Risto Juola
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The Sleep Of Reason Produces Numbers

Oct 18, 2009

Recently, one of my instructors claimed that ten percent of people are creative. That, for whatever "reason," only ten percent of all people have "that thing" which prompts them to invent, and to create "new" things. Only ten percent, never one percent more.

The instructor spoke as though this statistic were an indisputable biological fact. As though nature metes out imagination on a fixed, per capita basis. As though great man history operates independently of people's history. As though measuring a group of prisoners chained to rowing oars yields the indisputable biological fact that prisoners prefer rowing. Never you mind how people come to be prisoners, or how this group of people came to be chained to oars.

I submit to you that "reason" and reasoning have little to do with this instructor's claim. I submit to you that instead of reason, we have here its exact opposite, unreasonability. Unreasonability on both the part of the instructing instructor, and on the part of any statistician who might give birth to such a mathematical monstrosity. A monstrosity employing creativity only thus far, and never one percent further.

Armed with our precious ten percent, should we not administer a test in order to certify genuine creativity? How better to ensure the absolute recognition of the ten percent? But, how and how often to administer the test? How to interpret its results? As though creativity remains untouched by activity, and exists in the cells of our mind on a fixed, per capita basis.

Certainly there will always exist the uppermost ten percent of creative people, by any definition of creativity. But this was not the claim being professed. No, not the uppermost ten percent; but the creative ten percent that exists in static opposition to the uncreative ninety percent.

"Bah! Fear and question not, for numbers are as steel and do not partake of seeping sociology. Take stock in the gospel of ten percent! Stay you in your place uncreatives, quietly supping the wrath of numbers forevermore!"

Part of the series: Zwingli