Here Firestein means by "ignorance" (in his own words) "a particular condition of knowledge: the absence of fact, understanding, insight, or clarity about something. . . . . . This is knowledgeable ignorance, perceptive ignorance, insightful ignorance." To most scientists Firestein's "ignorance" is simply "stupidity" - see e.g., the signature quotes.
My own three decades worth of experience as a solid-state physicist is consistent with Firestein's thesis that "ignorance" (as defined above and called by scientists "stupidity") drives science - see e.g., "Early History of High Field Superconductivity: 1930-1967 - A Tragicomedy in Twelve Acts" [Hake (2011)] at <http://bit.ly/ojnMqo> (8.8 MB), especially the Epilogue on page 28, wherein I give quotes supporting Firestein's thesis by scientists Berlincourt, Brush, Dyson, and Pippard.
In this post I also give links to further evidence in support of Firestein's thesis:
A. Three abstracts of discussion-list posts: a. "Re: Should the History of Science Be Rated X?" [Hake (2012a)] at <http://bit.ly/NclPUR>; b. "Should the History of Science Be Rated X? ADDENDA" [Hake (2012b)] at <http://bit.ly/NUe6LC>; and c. "Can Education Research Be 'Scientific'? What's 'Scientific'? [Hake (2012c)] at <http://bit.ly/YrZJUS>.
B. Two books: a. "Real Science: What it is, and what it means" [Ziman (2000)] at <http://bit.ly/c8N2U1>, especially Ziman's statement on p. 183 <http://bit.ly/16OorRe> "most scientists would say that their research is directed into specific AREAS OF IGNORANCE" - My CAPS. b. "Out of the Crystal Maze: Chapters from The History of Solid State Physics" [Hoddeson et al. (1992)] at <http://bit.ly/195zbRk>. *******************************************
"The pace of fundamental advance in physics is set by human STUPIDITY. The pace is, and always has been, very slow." - Freeman Dyson (1958), my CAPS
"If we wish to boast of our achievements, let us not point to the unerring pursuit of truth by a logically faultless thinking machine, but to the astonishing way in which truth can be caused to emerge from the toils of error and STUPIDITY." - A.B. Pippard (1977), my CAPS
REFERENCES [URL shortened by <http://bit.ly/> and accessed on 19 July 2013.] Hake, R.R. 2013. "How Ignorance Drives Science #3" online on the OPEN! Net-Gold archives at <http://yhoo.it/17rfTBZ>. Post of 19 Jul 2013 16:06:12-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being distributed to various discussion lists and are also on my blog "Hake'sEdStuff" at <http://bit.ly/13PLYX5> with a provision for comments.