The Truth About Elephant Artists

Can jumbo elephants really paint? Intrigued by stories, naturalist Desmond Morris set out to find the truth
By Desmond Morris
UPDATED: 21:25 EST, 21 February 2009

… I had a nasty feeling there was a catch in it somewhere, so when I was visiting Thailand this year I decided to find out the truth.

Read On —›
TL;DR / SPOILERS:

The inevitable conclusion … is that elephants are not artists. … they do not explore new patterns or vary the design of their work themselves. Superficially, they do appear to be more advanced, but it is all a trick.

Having said this, what an amazingly clever trick it is! No human hand touches the animal’s trunk. The brain of the elephant has to translate the tiny nudges she feels on her ear [(guidance from her handler)] into attractive lines and blobs.

And she has to place these marks on the white surface with great precision. This requires considerable intelligence and a muscular sensitivity that is truly extraordinary.

So all is not lost. We can still marvel at the paintings these animals make, even if their skill is to do with muscle control rather than artistic ability.

“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education

My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom.

Everyone in the modern world should have at least a basic understanding of art.
I say this because of the countless times I’ve heard “I don’t understand art” either in private conversation or in popular media, and the phrase is left at just that. There’s no desire to try understand it, because the value of it has never been taught, either.
And I don’t mean like in elementary school when a guest “art teacher” comes in and shows you paintings by Picasso and tells you how famous he and his work are, how strange the art is, introduces you to the term “starving artist”, explains that what he did was called “Cubism” and that it basically meant rearranging people’s faces, and all the while with the expressed attitude that “people like you and I” aren’t really meant to grasp these things.
I have one specific memory from 3rd grade when our class was making poster boards about the rain forest. I was crafting a paper dragonfly, and my teacher came over and told me “You shouldn’t use that blue and purple tissue paper for the wings because that’s not realistic. You should use the cellophane.” (This woman also HATED lollipop trees.) In my bewildered 8-year-old mind, all I could think was something like — though less articulate than — “Are you kidding me? You actually think that clear cellophane is going to make this construction-paper dragonfly look realistic and that this is going to look good on a giant green board? Versus something opaque and colorful that would give the impression of the colors reflected off of the dragonfly’s wings while still managing to stand out and be interesting?” Sometimes showing what appears true without actually including everything that is literally seen is much closer to the actual truth and easier for the eye and mind to register than when we try to be too “realistic”.  As Picasso said, “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” But school is often like work-force training: resistance is futile, so you just nod, smile, and use the cellophane.
So what I do mean by art education is: the ability to recognize new patterns as well as to re-organize known ones. Comprehension of symbolism. The ability to see past the surface of a thing and recognize its underlying system, to re-organize that, think about other ways it could be put together — find new uses for things. Understanding arbitrariness. Understanding that experiencing an art work can be much like a scientific test: an isolated and sometimes psychological experiment that can only happen under specific circumstances, though less focused on the scientific method and results. The ability to deal with and comprehend foreign experiences or ideas; to entertain an alien thought. To be able to consider an idea or even reality itself from various perspectives… All creative and critical thinking. Survival skills, especially for living on an increasingly more connected earth where encountering newness is more of a daily reality for an average person than ever before. 
But, art education is extremely dangerous if you want to have a culture wherein everyone follows the rules.
Dragonfly extremely related. By { myu-myu }.

Everyone in the modern world should have at least a basic understanding of art.

I say this because of the countless times I’ve heard “I don’t understand art” either in private conversation or in popular media, and the phrase is left at just that. There’s no desire to try understand it, because the value of it has never been taught, either.

And I don’t mean like in elementary school when a guest “art teacher” comes in and shows you paintings by Picasso and tells you how famous he and his work are, how strange the art is, introduces you to the term “starving artist”, explains that what he did was called “Cubism” and that it basically meant rearranging people’s faces, and all the while with the expressed attitude that “people like you and I” aren’t really meant to grasp these things.

