LQCs: Creativity, Education, Reactionaries

Today, another counter-intuitive premise. Before reading the article, I reflect that most people admire celebrity artists, but wouldn’t want their child to try to be one. Other items follow.


New York Times, Matt Richtel, 16 April 2022 (published in Tuesday’s Science section): We Have a Creativity Problem, subtitled, “Outwardly, we praise innovation. Inwardly, we harbor a visceral aversion to it, studies have found.”

Creativity is lauded as vital, and seen as the lifeblood of great entertainment, innovation, progress and forward-thinking ideas. Who doesn’t want to be creative or to hire inventive employees?

But the emerging science of implicit bias has revealed that what people say about creativity isn’t necessarily how they feel about it. Research has found that we actually harbor an aversion to creators and creativity; subconsciously, we see creativity as noxious and disruptive, and as a recent study demonstrated, this bias can potentially discourage us from undertaking an innovative project or hiring a creative employee.

“People actually have strong associations between the concept of creativity and other negative associations like vomit and poison,” said Jack Goncalo, a business professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the lead author on the new study. “Agony was another one.”

Dr. Goncalo has spent a decade studying the underlying factors that motivate and hinder creators. For instance, he and his co-authors have found that in some cases religious belief can limit a person’s creativity, and that creativity can provide a feeling of liberation to people who carry secrets.

He has also explored people’s subconscious views of creativity, and found that innovation is aversive in part because it can intensify feelings of uncertainty.

So creativity threatens the stability of the conservative world-view? Well, OK, though again I suspect conservatives like new movies and new musical groups — at least the young ones — as much as anyone.

The reasons for this implicit bias against creativity can be traced to the fundamentally disruptive nature of novel and original creations. Creativity means change, without the certainty of desirable results.

With some descriptions of the fascinating studies used to identify various associations.

In the end, it also speaks volumes, the researchers say, about who among us gets to be celebrated as creative, and whose work is too stigmatized in its own time to be recognized as a creative contribution.

This is an excerpt from a new book, Inspired: Understanding Creativity: A Journey Through Art, Science, and the Soul, just published Tuesday. Tempting, but I already have so many books…

(I actually have an example of this myself, from very early in my career at the rocket engine factory. I came into a program that had been underway for some 5 to 10 years. Not only the software itself, but also the documentation, had been repeatedly “patched,” in the manner where a page of text might be updated, not by retyping the whole page, but by inserting an asterisk that indicates an update on a separate page. Over and over. So one day I sat down with an error code table that had been repeatedly patched to clean it up and, so to speak, put all the patches inline. The old-timers hated it! They were used to it the way it was!)



NYT, Frank Bruni, 21 April 2022 (may be subscriber-limited): Parents Aren’t the Only Ones With Rights

Enough about “parental rights.” I want to talk about nonparental rights.

I want to talk about the fact that a public school, identified that way for a reason, doesn’t exist as some bespoke service attending to the material wants and political whims of only those Americans with children in the science lab and on the soccer field. It’s an investment, funded by all taxpayers, in the cultivation of citizens who better appreciate our democracy and can participate in it more knowledgeably and productively.

Each of us has skin in the game. And each of us, even those of us without children, has the right to weigh in on how the game is played.

Exactly. Excellent point.

But public education is precisely that, and it’s both inappropriate and dangerous to treat the parents who have children in public schools as the only interested parties or as stakeholders whose desires are categorically more important than everybody else’s. The spreading cry of “parental rights” suggests as much. And the wrongness of that transcends any partisan affiliation.

Of course many parents *do* avoid public schools in favor of home-schooling, precisely so they can control every aspect of their child’s education, in particular to leave out anything the parents would find troublesome. Their motives, I’m guessing, are not about cultivating responsible citizens in a diverse democracy, but to preserve the values of their community, and avoid anything (science, history) that would threaten them.

None of us get from public schools the precise instruction and exact social dynamics that we’d prescribe. That’s because they don’t exist to validate our individual worldviews.

They’re public schools, and I and most of the other people I know, whether we have children or not, are happy to fund them, because we believe in education and we believe in democracy. What we don’t believe — what I don’t — is that “parental rights” take precedence over civic ideals.


It strikes me that many conservative values reflect the ideals of families living out on the frontier, living all by themselves without any concern about living in a broader society. The world may have been like that (at least in the US, I’m thinking) two or three centuries ago, but it isn’t now.



So many essays and articles about this trend.

CNN, Brian Stelter, 21 April 2022: DeSantis vs. Disney: Homophobia and hate are beneath the surface of high-minded, right-wing talking points.

Disney, the brand, with its movies and theme parks, has been the paragon of conservative, traditional values for decades. (In contrast, say, to the social revolutionaries of the 1960s.) Yet society has moved on, with the recognition of previously unrecognized minorities — who have always been there — who are all equal under the law, in the US, all worthy of dignity and respect, by the common humanistic values understood by all the advanced countries; and so Disney has moved on. (They’re a business! They want to appeal to as wide a populace as they can! And aren’t conservatives pro-business? Well…)

And yet certain reactionary conservatives never go away. They *don’t* acknowledge the dignity of minority groups unlike themselves, and somehow, in a couple states, have gotten the political power to disadvantage them, “cancel” them, deprive them of equal standing in society.

They were really really upset by the idea of transsexuals. And they never really liked gays; icky. So, don’t say gay. What’s next? Well, once they defeat Roe v. Wade they will be after Obergefell, which recognized gay marriage. And then what? Loving v. Virginia, about interracial marriages? There have been murmurings about that.

And then what? Maybe even the 19th amendment. Read the sites that cover the right-wing (virtually always Christian) zealots (e.g. Right Wing Watch), and see what they say.

Granted these zealots may be a tiny minority of the right… but in states like Florida and Texas, their influence is gaining. And so the US is regressing.

This entry was posted in Conservative Resistance, Culture, Psychology, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.