Beyond Smart



  • Intelligence and its consequences are not identical
    • Imagine you had a choice between being really smart but discovering nothing new, and being less smart but discovering lots of new ideas. Surely you’d take the latter

  • Ingredients to having good ideas (that can be cultivated)
    • An obsessive interest in a particular topic
    • Independent-mindedness
    • Working on your projects
    • Writing ability
      • There’s a class of new ideas that are best discovered by writing essays and books
        • And that “by” is deliberate: you don’t think of the ideas first, and then merely write them down. There is a kind of thinking that one does by writing, and if you’re clumsy at writing, or don’t enjoy doing it, that will get in your way if you try to do this kind of thinking

    • And of course there are a lot of fairly mundane ingredients in discovering new ideas, like working hard, getting enough sleep, avoiding certain kinds of stress, having the right colleagues, and finding tricks for working on what you want even when it’s not what you’re supposed to be working on. Anything that prevents people from doing great work has an inverse that helps them to

      • And this class of ingredients is not as boring as it might seem at first
        • For example, having new ideas is generally associated with youth. But perhaps it’s not youth per se that yields new ideas, but specific things that come with youth, like good health and lack of responsibilities.