Jonah Lehrer may or may not be a dirty, low down self-plagiarist. I don’t care. I’m not feeling the kind of outrage that is circling the blogosphere. It is probably unwise to cut and paste choice quotes, even your own, from one online publication to another. It certainly seems a lazy thing to do and hurts the credibility of a brand that depends entirely on credibility (Lehrer as “idea man”).
I still like Jonah Lehrer. I was reading Imagine: How Creativity Works when all of this blew up. The book is insightful and offers inspiring thoughts on how creativity works and can be made to work better. Here are a few things I carried away:
- Creators don’t always have to understand the meaning of what they create. Sometimes the work is better when they don’t. See Bob Dylan.
- The mind only creates new things when it is able to idle and assimilate ideas, thoughts and experiences.
- We learn best through play.
- Social networks, particularly weak ties, are essential for generating and executing new ideas.
- Humans are social. We create more effectively when we interact with other people.
- Criticism is good. Brainstorming is bad.
- Our history is punctuated with periods of excess genius. These periods can be studied, understood and, possibly replicated.
- Shakespeare wasn’t a fluke but he might not happen again.
I plan to read How We Decide soon. I will reserve judgment until I find out if that is the same book with a different cover. If so, no mercy. Until then, Jonah Lehrer is okay with me.