Why Weird People Are Often More Creative

WHY WEIRD PEOPLE ARE OFTEN MORE CREATIVE

THE AMOUNT OF INFORMATION THAT’S GETTING INTO YOUR MIND DETERMINES HOW CREATIVE–OR CRAZY–YOU MIGHT BE.

BY DRAKE BAER

When Albert Einstein came across a cigarette butt, he would often pick it up–fuel for the ol’ tobacco pipe. When Charles Dickens walked around London, he would often be wielding his umbrella–the best defense to imaginary street urchins. When Björk goes to an awards show, she might dress like a swan–what could be more genius? Or beautiful? Or weird?As more than a decade’s research is showing, genius and madness are basically best friends. What’s interesting is why.

A lot of it has to do with the aperture through which you receive information. Our sense organs are constantly sending tons of information to our minds–which interact with memories and images from the past–creating a ton of work for our minds to filter relevant from irrelevant data. Having a super strong filter can be awesome, as it provides for feats of attention. However, having less of a filter is linked with mental illness–and creativity.

While most have us have a fair amount of latent inhibition helping us to filter out irrelevant data, creative (and maybe also psychotic) people aren’t quite so ordered, making for what Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson calls cognitive disinhibition. She defines it as ” the failure to ignore information that is irrelevant to current goals or to survival,” in other words, it’s allowing for more info to come in than seems immediately beneficial.

For example:

A person with low latent inhibitions would not only see a yellow desk lamp, they may also think of bananas, Spongebob Squarepants, or Spongebob Squarepants eating a banana, or possibly concoct a whole dissertation in their head about whether or not Spongebob likes to eat bananas, or how he could get them down in the ocean

In a 2003 study, Carson found that eminent creative achievers were seven times more likely to to have low rather than high latent intelligence scores. That insight prompted her to form a hypothesis: that cognitive disinhibiting allows for info to enter into your conscious mind–which you can then tinker with and recombine. The result: creative ideas.

Carson’s research gives us another angle for unpacking the nature of creativity: while we see the outputs in the form of a gorgeous painting, a masterful novel, or a “disruptive” business, that only comes as the result of recombining inputs–the experiences that you soak your mind in.

Which is why you might want, to stay open.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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