Friday, December 31, 2010

Creativity is NOT right-brained

So I was thinking of how large, complex programs suck because software developers aren't reined in by systems designers.

Which segued to what a loser Alan Cooper is since his book of design advice for programmers shows not a trace of insight or creativity.

Which segued to how much Chris Crawford's book on The Art of Interactive Design rocked.

Which segued to how useless software developers actually found it since all he did was keep saying how creativity was right-brained thinking and so was forever out of their reach.

Horseshit Dichotomies

And THAT led me to think how fucking pretentious it was when ignorant numb nuts pretend to know a subject (neurocognition in this case) by using some bullshit facile dichotomy when in truth they know absolutely fucking NOTHING.

It's the whole bullshit "nature vs nurture" pseudo-"debate" all over again. As if you could ever create a dichotomy in the continuous spectrum of child development that ranges across

  • genetics
  • stochastic expression & development
  • womb chemical environment
  • nutrition
  • stressors
  • psychology

Nevermind even the big feedback loop of epigenetics kicking in to make sure that stressors affect genes' expression in a sort of Lamarckian evolution.

Where the fuck is the cutoff between "nature" and "nurture" in that continuous spectrum spanning 15+ years of life?! Hint: there isn't one.

Creativity

Let's be specific here, because all kinds of people like to appropriate "creativity" since it makes them sound good. Much like "democracy". As if democracy could ever remotely be applied to the totalitarian regimes that rule the US Empire. As if creativity could ever be applied to the product of numb nut engineers plodding along in rigid lockstep.

When I say 'creativity' I don't mean "divergent thinking" nor "open-ended thinking" nor even "original thinking". I mean spontaneous broadband synthesis of original concepts. And if you want to get technical then by synthesis I mean multidimensional decomposition of abstract concepts. And engineers NEED NOT apply for consideration since they are all, uniformly, every single one, un-creative and non-synthetic.

I've got creativity. The bulk of the population doesn't. And I'm not willing to give the benefit of the doubt to whatever sucker the cog sci researchers dragged into their fMRI machine. Nor am I willing to give the benefit of the doubt the cog sci researchers knew how to exercise the sucker's creativity assuming he has any. And considering how much other research I'm willing to throw out the window on the basis that it's crap ...

So what do I know about creativity and how do I know it?

Introspection

You can learn an awful lot by introspection if you're just logical and creative, and really, really want to learn how your mind works. One of the things I learned is that my mind is partitioned in two mutually exclusive halves. You can even call them "left" and "right" if it will make you happy.

So one half of my brain is in control most of the time. It's the half that observes and thinks and does logic. And when it's in control, I can't access the faculties of the other half of my brain ... and vice versa. And the other half of my brain, the one that doesn't think and doesn't do logic ... is not the one with the creativity!!

My creativity is always accessible from the half of my brain that does logic. Because creativity isn't a "left" versus "right" faculty. That's not what it is at all! Creativity is a subconscious faculty. What it takes to access creativity isn't to switch over to some other faculty. What it takes is to quiet your consciousness and let the concepts bubble up from your subconscious.

Conclusion

So you want to keep saying your horseshit about analysis versus creativity and left-brain versus right-brain? Well, I've given you a hard counter-example to that "rule" you're spouting out of your ignorant mouth. If you want to continue having it your way, your evidence had better be really, really good. Real solid and concrete stuff. Otherwise ... just shut the fuck up. Better yet, think twice before being a pretentious retard.

6 comments:

Stephen R. Diamond said...

1. Your view that intelligence is working memory plus storage speed isn't bad for an off-the-wall guess. Very good, actually. Evidence is converging that the "g" factor is essentially the limits of working memory. (Storing and retrieving from long term memory seems to be a separate factor particularly relevant to academic success).

Analytic and synthetic do sound an awful lot like right-brained and left-brained. I don't you have tried to distinguish them. But tell me how they're different except where they're said to localize in the brain (or whether they do).

To provide a better grip on your claim, could you answer this: were the "ordinary language philosophers," such as John Austin, analytic or synthetic?

