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The Role of Intuition and Imagination in Scientific Discovery and Creativity: A 1957 Guide

The Role of Intuition and Imagination in Scientific Discovery and Creativity: A 1957 Guide
by Maria Popova “Those who do not know the torment of the unknown cannot have the joy of discovery.” Last week, we took in some timeless vintage wisdom on the role of serendipity and chance-opportunism in creativity and scientific discovery, culled from the 1957 gem The Art of Scientific Investigation (public library; public domain) by Cambridge University animal pathology professor W. I. B. Beveridge — a brilliant treatise on creativity in science and, by extension, in all endeavors of the mind. Today, as promised, we revisit Beveridge’s hefty tome to examine his ideas on the role of intuition and the imagination. The important thing to realize is that the conjuring up of the idea is not a deliberate, voluntary act. In allowing for these magic moments to occur, Beveridge stresses the importance of embracing uncertainty and doubt: He once again quotes Dewey, who advocated what he called “reflective thinking”: It is not possible deliberately to create ideas or to control their creation. Related:  BrainCreativity & IntuitionLearn

The Art of Chance-Opportunism in Creativity and Scientific Discovery: A 1957 Guide by Maria Popova “To be perfectly original one should think much and read little, and this is impossible, for one must have read before one has learnt to think.” What a magical Rube Goldberg machine of discovery literature is — the original “inter-net,” if you will, with the allusions, citations, and references in one work opening doors to countless others. One such Rube Goldberg chain reaction began in last month’s Dancing About Architecture: A Little Book of Creativity, which first led me to the 1939 gem A Technique for Producing Ideas, and then to The Art of Scientific Investigation (public library; public domain) — an absolutely fantastic treatise on creativity in science and, by extension, in all endeavors of the mind, originally written by Cambridge University animal pathology professor W. I. One recurring emphasis by Beveridge is the eclecticism of influence necessary for true originality and the idea that creativity is combining and connecting things: Beveridge dives deeper:

Are all new things a mash-up of what came before? A Q&A with Kirby Ferguson In today’s TEDTalk, director Kirby Ferguson outlines a bold vision of creativity — that it’s not about dreaming up a new song, a new piece of art or a new form of technology in a vacuum, but instead about remixing what has come before. In his fast-paced talk, Kirby reveals that many of our most iconic thinkers — from Henry Ford to Bob Dylan — embraced this idea of what it means to create. As we watched Kirby’s talk, a slew of questions popped to mind. What does this mean for creative people? Can we reach a point where ideas become too self-referential? We have this intuitive notion of creativity, of this brilliant genius who creates something totally new and wows everybody. It’s copying, then transforming and combining. It’s sort of like building a platform and then building a platform on top of that and then building a platform on top of that and getting higher and higher that way. You’re suggesting that creativity happens on a spectrum. I would say absolutely not. It’s interesting.

Consciousness science and ethics: Abortion, animal rights, and vegetative-state debates Courtesy Daniel Bor. It is easy to view consciousness as a kind of magic. In religion it is represented by the mysterious soul, and in science the concept of consciousness at first appears quite alien. But many fields, such as the study of what distinguishes life from nonlife, had their earlier magical states eroded by careful scientific study. Consciousness is in the midst of a similar revolution. The investigation of our own awareness is a blossoming scientific field, where experiments are illuminating exciting details about this most intimate of scientific subjects. But the nature of consciousness is not just a vital question for science; it’s also the source of some of society’s thorniest, most fundamental ethical dilemmas. On a personal level, consciousness is where the meaning to life resides. Whether I’m reveling in a glowing pleasure or even if I’m enduring a sharp sadness, I always sense that behind everything there is the privilege and passion of experience.

Your Intuition Is Your Answer “When you know, you know.” I never understood this quote, until I understood it. Nine years ago, I stood in the doorway of the house in which I currently live, and declared, “I’m home,” without ever stepping foot inside. One month later, I moved in. Two and a half years ago, I visited my friend for a massage. I stood in the doorway, groggy from body work and declared, “This is my yoga studio.” I know when I have arrived home. There is a clear difference between impulse and intuition. Impulsive action leads to a stampede of second guessing, the feeling of being out in the cold, confused and indecisive. Intuitive action leads us home, without a doubt in our minds, we are safe–inside of ourselves. This was the Facebook status I wrote yesterday. She asked me, “What do you do when you don’t know? My answer, “Sit and wait for awhile.” She replied, “It is hard to wait when I want to be proactive.” We can easily confuse being impulsive with being proactive. It is hard to stay quiet and wait.

