My intended review of Imagine: How creativity works

My favorite read of the summer had been Jonah Leher’s book Imagine: How creativity works. I greatly enjoyed the book as I read it in the car during our family vacation. I’d frequently pause during my reading and share snippets of it with my wife. Once we got home from our trip, I skimmed through it again with my highlighter, marking my favorite passages. I sent out several tweets and Facebook posts with my recommendation of it. I even started taking notes to put together a blog post here. There were many parts of the book that I thought would be so beneficial to educators and parents.

But the author has recently admitted that he made up several quotes he attributed to singer songwriter Bob Dylan, who was a focus of major parts of the book. Lehrer had also previously found trouble for self-plagiarization, recycling too much old work into new columns of his own. Now Lehrer has resigned from his position at The New Yorker, and his book is being pulled from shelves. I’m sure that other writers and researchers will now comb through Imagine and find other inaccuracies, intentional or not. Research and fact checking are so much easier in this highly connected digital world.

There were so many great points in the book. I should go to the original sources Lehrer used and read those studies. Not sure that I’ll do that right away, but what has been made clear to me (again) is the importance of honesty and truthfulness. Be careful about what you say and share in this connected world. It’s easy for others to check facts of what we claim. Don’t let laziness or ego coax you into a problem that may ruin your reputation and career. Another lesson in citizenship in this digital world has been created for us to learn from. The truth can set you free, but it can also hunt you down and kick you in the rear.

Shakespeare and Verlander, Why can we develop athletes and not writers?

Justin Verlander
Bill James is the godfather of baseball statistics when it comes to analyzing talent. He is the main brain behind the “moneyball” approach to building a baseball team. In this article from Slate Magazine, James shares his thoughts on how we (American society) are skilled at finding and developing athletic talent, but fail to do so in the world of literacy. James contends, and I agree, that there is plenty of academic talent in our country, just that we choose not to do much to develop it like we do when scouting and building athletic teams.

Our society is very, very good at developing certain types of skills and certain types of genius. We are fantastically good at identifying and developing athletic skills—better than we are, really, at almost anything else. We are quite good at developing and rewarding inventiveness. We are pretty good at developing the skills necessary to run a small business—a fast food restaurant, for example. We’re really, really good at teaching people how to drive automobiles and how to find a coffee shop.
We are not so good at developing great writers, it is true, but why is this? … The average city the size of Topeka produces a major league player every 10 or 15 years. If we did the same things for young writers, every city would produce a Shakespeare or a Dickens or at least a Graham Greene every 10 or 15 years. Instead, we tell the young writers that they should work on their craft for 20 or 25 years, get to be really, really good—among the best in the world—and then we’ll give them a little bit of recognition.

ImagineHat tip to the book Imagine: How creativity works by Jonah Lehrer for making reference to this article. After you read the James article, be sure to check out the Lehrer book (the best read I’ve had this summer).