On Creativity, Marijuana and “a Butterfly Effect in Thought”

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.” […] “…by some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.” — Pearl Buck, Winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938.

Cannabis – Wikimedia Image

Jason Silva
Reality Sandwich

In a blog post last year entitled “Marijuana and Divergent Thinking“, Jonah Lehrer explains that many creative tasks require the cultivation of an “expansive associative net, or what psychologists refer to as a “flat associative hierarchy.” What this essentially suggests is that creative people should be able to make far-reaching connections among all sorts of seemingly unrelated ideas, and to not dismiss one possible connection just because it seems far-fetched.

Creativity and insight almost always involve an experience of acute pattern recognition: the eureka moment in whicwe perceive the interconnection between disparate concepts or ideas to reveal something new.

The Imaginary Foundation says that “to understand is to perceive patterns” and this is exactly what all great thinkers have done throughout the ages: they have provided a larger, dot-connecting, aerial view of things that subsumes the previous paradigm. As Richard Metzger has written:

What great minds have done throughout history is provide an aerial view of things. A larger more encompassing view that often subsumes the previous paradigm and then surpasses it in completeness with the vividness of its metaphors. Consider now how the evolving notions of a flat earth, Copernican astronomy and Einsteinian physics have subsequently changed how mankind sees its place in the cosmos, continuously updating the past explanations with something superior.

Media philosopher Marshall McLuhan sets a wonderful example as a patternistic thinker: he saw the electronic global village coming decades before the Internet and interpreted electronic communications as extensions of the human nervous system. He connected the dots. A recent review of Douglas Coupland’s McLuhan biography said:

More than anything, it paints McLuhan as a masterful dot-connector and voracious cross-disciplinary thinker, a curious octopus if you will.

McLuhan, “was a master of pattern recognition,” wrote Coupland, “a man who bangs a drum so large that it’s only beaten once every hundred years.”

This heightened ability to draw connections and novel associations between disparate ideas or objects is the hallmark of creative thinkers, who are always searching for the initial conditions or tools that epiphanies are born from.

I believe that Marijuana is perhaps one of the best cognitive tools for creativity.

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