We are curious because curiosity gave our ancestors an evolutionary advantage: curious people knew where there were dangers, where to find food, where to find shelter. A curious person held a branch on fire rather than running away from it – not because she or he guessed it could come useful for cooking, for heating, or as a weapon or a source of energy – but because they were intensely curious about it. It’s our most useful instinct.
Curiosity-led scientific research is the collective embodiment of human curiosity. It is helping us to survive and develop as a species. The moment we stop doing it will be the beginning of the end for our species.
We must fight to enshrine social support for curiosity-driven research. That’s research we do because we want to know, not because we want to achieve something. That’s the type of research that will save our civilisation from global warming, from hurtling meteorites, from dangerous microbes – from everything that, without our curiosity, we would never even have known about.