Friday, August 21, 2009

On Creativity

Via Instapundit, came upon What is "creativity"? post, expounding on the folly of Kansas University School of Journalism dean, Ann Brill, saying that:

"Men tend to be drawn to more analytical majors such as engineering or business, whereas women enjoy the creativity that journalism allows for, she said."
Whoa - Journalism is creative? And engineering is not? Commenters had a field day on this one. An algebra: Logic + Facts = Science. Science + Inventiveness/creativity = Engineering.

There is creativity in most every field of endeavor, but in each field that creativity has to abide by the rules - you optimize within the constraints of reality. Yes, you use both sides of the brain for that.

One comment added: "I observed an even more insidious effect, however. A myth has grown up in our culture that truly creative people spend a lot of time gazing dreamily at the sky and then, WHAM!, a brilliant idea strikes! It’s not surprising why this idea is so attractive. It is an easy rationalization for, essentially, sitting around on your duff and pretending that you are being “creative.” I admit to using it to rationalize my own laziness at times."

Indeed. Thomas Edison, a man with more creativity than any other American said it was 98% perspiration and 2% inspiration. That's not to say that theta-wave inspiration isnt needed, but your brain has to be prepared with the fertile soil of thinking through the problem/challenge/expression attempted. A prepared mind can then take the next leaps.

Someone said: "I would bet that the lady quoted above is not talking about “creativity” in any kind of rigorous sense" Amazing, she is teaching the trade of dealing in words and lacks precision in her own use of them! What the J-school Dean Brill really means is "creativity" as defined as not being constrained and hemmed in by the rigors of facts, logic, and detailed analysis that the engineers suffer under. This is not RealityWorld where 2+2=4, but CreativityWorld, where you can write post-modernist mumbo-jumbo essays on how 2+2 could really be 5. It's treating stupid and intellectually lazy as an odd sort of virtue.

What is even funnier is that if you peel it back another layer, you have her basically saying the same thing that got Larry Summer fired from Presidency of Harvard Univ. - those women dont like those boring analytical fields because they arent wired for it: “It’s probably a right brain/left brain thing. That sounds sexist, but there’s some truth to it.”

Creativity in journalism? That's a bug not a feature, and a truly mockable concept.
Journalism should be akin to the "Science of Current Events" - just the facts ma'am on what is going on. Anything beyond that is a donkey trying to tapdance (viz the Aesop Fable).

Journalists should be reporting on what is new, not creating it. The creating of new things, leave to the creative types. You know, like the engineers.

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