I have one specific memory from 3rd grade when our class was making poster boards about the rain forest. I was crafting a paper dragonfly, and my teacher came over and told me “You shouldn’t use that blue and purple tissue paper for the wings because that’s not realistic. You should use the cellophane.” (This woman also HATED lollipop trees.) In my bewildered 8-year-old mind, all I could think was something like — though less articulate than — “Are you kidding me? You actually think that clear cellophane is going to make this construction-paper dragonfly look realistic and that this is going to look good on a giant green board? Versus something opaque and colorful that would give the impression of the colors reflected off of the dragonfly’s wings while still managing to stand out and be interesting?” Sometimes showing what appears true without actually including everything that is literally seen is much closer to the actual truth and easier for the eye and mind to register than when we try to be too “realistic”.  As Picasso said, “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.” But school is often like work-force training: resistance is futile, so you just nod, smile, and use the cellophane.

So what I do mean by art education is: the ability to recognize new patterns as well as to re-organize known ones. Comprehension of symbolism. The ability to see past the surface of a thing and recognize its underlying system, to re-organize that, think about other ways it could be put together — find new uses for things. Understanding arbitrariness. Understanding that experiencing an art work can be much like a scientific test: an isolated and sometimes psychological experiment that can only happen under specific circumstances, though less focused on the scientific method and results. The ability to deal with and comprehend foreign experiences or ideas; to entertain an alien thought. To be able to consider an idea or even reality itself from various perspectives… All creative and critical thinking. Survival skills, especially for living on an increasingly more connected earth where encountering newness is more of a daily reality for an average person than ever before.

But, art education is extremely dangerous if you want to have a culture wherein everyone follows the rules.

Dragonfly extremely related. By { myu-myu }.

Mythology Creation.

This can be done by an entire culture over centuries,

Or by a small group or even a single person over singular years. Their work may then be expanded upon and perhaps even realized by following generations. Take for example, Jules Verne’s all-electric submarine, or Star Trek’s warp drive, and holodeck.

TBC.
Because it’s one of those days: I feel discouraged and therefore brain-dead. But trying to keep showing up.

••••••

RE: eleanorsbuzz: “TBC? Are you sharing a documentary?”

—› It’s strange it’s possible to open a post for replies and yet you can’t answer them in any proper way except to message the person or edit the post.

Anyway, perhaps I misunderstand the question or its intent, but no. TBC as in “to be continued” because this is a topic I’ll be writing more about, when I’m able.

caemron-deactivated20131118 asked:

Hello!! Love your blog, I'm really interested in physics, I'm 15 and I've been following khanacademy tutorials and soon hope to follow "Physics 1" on the MIT website... I know this'll sound weird but my site I suppose is "the other end of the nerd". I basically write poetry about how hopeless my personal life is, you could look at it as a "nerds have feelings too" site.. hahaha. Anyway, if there's any chance you could give me a shout out or something it would be very much appreciated. :)

Thank you.

That’s awesome! It’s good you’re starting now; seems like you’re on the right track.

As for your poetry blog, “nerds” are very creative people. You have to be, once you get past the rote memorization stuff and into problem-solving, theory, and exploration. And of course [we] have feelings! […even if many of us tend to think of those as an epiphenomenon of a physical system.]

I hope you’ll do well, and best of luck with your personal things. Good to have an outlet. If you do the work and remember to keep a balance of honesty and logic, it’ll get better after 15.

graphicporn

graphicporn:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

Steve Jobs, 1996 Wired Interview

wildcat2030

wildcat2030:

In the mid 1990’s, Apple Computers was a dying company. Microsoft’s Windows operating system was overwhelmingly favored by consumers, and Apple’s attempts to win back market share by improving the Macintosh operating system were unsuccessful. After several years of debilitating financial losses, the company chose to purchase a fledgling software company called NeXT. Along with purchasing the rights to NeXT’s software, this move allowed Apple to regain the services of one of the company’s founders, the late Steve Jobs. Under the guidance of Jobs, Apple returned to profitability and is now the largest technology company in the world, with the creativity of Steve Jobs receiving much of the credit. However, despite the widespread positive image of Jobs as a creative genius, he also has a dark reputation for encouraging censorship,“ losing sight of honesty and integrity”, belittling employees, and engaging in other morally questionable actions. These harshly contrasting images of Jobs raise the question of why a CEO held in such near-universal positive regard could also be the same one accused of engaging in such contemptible behavior. The answer, it turns out, may have something to do with the aspect of Jobs which is so admired by so many.

