Why is the Flynn effect, a generation-by-generation increase in human intelligence, not matched by similar measures of human creativity? Is there a creativity crisis?
Described at ThinkJar as "the purposeful generation and implementation of a novel idea," creativity and innovation do not just flow from novelty, but depend on divergent thinking to have any chance at all. Before she became Tiger Mother, Amy Chua argued that diversity, a willingness by any host culture to permit its new entrants a chance at an upwardly mobile future, was a common feature of the hyper-powers in world history.
The same goes for ideas. The vast majority of ideas will never succeed because they're either bad or never successfully implemented. But the point is that it is impossible to know in advance what ideas will prove out. The ideaFestival celebrates all manner of thinking not because every idea is equally good, but because a humble recognition of our own limits argues for intellectual modesty when faced with the new and novel, an openness of mind that can simultaneously accept what one knows and the idea that it might need editing. Progress has never occurred any other way.
The recent history of science is instructive. Philosophers and scientists from the Enlightenment until the first part of the 20th century worked with the idea that the universe could be described in purely Newtonian terms, that each physical action could be mathematically enumerated and the whole of nature, in theory, calculated. That is until Max Planck and Einstein revolutionized our ideas about the vanishingly small and the very nature of time itself.
The British biologist and geneticist J. B. S. Haldane once said that any future reality will not only "be queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." That excites me. I'm excited by that because the future has always belonged to the restless, the unsettled, the westward movers. Pioneers have always had uncommon sense.
And thank goodness. If you are a pioneer, come to IdeaFestival 2012 and meet your peers.