McCain for Georgia, Obama for Russia

As if there wasn’t enough reasons to vote for John McCain already, John McCain’s defense of Georgia:

“For many years, I have warned against Russian actions that undermine the sovereignty of its neighbors. Unfortunately, we have seen in recent days Russia demonstrate that these concerns were well-founded.

“This afternoon I spoke, for the second time since the crisis began, with Georgian President Saakashvili. It is clear the situation is dire. Russian aggression against Georgia continues, with attacks occurring far beyond the Georgian region of South Ossetia. As casualties continue to mount, the international community must do all it can to avert further escalations. Tensions and hostilities between Georgians and Ossetians are in no way justification for Russian troops crossing an internationally recognized border. I again call on the Government of Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces from the territory of Georgia.

“Given this threat to Euro-Atlantic security, I am pleased to see the United States, the European Union, and NATO acting together by sending a delegation to the region, in an effort to broker a cease fire. This is an important first step.

The Weekly Standard.

was parralleled by Obama whining that McCain was insufficiently pro-Russian.

Back in January 2005, I priased Hillary Clinton and John McCain for their work building democracy in Eastern Europe.  Barack Obama has the audacity to condemn John McCain for standing by Georgia.


In Europe, at least, “Global Warming”

is a useful lie to get people to import less energy from Russia. The weaker Russia is, the better for everyone. If the European leadership does not believe they can rally their people for more direct confrontation with Russia, pushing the “global warming” meme is useful proxy.

When you read that 0.3% of Saharan sun-power can power Europe, don’t read that as a pie-in-the-sky dream to save the polar bears. It’s a way of snatching future dollars out of Russia’s pocket. And that’s a very good thing.

How serious is the Russian invasion of Georgia?

It strikes me as obvious that the Russian invasion of Georgia is far more serious than, say, Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb. I’d be happy to give Iran nuclear weapons in exchange for Iranian on-the-ground assistance in building up anti-Russian militias and political parties, for example.

Still, how do we prioritize containing Russia, now that it’s reverted to its invade-neighbors strategy of territorial growth? Is accelerating the decline of Russia more important than winning the Pakistani civil war? Defeating al Qaeda?

While Iranian-backed anti-Russian death squads are fanciful, covertly arming the Islamists in Chechnya is not. So where do we draw the line?

Russia’s Campaign of State Terror

Russia’s policy is not technically genocidal, as it does not seek to destroy Georgians as a race.  Rather, it is a series of massacres, a campaign of targeting civilian people.  This is in spite of Georgia’s focus on fighting on military personal.

GORI, Georgia — Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia veered closer to all-out war on Saturday as Russia moved parts of its Black Sea fleet toward Georgia’s coast and intensified air attacks on Georgia, striking two apartment buildings in the city of Gori and clogging roads out of the area with fleeing refugees.

Russia acknowledged that Georgian forces had shot down two Russian warplanes, while a senior Georgian official said the Georgians had destroyed 10 Russian jets. Russian armored vehicles continued to stream into South Ossetia, the pro-Russian region that won de facto autonomy from Georgia in the early 1990s.

1,500 Reported Killed in Georgia Battle –

Russia’s campaign of State Terror recalls their outrages in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Finland.  The same factors that make Russia a terrible neighbor and a threat to the Core also lead to their incompetently bloodly military operations: a focus on steadfastness, a history of authoritarianism, and an inability to promote the best to the top.

Russia should be rolled back.  Back out of Georgia.  Back out of Europe.  Back out of an ability to matter.

Recognized Creativity, like Domain Knowledge or Motivation, should be a target for improvement in all learners

One of the chief avowed objectives of modern education is the encouragement of creativity, originality, inventiveness, ingenuity, innovation, new ideas, novel solutions, and fresh approaches to all problems, all directed toward “socially useful” ends.

John Stanley, The Riddle of Creativity, 1956

Csikszentmihalyi (1996) describes three meanings of “creativity.” The first of these, “brilliance,” is the capacity to be an engaging and interesting person. The second of these, “personality creativity,” refers to the ability to think and respond in novel ways. The third of these, “creativity without qualification,” relies on the social context of the field and a domain. Unfortunately, all forms of creativity described by Csikzentmihalyi contain problems that make them difficult for understanding how creativity varies in the population These forms of creativity has since been joined by what may be called recognized creativity, a form of creativity that may exist in all learners and varies in the population. Such a definition of recognized creativity allows for an consistent method for measuring creativity and presents a way of building creativity in all learners.

Csikszentmihalyi describes the first use of the term creativity to reference persons who express unusual thoughts, who are interesting and stimulating – in short, people who appear to be unusually bright” (p. 25). Thus, an individual whose conversational ability attracts a measurable crowd at a cocktail party might be creative in this use of the term. However, Csikszentmihalyi writes that “Unless they also contribute something of permanent significance, I refer to people of this sort as brilliant rather than creative..” Likewise, in this use, a professor’s brilliance may vary in terms of the number of students taking her seminar, but this is not a reflection of a professor’s creativity.