••••••

OS:

I totally agree that artists/creatives can be horrible assholes (we tend to place our work above all else, thus can be unsociable, neglectful, sometimes pretentious; we invent lies in order to expose uncomfortable truth… it goes on) 

… but this article was immensely disappointing, in everything from the test cases (An ad agency? Is that the best they could do, or were they just being sardonic?) to the fact that it seemed more like they were trying to prove something about creatives being unscrupulous than doing actual, investigative science:

"This pattern of results seems to confirm that creativity helps people to think up justifications for dishonest behavior."

Yes, well, creativity helps think up a lot of things.

There was no delving deeper into what dishonesty might mean in terms of creativity or why or how it’s useful/used there, nor into morality and the nuances thereof. Nothing about biology or neuroscience, although invoking those might help explain this behavior and how it evolved.

I’d like to suggest an alternative; not the best, but { this } and { this } is what I have at the moment.

…we developed a Formal Theory of Fun and Creativity that formally explains science & art & music & humor, to the extent that we can begin to build artificial scientists and artists.

Jürgen Schmidhuber

{ When creative machines overtake man }
March 31, 2012

••••••

Schmidhuber’s { Formal Theory of Creativity }.

I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but can’t wait. It sounds like deep, murky, dangerous waters he’s treading into… full of horrifying art theories and theorists :(

And yet, { I think it’s an excellent pursuit }.

{ When creative machines overtake man }March 31, 2012 by Jürgen Schmidhuber

When I was a boy, I wanted to become a physicist like my hero Einstein until I realized as a teenager the much bigger impact of building a scientist smarter than myself (my colleagues claim that should be easy), letting him do the remaining work.
…
Let me show you this pattern of exponential acceleration of the most important events in human history, which started 40,000 years ago with the emergence of Homo Sapiens Sapiens from Africa.
[an excellent timeline that you should click on the link to read about, but a bit long to re-post]
…
Now you say: OK, maybe computers will be faster and better pattern recognizers, but they will never be creative! But that’s too pessimistic. In my group at the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA, we developed a Formal Theory of Fun and Creativity that formally explains science & art & music & humor, to the extent that we can begin to build artificial scientists and artists. …

••••••
Do read on — it’s a really good piece: interesting, funny, & vastly informative.
Also watch Jürgen Schmidhuber’s lecture about { The Algorithmic Principe Behind Curiosity and Creativity }.

{ When creative machines overtake man }
March 31, 2012 by Jürgen Schmidhuber

When I was a boy, I wanted to become a physicist like my hero Einstein until I realized as a teenager the much bigger impact of building a scientist smarter than myself (my colleagues claim that should be easy), letting him do the remaining work.

Let me show you this pattern of exponential acceleration of the most important events in human history, which started 40,000 years ago with the emergence of Homo Sapiens Sapiens from Africa.

[an excellent timeline that you should click on the link to read about, but a bit long to re-post]

Now you say: OK, maybe computers will be faster and better pattern recognizers, but they will never be creative! But that’s too pessimistic. In my group at the Swiss AI Lab IDSIA, we developed a Formal Theory of Fun and Creativity that formally explains science & art & music & humor, to the extent that we can begin to build artificial scientists and artists. …

••••••

Do read on — it’s a really good piece: interesting, funny, & vastly informative.

Also watch Jürgen Schmidhuber’s lecture about { The Algorithmic Principe Behind Curiosity and Creativity }.

Galapagan Isolation

{ Innovation Starvation }
Neal Stephenson

In his recent book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, Tim Harford outlines Charles Darwin’s discovery of a vast array of distinct species in the Galapagos Islands—a state of affairs that contrasts with the picture seen on large continents, where evolutionary experiments tend to get pulled back toward a sort of ecological consensus by interbreeding. “Galapagan isolation” vs. the “nervous corporate hierarchy” is the contrast staked out by Harford in assessing the ability of an organization to innovate.

