Category Archives: Tea Party

Isaac Asimov Mulls “How Do People Get New Ideas?”

This past week I was reflecting back on all of my worldly travels, and the thought came to me that those whom have a viewpoint that is so counter intuitive to me, was that they have not seen nor experienced what I have.

Many have heard me say that, “Everyone is the sum of their own lives’ experience”.  I can also pass on the former posting on this site, “Giraffes and Turtles”, and how it can relate to people today.

https://mindsandtimes.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/the-giraffes-and-turtles-parable/

Those whom hold the reactionary conservative views are only stating their views from the limited “Turtle’s” vantage.  This is their major pitfall in their thinking.

As by chance I came across this essay by Isaac Asimov.  It was very obvious, and I recognized, that its contents are as broadly relevant today as when he wrote it.  It describes not only the creative process and the nature of creative people but also the kind of environment that promotes creativity.

I would ask my readers and those listening the radio program, “Here Be Monsters, The Sunday Show,” to invest the time, read, and polder, the essay below.  You will find it very informative and thought provoking.

ON CREATIVITY

How do people get new ideas?

Presumably, the process of creativity, whatever it is, is essentially the same in all its branches and varieties, so that the evolution of a new art form, a new gadget, a new scientific principle, all involve common factors. We are most interested in the “creation” of a new scientific principle or a new application of an old one, but we can be general here.

One way of investigating the problem is to consider the great ideas of the past and see just how they were generated. Unfortunately, the method of generation is never clear even to the “generators” themselves.

But what if the same earth-shaking idea occurred to two men, simultaneously and independently? Perhaps, the common factors involved would be illuminating. Consider the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.

There is a great deal in common there. Both traveled to far places, observing strange species of plants and animals and the manner in which they varied from place to place. Both were keenly interested in finding an explanation for this, and both failed until each happened to read Malthus’s “Essay on Population.”

Both then saw how the notion of overpopulation and weeding out (which Malthus had applied to human beings) would fit into the doctrine of evolution by natural selection (if applied to species generally).

Obviously, then, what is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected.

Undoubtedly in the first half of the 19th century, a great many naturalists had studied the manner in which species were differentiated among themselves. A great many people had read Malthus. Perhaps some both studied species and read Malthus. But what you needed was someone who studied species, read Malthus, and had the ability to make a cross-connection.

That is the crucial point that is the rare characteristic that must be found. Once the cross-connection is made, it becomes obvious. Thomas H. Huxley is supposed to have exclaimed after reading On the Origin of Species, “How stupid of me not to have thought of this.” But why didn’t he think of it?

The history of human thought would make it seem that there is difficulty in thinking of an idea even when all the facts are on the table. Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. It must, for any cross-connection that does not require daring is performed at once by many and develops not as a “new idea,” but as a mere “corollary of an old idea.”

It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable. It seems the height of unreason to suppose the earth was round instead of flat, or that it moved instead of the sun, or that objects required a force to stop them when in motion, instead of a force to keep them moving, and so on.

A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others.

Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)

Once you have the people you want, the next question is: Do you want to bring them together so that they may discuss the problem mutually, or should you inform each of the problem and allow them to work in isolation?

My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required. The creative person is, in any case, continually working at it. His mind is shuffling his information at all times, even when he is not conscious of it. (The famous example of Kekule working out the structure of benzene in his sleep is well-known.)

The presence of others can only inhibit this process, since creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display.

Nevertheless, a meeting of such people may be desirable for reasons other than the act of creation itself.

No two people exactly duplicate each other’s mental stores of items. One person may know A and not B, another may know B and not A, and either knowing A and B, both may get the idea—though not necessarily at once or even soon.

Furthermore, the information may not only be of individual items A and B, but even of combinations such as A-B, which in themselves are not significant. However, if one person mentions the unusual combination of A-B and another unusual combination A-C, it may well be that the combination A-B-C, which neither has thought of separately, may yield an answer.

It seems to me then that the purpose of cerebration sessions is not to think up new ideas but to educate the participants in facts and fact-combinations, in theories and vagrant thoughts.