I think you over-identify the analytic tendency with formal analysis. A quite different kind of mind is attracted to mathematics and philosophy, although both are "analytic." But if analysis includes, making distinctions, then analysis is of the essence of, say, ordinary language philosophy. (The difference between the mathematician and the philosopher from a cognitive standpoint is (I think) largely in lower order abilities, mathematics requiring (in addition to "analysis") spatio-visual ability; philosophy, the aforementioned long-term memory storage and retrieval.

I think (without direct evidence) there's a personality based difference between the mathematician and philosopher, favoring philosophers, regarding "Openness to experience." Mathematicians, on the other hand, seem to be less neurotic than philosophers, also because of the demands of the discipline.

Richard Kulisz said...

Descriptions of Analysis in my blogs, from most abstract to most concrete:
http://richardkulisz.blogspot.com/2008/12/fundamental-cognitive-traits.html
http://richardkulisz.blogspot.com/2010/12/psych-model-of-inter-personality.html
http://richardkulisz.blogspot.com/2008/10/logic-vs-magic.html
http://richardkulisz.blogspot.com/2007/06/magical-thinkers.html

---

I started with Bloom's taxonomy of cognition. The first three capabilities are things everyone possesses. The 4th and 5th capability are independent of each other. Bloom assumes the 5th capability is dependent on the 4th. He / they are completely fucking wrong. The 6th capability does however depend on the existence of BOTH the 4th and 5th.

THEN I realized that #6 capability (#4 + #5) doesn't occur in the general population the way it should if #4 and #5 were independent of each other. But I go into detail on this in my psych model of inter-personality interactions.

--

I don't believe that any but the weirdest philosophers such as Willard van Orman Quine were AT ALL analytic. Quine was a mathematician who did philosophy by the way. And if he'd been born AFTER the computer revolution, he would have been NEITHER.

The mental process philosophers call analysis has fuck-all to do with the natural hardwired quirk of the human brain I call analysis. Except in the sense that MY analysis makes THEIR analysis about 1000x easier. SO MUCH easier that it requires absolutely no special training. It's pretty much the difference between an ordinary person doing simple mental arithmetic and an idiot savant simply FEELING the answers to complex mental arithmetic.

So-called analytic philosophers imitate a natural ability every mathematician needs to do their job. Their imitation is extremely poor. So poor that I just disqualify it.

The same goes for abstract synthesis. It's a hardwired quirk. If you don't have it, you're stuck trying to fake it using analysis with a performance penalty in excess of 99%. And if you don't possess analysis to try to fake synthesis with ... god save you.

Analysis and synthesis are really, really not imitable using each other. They are represented by ATOMISTIC AI and CONNECTIONIST neural networks, respectively. If you knew basic cognitive science, this paragraph alone would be a complete explanation.

And if you knew cog sci AND had both analysis and synthesis yourself, then you would leap to the conclusion that fusing atomism and connectionism is the ONLY obstacle left to making an AI that passes the Turing test. It would also be obvious that we haven't the faintest clue how to do it and that no studies on human minds or human brains will help us. But you'd still have to take it from me that you can fuse human emotions and empathy to an AI *easily* after you've fused analysis and synthesis together.

So yeah, if you can answer this one huge hairy question then congrats, you've designed a human-level AI.

Richard Kulisz said...

I may or may not have included a link to the following paper in one of the blog posts above. It's the source of my insights into exactly WTF analysis is.

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2006/07/separating-programming-sheep-from-non-programming-goats.html

Richard Kulisz said...

> A quite different kind of mind is attracted to mathematics and philosophy, although both are "analytic."

Yeah, that's kinda like saying Sweden, Switzerland and the USA are all democratic.

> But if analysis includes, making distinctions

It does not and I will prove it.

The problem is in the false dichotomy philosophers make between breaking up concepts into subparts and synthesizing new concepts from subparts. Seriously, where the fuck are the subparts coming from if they haven't been synthesized?

It's a false dichotomy because you're making a completely meaningless distinction between synthesizing concepts smaller than what you're paying consciously attention to, and synthesizing concepts bigger than what you're consciously paying attention to. Since synthesis works in the subconscious what you're consciously paying attention to (or think you are) means nothing to it.

The philosophers' distinction between synthesis and analysis is utter fucking bullshit. Much like most distinctions in philosophy.

And by MY definition of analysis, philosophers just don't do analysis. Or very, very few of them do.

