The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

A Bias Against Creativity and Inventive Thinkers

Psychic ability is most prominent in people who are characterized as “right brained.”  While there is certainly a bias against psychic ability, I have been slowly getting a bigger picture of what actually happens.  Yes, psychic ability makes people uncomfortable, but also creativity, inventiveness and innovative thinking.  This problem starts in school:

Classrooms that stifle creativity

Yet according to psychologists and education experts, schools do not promote, teach, or encourage divergent thinking. The experts warn that the education system today lacks the type of curricula, teaching, and structure that lets creativity flourish, and divergent thinking skills predominate.

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD, and an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources, states that rather than nurture and enhance creativity, the current educational system actually stifles it.

In his many books, papers, and lectures, he states that the system is based on the intellectual culture of the enlightenment, and the industrial revolution. The need for trained workers to work in factories became a driving force behind public education, a system based on production lines, the ringing of bells, and educating kids in batches by age rather than skills and abilities. In other words, it’s a system based on conformity, a system that believes in one right way or answer for every problem.

But environments that enforce conformity destroy creativity, according to Robinson.

Mark A. Runco, PhD, executive director of the Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development at the University of Georgia College of Education, also states that creative thinking most often involves nonconformity, unconventional thinking, autonomy, and room for self-expression. These facets are not found in the typical U.S. classroom.

This problem of course, will carry into the workplace.  In a society where children have been taught conformity from an early age, the non conformist will not be rewarded for being different.  In business, everyone says that they want creativity, but when it is presented things play out entirely differently:

(…) creativity was named the single most important attribute for success in leading a large corporation in the future. That finding is hardly surprising to Mueller. “There is research that shows that those who have their own creative ideas are better leaders,” she notes. “Those individuals know how to recognize good ideas, are open to them and know how to get creative ideas through [the organization]. Selecting creative leaders is the critical challenge organizations face.”

(…)But understanding the need for creativity within a large company is not the same as actually fostering it. Indeed, Mueller’s work shows that those who think outside the box may be penalized for it.

The group found a significant correlation between being creative and being seen as poor management material. “By definition, people will say creativity is positive,” Mueller states. “It is almost impossible to get people to say they don’t want creativity. But when someone actually voices a creative idea, there is a response of, ‘Wow — What is that?’ This issue really comes to life at the moment the idea is voiced. There is discomfort when people encounter creativity.”

For me personally, this information is revealing.  I am a creative sort and like everyone else, I was taught that this is a good thing, but in reality, it never carried over into any success in the corporate world and I was forced to go out on my own for steady employment.  It was only when I was free from the arbitrary judgment of others and succeeded or failed only on my own merits that I really felt comfortable.  Now I know why.  It’s helpful to understand the reality of the situation and I can’t help but wonder how much other highly creative/psychic/anomalously sensitive children and adults would benefit from knowing how society views them.

It will surely be difficult to change this attitude.  It is not like ordinary bigotry that can be easily identified and dealt with.  This is more subtle because it plays on the subconscious of those who discriminate.  They are not aware of their discriminatory attitude and would likely deny it and point to other reasons for their decisions and most importantly, they would utterly believe it.

For proof, one need only look at what passes for a creativity test in school:

Now consider this scenario: you want to sit at a given table, but the only available chair at the table is broken; the chair only has three legs. What can you do with the broken chair to be able to sit at the table?

How did you go about answering this question? How many possible solutions did you imagine?

Unlike our first question, this second one has no single ‘correct’ answer. Maybe you’d find something to serve as the fourth leg, or otherwise repair the chair. Maybe you’d prop the chair against a leg of the table to help stabilize it in some way. Maybe you’d move the broken chair out of the way, and pull up something else to sit on. Coming up with multiple solutions to a single problem is known as divergent thinking. Divergent thinking has been linked to creativity, or the ability to come up with new and valuable ideas. (…)

(…)Although some psychologists have argued that IQ tests focus too much on analytical intelligence and ignore creativity, people who score well on intelligence tests tend do well on tests that are specifically designed to assess creativity. This supports Charles Spearman’s theory of general intelligence, which is a general level of intelligence that remains steady across a variety of mental tasks.

