The quest for knowledge, from a childhood dive down the “why?” rabbit hole – to a lifelong pursuit of answers, and the thrill of being a professional question-asker. Unpacking life’s curiosities, one mystery at a time!
- No Google, No Problem: The Giant “Tomes of Britannica” Once Roamed the Earth!
- Des Arnold Told Me I was “Born with a Face for Radio” – Cheeky Bastard!
- Suspicious Minds: Curiosity Takes Us Down the “Why?” Rabbit Hole
Questions, Questions, Questions: Curiosity Never Killed Any Cats ‘Round Our Place!
For as long as I – author of the Curious Gaijin Chronicles – can remember, I’ve been curious about pretty much everything! I’m certainly not unique in that. It’s human nature to be inquisitive, to want to know the details, to ask: “why is it so?” and “how did it come to be?” and “what if it hadn’t been exactly like that?”
I was never one of those annoying kids that constantly ask rapid-fire questions without waiting to listen for the answer. I was always more of an inner monologue child. Back then I didn’t really know it as my process, as I do now, though. I would naturally be curious about something, posit a potential theory, then go about nutting out the answer.
I was that 1970s kid who, in one case of “I wonder how this works!”, while the parents were away, had our brand-new colour television dismantled into a million pieces all over the lounge-room floor.
It’s really quite amazing how much a 12-year-old boy can achieve with the aid of a Philips screwdriver and a pair of pliers!
No Google, No Problem: The Giant “Tomes of Britannica” Once Roamed the Earth!
There was no internet in those days.
We wouldn’t hear about Mr. Google for another 20 years! We had the old analogue school masters, Messrs. Britannica – all 30 of them – ready at a moment’s notice to explain everything from Aardvark to Zoology.
The Faculty Britannica would not be required on this particular occasion since I was fairly sure I had this figured out.
The brand-new colour television took pride of place in the living room. You know the kind – a giant tube screen housed in a massive wooden enclosure that took up a third of the room in one corner. It was bloody heavy!
I’m a little hazy on the details these days, but I think I remember some help from my brother to remove the innards from its ornately finished housing.
Des Arnold Told Me I was “Born with a Face for Radio” – Cheeky Bastard!
I remember the new Elton John and Kiki Dee single, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, playing in the background on my recently received birthday present – a flip-clock solid-state AM/FM tuner. I loved that radio! It was almost always on, set to my favourite Top 40 station on the AM band: 6PM in Perth. I remember listening to Garry Shannon quite a bit. Now there’s a name for a radio dee-jay.
Anyway, 6PM would later switch over to the FM band for better sound quality and to compete with the utterly boring 96FM, then change its call sign to PMFM, and then to 92.9. It was also where future Angelino, aka the Curious Gaijin Chronicles’ author, would become regular newsreader on the Baby John Burgess (Burgo’s) Breakfast Show. Actually, as I remember it, they poached me from the aforementioned “bloody boring” 96FM newsroom.
But it was 882 6PR News Talk Radio in Hay Street, Perth, Australia, that first left the newsroom door ajar for me to squeeze through and learn the ropes in what would end up being a 30-year career in broadcast media.
Des Arnold was the news director in 1980, and I was the skinny 16-year-old with booming voice, yet insecure high school lad, radio and TV man wannabe!
I seem to have gone off on a tangent…
TV Tinkering Turns to ‘Asteroid Belt’ of Indecipherable Machine Parts
Let’s get back to my inquiring inventiveness behind the massive wooden box in the living-room, now only identifiable as some sort of glass screen – tube thingy, the back end pointing skyward – the screen floating on the thick shag pile, with a confusing collection of “pinball machine parts” strewn across the carpet.
Needless to say, the parents were none too pleased when they returned home to find their newly purchased, very expensive piece of entertainment kit totally destroyed! “I can put it back together,” I whimpered in faux confidence. I choose not to remember much about the whole sorry episode now.
However, I do recall pants down, and leather belt stinging my buttocks in some kind of macabre rhythm for what seemed like a bloody eternity. I also recall my dear brother making himself remarkably scarce right around the time my ass was being tanned!
The Curiosity Quest: From Babbling Infants to Genius – or Not!
Getting back to the point – I did some ferreting around on the internet to try and find out more about why humans are so curious. That means I asked Mr. Google, and he promptly introduced me to the Live Science website. So, curiosity is a hallmark of the human experience. But why?
