Thursday, March 17, 2011

the bad, the ugly, and the good.

i waste a lot of time, procrastinating on the internet. on occasion, these vices lead me to some interesting articles.

for example, some days ago i learned a rather haunting possibility:
What do we really know about creativity? Very little. We know that creative genius is not the same thing as intelligence. In fact, beyond a certain minimum IQ threshold – about one standard deviation above average, or an IQ of 115 – there is no correlation at all between intelligence and creativity.

We know that creativity is empirically correlated with mood-swing disorders. A couple of decades ago, Harvard researchers found that people showing ‘exceptional creativity’ – which they put at fewer than 1 per cent of the population – were more likely to suffer from manic-depression or to be near relatives of manic-depressives.

[winces] you mean, we really are crazy ..?

come to think of it, that would make a lot of sense. at some point in my ph.d., friends of my stopped asking "how are you?" and instead began to ask "so how's the math going?"

it's not that you have to be crazy to be a mathematιcian .. but it hasn't stopped quite a few people i know. apparently the author of that blog surmises the same:
As for the psychological mechanisms behind creative genius, those remain pretty much a mystery. About the only point generally agreed on is that, as Pinker put it, ‘Geniuses are wonks.’ They work hard; they immerse themselves in their genre.
among other things i learned in that article/post,
‘The role of this unconscious work in mathematical invention appears to me incontestable. These sudden inspirations … never happen except after some days of voluntary effort which has appeared absolutely fruitless.’

ρoincaré, from "mathematιcal creation"
it's nice to know that even ρoincaré had his share of hard-working yet unproductive days. (-:

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