Taxonomies of Creativity

After Mark posted his thoughts, I recently completed two books on creativity, talent, and expertise: The Road to Excellence: The Acquistion of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, edited by K. Anders Ericsson, and Creativity: From Potential to Realization, edited by Robert J. Sternberg Elana L. Grigorenko, and Jerome L. Singer. From the chapters in the book, it seems reasonable to divide the study of “creativity” to the study of talent, creativity, expertise, and invention. That is

  • Talent is the potential for Creativity, Expertise, and Invention
  • Creativity = Talent + training
  • Expertise = Creativity+ overtraining
  • Invention = Creativity + profitmotive


What is creativity?

Identifying expertise as a subset of creativity, rather than the reverse, is not something I’ve seen before. But I think it’s valid. Both rely on a high degree of domain-specific knowledge. The difference appears to be that mere Experts are foreclosed to creativity by over rigid mental structures, ignoring conflicting observations, lack of psychopathology, and other things that can be avoided by the looser (but still knowledge-rich) thinking of the creativity.

Beyond this, my other notes are more prosaic and deal with the creativity research itself. Such research is correlational, biographical clinical/on-site, laboratory, or computational. It studies domains such as academics, arts, sports, or professions. It follows the research agenda of cognitivism, social cognitivism, developmentalism, complex dynamic systems. Most researchers view creativity as domain-specific, though some argue it is domain-general.

The Tedious American High Horse: Reflecting on the FARC

I hope Soob doesn’t mind me jamming on his brilliant post on torture. But high basic theme — the innanity of faddish fundamentalism — is applicable to the FARC too. Many of the American left and center-left are suspicious of American power, and are quick to aid opponents of the United States when they see American power used in a imperfect manner. One example is torture, where the obvious reality that is fixated on, there is an error rate, the equally obvious reality that your information on the manner is perfect is ignored. So when it comes to torture, hacks like Andrew Sullivan fixate on the topic, demanding a perfection in a war effort that exists no where else. Likewise, when it comes to the FARC (the armed wing of the Clandestine Colombian Communist Party), Senators like Chris Dodd are so angered by the Colombian governments imperfect efforts to fight terrorism that they condemn the Colombian government.

The Americas –
It may have taken years for army intelligence to infiltrate the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and it may have been tough to convincingly impersonate rebels. But what seems to have been a walk in the park was getting the FARC to believe that an NGO was providing resources to help it in the dirty work of ferrying captives to a new location.
The Colombian military tricked the FARC into releasing their most valuable hostages. Mary Anastasia O’Grady, who writes the “Americas” column, talks with Kelsey Hubbard about how the once-powerful guerrilla group was duped. (July 7)

I am reminded of President Álvaro Uribe’s 2003 statement that some “human rights” organizations in his country were fronts for terrorists. Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd got his back up over Mr. Uribe’s statement, and piously lectured the Colombian president about “the importance of democratic values.”

But as the helicopter story suggests, Mr. Uribe seems to have been right. How else to explain the fact that the FARC swallowed the line without batting an eye?

This warrants attention because it adds to the already robust evidence that left-wing NGOs and other so-called human rights defenders, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Colombian Sen. Piedad Cordoba, are nothing more than propagandists for terrorists.

When passions over kidnap victim Ingrid Betancourt and the other hostages were running high, these actors pressed Mr. Uribe to grant FARC demands. Now it is clear that the pressure was geared more toward strengthening the rebels’ hand than freeing the captives.

Left-wing NGOs have made undermining the Colombian government’s credibility a priority for many years. A 2003 internal report from the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá titled “A Closer Look at Human Rights Statistics” confirmed as much. It found that NGO analyses – for example by the Jesuit-founded Center for Popular Research and Education known as Cinep – of the human-rights environment contained a heavy bias against the government while granting a wide berth to guerrillas.

Chriss Dodd can keep his lectures on democracy, and Andrew Sullivan can keep his lectures on the treatment of prisoners, and (for that matter). Reality demands solutions that have a average effectiveness enough to win, with an error rate low enough so we won’t lose.

Everything else is theory.

The Destruction of the Academy in the United States

The American Academy is under unreletening assault. It will not survive.

American Politics Aren’t ‘Post-Racial’ –
Still, what happened at IUPUI is a pungent reminder of all that’s possible now in the rarefied ideological atmosphere on our college campuses – and in this presidential election year, not perhaps only on our campuses.

The story began prosaically enough. Keith Sampson, a student employee on the janitorial staff earning his way toward a degree, was in the habit of reading during work breaks. Last October he was immersed in “Notre Dame Vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan.”

Mr. Sampson was in short order visited by his union representative, who informed him he must not bring this book to the break room, and that he could be fired. Taking the book to the campus, Mr. Sampson says he was told, was “like bringing pornography to work.” That it was a history of the battle students waged against the Klan in the 1920s in no way impressed the union rep.

The assistant affirmative action officer who next summoned the student was similarly unimpressed. Indeed she was, Mr. Sampson says, irate at his explanation that he was, after all, reading a scholarly book. “The Klan still rules Indiana,” Marguerite Watkins told him – didn’t he know that? Mr. Sampson, by now dazed, pointed out that this book was carried in the university library. Yes, she retorted, you can get Klan propaganda in the library.

Of course, the universities will be successful. Higher (in the sense of graduate and post-graduate) learning will be successful. Science will be successful.

But the intellectualism that only barely existed for a century in the United States is a goner.

Its most visible enemies have been the Leftists and their fellow-travelers, who beginning with the rising generation of the 1960s and 1970s overthrew traditional fields of study like geography, history, archaeology, and literature in the service of Leftist ideals.

Both the old Academy and the Leftists, however, are under even more heartless attack from the Quantitative Revolution, the measurement-and-control movement that subjects everything to test-and-reject, measure-and-fund, quantitative certainties.

The romantic academia that lives in our heart is dying or dead. Given a future between the Tyranny of Leftists and the Tyranny of the Quantitative Revolutions, my sympathies go to the quantitativists. They save what can be saved, submitting the universities to Research, Application, and funded Goals.

A colder but more efficient academy is being born. One that has as much room for Leftism, or the joy of learning, as IBM Global Services.