Let's Try to Think Inside the Box, Shall We?
"You know what the greatest talent in the world is?" asks the Hollywood bigshot in John Guare's terrific play The House of Blue Leaves. "To be an audience. Anybody can create." On the other hand, to be an audience...
But who wants that job? There aren't any awards in our culture for thinking inside the box, and most Americans are anxious to foster creativity everywhere they can—at work, at home, in themselves, in their kids. The more, the better, right?
Not really, say the psychologist Liane Gabora and her colleague Stefan Leijnen, an artificial intelligence researcher. When you're being creative, you aren't being swayed by the creations of others. Somebody else may have a spectacular idea, but if you're busy with your macaroni sculpture, you won't notice. And if everyone's like you, then no great innovation can spread.
Leijnen and Gabora recently built a simulated society to find the best balance between creation and imitation. They say it showed creativity helps a community when all members get a chance at both roles. In their model, the best ideas catch fire when everyone spends more than half their time listening, and the rest inventing. It's an abstract computer simulation, of course, but that does sound a little like traditional societies, where music, drawing and story-telling aren't specialized jobs.
The researchers did simulate specialist creativity—a society in which 30 percent of the population was creative all the time. For their ideas to be of any benefit to the whole group, though, the other 70 percent of the populace had to imitate all the time. Sounds unpleasant. Also, familiar.
Yes, this is a computational model that used simplified representations of creativity, imitation and success. Still, something feels right in the study's two implications: First, a culture that makes creativity into a special job for special people will alienate those who don't get to play; and, second, we might all be better off worrying less about being creative and more about being receptive. Be an audience. We might all be better off.
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A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.
- When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
- Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
- Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
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