and 10-month old twins to go to Surinam for a week and a half. She even said, “chasing an epistemic question dilated my pupils, lit me on fire.” Curosity can make you do crazy things and get into unique and interesting things to discover. When she asked if any other things besides humans can get a sunburn, it actually made me think as well. I never even thought about. The question about how can spiders avoid their own webs, got me thinking as well. I never thought about that either, it sparked my curosity. Curiosity makes the world go round. Without curosity would we even know the things we know now? Would we have inventors and scientists? It really made me think on a lot of things, on how the came to be. So doesn’t that make me curious as well?

Kameryn Sabino said...

The thing that stood out the most was when, "Berlyne concluded that curiosity is spurred by the novel, the complex, the ambiguous, the uncertain, and the surprising." (276). It intrigued me because of how true it is. People get feasted on by curiosity all because of wanting to know the unknown. They want to have more knowledge and curiosity is forcing you to go against your own words. Being curious can and will get you hurt.

Kailey Main said...

While reading Kim Todd's, "Curious" the part that stuck out to me the most was when she wrote, "Curiosity can be an obsessive hunger or lechery, swamping the senses(Todd 274)." This part interested because growing up my brother and I were very curious and always getting into things that we were not supposed to. My mom would always tell us that curiosity killed the cat.Which I am guessing was a way to tell us to stop getting into things but like Todd said curiosity can be like an obsession so we still found new things to "investigate."

Kayla Summy said...

"Given the strength of the recoil, why couldn't we look away?(274)" Was the quote that grabbed me most. It made me think about why I don't look away from "creepy" or "gross" things. I want to know why, is something like that instead of pleasurable to view? Why don't I like what i'm seeing? I want to understand this thing that repulses me because its not something I am accustom to, I do not understand it, so I keep looking to hopefully find understanding.

Taija Cook said...

This piece really made me think of Curiosity in a different light. They way the author relates curiosity to the Surinam toad is so eye opening. In the text it reads," Like the toad, curiosity is a strange beast. The investigating mind moves like a sleek little mammal, a mink maybe, rubbing up against things in the dark, trying to determine their shape, occasionally ripping with sharp teeth and pawing through the opening. Or perhaps a spider, creeping precisely, attaching silk here, and here and here to impose a pattern where before was just air.(274)"The way that curiosity is described is so accurate, I loved the way the author described what curiosity is and what amazing ideas curiosity can get you.

Abraham Carmichael said...

Curiosity is something that all beings are born with, human or not. Curiosity is what helps us learn and grow as we progress through life. The author states, "One of the things that makes us most curious is the suggestion that the world isn't how we think it is, that our categories are the wrong ones, and the promise is that the answer to our question will give us a different, fuller ,better view." We are born with the knowledge of nothing, and thanks to curiosity we can help dissect the world and it's many mysteries.

Avant Hall said...

The talk of curiosity itself make people curious and I guess that's why this was made. An interesting point mad by this essay was the fact that humans are more curious to animals and what they do than anything else. i never noticed this,but I realize that it is very common for for people to just look up facts about animals and they want to know why they do the things they do. I think curiosity is mostly comes from when you want to know how something fits into the world. The author's journey is a good example of this.

Youssef Hassan said...

It was really interesting to see all of the different comparisons made for curiosity. But once the danger of curiosity was mentioned, i started to wonder, if their are times where the damage caused by curiosity has effected me. As i was reading "Curious" i was easily distracted by the questions asked on the survey for the Cal-Tech students. I was just really glad to learn that pigs were the animals that can get sun burns like humans.

Rodney Clark said...

"Curious", written by Kim Todd, was a description of what curiosity is and how it develops. The experiment with the rats was very important because it shows that humans aren't the only creatures that are willing to endure a little pain to uncover something they pondered over. Descriptions of the process of surninam toad's birth such as, "miniature toads burst out" (Kim Todd 273). It made me curious enough to look up a picture of the toad. That's how the process often works, people such as the author gets intrigued, then ends up researching it to learn more. Curiosity is natural and drives a species forward.

Rodney Clark

Diana L said...

The quote I found most interesting was on page 275, “Don't unlock the door. Don't open the box. Don't eat the apple. Fairy tales, Greek myths, and biblical stories caution against giving curiosity free rein. The warnings are dire But so often, like Pandora, Eve, and Bluebeard's wife, we still extend our hand." This was interesting to me because when we are told not to do something, it makes us want it even more. Some people, however don't like to try new things and follow every rule. The phrase "curiosity killed the cat" falls back with this too, curiosity can hurt you.

