In volume 121 of the Journal of Cell Science an essay titled "The importance of stupidity in scientific research" by Martin A. Schwartz was published. We came across this essay a few days ago and absolutely loved it. Schwartz talks about how most of us decide to pursue science because we were good at it in high school, but in reality research makes you feel stupid. He writes:
I remember the day when Henry Taube (who won the Nobel Prize two years later) told me
he didn’t know how to solve the problem I was having in his area. I was a third-year graduate student and I figured that Taube knew about 1000 times more than I did (conservative estimate). If he didn’t have the answer, nobody did. That’s when it hit me: nobody did. That’s why it was a research problem. And being my research problem, it was up to me to solve.
Schwartz talks about how most of us as students don't real how difficult real research is, and how it can be orders of magnitudes harder than our hardest science classes. This difficulty is created by the fact that research by definition is a journey into the uncharted.
The second point he makes is that schools do students a disservice by not teaching how to be "productively stupid"; we as students are often used to being right the first time. He defines "productive stupidity" as If you're not feeling stupid you're not trying hard enough. I agree with him when he says the goal of science is to learn new things, as he writes:
One of the beautiful things about science is that it allows us to bumble along, getting it wrong time after time, and feel perfectly fine as long as we learn something each time.
I loved this essay, and it is quite possibly one of the best I have encountered in a while. I would highly suggest that as pre-meds you hunt out essays in various journals and read them, namely try to read the essays in NEJM and JAMA at the least. They will expand your mind greatly and help you to understand the world that we are trying to get into better.