Jonah Lehrer

  • Aired:  04/17/12
  •  | Views: 21,685

Jonah Lehrer examines dangerous creativity myths and the history of innovation. (6:48)

>> Stephen: (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) WELCOME BLACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS A NEW BOOK ABOUT HOW CREATIVITY WORKS.

I WILL ASK HIM A SERIES OF QUESTIONS.

PLEASE WELCOME JONAH LAIRER ARE.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) HEY, JONAH, THANKS FOR COMING BACK.

>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

>> Stephen: YOU'RE ONE OF THE CONTRIBUTING EDITORS OF "WIRED"

YOU WRITE FOR THE "NEW YORKER" AND THE "WALL STREET JOURNAL."

SO YOU'RE CRANKING OUT MATERIAL ALL THE TIME.

YOU'RE ONE OF THOSE CREATIVE TYPES, RIGHT?

>> I TRY.

>> Stephen: YOU'RE A CREATIVE TAPE.

OKAY.

SO YOU'VE GOT A NEW BOOK HERE CALLED "IMAGINE.

HOW CREATIVITY WORKS." FIRST OF ALL, YOU STOLE YOUR IT TOOLE FROM JOHN LENNON SO...

(LAUGHTER) WHO ARE YOU TO SPEAK ON CREATIVITY.

>> ONE OF THE THEMES OF THE BOOK THAT THESE IDEAS WE ASSUME PEOPLE INVENT OUT OF THIN AIR....

>> Stephen: THEY DO.

THE MUSE COMES DOWN SPEAKS THROUGH THEM, IT'S A LIGHTNING BOLT AND RAREFIED.

>> THAT'S REALLY NEW CONNECTIONS BETWEEN OLD IDEAS.

THE HUMAN MIND IS THE CONNECTION.

I THINK WE'VE HAD THIS MYTH OF THE MUSES FOR FAR TOO LONG.

WE'VE OUTSOURCED THE IMAGINATION WHEN IT REALLY COMES FROM THESE THREE POUNDS OF MEAT RIGHT

INSIDE HERE.

(LAUGHTER)

>> THREE POUNDS?

>> Stephen: JUST OVER 12 WATTS OF ELECTRICITY.

>> SO IT'S A PRETTY EFFICIENT COMPUTER BUT IT CAN MAKE THESE

ASTONISHING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THESE IDEAS THAT PEOPLE HAVE NEVER SEEN A CONNECTION BEFORE.

>> Stephen: BUT THERE ARE CREATIVE PEOPLE AND THEN THERE ARE NONCREATIVE PEOPLE.

>> NO, THAT'S....

>> Stephen: NO, I JUST SAID THERE WERE.

(LAUGHTER)

>> THAT'S ONE OF THE VERY DANGEROUS MYTHS.

YOU CAN SEE THESE MIRRORED IN SCHOOL KIDS.

YOU CAN ASK A SECOND GRADER SAYING "ARE YOU CREATEIVE?

" AND THEY'LL SAY "I LOVE TO PAINT, I LOVE TO DRAW."

BY FIFTH GRADERS IT'S DOWN TO 50%.

BY THE TIME THEY'RE HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS 90% OF KIDS SAY THEY'RE NOT.

>> Stephen: BECAUSE IF YOU SAY YOU'RE A CREATIVE TYPE THAT MAKES YOU PUNCHABLE, RIGHT?

>> CREATIVITY IS ACTUALLY A UNIVERSAL TALENT, IT'S SOMETHING WE ALL HAVE AND WE CAN GET

BETTER AT IT.

I WANTED TO SHOW PEOPLE HOW THE IMAGINATION WORKS SO I CAN MAKE IT WORK BETTER.

>> Stephen: HOW DOES IT WORK?

>> SO LET'S SAY YOU'RE WORKING WITH A REALLY HARD PROBLEM, A

PROBLEM THAT PROBABLY REQUIRES A MOMENT OF INSIGHT.

WHAT SCIENTISTS HAVE FOUND THAT ALTHOUGH MOST PEOPLE ASSUME THE WAY TO SOLVE THAT PROBLEM IS TO

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS, CHUG A CUP OF COFFEE, CHAIN YOURSELF AT YOUR DESK, STAIR AT YOUR

COMPUTER SCREEN, THAT'S BACKWARDS.

WHEN YOU NEED A MOMENT OF INSIGHT YOU HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO GET RELAXED, TAKE A HOT

SHOWER, GO FOR A HIKE, DRINK A BEER, PEOPLE WHO ARE DRUNK, THEY SOLVE 30% MORE OF THESE VERY

DIFFICULT CREATIVE PUZZLES.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: REALLY.

>> BECAUSE THEY'RE MORE RELAXED AND MORE LIKELY TO DAYDREAM.

DAYDREAMING TURNS OUT TO BE MORE LIKELY TO BE CREATEIVE.