Dasia Anderson said...

I find it fascinating that curiosity was once damning. That the most brilliant scientific minds that we praise today would have been seen as blasphemous - were seen as blasphemous. That being curious was frowned upon and even punishable.

Thomas Brooks, an English nonconformist preacher of the early
1600's, warned, “Curiosity is the spiritual adultery of the soul. Curiosity
is spiritual drunkenness.”

Marley McCoy said...

One point that stood out to me is when it said"curiosity is seeing your way out of your place", and that one of the things that makes us curious is the suggestion that our categories are the wrong ones. I found this to be an interesting perspective that I have not thought of before reading this article.

Devin Ellis-Martin said...

I am a biology major and interested in pre-med so one of the most interesting things i found in this was the fact that your brain actually has a lot more activity going on when curiosity is peeked. On page 276, it is stated that, "Curiosity can dilate your pupils, increase activity in the nucleus... produce and release dopamine"(p. 276). As my major would infer, this interested me a lot and I would of loved to read even more into this.

- Devin Ellis-Martin

Kelsey McNeil said...

One quote that I agreed with and got me thinking was when Todd says: "Curiosity can be as obsessive as hunger or lechery, swamping through senses" (274).I liked this one so much because I have found that once a person starts to think about something it is very hard to stop thinking about it. In different situations people experience in life, they are always wondering what the outcome could've been or what they could've done differently. For me personally, I related because I always wonder what other people are thinking or what people might be doing at any given time. I am always curious about everything so reading about curiosity was a very intriguing concept to me.

Dayejah Coates said...

As stated in the description, the sentence on page 274 interested me the most because I completely agree. I feel that curiosity is sometimes dangerous because we sometimes allow it to consume us, when as he said, most likely the knowledge gained from our curiosity won't really have any value in the end.
Daye'Jah Coates

Kendall Clark said...

As I read "Curious," one point that stood out to me regarded the biological aspects of curiosity, such as how it internally affects us (276). I was first drawn to this particular paragraph because it began with a focus on on a study using MRI equipment, which I find highly interesting along with other forms of radiologic technology. I found it interesting just how many parts of our brain our stimulated by curiosity. I also found it interesting that curiosity is proven to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter which is associated with human emotions such as arousal and motivation. After reading this, it made so much sense to relate the two. Knowing the biological side of curiosity is very intriguing to me.

Anonymous said...

I have always been curious growing up. I questioned anything and everything, which led to the frustration of my parents. One part that stood out to me was at the very end where it states, "More recent research has shown that whales sunburn too"(281). I just thought it was amusing and really captured the essence of my curiosity. Does the world change because we know whales get sunburn? No, but its fun to know and that is the beauty of curiosity.
-Desmond Crumer

Kamela Cross said...

When reading about the Surinam toads and how they mate, on page 273, I was very curious as to why they mate that way. Learning about it won't help me in everyday situations like the researchers said, but I still want to learn about it anyway. I really find the topic of curiosity to a fun one to talk about. A lot of things that humans are curious about are not things they'll need to know in life, but facts that pull them away from their life. I feel it's our escape from the lives we're living even if for a short time.

James Beverly said...

Curiosity is what drives us throughout our lives, it seems what makes us as people unique. This reading was truly spectacular when it came to talking about how curiously has physical and mental effects on oneself. Curiosity is what drives a person to discover new ideas and concepts, it’s also what drives the economy-through inventions. Curiosity leads to research and research leads to solid new inventions and facts. Sometimes curiosity can change the world, and sometimes it’s just there for us to know things. Either way, curiosity is a common factor amongst all people.

Tomika Collins said...

Something that stuck out to me was how curiosity has physical and mental effects on you. Another interesting point was "Given the strength of the recoil, why couldn't we look away?" on page 274. Curiosity can be a dangerous thing especially if we let it take over our lives.
On the other hand, curiosity can be a good thing if we learn something from it. "Curiosity is the mark of discontent and curiosity is seeing your way out of your place. One of the things that makes us most curious is the suggestion that the world isn't how we think it is." page 279. This is totally gender specific. Women are the focal point of this statement. Saying that women are thrilled by useless information. Is that why women love to gossip? #IJS

Anonymous said...

