From Stewart Firestein’s Ignorance: How It Drives Science:
The poet John Keats hit upon an ideal state of mind for the literary psyche that he called Negative Capability – “that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without an irritable reaching after fact and reason”…Scientists do reach after fact and reason, but it is when they are most uncertain that the reaching is most imaginative. Erwin Schrödinger, one of the great philosopher-scientists, says, “In an honest search for knowledge you quite often have to abide by ignorance for an indefinite period”… Being a scientist requires having faith in uncertainty, finding pleasure in mystery, and learning to cultivate doubt. There is no surer way to screw up an experiment than to be certain of its outcome.
There is no more sure way to kill your job prospects than to “abide by ignorance for an indefinite period” and if you want your grant funded, you absolutely have to be certain of the outcome of your experiment. Uncertainty may be great for science, and I completely agree with Firestein that much of the pleasure in science is pushing the boundaries of the unknown, but that’s a luxury for established, well-funded investigators.
In today’s career climate, you need to publish fast, with somebody famous, and you need to have your results already in hand to get funded. Science these days, at least in the biomedical field, both at the hiring committee levels and the funding agency level, is extremely risk-averse. The best advice is put your nose to the grindstone, forget formulating your own deep questions, forget exploration and ignorance, and just publish, publish, publish on a topic that is already hot and a sure bet.