On Creativity, Curiosity and Rigor

Via Brain Pickings, Andrew Zuckerman presents the following concept.

“What gets projects done for me is not inspiration. I have no idea what inspiration really is. I know that I get really curious about things, and when that gets mixed with rigor, a project gets completed. And that’s basically it, it’s that simple. When curiosity and rigor get together, something happens. And when one of these things [isn’t] there, nothing happens, or the project doesn’t really reach people.”

~ Andrew Zuckerman

The equation of curiosity+rigor=creativity stuck a sympathetic chord and got me thinking. I’ve always had the curiosity, my entire life has been spent being curious about everything. What I didn’t have was the rigor to turn this curiosity into anything. My early education was so consumed by research, 5-paragraph essays, and format defining function while college was filled with hard science, laboratories and pleasing tenured professors that I consciously shied away from rigor in nearly all forms. For over 15 years now I’ve let my mind wander, essentially, going over what I’ve read, heard, seen, learned but ultimately producing nothing but half baked thoughts and ramblings taken verbatim.

So, the curiosity has always been there … I’m a voracious (if somewhat slow) reader. What was lacking was the rigor in thinking, the conscious effort to apply what I’ve read to learning, turning a passive exercise into an active pursuit. So the rigor is the workflow to publish what I’ve read and my thoughts about it here. The process of forcing myself to pick certain items from what I’ve read and think it through will hopefully enable more creative and critical thinking on my part in the future.

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On Alien Intelligence

A quick but thought provoking interview with Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society.  Whether you believe there is alien intelligence in the universe or not, the interview delves into the thought experiments behind the belief and the nature of science itself.

One statement by Shermer really made me think:

… all science is a signal-to-noise problem.

This is the essence of science, I think.  All the experiments, theories and questions asked and performed by scientists boil down to discerning the signal (proof, fact, truth, what-have-you) from the noise (falsehoods, untruth, etc).  From this, you can derive a distinction between pseudoscience and true science.

From NOVA.