When I read Eliezer's original post, my moral intuition crashed. I was confused, and suspected something was wrong with either the question, or with me.
Are you really suggesting that choosing to not commit to an answer immediately but to instead think about it and explore the scenario for a while was the wrong answer? If the scenario were instead "choose TORTURE or SPECKS within the next N seconds or get one at random," and was real, not a thought experiment, then see Eliezer's point: inaction is an action.
The allure of the incompletely understood has something to do with wonder. The state of being curious gives me a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside that goes away when the curiosity eliminates itself. Assuming that others experience this as well, perhaps it is an evolutionary incentive to explore--to do some original seeing. This seems appropriate in the ancestral environment where, as you point out, going out and learning something new benefits the whole tribe.
In today's environment, however, most novel knowledge accessible to the average person is essentially trivial. If it were important and easy enough to learn, someone would already have found it. So people find ways to push their warm-fuzzy buttons by contemplating the implications of knowledge they don't really understand, such as quantum mechanics. This is then just a candy bar or a supermodel--a superstimulus.
I think that was Jubal in Stranger in a Strange Land. I could be mistaken, however; all those father-figures seem to run together.