Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27 2014: Part 1. “Secrets of the Creative Brain” by Nancy Andreasen is one of the finest articles on creativity that I have read to date. If she hasn’t determined all the secrets of creativity, she is certainly on the right track. And she writes with clarity and style.

“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not’?”

George Bernard Shaw

Before I comment on Nancy Andreasen’s quite excellent—and highly readable—piece, SECRETS OF THE CREATIVE BRAIN, let me list some personal thoughts on creativity as they come to mind. 

Yes, I think about this stuff. It’s hugely important o me.

  • Society, by and large, is neither led nor governed by creative people. This has important implications. If you believe in the power of creativity—as I do—they are largely negative.
  • Creativity is an extraordinarily powerful force which society fails to utilize adequately. Indeed, to a great extent, it suppresses it. It’s an underutilized resource.
  • Creativity is initially discouraged by  educational systems which, by and large, seek to socialize and educate though the imposition of disciplined conformity.
  • Creative people are innately non-conformist.
  • Creative people are often highly disciplined—but in their own way.
  • The creative process, in itself, tends to be messy.
  • Although everyone is creative to a certain extent, there are profound differences between most of us—and truly creative people. As a consequence, most people don’t truly understand creativity—and many, often unconsciously, resent it.
  • Creativity often comes up with answers without questions being asked—in any conscious way—but, arguably, it would be even more effective if we were able to frame the right questions.
  • Creativity—which is innately questioning—is socially disruptive.
  • Creativity is almost invariably opposed by the the powerful interests who are vested in the status quo.
  • Creativity is inherently risky—and creative people are rarely rewarded adequately, if at all, for the risks they take.
  • Creative people are driven by the challenges of the work itself.
  • Creativity—at its best—is holistic in its approach.
  • Rigid, authoritarian organizations—whether they be corporate, government, military, academic, or religious—are hostile to creativity because they are the epitome of the status quo.
  • Creative people do need support—and often a great deal of it—but that support needs to be loose, flexible, and open.
  • Creativity is capable of resolving most of the problems society faces but only at the cost of disrupting the status quo.

I’ll continue on this theme tomorrow, but let me close with a teaser  extract from SECRETS OF THE CREATIVE BRAIN.

Although many people continue to equate intelligence with genius, a crucial conclusion from Terman’s study is that having a high IQ is not equivalent to being highly creative. Subsequent studies by other researchers have reinforced Terman’s conclusions, leading to what’s known as the threshold theory, which holds that above a certain level, intelligence doesn’t have much effect on creativity: most creative people are pretty smart, but they don’t have to be that smart, at least as measured by conventional intelligence tests. An IQ of 120, indicating that someone is very smart but not exceptionally so, is generally considered sufficient for creative genius.

I suspect the above reveals more about the limitations of the IQ test than creativity. It confirms what I have long thought.

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