Most people who work in corporations or academia have witnessed something like the following: A number of engineers are sitting together in a room, bouncing ideas off each other. Out of the discussion emerges a new concept that seems promising. Then some laptop-wielding person in the corner, having performed a quick Google search, announces that this “new” idea is, in fact, an old one—or at least vaguely similar—and has already been tried. Either it failed, or it succeeded. If it failed, then no manager who wants to keep his or her job will approve spending money trying to revive it. If it succeeded, then it’s patented and entry to the market is presumed to be unattainable, since the first people who thought of it will have “first-mover advantage” and will have created “barriers to entry.” The number of seemingly promising ideas that have been crushed in this way must number in the millions.

What if that person in the corner hadn’t been able to do a Google search? It might have required weeks of library research to uncover evidence that the idea wasn’t entirely new—and after a long and toilsome slog through many books, tracking down many references, some relevant, some not. When the precedent was finally unearthed, it might not have seemed like such a direct precedent after all. There might be reasons why it would be worth taking a second crack at the idea, perhaps hybridizing it with innovations from other fields. Hence the virtues of Galapagan isolation.

••••••

I wondered in ‘09, about our consumer culture: { when is it time to choose and do? }
Especially knowing that much of our time is spent with { desire engines } that don’t really lead to proactive production.

The idea of “Galapagan isolation”, if practiced outside of industry (since it’s practically impossible to practice within it, now), is one way out of the consumer’s loop. Realizing that, despite one’s knowledge maybe being limited, and despite the idea maybe having been done before (or maybe in the process of being done) it’s worthwhile to try it anyway, if only to improve upon past efforts in an idiosyncratic way. A few unique variables can change the end result immensely, to something surprising and new.

Above image via { Paint Draw Paint }
"GENERIC PARTS TECHNIQUE" (GPT)

"There will always be a wild and unpredictable quality to creativity and invention, says Anthony McCaffrey, a cognitive psychology researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, because an "Aha moment" is rare and reaching it means overcoming formidable mental obstacles. But after studying common roadblocks to problem-solving, he has developed a toolkit for enhancing anyone’s skills. McCaffrey believes his Obscure Features Hypothesis (OFH) has led to the first systematic, step-by-step approach to devising innovation-enhancing techniques to overcome a wide range of cognitive obstacles to invention.”

…

”I felt that if I could understand why people overlook certain things, then develop techniques for them to notice much more readily what they were overlooking, I might have a chance to improve creativity.”
Psychologists use the term “functional fixedness" to describe the first mental obstacle McCaffrey investigated. It explains, for example, how one person finding burrs stuck to his sweater will typically say, "Ugh, a burr," while another might say, "Hmmm, two things lightly fastened together. I think I’ll invent Velcro!" The first view is clouded by focusing on an object’s typical function."
To overcome functional fixedness, McCaffrey sought a way to teach people to reinterpret known information about common objects. For each part of an object, the "generic parts technique" (GPT) asks users to list function-free descriptions, including its material, shape and size. Using this, the prongs of an electrical plug can be described in a function-free way to reveal that they might be used as a screwdriver, for example.
{ e! Science News }


The topic of the above excerpt was mentioned in { one of the links } in my weekly Kurzweil AI feed, and caught my curiosity…

How GPT works
“For each object in your problem, you break it into parts and ask two questions,” explains McCaffrey.
1. Can it be broken down further?
2.Does my description of the part imply a use?”
For example, say you’re given two steel rings and told to make a figure-8 out of them. Your tools? A candle and a match. Melted wax is sticky, but the wax isn’t strong enough to hold the rings together.
What about the other part of the candle? The wick. The word implies a use: wicks are set afire to give light. “That tends to hinder people’s ability to think of alternative uses for this part,” says McCaffrey. Think of the wick more generically as a piece of string and the string as strands of cotton and you’re liberated.
Now you can remove the wick and tie the two rings together. Or, if you like, shred the string and make a wig for your hamster.
[above emphasis, mine.]



That’s excellent, and it’s great that this is being made into software, but surely it isn’t “the first systematic, step-by-step approach to devising innovation-enhancing techniques to overcome a wide range of cognitive obstacles to invention.”


Perhaps the key word there is systematic, because right away I can think of at least 3 other methods/approaches/modes of learning that embody, basically, the idea of getting past “functional fixedness” and seeing that all things are made up of basic parts, which can be broken down… and down again and again — to the subatomic, if you like.