The human craving to know and understand is the driving force behind our development as individuals and even our success as a species. So, why does this curiosity impulse so often compel us throughout life, sometimes making idiots of us? Apparently, curiosity is so ingrained it helps us learn as babies and survive as adults.
There probably isn’t any single “curiosity gene” that makes humans wonder about the world and explore our environment, but there does seem to be some sort of genetic component. Genes and the environment interact to shape us and guide our behaviour, including our curiosity.
Basically, if we as infants weren’t curious, we’d never learn anything, and development wouldn’t happen. I’m pretty sure I’ve met a few people like that!
Studies show (don’t ask me which ones – if you’re curious, ask Mr. Google) that infants prefer novelty, and this preference for novelty has a name: perceptual curiosity. It’s what motivates infants, and probably adults as well, to explore and seek out new things before growing less interested in them after continued exposure. An infant babbling is an example of it.
It could be argued that some of us never stop babbling!
Genius or Gobbledygook? Curiosity and the Brilliance Spectrum
As I was flicking through my TikTok feed over my morning coffee today, I paused on a random video clip from an American motivational speaker. You know the sort, one of those bejewelled, big smiley, golden-toothed fellers.
He was one of those “my life was all shit but now it’s all good and I want to tell you all about it – if you’ll just take out a second mortgage to pay for my advice.”
Naturally, he was dressed in the requisite Hugo Boss or Armani, or whatever, and had assistants to hold up his arms from the weight of all the metal on his fingers and wrists!
Well, I was about to flick on past, when he mentioned something actually interesting:
“…Children up to the age of four are operating at the genius level. The same group of children were studied in their early 20s, and only 10 percent were operating at the genius, or what we might call the brilliance level. In their late 20s and early 30s, only 2 percent were still operating at that level.”
Hmmm. It should be noted the concept of a “genius” or “brilliance” level, as mentioned by Mr. Bling in his Tikety-Tokety Ted Talk, is interesting but those are not scientifically defined terms.
Real Curiosity: If The Lights are On, Why Isn’t Anyone Home?
Putting my ‘smarty pants’ on for a moment:
Intelligence and cognitive ability are complex and can change and develop over time. So, it’s not accurate to use a label like “genius” or “brilliance” to identify a group of people, or to suggest that intelligence decreases as people get older.
In fact, proper research has shown that intelligence can continue to develop and change throughout a person’s life. Education, experience, and training can all contribute to the development of intelligence in a person.
Of course, there are people you take one look at and think: Woah! the lights are on, but nobody’s home there…
Suspicious Minds: Curiosity Takes Us Down the “Why?” Rabbit Hole
I must say that having a child-like curiosity about everything led me into a long career in broadcast news. I became a journalist because I’ve always had this fire in the belly to find out what the story is all about, to discover the facts of a matter, and share what I discovered.
Curiosity about anything and everything is essential if you want to work, as I have, in journalism or the intelligence field, or creatively as a singer, actor, writer, producer, or director.
I’ve always been fascinated by the world around me and wanted to know more about how and why things are the way they are. I chose my main career, broadcast journalism, as a way to channel my curiosity and use it to investigate and report on important issues and stories.
Mostly, I reckon a healthy sense of curiosity, and not just a passing interest in something – I’m talking about a genuine desire to learn more about the world and the people around us – can have some amazing benefits.
For starters, it can lead to deeper learning and personal growth.
When we’re curious about something, we’re more likely to peek under a few more rocks to try to get a better handle on whatever it is that’s grabbed our attention, to understand it better. When we get the ol’ brainworks into action, we’re more likely to think outside the box and come up with unique solutions to problems.
Curiosity: Elixir for the Mind – Forget the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
For me, it’s not just about personal growth and creativity. Curiosity can also have some pretty significant benefits for our mental health. The fact is people who are curious and engage in activities that challenge themselves upstairs are at a lower risk of developing conditions like Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Curiosity can help to reduce stress, improve our overall well-being, and it can also be incredibly helpful when it comes to decision-making. Being curious and grabbing as much information as possible can help us to make more informed decisions.
Being informed can prevent us going off half-cocked in situations where the stakes are high, or the consequences of a decision might be significant.
Somebody should have mentioned that to Trumpty Dumpty before he became President!
Anyway, I’ll be curious for as long as I’m around. What about you?
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