“You and Your Research”, (1986-03-07):
[Transcript of a talk by mathematician and Bell Labs manager Richard Hamming about what he had learned about computers and how to do effective research (republished in expanded form as Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn; 1995 video). It is one of the most famous and most-quoted such discussions ever.]
At a seminar in the Bell Communications Research Colloquia Series, Dr. Richard W. Hamming, a Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a retired Bell Labs scientist, gave a very interesting and stimulating talk, ‘You and Your Research’ to an overflow audience of some 200 Bellcore staff members and visitors at the Morris Research and Engineering Center on March 7, 1986. This talk centered on Hamming’s observations and research on the question “Why do so few scientists make substantial contributions and so many are forgotten in the long run?” From his more than 40 years of experience, 30 of which were at Bell Laboratories, he has made a number of direct observations, asked very pointed questions of scientists about what, how, and why they did things, studied the lives of great scientists and great contributions, and has done introspection and studied theories of creativity. The talk is about what he has learned in terms of the properties of the individual scientists, their abilities, traits, working habits, attitudes, and philosophy.
[Behavioral genetics discussion of eminence/genius: intelligence, developmental processes, psychopathology, and creativity scales all contribute to accomplishment but leave much unexplained, in particular, the odd pattern of inheritance where genius runs in families but highly sporadically and not following any standard Mendelian or polygenic inheritance pattern.
The authors refer to the concept of ‘emergenesis’, where emergenic traits are not additive combinations of subtraits (as is strongly the case for traits like intelligence) but rather are multiplicative combinations, which are epistatic at the genetic level. Because all subtraits must be present to have a chance of producing the overall trait, emergenic traits can be highly genetically influenced yet still rare and sporadically appearing within families. (The Wiley Handbook of Genius 2014, chapter 14)]
How can we account for the sudden appearance of such dazzling artists and scientists as Mozart, Shakespeare, Darwin, or Einstein? How can we define such genius? What conditions or personality traits seem to produce exceptionally creative people? Is the association between genius and madness really just a myth? These and many other questions are brilliantly illuminated in The Origins of Genius.
Dean Simonton convincingly argues that creativity can best be understood as a Darwinian process of variation and selection. The artist or scientist generates a wealth of ideas, and then subjects these ideas to aesthetic or scientific judgment, selecting only those that have the best chance to survive and reproduce. Indeed, the true test of genius is the ability to bequeath an impressive and influential body of work to future generations. Simonton draws on the latest research into creativity and explores such topics as the personality type of the genius, whether genius is genetic or produced by environment and education, the links between genius and mental illness (Darwin himself was emotionally and mentally unwell), the high incidence of childhood trauma, especially loss of a parent, amongst Nobel Prize winners, the importance of unconscious incubation in creative problem-solving, and much more.
Simonton substantiates his theory by examining and quoting from the work of such eminent figures as Henri Poincare, W. H. Auden, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Charles Darwin, Niels Bohr, and many others. For anyone intrigued by the spectacular feats of the human mind, The Origins of Genius offers a revolutionary new way of understanding the very nature of creativity.
1987-simonton.pdf#page=11: “Developmental Antecedents of Achieved Eminence”, Dean Keith Simonton
1971-albert.pdf: “Cognitive Development and Parental Loss among the Gifted, the Exceptionally Gifted and the Creative”, (1971-01-01; ):
This paper reports an analysis of descriptions of children with IQs of 155 or better. It is suggested that these children be distinguished from gifted children by the label exceptionally gifted. The paper reports some important cognitive differences between the two groups as well as the high rate of early parental loss among historically famous highly intelligent persons. This finding is discussed in the light of how certain parent-child relationships might contribute to the development of cognitive giftedness into high level of creative behavior.
1968-brown.pdf#page=9: “Bereavement and lack of a parent in childhood”, Felix Brown
1968-miller-foundationschildpsychiatry.pdf: “Foundations of Child Psychiatry”, Emanuel Miller
1980-crook.pdf: “Parental death during childhood and adult depression: A critical review of the literature”, Thomas Crook, John Eliot
1978-eisenstadt.pdf: “Parental Loss and Genius”, J. Marvin Eisenstadt
1978-goertzel-threehundredeminentpersonalities.pdf: “Three hundred eminent personalities”, Mildred George Goertzel, Victor Goertzel, Ted George Goertzel
1972-martindale.pdf: “Father's Absence, Psychopathology, and Poetic Eminence”, (1972-01-01; ):
Ratings of degree of psychopathology and of probability of cross-sexual identification were made on temporally stratified samples of 42 eminent English and French poets. 55% of Ss had life histories indicating some possibility of cross-sexual identification; of these, 30% came from father-absent homes. 48% exhibited some symptoms of psychopathology; of these, 15% were rated as psychotic. Psychopathology and cross-sexual identification were highly related. Reasons why temporally stratified samples should yield high incidence rates on the variables were explored.
1953-roe-makingscientist.pdf: “The Making of a Scientist”, Anne Roe
1979-walberg.pdf: “Childhood and Eminence”, Herbert J. Walberg, Sue Pinzur Rasher, Joann Parkerson
1951-goodrich.pdf: “The Origins of U.S. Scientists”, H. B. Goodrich, R. H. Knapp, George A. W. Boehm
1952-roe.pdf: “A Psychologist Examines 64 Eminent Scientists: The present shortage of qualified scientific workers raises the question of how they are made. Some interesting answers are given by the techniques of modern psychological testing”, Anne Roe
1955-terman.pdf: “Are Scientists Different?”, Lewis M. Terman
1993-bock-theoriginanddevelopmentofhighability.pdf#page=195: “The Origins and Development of High Ability”, Gregory R. Bock, Kate Ackrill, R. C. Atkinson, Robert J. Sternberg, Douglas K. Detterman, C. P. Benbow, David Lubinski, Robert Plomin, L. A. Thompson, M. J. A. Howe, J. Sloboda, J. C. Stanley, K. A. Heller, N. Colangelo, S. G. Assouline, B. Kerr, R. Huesman, D. Johnson, Howard Gardner, M. Csikszentmihalyi, I. S. Csikszentmihalyi, W. . Fowler, K. Ogston, G. Roberts-Fiati, A. Swenson, K. A. Ericsson, R. Th. Krampe, S. Heizmann, R. C. Atkinson
2019-henderson.pdf: “CEO Traits and Firm Outcomes: Do Early Childhood Experiences Matter?”, M. Todd Henderson, Irena Hutton