Firstly, I wrote about { "the difference between Montessori and art school" } in July of 2010 — namely, that the Montessori method doesn’t consider using a violin as a “bridge” for your block-city creative, while in art school, we absolutely do. We ask, “Why not?” (and if there isn’t { "a damn good reason why not" }, proceed).


Also, when an artist learns to draw, often s/he first learns to abstract what s/he sees in the world into simpler shapes that s/he then builds on (as pictured above). Seeing in this way is similar to the way one sees if scientifically literate, especially in terms of physics: all things are very basic matter/materials stuck together. 

Then, there’s the concept of “thinking wrong”. Essentially, this means including a number of “random” items into the list of elements in a problem, so that those items may allow us to create a more disordered network in our minds, which should synchronize and deliver a solution faster than working from a pre-ordered network. As detailed in this post about { Network Synchronization }.

There’s also a nice, simple explanation of “Think Wrong” at { Project M }.


And what about Edward DeBono? I don’t have his “Thinking Course” on hand to quote, but he offered a systematic approach to creative thinking which also ties in the ideas from “think wrong”.


Simply, the key is to practice dissecting images (and by image I mean any “thing” perceived to be a whole, which may also function in a certain way that’s considered a part of its image — like a candlestick) and realizing their inherent abstractness, and then re-combining those abstract parts into a new whole which will contribute to solving the problem at hand.

Above image via { Paint Draw Paint }

"GENERIC PARTS TECHNIQUE" (GPT)

"There will always be a wild and unpredictable quality to creativity and invention, says Anthony McCaffrey, a cognitive psychology researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, because an "Aha moment" is rare and reaching it means overcoming formidable mental obstacles. But after studying common roadblocks to problem-solving, he has developed a toolkit for enhancing anyone’s skills. McCaffrey believes his Obscure Features Hypothesis (OFH) has led to the first systematic, step-by-step approach to devising innovation-enhancing techniques to overcome a wide range of cognitive obstacles to invention.”


”I felt that if I could understand why people overlook certain things, then develop techniques for them to notice much more readily what they were overlooking, I might have a chance to improve creativity.”

Psychologists use the term “functional fixedness" to describe the first mental obstacle McCaffrey investigated. It explains, for example, how one person finding burrs stuck to his sweater will typically say, "Ugh, a burr," while another might say, "Hmmm, two things lightly fastened together. I think I’ll invent Velcro!" The first view is clouded by focusing on an object’s typical function."

To overcome functional fixedness, McCaffrey sought a way to teach people to reinterpret known information about common objects. For each part of an object, the "generic parts technique" (GPT) asks users to list function-free descriptions, including its material, shape and size. Using this, the prongs of an electrical plug can be described in a function-free way to reveal that they might be used as a screwdriver, for example.

{ e! Science News }


The topic of the above excerpt was mentioned in { one of the links } in my weekly Kurzweil AI feed, and caught my curiosity…

How GPT works

“For each object in your problem, you break it into parts and ask two questions,” explains McCaffrey.

1. Can it be broken down further?

2.Does my description of the part imply a use?”

For example, say you’re given two steel rings and told to make a figure-8 out of them. Your tools? A candle and a match. Melted wax is sticky, but the wax isn’t strong enough to hold the rings together.

What about the other part of the candle? The wick. The word implies a use: wicks are set afire to give light. “That tends to hinder people’s ability to think of alternative uses for this part,” says McCaffrey. Think of the wick more generically as a piece of string and the string as strands of cotton and you’re liberated.

Now you can remove the wick and tie the two rings together. Or, if you like, shred the string and make a wig for your hamster.

[above emphasis, mine.]



That’s excellent, and it’s great that this is being made into software, but surely it isn’t “the first systematic, step-by-step approach to devising innovation-enhancing techniques to overcome a wide range of cognitive obstacles to invention.”



Perhaps the key word there is systematic, because right away I can think of at least 3 other methods/approaches/modes of learning that embody, basically, the idea of getting past “functional fixedness” and seeing that all things are made up of basic parts, which can be broken down… and down again and again — to the subatomic, if you like.



Firstly, I wrote about { "the difference between Montessori and art school" } in July of 2010 — namely, that the Montessori method doesn’t consider using a violin as a “bridge” for your block-city creative, while in art school, we absolutely doWe ask, “Why not?” (and if there isn’t { "a damn good reason why not" }, proceed).