But how to persuade creative people to do so? First and foremost, there must be ease, relaxation, and a general sense of permissiveness. The world in general disapproves of creativity, and to be creative in public is particularly bad. Even to speculate in public is rather worrisome. The individuals must, therefore, have the feeling that the others won’t object.

If a single individual present is unsympathetic to the foolishness that would be bound to go on at such a session, the others would freeze. The unsympathetic individual may be a gold mine of information, but the harm he does will more than compensate for that. It seems necessary to me, then, that all people at a session be willing to sound foolish and listen to others sound foolish.

If a single individual present has a much greater reputation than the others, or is more articulate, or has a distinctly more commanding personality, he may well take over the conference and reduce the rest to little more than passive obedience. The individual may himself be extremely useful, but he might as well be put to work solo, for he is neutralizing the rest.

The optimum number of the group would probably not be very high. I should guess that no more than five would be wanted. A larger group might have a larger total supply of information, but there would be the tension of waiting to speak, which can be very frustrating. It would probably be better to have a number of sessions at which the people attending would vary, rather than one session including them all. (This would involve a certain repetition, but even repetition is not in itself undesirable. It is not what people say at these conferences, but what they inspire in each other later on.)

For best purposes, there should be a feeling of informality. Joviality, the use of first names, joking, relaxed kidding are, I think, of the essence—not in themselves, but because they encourage a willingness to be involved in the folly of creativeness. For this purpose I think a meeting in someone’s home or over a dinner table at some restaurant is perhaps more useful than one in a conference room.

Probably more inhibiting than anything else is a feeling of responsibility. The great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren’t paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side issues.

To feel guilty because one has not earned one’s salary because one has not had a great idea is the surest way, it seems to me, of making it certain that no great idea will come in the next time either.

Yet your company is conducting this cerebration program on government money. To think of congressmen or the general public hearing about scientists fooling around, boondoggling, telling dirty jokes, perhaps, at government expense, is to break into a cold sweat. In fact, the average scientist has enough public conscience not to want to feel he is doing this even if no one finds out.

I would suggest that members at a cerebration session be given sinecure tasks to do—short reports to write, or summaries of their conclusions, or brief answers to suggested problems—and be paid for that; the payment being the fee that would ordinarily be paid for the cerebration session. The cerebration session would then be officially unpaid-for and that, too, would allow considerable relaxation.

I do not think that cerebration sessions can be left unguided. There must be someone in charge who plays a role equivalent to that of a psychoanalyst. A psychoanalyst, as I understand it, by asking the right questions (and except for that interfering as little as possible), gets the patient himself to discuss his past life in such a way as to elicit new understanding of it in his own eyes.

In the same way, a session-arbiter will have to sit there, stirring up the animals, asking the shrewd question, making the necessary comment, bringing them gently back to the point. Since the arbiter will not know which question is shrewd, which comment necessary, and what the point is, his will not be an easy job.

As for “gadgets” designed to elicit creativity, I think these should arise out of the bull sessions themselves. If thoroughly relaxed, free of responsibility, discussing something of interest, and being by nature unconventional, the participants themselves will create devices to stimulate discussion.

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Man’s Evolution into Extinction

Man’s Evolution into Extinction

By F. Wayne Johnson

 

Man will evolve into extinction,

Destruction of his own kind.

All in the name of progress,

With promises that all will be fine.

 

Corporations are leading the way,

Too much money to be made.

Marketing and misleading facts,

Are tools of their trade.

 

To set up manufacturing facilities

On foreign countries’ shores.

All this takes a lot of money,

Multi-nationals need tax breaks galore,

 

The facts of responsible citizenship,

Will just have to be ignored.

So funding of the tax burden,

Is all just dumped on the poor.

 

You start by buying elected governments,

And sponsor media shows.

Touting slanted information to the public,

Their reality is all you are to know.

 

Soon you hear the mindless say,

“I’m a Conservative,” while sucking down a beer.

Sitting there watching TV in a tee shirt,

Paying their entire medical, on $35,000 per year.

 

Are the masses too dumb to recognize,

They are listening to infomercial shows?

Over dominate, obnoxious, gas bags,

On blowhard radio.

 

There is no global warming,

As you watch the ice sheets flow?