The thing that caught my attention the most is when Todd said, "Curiosity can be as obsessive as hunger or lechery, swamping the senses. But it is notoriously fickle, too, slinking away as soon as it is satisfied" (274). This point was important to me because it directly correlates to my laugh and the way I operate. I, personally, love hair extensions, wigs, braids, twists, etc. Whenever I want to try something new, I research it for days, sometimes weeks. I watch videos. I look up articles about it. And I even talk to people that I know have the hairstyle. I become obsessed. And once I get the hairstyle, the obsession dissipates because I have it in my possession. I found it interesting that Todd brought attention to how much curiosity can feel like a drug, and also fade away once you've achieved your "high." --Toriel S.

Breonna Roberts said...

The way 'Curious' was written was really well executed. At the beginning of the exert, it talked about an animal that I had never heard of so I decided to google it and was disgusted just like the reading said more people are. Further in the reading the quote that shocked me the most is "Curiosity can be as obsessive as hunger or lechery, swamping through senses" (274).The main reason that sentenced stood out to me is because it really describes how curiosity can take over a person with no mercy, kind of making it out to be a monster. I don't think it is a monster exactly but I think maybe it can be very strong.

Isaiah Johnson said...

In the story, "Curious," I was interested in how the writing reflected someone being curious and thinking, going from one topic to another randomly, coming back to their main topic, and asking themselves a lot of questions here and there. I was also interested to see the story ending without answering what drives curiosity. That was intriguing to me because I was thinking throughout the story that there is no answer to what drives curiosity, and that that's the point of it. If we knew what drove curiosity, I don't know if we'd still be curious. Also, the video they were describing made my skin itch, even without watching the video. I looked up the video, and might watch it... sometime.

Shaina Falkner said...

I found "Curious" very interesting, and, in a way, it did make me even more curious as I read it. In the writing, I read, "One of the things that makes us most curious is the suggestion that the world isn't how we think it is...and the promise is that the answer to our questions will give us a different, fuller, better view (279). I agree and disagree with this statement. I do believe that when you learn about the truth and about what is around you, you do have a different perspective on things, but, I do not believe that everyone is mostly curious about the truth. Some people are afraid of the truth and they like to believe what they want to believe rather than accept facts and real truth.

Samontriona P said...

In the Story "Curious" by Kim Todd, the point that really caught my eye was on page 275. There it states "Curiosity is the spiritual adultery of the soul." This moved me because when a person is curious there is usually something telling them not to do something, as it would be to a person about to commit adultery. I feel as though this makes them want to do it to find out what it would actually be like, and rather it's a good or bad outcome they just had to know.

Jeryl Hemphill said...

"Curious" peaked my interest like no other reading ever has. One section in particular really caught my attention, "How did she get away with it in a time when the slightest sign of eccentricity could cause someone to be burned as a witch?" This certainly caught my eye because of my previous experience with Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" where, like was said in the reading, any sign of eccentricity would cause a women to be put on a very one sided trial and burned alive. I definitely kept reading because of this single occurrence.

Dejanee Geeters said...

"Curiosity can be as obsessive as hunger or lechery, swamping the senses.” (P. 279) I am a very curious person, and I relate to this quote because I’ve learned being curious reallyisn’t something I can help. It’s natural, and sometimes people get irritated by me asking so many questions but my mind produces that many questions out of curiosity. Without curiosity we wouldn’t be able to add to our knowledge.

Anonymous said...

My favorite quote from Kim Todd's "Curious" was "Don't unlock the door. Don't open the box. Don't eat the apple. Fairy tales, Greek myths, and biblical stories caution against giving curiosity free rein. The warning are dire. But so often, like Pandora, Eve, and Bluebeards wife, we still extend our hand."(P.275) This caught my attention because I believe myself to be a curious person and find it to be both a positive and a negative thing. As they say, curiosity killed the cat, but I believe that if you are extremely curious and for the proper reason, it can be highly beneficial. - Kobi P

Kobi Phillips said...

My favorite quote from Kim Todd's "Curious" was the quote on page 275 that reads "Don't unlock the door. Don't open the box. Don't eat the apple. Fairy Tales, Greek Myths, and biblical stories caution against giving curiosity free rein." This quote truly impacted me because I personally see myself as a curious person. Although being curious can potentially be harmful, I believe that if someone is curious enough with the right cause, it can be extremely beneficial.-Kobi P