11 Jul 2010

"Young and foolish" takes on new meaning

The Creativity Crisis by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman is a must-read article over at newsweek.com.

The authors explore the inverse correlation between measured Intelligence and Creativity Quotients over the last two decades.

It seems that tests that have been running since 1958 have near-conclusively proven that although IQ has been rising continuously in this time, CQ has begun to fall in the US since about 1990!

There is doubt as to why it is happening, but there is definitely no doubt that creativity matters. In fact, 1500 CEOs recent surveyed in an IBM poll, identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency” of the future, according to the article.

However, bearing in mind that the median age of the world population is a mere 28.4 years (according to The World Factbook), I fear that it's not the "future" but the "present" that most urgently needs the intervention of ingenuity and creativity!

The future might simply be too late.

By the way, scientists now believe it isn't just a "right brain vs. left brain" quirk either. Read on, if you are over 20 and can stay awake...

"The lore of pop psychology is that creativity occurs on the right side of the brain. But we now know that if you tried to be creative using only the right side of your brain, it’d be like living with ideas perpetually at the tip of your tongue, just beyond reach.

When you try to solve a problem, you begin by concentrating on obvious facts and familiar solutions, to see if the answer lies there. This is a mostly left-brain stage of attack. If the answer doesn’t come, the right and left hemispheres of the brain activate together. Neural networks on the right side scan remote memories that could be vaguely relevant. A wide range of distant information that is normally tuned out becomes available to the left hemisphere, which searches for unseen patterns, alternative meanings, and high-level abstractions.

Having glimpsed such a connection, the left brain must quickly lock in on it before it escapes. The attention system must radically reverse gears, going from defocused attention to extremely focused attention. In a flash, the brain pulls together these disparate shreds of thought and binds them into a new single idea that enters consciousness. This is the “aha!” moment of insight, often followed by a spark of pleasure as the brain recognizes the novelty of what it’s come up with.

Now the brain must evaluate the idea it just generated. Is it worth pursuing? Creativity requires constant shifting, blender pulses of both divergent thinking and convergent thinking, to combine new information with old and forgotten ideas. Highly creative people are very good at marshaling their brains into bilateral mode, and the more creative they are, the more they dual-activate."

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