Of course this isn’t really a test of creativity.  It’s not even close.  Divergent thinking is not creativity and should not be used for measuring it.  For one, although there is more than one answer, this is not very open ended.  The other problem is that it is more linear than actual creative thought.  If you want a real test of creativity, hand someone a blank piece of paper and some colors have have them make an abstract piece of art.  The ability of someone to come up with a balanced, interesting picture of a non identifiable object with multiple layers of interest is a much better test.  Creativity flourishes in the absence of boundaries.  If you want to truly test creativity, you need to remove as many boundaries as possible.

High intelligence is, to a certain degree, dependent on the ability of people to access both right and left brain abilities.  However, there will always be people who excel at linear, logical intelligence and others who excel at creative intelligence.  These two traits are very, very rarely found in the same person.  The genius that those people display is recognizable by everyone so they are not being discussed here.  What I am focused on are those people who do very, very well creatively, but are mediocre or ordinary at linear, logical thinking.  It is morally wrong to test their weaknesses and ignore their strengths.

What is happening here is that tests are being created that allow linear, logical thinkers to pass themselves off as creative.  While the tests might show a limited amount of creativity in a person predisposed to linear, logical thinking, it does not speak to people who are weak in this type of thinking, but excel at creativity.  Creativity excels in the absence of boundaries.  The fewer boundaries, the better.  All these formal tests though, have strong boundaries.  One gets the sense that the people creating these tests don’t understand creativity very well.  Here’s an example of a better creativity test:  This is the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking.

You’re supposed to do something creative with the images in the boxes and the diamonds.  Here’s an example of using the boxes:

And the diamonds:

You can see the bias here though, if you know what to look for.  The creativity here is admirable and clever, but it is necessarily derivative due to the nature of test.  There is a vital difference in the thinking here.  To do this test, you first have to deal with the stuff that is already there.  You have to analyze it from different directions and try to make your ideas fit something that someone else has already done.  Perhaps you are analyzing creatively, but it still one step removed from the true creative process.  A fantastically creative person will feel immediately limited by this test design.  It seems that the problem is that they are trying to make creativity tests fit the rigid design of linear, logical thinking testing. But for real creativity, no such metric will ever suffice.  Creativity is necessarily ambiguous in nature and just as soon as you set boundaries you are venturing into logical, linear thought -so you want to remove as many of these boundaries as possible.-  True creativity is going to defy a linear, logical measuring system, as this test acknowledges in the rating system it employs.  Creativity needs to be evaluated holistically by people who are trained to recognize creativity when they see it.
There is a real problem in having people who are predisposed to linear, logical thinking control the test of creative people.  They will be inclined to create a test that they themselves would be comfortable taking, and will generally not understand the limitations of such a test.  These are people who are uncomfortable with a lack of boundaries and they are not likely to understand how someone else could be uncomfortable with the presence of boundaries.  It is highly unlikely to imagine someone creating a test that they themselves would not want to take.

The consequence of this is that millions of adults are underemployed and their skills are poorly utilized in an economy that desperately needs their talents.  These same adults are then less productive as they struggle with depression and immune problems due to stress.   Children will appear to have potential, but fail to live up to it.  They will be viewed as smart, but unfocused and easily distractable.  In fact, they are all laboring to survive in a system that ignores their talents and over values talents that are weaknesses for them.

This is a situation that needs to be rectified.  Creative, innovative (psychic) people are extremely important to the success of society and diminishing their status and respectability hurts everyone.   Thinking holistically -which is what this personality type does best, is utterly necessary for the good of society.  Otherwise, we’ll have a society dominated by special interests, pursuing agendas with short term goals that have disastrous long term consequences and run by corruptible people who are most highly motivated by their own selfish interests.  It would be a complete nightmare.

Oh, wait.

It’s here already.

4 comments on “A Bias Against Creativity and Inventive Thinkers

  1. Pingback: Olá ”pesquisador sobre criatividade”. Eu sou criativo. Pergunte pra mim quando quiser entender a criatividade ok** | Santoculto

  2. Gerard Scott
    July 1, 2014

    Things could get worse. The fMRI, while a godsend for proving repression and dissociative amnesia, could easily be misinterpreted to identify divergent thinkers as schizophrenic or ADHD or some other new condition Big Pharma and Psychiatry thinks up.

