Wednesday, November 7, 2018

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 one point concerning curiosity did you find most interesting? Please provide a page number citation.

20 comments:

Sable M. said...

In all actuality I found it quite interesting how he used different scholars and their hypotheses to describe/define curiosity in various ways. I like how she basically said curiosity drives us to the extremes to figure out the why and how. "One of the things that makes us most curious...."(279) shows an interesting outlook because after reading the text, gives a more definitive definition that I think most will agree with as it seems so plausible and accurate to how people fulfill their curiosity.

Alexis S. said...

After reading the article, I found it very interesting how Todd explored the question of, "What type of things [trigger] human curiosity?" (275) and then proceeded to ask us questions to evaluate our own curiosity. Which then she explained Loewenstein's thoughts that "The closer the subject matter was to the observer's life, the more intense the need was to stare, to figure it out." (276) I found this question and answer to be very interesting and true because I chose the question about spiders because I had just seen a spider web when walking outside and found that question to be the most applicable to my life in comparison to the other questions.

- Alexis S.

Isaiah J. said...

I thought it was interesting to read how curiosity is such a strong force that it is able to invoke multiple physical reactions. Todd notes dilated pupils, increased brain activity, and increased dopamine levels (276). It is interesting that we would find so much pleasure from something potentially useless.
Maybe this is an example of how we do not need to focus on survival anymore, and have become bored because of it. We are full of curiosity because there is nothing else left when it comes to basic needs.

Anonymous said...

The statement made about curiosity being "the spiritual adultery of the soul" (275) was interesting to me because it made me think about all of the warnings we have received about curiosity, like curiosity killed the cat. The article also made reference to Pandora's box, Eve tasting the apple, fairy tales, and Greek myths that all warned about curiosity. It made me think about why they felt the need to warn us so much about curiosity because curiosity can be good and innovative as well as harmful.

Marina T.

Anonymous said...

I found it interesting how he basically told us what curiosity is and how it is significant. " Curiosity is the mark of discontent"(279). I like how Benedict said that. She basically is telling us how curiosity can sometimes lead to other things. She also says " curiosity is seeing your way out of your place." After reading this section I have a better understanding on what curiosity is.

Kennedy M.

Thomas Siganga said...

I loved the connections and reactions towards curiosity as a sin within many different societies, especially when talking about the past. Nevertheless, humans always let curiosity take over as it is a way to stay away from boredom. Curiosity triggers the production and release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated and heightened arousal and motivation, creating pleasure."(276) This begins to make more sense as humans and animals such as the white rats will be curious just for the sake of experience that pleasure or excitement. I feel like it became easier to understand curiosity and how it works as a whole after reading into this research.

Thomas S.

Anonymous said...

Overall the passage was rather interesting because we are often worn from early on in childhood that "curiosity killed the cat." However as we grow older we are told to ask questions and that curiosity is not necessarily a bad thing but we never discuss how much is to much and when it becomes a problem or why its a problem in the first place.The passage in my opinion delves into that by telling us what curiosity is "curiosity is the mark of discontent." (279) Now that we have a definition of curiosity outside the basic definition we often associate with it and we can see that people who are often highly curious are more likely to not believe what they are told, which in some situation is a positive thing. However in todays day and age most people want you to accept what your told simply because there is usually something darker at play.

Alexis R

Anonymous said...

I really liked this passage as I am a naturally curious person. In the past curiosity has been seen as as sin, We were taught not to ask questions like "what if the Earth evolved around the Sun?", yet it is questions like these that evolve our society. I feel our curiosity about the world around us is the best part of our society.
Breann Walton

Justin J said...

After reading Todd's article, the thing I found most interesting about curiosity was the way the brain reacts when curious. When an intellectual question was asked, the question spurred a response. Kim Todd stated, "Curious students' pupils dilated. Activity increased in the caudate nucleus, the bilateral prefrontal cortex, and the parahippocampal gyri, which the scientists interpreted as the brain anticipating a reward" (276). This quote explains that curiosity stimulates the brain and it is viewed as a reward. This explains why humans love to learn and experience new things.