Also, when an artist learns to draw, often s/he first learns to abstract what s/he sees in the world into simpler shapes that s/he then builds on (as pictured above). Seeing in this way is similar to the way one sees if scientifically literate, especially in terms of physics: all things are very basic matter/materials stuck together. 


Then, there’s the concept of “thinking wrong”. Essentially, this means including a number of “random” items into the list of elements in a problem, so that those items may allow us to create a more disordered network in our minds, which should synchronize and deliver a solution faster than working from a pre-ordered network. As detailed in this post about { Network Synchronization }.


There’s also a nice, simple explanation of “Think Wrong” at { Project M }.



And what about Edward DeBono? I don’t have his “Thinking Course” on hand to quote, but he offered a systematic approach to creative thinking which also ties in the ideas from “think wrong”.



Simply, the key is to practice dissecting images (and by image I mean any “thing” perceived to be a whole, which may also function in a certain way that’s considered a part of its image — like a candlestick) and realizing their inherent abstractness, and then re-combining those abstract parts into a new whole which will contribute to solving the problem at hand.




wildcat2030
The larger lesson is that the brain is a neural tangle of near infinite possibility, which means that it spends a lot of time and energy choosing what not to notice. As a result, creativity is traded away for efficiency; we think in literal prose, not symbolist poetry. And this is why constraints are so important: It’s not until we encounter an unexpected hindrance – a challenge we can’t easily resolve – that the chains of cognition are loosened, giving us newfound access to the weird connections simmering in the unconscious. Here are the scientists: Consistently, these studies show that encountering an obstacle in one task can elicit a more global, Gestalt-like processing style that automatically carries over to unrelated tasks, leading people to broaden their perception, open up mental categories, and improve at integrating seemingly unrelated concepts.

Need to Create? Get a Constraint | Wired Science | Wired.com (via wildcat2030)

••••••

OS:
linking this to the { network synchronization } study
+ this post about { networks }

I had a thought a while back, when I first read about networks synchronizing at faster speeds when disordered, that it might have something to do with creativity. I haven’t read Lehrer’s article yet, but the title, “Need to Create? Get a constraint.” is relevant. If it’s enough to go off of, I’m not sure yet. But, my idea is about the wandering mind — versus beginning with an end in mind (beginning with a pre-ordered network, which excludes anything (seemingly) unrelated to the goal), things really happen when you begin with disorder: everything is included. “Think Wrong.” And those “wrong” things trigger pathways that wouldn’t have otherwise come about (in an ordered network, they’d be closed off). A surprisingly inefficient beginning leads to efficiency later by leaving possibilities open…

Lehrer is talking about something a little different, but, constraints are what help shape a disordered network. Everything is open, but eventually, you do want to get somewhere… In a class I had two years ago, we went through a process of making lists of things that popped up. The end product might be a book, but on the list you might have cabbage, lions, nuns, stained glass, a library, two crabs and a pineapple. They’re not necessarily things to use so much as triggers to help unravel the pathways that would otherwise go unnoticed, since pre-ordering is sort of like tunnel vision.

Additionally, there were some studies about creatives & depression that I was interested in some time ago. Someone wrote about the fact that creative people actually pay attention to many more sensory stimuli than someone more… “efficient”. Stimuli that can, and maybe should, otherwise be ignored… the rust on a pole, some gravel, the color of a particular brick, and those thoughts about being a crocodile. All totally inefficient, and possibly draining, for a mind to be attentive of the unimportant and the important, simultaneously and round the clock.

Back to constraints. Finally, you have some thing. Maybe a problem, an object, a canvas… and that’s a point of concentration. Then you can put all of your lobsters on it and whatever else you’d been collecting, and once they’re all on there you can begin to take some away, and there it is. Problem solved. Hopefully.

Something like that.

Lehrer sums it up well:

A more global thought process is generally ideal for coming up with truly creative solutions, as it makes people more likely to notice cross-cutting connections.

But, how? And isn’t it interesting that it applies so extensively to various types of networks… I don’t want to say universally, I’m not sure about that. But the network synchronization study seems to point to it.