The second use of creativity described by Csikzentmihalyi references persons “who experience the world in novel and original ways” (p. 25). Using the term “personally creative,” Csikzentmihalyi associates this use with divergent thinking.” Personal creativity is under an individual’s control, and may be improved through changing one’s habits. His suggestions for becoming more personally creative “Produce as many ideas as possible” (p. 368), “Have as many different ideas as possible” (p. 369), and “Try to produce unlikely ideas” (p. 369) evoke the Torrance nearly half-century work on creativity (Torrance, 2001).

Csikszentmihalyi’s third use, and the one he dedicates most of his book to, “designates individuals who, like Leonardo, Edison, Picasso, or Einstein, have changed our culture in some important aspect” (p. 26-27). Csikszentmihalyi refers to these individuals are “the creative ones without qualification” (p. 26), and also to this form of creativity as “creativity with a capital C” (p. 27). This unqualified creativity occurs in the interrelation of three parts: the domain or “the set of symbols and procedures” (p. 27), the field or “all individuals who act as gatekeeprs to the domain” (p. 28) and the individual. Unqualified individuals belongs to a few individuals, so those who do not change our culture in some important aspect are by definition not unqualifiedly creative.

All of the uses of the term “creativity” identified by Csikszentmihalyi possess advantages as well as flaws. The concept of unqualified creativity is powerful because it emphasizes the role of the domain, the field, and the person all determining an individual’s creativity. However, most people do not possess unqualified creativity, and thus it cannot be steadily improved among most people as can other subjects studied by educational psychologists. Likewise, divergent thinking is easily measurably and may help contribute to unqualified creativity. However, the measure is a predictor, not a measure, of an individual’s success with the field of a domain, so does not have the external validity of unqualified creativity. Finally, individual brilliance likewise may involve neither changing our culture in some important aspect, nor experiencing the world in novel ways, but still meet with success against a field of a domain: say, a tenure committee that uses students in a seminar as a measure of an assistant professor’s ability to contribute to the their domain as an educator.

Fortunately, another method of describing creativity solves these problems. The works in this new way of studying creativity often do not distinguish this style of creativity than others, but I will refer to it as “recognized creativity.” This concept has been defined by Pucker and colleagues (in press) as “the interplay between ability and process by which an individual or group produces an outcome or product that is both novel and useful and defined within some social context” (as cited by Plucker & Beghetto, ), the generation of novel and useful outcomes in a domain (Tierney & Farmer, 2002), and “the generation of novel or original ideas that are useful for relevant,” (Choi, 2004, p.188). This definition encompasses what is met by all three forms of creativity identified by Csikszentmihalyi. Brilliant people are those that are able to produce conversation that is novel and useful for a party, while the “big-C creative” are able to do so on a scale that changes our culture. Individual creativity remains a predictor of recognized creativity, an important factor in person’s contribution to the domain-field-person interaction that decides whether someone is creative or not.

An advantage of defining recognized creativity as the contribution of useful products to the field of a domain is that it allows for a consistent way of measuring recognized creativity. Once a researcher has defined a domain, a field, then all that is left is operationalizing a measurement of a field’s acceptance of an individual. Consider recognized creativity among researchers, for example. In that case, one defines the domain as a academic specialty, such as psychology, the field as the researcher’s peers, and then operationalize the field of the domain’s acceptance of a researcher by the number of journal articles accepted, or the number of citations these articles have received. For the domain of blogging, likewise, one may define the field as other bloggers, and the measure creativity as the product of the number of links an individual’s blog receives and the average recognized creativity of those blogs.

Perhaps the first reference to a “general factor of creativity” appeared half a century ago (Stanley, 1956, p. 79). Torrance’s research career on divergent thinking, and Csikszentmihalyi’s concern for improving the ability to generate new ideas, are part of this tradition. A general factor of creativity is no doubt an important predictor of creative success in life, just as the general factor of intelligence is no doubt an important predictor of general success in life. However, as educational psychologists, it is our to make the education of learners of all abilities successful. Thus, with respect to education and memory, we study general ability, but focus on changing domain knowledge and motivation. Likewise, with respect to creativity, personal creativity is important in so far as it predicts the generation of new and useful outcomes for some social context. Increased recognized creativity, no less than increased domain knowledge or motivation, is a worthwhile outcome for educational psychologists to study. I hope they do so soon.


Choi, J.N. (2004). Individual and contextual predictors of creative performance: The mediating role of psychological processes. Creativity Research Journal, 16(2 & 3), 187-199.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Plucker, J.A., & Beghetto, R.A. (2004). Why creativity is domain general, why it looks domain specific, and why the distinction does not matter. In R. J. Sternberg, E. L. Grigorenko, Eds., Creativity: From potential to realization. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.

Plucker, J.A., Beghetto, R.A., & Dow, G.T. (2006) Why isn’t creativity more important to educational psychologists? Potential, pitfalls, and future directions in creativity research. Educational Psychologist, 39(2), 83-96.

Stanley, J.C. (1956). The riddle of creativity. Peabody Journal of Education, 34(2), 79-81.

Tierney, P. & Farmer, S.M.. (2002). Creative self-efficacy: Its potential antecedents and relationship to creative performance. Academy of Management Journal, 45(6), 1137-1148.”

Torrance, E.P. (2001). Manifesto: A guide for developing a creative career. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.