UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Probing the mind behind the (literal and figurative) lightbulb Gabora, Liane


After doing away with the evolutionary scaffold for BVSR, what remains is a notion of “blindness” that does not distinguish BVSR from other theories of creativity, and an assumption that creativity can be understood by treating ideas as discrete, countable entities, as opposed to different external manifestations of a singular gradually solidifying internal conception. Uprooted from Darwinian theory, BVSR lacks a scientific framework that can be called upon to generate hypotheses and test them. In lieu of such a framework, hypotheses appear to be generated on the basis of previous data—they are not theory-driven. Simonton (2014) does not explain how the hypothesis that creativity is enhanced by engagement in a “network of enterprises” is derived from BVSR; this hypothesis is more compatible with competing conceptions of creativity. The notion that creativity involves backtracking conflates evidence for backtracking with respect to the external output with evidence for backtracking of the conception of the invention. The first does not imply the second; a creator can set aside a creative output but cannot go back to the conception of the task he/she had prior to generating that output. The notion that creativity entails superfluity (i.e., many ideas have “zero usefulness”) is misguided; usefulness is context-dependent, moreover, the usefulness of an idea may reside in its being a critical stepping-stone to a subsequent idea.

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