  3. Peter
    September 24, 2012

    Hello Craig. Interesting article. It’s two main points seem to be (1) the current educational system is not able to deal with creative, right brain learning and (2) some people excel at linear, logical intelligence, others excel at creative intelligence and never the twain will meet.

    In the 1970s in Canada, there was a educational debate between bottom-up education, the plodding step-by-step, brick-by-brick notion of learning (as in first letters, then words, sentences, paragraphs, and so on with no mention of meaning) and the top-down, wholistic school that started with a gestalt and emphasized meaning while de-emphasizing the nitty gritty of language, spelling syntax, etc The top-down people won.

    Today, Montessori schools are the ultimate expression of the debate.

    Your second point is most serious as it underlies the polarizing debates that dominates today between Left and Right wings, Democrats vs. Republicans, Religionists vs. Atheists, the spiritual vs. fundamentalists, and the environmentalists vs. climate change deniers, etc., etc., etc.

    Those who claim a linear, logical intelligence seek to have debate occur in an arena refereed by reason and logic which, of course, heavily inclines their side to win because it completely eliminates the creative, intuitive learning of the right-brained. The right-brained, on the other hand urge the linear folks to leave behind their fears of the new and different and step up to arena of the creative and intuitive where the truth will be obvious.

    Neither of these ploys will succeed.

    There has a neutral meeting ground. And there is one. In their first year at university, philosophy students are urged to leave behind their prejudices and look at each philosophy as if it were true and follow the philosophy to its natural results and conclusions, allowing the philosophy to rise or fall on its own merits.

    There is another related technique well-known in the martial arts, orienteering, bird watching, equestrian sports, vehicle driving, stress reduction and religious/spiritual practices. That is the notion of “soft eyes”. It has a physical and psychological component.

    The objective of soft eyes is to take in detail using a small part the retina at the back of the eyeball, know as foveal vision, while maintaining the broader perspective of peripheral vision.

    Bird watching, for example, combines both foveal and peripheral visions. By looking with unfocused eyes at a forest, one becomes aware of the patterns of the leaves and branches and the rhythms in them created by the wind. That’s peripheral vision. When your attention is drawn to an anomaly in those patterns, the likelihood is that an animal or bird is creating that disturbance. That recognition of disturbance is foveal vision.

    This process of “soft eyes” in bird watching is possible because your ego has been quietened in order for you to become immersed in the shifting patterns of the forest. You have sacrificed, ignored, surrendered or transcended the play of the ego in order to see and become synchronized to the actual play of the forest rhythms.

    When religions and spiritual paths urge surrender and transcendence, moving beyond the pull of the ego is the first item on that list. Without ego to colour one’s perceptions and to influence what inferences are drawn from such perceptions, the seeker has a much wider and subtler field to investigate and has the fearlessness with which to do so. Taoism, for example, focuses on the natural world and the relationship between us and the cosmos with a view to attaining harmony with the universe and its source, the Tao.

    The “soft eyes” idea is a metaphor for the different types of “thinking” and consciousness that should be used for a complete picture of anything. The linear, mathematical thinking of the brain corresponds to the detail awareness of foveal aspect of vision. The right brain creativity and intuition corresponds to the peripheral vision. Here the two previously competing schools of thought are blended, supporting and enhancing each other.

    A win-win situation.

  4. tenayafreak
    September 23, 2012

    While I agree this is a problem, I’d say the bigger problem lies in the oft-repeated bullshit of ‘psychics have no scientific evidence’. Now, this isn’t an outright *lie*, it’s just BS–There is *some* scientific evidence, but very obscure; and most scientists won’t study psychics because they’re constantly testing scammers. Why test scammers? Because psychics have no scientific evidence. What psychics have to do to become ‘recognized’ is come up with a huge, unchallangeable psychic study. Scotland would probably be the best place, culturally, to do this, but it’s the biggest problem, so imho, we probably need to work on it first.

    /rant off
    (good post, though. I love it–I’m not particularly creative, but you nailed how our system works on the head.:)

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2012 by in Psychic's Psychology and tagged , , , , .
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