The slow death of curiosity, and what we can do about it

The slow death of curiosity, and what we can do about it

“Curiosity killed the cat”. I heard this phrase today, and immediately stopped what I was doing. For some reason, it had never occurred to me just what an awful, insipid little adage that is. What, now we really think about it, is the intended moral behind this seemingly innocuous saying? Right off the bat, unfortunately, it’s not a great start for poor old curiosity. In four words, we’re taught – via this sad little aphorism – that this virtue is not to be trusted after all. Let’s face it, the example we’re actually being given here amounts to: “the cat was curious and look what happened to him, so do you really think you’re going to do any better? Don’t be curious. Don’t try things.” Nor is that the only example of the decline of curiosity. What about the account of Pandora’s Box? In this tale of Greek mythology, Pandora (the first woman on earth) is given, by the gods, a wedding present of a beautiful jar. There’s a catch – she is not, under any circumstances, to open it up. Of course, sooner or later, her curiosity (presumably instilled in her by these same gods and goddesses) gets the better of her, and she ends up opening it, thereby (unwittingly) releasing all evil into the world. Yet again, curiosity is apparently the one to let the side down. It doesn’t stop at Greek mythology, either. In the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, God tells Lot and his wife that he plans to destroy the city of Sodom, and that they must leave immediately if they wish to stay alive...