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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

Another book I’m currently reading (I’m reading 16) is “The Nature of Insight” edited by Robert Sternberg and Janet Davidson. It’s 16 articles, mostly by psychologists, on the current state of understanding on insight. I was super keen on this book until I discovered it was written in1995. Now I’m just keen.

Davidson, one of the editors, wrote chapter 4, “The Suddenness of Insight”. She starts with this:

Many of the world’s greatest contributions have derived from insightful problem solving [in the technical sense of this phrase]. If major discoveries do stem from sudden realizations, then it is important to understand the conditions under which these realizations occur. Unfortunately, little is known about the mental mechanisms underlying insightful discoveries, and even less is known about individual differences in the ability to make these discoveries.

This underlines the hilarity, the awful truth, and the vast opportunity of our time. In a day when iPods are our most innovative examples we still have authors like Thomas Homer-Dixon writing books titled “The Ingenuity Gap: Facing the Economic, Environmental, and Other Challenges of an Increasingly Complex and Unpredictable World”. Mr. Homer-Dixon lays out a myriad of examples that illustrate the almost insurmountable challenge of complexity in most of our current societal issues. His conclusion: We are on the verge of a melt-down and there’s no solution in sight (check the slick pun!).

We’ve got scientists saying we don’t have a handle on insight. We’ve got endless, catastrophic problems to solve. And we’re raving about iPods…

Fortunately Davidson has some early insights on insight:

High-IQ individuals are slower, not faster, than lower-IQ individuals in analysing problems and applying insights.

Insight can be trained.

Well point one is encouraging for slow-pokes like me. But point two: trained! Now we’re gettin’ somewhere.


[…] rip and pinged on her incubation trips. Given the deep need for innovation that I briefly mentioned earlier – anything that enhances innovation is worth some attention. So there’s natu […]