-Justin J

Phoenix Johnson said...

The entire time I was reading "Curious" I was thinking about the saying curisosity killed the cat. That is not completely true though because curiosity has made many new inventions and discovers. He argues that experiments are not curisosity , but with the thinking that curiosity led to many things we know today. Lightbulbs, cures for cancer, and many other anomalies come from curiosity.

Dasmin W. said...

One point in the article that I found interesting was how much people are addicted to curiosity. Teeth, the author, used examples from books and experiments to prove how obsessed society is about finding the truth. " The closer the subject matter was to the observer's life, the more intense the need was to stare, to figure it out"(276). I relate to this point so much because if I see or hear about something that I want to learn more about , I tend to search and look it up until I get a satisfied solution.

Anonymous said...

The point that I found most interesting, in Todd’s article, was how he said curiosity can be a fickle thing. (pg. 274) It made me think of how quickly our curiosity about something fades as soon as it is satisfied. Like how we can literally be obsessed about something one minute then in the next we have lost interest. Lillien W.

Anonymous said...

"Curiosity killed the cat", was a proverb that I heard at sometime in my life. This saying stuck in my mind as I read this article and I found pages 275-276 to be the most interesting. Berlyne's experiment on the physiological responses of curiosity really made me think about what things spark my own curiosity. As a child, I was curious about how things worked, so I would constantly take things apart. I remember how excited I was as I took apart toys or other things around me. As a musician, I am curious about certain types of music, composers and/or history of various genres. There is a physical level of excitement when curiosity takes hold of you. I never really thought about it before reading this article. I also never thought about the mating and birth habits of a Surinam Toad! I am definitely curious! Miles W.

Anonymous said...

In Todd’s article one of the most intriguing parts to me was when he was describing what makes us curious, “One of the things that make us most curious is the suggestion that the world isn’t how we think it is . . . the answer to our questions will give us a different, fuller, better view” (pg 279). I found this interesting because after analyzing it, I realize that it’s true and I never viewed it that way before reading the article.

-Gianna T.

Fontez M. said...

"Curiosity is the spiritual adultery of the soul.Curiosity is spiritual drunkenness" (Todd 275). This quote piqued my interest the most because I agree that people poke their noses in things even when they know that the consequences could be life threatening.

Anonymous 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). I found these sentences the most interesting because I, personally, am a very determined person when I want to know something. I will always keep going until I find the answer that I am looking for. However, once I find it I will, often times, forget about the situation all together and, most likely, never think about it again.
Cecelia S.

Jovahna Williams said...

This reading was very interesting. "One of the things that make us most curious is the suggestion that the world isn't how we think it is..." (279). This is very true for the scientific part of the world. Part of the reason why the world is so far advanced in science and technology is because people often question "why". The following question is usually "how" which leads to new technology and new ideas.

Jovahna W.

Jasmine Strong said...

This article actually peeked my interest quit a bit because it really gave the reader some " for thought." In saying that I mean that it had a lot of underlying meanings to it other than focusing on the breeding habits of the toad. For example the quote, "Curiosity is the spiritual adultery of the soul. Curiosity is spiritual drunkenness" (Todd 275). This quote really stuck with me because it made a lot of sense to me. It basically means that being to curious came come with a price and that sometimes it is better to mind your business in certain situations.

Deja Thornton said...

The part that stood out to me when they talked about Thomas Brooks and how he described curiosity as "the spiritual adultery of the soul. Curiosity is spiritual drunkenness" (275). This stood out to me, because nowadays if anyone described curiosity in that manner they would be looked at like a crazy person. Also because curiosity is something that we can't help, so to speak of it as a sin is crazy, because you can't help natural thoughts that come to you. It's just human nature.

Anonymous said...

After reading curious, I found myself being curious about a question asked during the reading:” except for human, what other animals also have sunburn”. A question that I have never asked to myself. It incited my curiosity so I went to check on google. Google gave me some answer that I will luckily never forget. It is impressive how much our body react facing a lot of things. Facing food, our body react, and it also reacts facing intriguing questions. The beauty of the human body for me, come by the fact that everything is linked.

-Geonel M.