Chunks the size of a large land mass,

Into the ocean they go.

 

Don’t try for alternative energy,

Just keep drilling into the ground.

Keep the servitude grip on the public,

There is always more oil to be found.

 

If your armaments sales are sloping down,

Your purchased government can start a war.

It’s the little people’s sons and daughters,

Death and mutilation, it’s their burden for sure.

 

So the temperature is rising,

Never have the levels been this high.

Big deal, we are loosing record species,

Who gives a damn, let them die.

 

So long as CEO’s record salaries,

Are based on numbers neither fact nor true.

Twenty thousand times a working man’s wage,

Reality is what they’ll decide for you.

“Obama and Presidential Library” Independence Day Parade Float

This 4th of July parade in Norfolk, Nebraska featured a flatbed, blue pickup truck with an outhouse and the words “Obama” and “Presidential Library”.

This demonstration of tastelessness is NOT a BANNER OF CLEVERNESS but an ENSIGN OF IGNORANCE.

Parade organizers with the local Odd Fellows lodge said, “The float was the most popular ones in the event and received an honorable mention award”.

What an appalling statement and to think someone thought this was a viable justification of this despicable act!

I will comment that the Odd Fellows as a whole are an honorable group much like my own Freemason Brothers, but this Norfolk local lodge should be disbanded along with those who approved this float, should be thrown out of their organization in reprimand, and disgust.

I am calling out the Odd Fellows to act honorable to do so.

On the counterpoint, I am pleased to pass on that the Obama “Outhouse Float” sparked a political firestorm across the nation. The disrespect for the office stands paramount far beyond the man holding the position. There is a level of respect for the office of the Presidency which should not be crossed…and the citizens of Norfolk cleared this disrespectful bar level in their streets shoes.

The Omaha World-Herald reports receiving several emails from people upset about the float, including one person who said that it was wrong to allow this sort of image to be displayed at a July 4th parade.

Those citizens of Norfolk who pointed and laughed at the float, seeing it as humor instead of finding the distastefulness in the act, displayed the deteriorating of our society. I will lay the direct blame for this at the feet of Conservative Talk Radio and Fox News.

It’s beyond disappointing the City of Norfolk, its officials, and citizens would allowed such a thing. This float was not a political statement, but one of the worst displays of racism….plain and simple. For me, no one can argue successfully against this statement.

The Washington Post notes that this was not the first time that an outhouse has appeared in a parade with the words “Obama” and “Presidential Library’ written on it.

In 2012, a Montana man expressed his views in a similar fashion, attaching a fake birth certificate to the outside of the float. That float was eventually banned from other events in the state of Montana.

In closing I will state that just as Jackie Robinson, when he broke the color barrier in baseball, is admired today across the country when he maintained control of his emotions as racial slurs were constantly hurled at him at the baseball games; President Obama for the betterment of the county and the office of the Presidency, has to maintain his emotional control ignoring the ignorance displayed by the citizens at the Independence Day Parade in Norfolk, Nebraska’s shame. President Obama too will be honored in the future for the same reason just as Jackie Roberson is today.

Extreme Conservatism, by its own reflective definition, is Wrong.

Definition:

Reactionary Conservatism – the self-inflicted, delusionalism drug ADDICTION of choice. Can many times be found running in tandem with excessive alcohol consumption or the corrupted, and distorted, overindulgence with religion. The deteriorating effect on the human brain is the same.

Much like the examples of the Ultra Conservative icons of their day, George Wallace, Asa Carter, and Lee Atwater, when faced with the SOBERING realization of their own last waning days of their mortality, reached out publicly asking for forgiveness for their transgressions.

Even through their own rhetoric trying to convince others of their hateful views, all three displayed regret, and the desire to apologized to those whom they demonized, defamed, and offended for their own personal gain. All three men knew of the need to make right, and to clear their conscience of their offenses to others before their passing.

I see this basic need to make amends and asking for forgiveness, exposingly demonstrating the Freudian sub-conscience aspect of their inherent, and basic knowledge that what they were doing through most of their adult lives the whole time of their actions, was WRONG.

I will close with the positive note that I hope for their sake, all three men made their repenting piece with their consciences and God before their deaths.