Also, by both my comprehension and understanding of how synthesis actually happens in the brain and the mind, it's EXACTLY THE SAME PROCESS operating in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY whether it's called "analysis" or "synthesis". The only difference is that in "synthesis" there is more of an effort to gather raw data (concrete examples) from outside oneself (books, experiences, people), whereas in "analysis" there is more of an effort to generate the raw data oneself, consciously.

It's this very subtle difference in ... posture that makes it SEEM that 'synthesis used to break down concepts' is related to the actual analytic faculty whose home is in consciousness. But even as a correlation it is very weak since most of the ways to break down concepts would never occur to a genuinely analytic person since they make no sense. And it's neither causative, deep, nor insightful.

The more meaningful truth is that when you're breaking down concepts, you're "breaking" them into MORE abstract things. And when you're synthesizing concepts, you're unwittingly performing the exact same operation at the meta-level.

I say unwittingly because in order to keep the levels of a meta-hierarchy distinct, you need to have my kind of analysis. So really, unless you possess my kind of analysis, the real difference between philosophers' analysis and synthesis isn't perceptible and it's all just a posture.

Richard Kulisz said...

> (The difference between the mathematician and the philosopher from a cognitive standpoint is (I think) largely in lower order abilities, mathematics requiring (in addition to "analysis") spatio-visual ability; philosophy, the aforementioned long-term memory storage and retrieval.

Long term storage and retrieval helps in any highly technical profession. To do math, it really helps to have large working memory capacity. It also _helps_ to have good spatio-visual ability. But it is absolutely critical, you MUST have my kind of analysis.

Have you picked up an actual mathematics book that's not a textbook? Those things are ... dense. They are thin books HUGELY dense in the most rigid unswerving logic. The concepts involved and the links between them are all CRYSTALLINE. Not in the sense of transparency because they're usually quite opaque until you think about them for many minutes or hours. But in the sense that if anything were out of place, they would shatter utterly.

Philosophy is very, very fuzzy and mostly relies on repetition and authority. What Kant said in 20 different ways, I can say in a single sentence. And my one sentence will be better, clearer, more rigid, and more powerful. And what I can LOGICALLY DERIVE from that one sentence are things Kant could never guess. So why bother quoting Kant or talking about him? He's just some freaking loser as far as I'm concerned. A loser who was so fucking wrong he couldn't even define 'despair' correctly, and it's not like it's difficult.

You know, I think you ought to read Logic vs Magic. It will give you a good sense that it's not "formal" logic I'm talking about. It's much deeper than that, it's the process of thinking itself. And also those two papers on codinghorror, they'll help you immensely I think. I hope.

> I think (without direct evidence) there's a personality based difference between the mathematician and philosopher, favoring philosophers, regarding "Openness to experience." Mathematicians, on the other hand, seem to be less neurotic than philosophers, also because of the demands of the discipline.

David Hilbert almost starved to death because he refused to eat ANYTHING not cooked by his daughter. I think paranoia qualifies as both psychosis AND negative emotions, so I've got both meanings of neurosis covered. In the sense of negative feelings, I myself am VERY neurotic, and I am a lot more synthetic than analytic. It's just two data points, but I don't see why there would be any kind of correlation.

A positive correlation between Openness and synthesis makes sense. As does a negative correlation between Openness and analysis. But I say only that they make sense, not that they're probable. If there are correlations, they aren't very strong.

mathematicians are MBTI type ST, philosophers are NF, and the Big Five were made out of raw statistical data so probably someone's tried to find a correlation. Not that the MBTI is at all reliable ... someone really ought to devise a rigorous test and then figure out just how unreliable the MBTI is exactly. Huge bonus points if you can create a test that measures analytic and synthetic ability, not just their presence or absence.

Richard Kulisz said...

I further note that if the "left-brained vs right-brained" shite had any truth to it then systems designers (who require both logic and creativity and I explain why in Why We Need Systems Designers) would be impossible. The mere existence of systems designers proves it's untrue. Of course, you could spin it that instead of the right or left brain being dominant, it's overdeveloped, so as to leave open the possibility of people with BOTH sides of their brain overdeveloped. But that would still run afoul of my personal experience that I access creativity and logic from the exact same side of my brain.