Wonder How To » Show & Tell for Creators & Doers Five Effortless Postures that Foster Creative Thinking Literally sitting outside a box, rather than in it, makes you more creative, according to new psychological research. There are lots of metaphors floating around in creativity. We talk about ‘thinking outside the box’, ‘putting two and two together’ and ‘seeing both sides of the problem’. But are these only metaphors or can we boost our creativity by taking them literally? That’s the question Leung et al. (2012) examine in a new study published in the journal Psychological Science. 1. Creative ideas are often arrived at by bringing together two apparently unrelated thoughts. So, what if while trying to solve a problem you physically hold up one hand followed by the other? Leung et al. had participants doing this and found that those who gestured with both hands came up with more novel ideas than those who gestured with just one hand. 2. ‘Thinking outside the box’ is an awfully overused cliché. 3. 4. Not all creative thinking is about plucking amazing ideas out of the ether. It did. 5.

On Bob Dylan And Jonah Lehrer, Two Fabulists : The Record hide captionBob Dylan at a press conference at the Savoy Hotel in London in 1966. Fiona Adams/Redferns/Getty Images Bob Dylan at a press conference at the Savoy Hotel in London in 1966. Yesterday my husband and I had the same thought at the same time. It's not an uncommon occurrence for two writers who've spent decades arguing and enthusing about pop music. This might be obvious, but the person whose quotes Lehrer made up, Dylan, fabricated characters and quotes in his own autobiography, lied about his upbringing when he appeared on the scene, steals all the time, and is celebrated as our culture's very definition of genius. Eric's observation inspired 20 or so responses, mostly from other writers, mostly insisting that Lehrer not be given a pass for a grievous journalistic misstep. Before the Dylanologists out there attack, let me quickly add that I believe Bob Dylan is also one of the world's ultimate purveyors of truth.

The 'Busy' Trap Anxiety: We worry. A gallery of contributors count the ways. If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this; it’s something we collectively force one another to do. Notice it isn’t generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs who tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired. Brecht Vandenbroucke Even children are busy now, scheduled down to the half-hour with classes and extracurricular activities. The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness. I am not busy. Here I am largely unmolested by obligations. (Anxiety welcomes submissions at

Intuition Pumps: Daniel Dennett on the Dignity and Art-Science of Making Mistakes by Maria Popova “The chief trick to making good mistakes is not to hide them — especially not from yourself.” “If you are not making mistakes, you’re not taking enough risks,” Debbie Millman counseled. “Make New Mistakes. Though most of his 77 “intuition pumps” address concrete questions, a dozen are “general-purpose” tools that apply deeply and widely, across just about any domain of thinking. Echoing Dorion Sagan’s case for why science and philosophy need each other, Dennett begins with an astute contribution to the best definitions of philosophy, wrapped in a necessary admonition about the value of history: The history of philosophy is in large measure the history of very smart people making very tempting mistakes, and if you don’t know the history, you are doomed to making the same darn mistakes all over again. … There is no such thing as philosophy-free science, just science that has been conducted without any consideration of its underlying philosophical assumptions. Share on Tumblr

DIY Polygraph Machine: Detect Lies with Tin Foil, Wire and Arduino DIY Polygraph Machine: Detect Lies with Tin Foil, Wire and Arduino Lying is awesome. From a very young age, children learn that flat out denying the truth gets you out of trouble and helps keep you calm in the face of horror. But what happens when you just have to know if someone, say, used your toothbrush? You could ask them to take an expensive and arduous polygraph test. If you're industrious and don't have the dough for a legit polygraph, you can make your very own galvanic skin response (GSR) device. Today, we will make a cheap GSR device and learn if our toothbrush is really safe after all. Materials ArduinoAluminum foilVelcroWire10k resistorBreadboard Step 1 Make the Electrodes GSR machines require an even and consistent connection to the skin in order to function properly. Begin by taping the exposed end of a wires to a sheet of foil. Adhere a strip of Velcro over the tape and cut off the extra foil. Last, add a single piece of Velcro at the end of the foil side. Step 3 Load the Code

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