>> Stephen: I'M NOT AN ALCOHOLIC I'M A CREATE-O-HALL I CAN.

>> THERE'S A... YOU NEED A BIG BREAK THROUGH, YOU NEED TO MAKE TIME TO WASTE TIME.

SO IT'S A GREAT JUSTIFICATION FOR LAZINESS.

>> SO I HOPE TEENAGERS AREN'T WATCHING THIS RIGHT NOW.

(LAUGHTER)

>> OF COURSE YOU HAVE TO PUT IN THE POINT... THE WORK.

YOU NEED THE PERSPIRATION THAT THEN REQUIRES INSPIRATION AND THEN EVEN AFTER YOU HAVE THE BIG

IDEA YOU HAVE TO PUT IN THE WORK AND REFINE THAT IDEA AND MAKE IT SEWELLABLE FOR THE REAL WORLD.

SO IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT TAKING A SHOWER.

YOU HAVE TO PUT IN THE WORK TO GET TO THAT POINT BUT ONCE YOU HIT THE BLOCK IT'S IMPORTANT TO

FIND A WAY TO TAKE A BREAK.

>> Stephen: YOU SAY THAT NEW IDEAS COME FROM OLD IDEAS.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

>> WELL, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF INNOVATION EVEN THE MOST RADICAL BREAKTHROUGHS ARE

JUST COMBINATIONS....

>> Stephen: HOT DOGS IN PIZZA CRUSTS.

>> PERFECT EXAMPLE.

>> AND THE GUTENBERG PRINTING PRESS IS JUST A WINE PRESS APPLY ODD THE WRITTEN WORD.

OR THE GOOGLE ALGORITHMS WAS APPLIED TO THE WEB.

>> Stephen: THE CREATIVE ACT WOULD BE SEEING SOMETHING THAT ALREADY EXISTS AND SAYING I WANT

TO USE THAT IN A DIFFERENT WAY?

>> EXACTLY.

A NEW CONNECTION BETWEEN....

>> Stephen: THAT'S ALSO THEFT.

HEY, I LIKE YOUR CAR.

I'D LIKE TO USE THAT IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

LIKE ME DRIVING IT.

IS THAT AN ACT OF CREATIVITY?

>> IT CAN A FINE LINE.

WHEN SOMEONE ASKED BOB DYLAN WHERE HIS SONGS CAME FROM HE SAID "THEY BEGIN WITH ACT OF

LOVE." YOU IN A SENSE REMEMBER IT AND THAT'S AN IMPORTANT PART OF

CREATIVITY WHICH IS IMPORTANT TO CREATE A CULTURE WHERE PEOPLE CAN BORROW FROM THE IDEAS OF OTHERS.

SO WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, A CREATIVE GUY, HE STOLE MOST OF HIS PLOTS.

HE DIDN'T LIKE COMING UP WITH HIS OWN STORIES BUT HE HAD ACCESS TO A PUBLISHING INDUSTRY

THAT GAVE HIM LOTS OF STORIES TO STEAL AND NOBODY STOPPED HIM.

SO YOU SEE THIS AGAIN AND AGAIN AMONG VERY, VERY CREATIVE PEOPLE THAT THEY ARE VERY OPEN MINDED,

THEY READ EVERYTHING, THEY'RE INCREDIBLY CURIOUS AND THEY FEEL A LOT.

>> Stephen: STEVE JOBS, YOU SAID HE MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE IN OUR LIFETIME.

BUT EVERYONE WOULD SAY THAT,

RIGHT?

THAT'S NOT REALLY A CREATIVE COMMENT.

(LAUGHTER) OR IS IT CREATEIVE THAT YOU STOLE THAT FROM EVERYONE'S LIPS?

>> I THINK JOBS WAS INCREDIBLY GOOD AT MANAGING CREATIVITY.

>> Stephen: YOU SAY CREATIVE PEOPLE ARE BETWEEN EIGHT AND 40 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE MANIC-DEPRESSIVE.

>> YES.

>> Stephen: THAT IS... A ROUGH STAT.

AND IT'S A HIGH PRICE TO PAY FOR BEING CREATIVE.

>> YES, IT AND IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO BE CLEAR THAT SUFFERING FROM THE SAKE OF YOUR

ART IS STILL SUFFERING.

IT'S A....

>> Stephen: WILL SUFFERING MAKE YOU CREATIVE?

DO YOU HAVE TO KIND OF HAVE A (BLEEP)Y CHILDHOOD?

(LAUGHTER)

>> NO.

>> Stephen: YOU CAN BE HAPPY AND CREATIVE.

>> Stephen: YOU CAN STILL WRITE A GOOD NOVEL EVEN IF YOU HAD A HAPPY CHILD.

>> OH, THAT'S FANTASTIC.

WELL, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Stephen: JONAH, THANK YOU.

JONAH LEHRER.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

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