“Think Like a Freak”, Plus a Few Words on Creativity

Via freakonomics.com

As promised, I am writing a separate post about “Think Like a Freak”, by Stephen Dubner and Steven D Levitt. This book is scheduled to come out on May 13, and it looks like it’s going to be very interesting. In essence, what they’re trying to do here is to teach their readers how to think outside the box. They also promise to evaluate decisions we make in our lives and the morals we apply, and to show the readers tricks that will help in thinking better.

This is pretty much all that we can know right now, but if you’d like to get a better sense of how the book will deliver on its promises, you can click here to be taken to a post one of the writers made about it. On that link you’ll also find the table of contents.

To prepare for the release of this book, I wanted to discuss a few quotes that speak about creativity and its importance. It’s been known for quite a while that thinking outside the box is extremely important. Since this is the topic of this book, getting a sense of the ideas that paved the way to it would be quite interesting.

Via static.flickr.com

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

-Brené Brown

If you look through quotes on creativity, you’ll find that a lot of them speak about the idea that taking a risk is a crucial part of being creative. Of course, in order to take a risk, you have to accept that you’ll feel vulnerable. Creativity implies the danger of failure, but it’s not something we should run away from. If we fail, then we know what not to do, and if we succeed, well…then it’s all good.

“White. A blank page or canvas. So many possibilities.”

-Stephen Sondheim

This captures the way a creative person thinks very well. The “blank page or canvas” can be anything that needs work. For a writer, it is indeed a page, for an interior decorator, an apartment. But even a piece of wood, a rock, or an engine can all be considered the starting point for something absolutely amazing.

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

-Albert Einstein

Knowledge is extremely important, but when it comes to creating something new, it fails miserably. That’s why creativity is so much more important: from it, new ideas can emerge. Imagination is the starting point for inventions, then knowledge comes to fill in the small details.

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.”

-Ayn Rand

Since I’m currently reading an Ayn Rand book, when I saw this quote by her I thought I should include it. Creativity, and what is born from it, are rewards in it of themselves, and thus, they you can find motivation in them.

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

-Scott Adams

We’ve gone full circle with this last quote, which touches the same idea as the first. Making mistakes is normal in creativity. But among those mistakes, there might just be a few that are, in fact, not real mistakes. They might appear to be that because they’re unusual. That’s where the genius of creativity steps in, helping you realize which “mistakes” you should keep. That’s also how art begins.

I am very curious to find out what “Think Like a Freak” will add to the lessons thought by these quotes. In the meantime, if you’d like to immerse yourself in more quotes, make sure to head over to Quotery, which is where I found all the quotes I used in this post.

Have a wonderful day!

/Larisa

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“The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History”, by Elizabeth Kolbert (Plus a Brief Description of the Five Extinctions)

Cover via Amazon

Today I was looking around for new books that are worth reading. That’s how I found “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History”. As I was looking at the description, I quickly became both excited and fascinated about the topic. 

So, What is This Book About?

As the title suggests, this book is attempting to give an account of an extinction that is taking place right before our eyes. Along its history, the Earth has seen as many as five mass extinctions.  The sad truth is that another one seems to be under works. In the past, circumstances such as drastic climate changes, and possibly even a hit by a meteorite. For this sixth extinction, however, the reason is us. This is the argument put forward in this book: that we are the cause of  another mass destruction of lives.

Through this book, Elizabeth Kolbert is making her readers reconsider the concept of humanity. When what we leave behind is destruction and death, are we as good as we think we are? The answer, of course, is no. But in order to come to that answer, we must first be convinced by the implication of the question. Are we indeed the cause of the sixth extinction? That’s what the book is attempting to convince us of. If it manages to reach its goal, then it forces its readers to reconsider the essence of human nature.

The Five Extinctions

I plan on reading this book at some point in the future. But even for those who won’t, knowing about the past five extinctions can be a useful piece of knowledge. So let’s find out what they were:

1) Ordovician-Silurian Mass Extinction

This extinction took place 443 million years ago, at the end of the Ordovician period, spilling into the beginning of the Silurian period. Since at that time, most life was present in the sea, it can easily be concluded that losses were in the form of sea creatures. It is believed that as much as 85% of the total life in the waters was wiped out. Though it can’t be said with certainty, scientists believe that an ice age was the culprit here. The freezing of the waters would have had a huge effect on the lives in them.

2) Late Devonian mass extinction

Having occurred 359 million years ago, this mass destruction took away 75% of the life on Earth. Creatures in shallow waters were the ones affected the worst, because the sea bed lost oxygen. Because of this, bacteria were the only ones who were able to survive there. Possible causes for these events include impacts by asteroids and climate change.

3) Permian Mass Extinction

Also known as the Great Dying, this extinction wiped out a staggering 96% of all the living things on Earth. This occurred 248 million years ago, and affected, once again, mostly sea creatures. Insects also had to suffer, as the Permian extinction was the only one that effected them in mass. There are a few possible causes proposed for this event, such as drop in the levels of oxygen and, of course, the ever loved asteroid impact.

4) Triassic-Jurassic Mass Extinction

As with the other extinction, the Triassic-Jurassic one had up to three separate stages. Having taken place 200 million years ago, this destruction was responsible for the death of 50% of lives. Sea creatures and reptiles, and amphibians are among the ones affected. Once again, possible causes are a drastic change in climate and an asteroid.

5) Cretaceous-Tertiary Mass Extinction

The most well-known extinction, the Cretaceous-Tertiary event was when the dinosaurs met their end. Having happened 65 million years ago, this destruction also took the lives of other creatures. Many groups of animals started to decline in numbers before this event. Scientists believe it might be because of a change in climate that was followed by a fall in the level of the sea. The famed impact of the asteroid came as the last drop that ended the dinosaurs.

Those are the five extinctions that have happened in the past. Let’s see if the book manages to convince that a sixth one is occurring as we speak.

/Larisa