My unpublished 1974 manuscript, The Two Way Street, was subtitled One Approach to Creativity. It was prompted by my observation that the evolutionary sequences, or ancestral trees, of groups of related organisms constructed by different scientists were sometimes reversed from those of others.
Sequencing the gradual changes in an evolutionary lineage does not tell which end of the sequence was the starting point. The fossil record or other data may help in that determination. But increasing size and increasing complexity cannot be assumed to be pointing to the newer species.
I thought I might be creative because I had two patent searches done for two different product ideas. The Two Way Street was my attempt to describe principles of creativity. I did not research the subject because I was familiar with a maxim of Nikko Tinbergen noting that novices are more likely to make creative discoveries than those well-versed in the principles of something.
It seems the learned know all the things that lead to state of the art knowledge and cannot escape
the rut that brings them to exactly where they already are. The novice can make breakthroughs by
trying things the experts already know will not work. Surprise, the newcomer makes the remarkable
After writing The Two Way Street I went to the creativity literature. I thought my idea that humor would be an important contributor to formation of a creative person was original. But Koestler’s remarkable book on creativity treated humor extensively. Others had treated my main theme of looking at things from another point view as well, some called it reverse viewing. I had systematized mental manipulations as ways of thinking about something to get different, and possibly useful, new views. I may eventually blog about each manipulation useful in handling facts and ideas for development of creative solutions, but they are as follows.
(5) You name it
Biological phenomena were uppermost in my mind when constructing the list. But, in the late 1940’s, my first possible useful patent search had been for a combination. I had wanted to be an inventor. The lead pencil with the attached eraser impressed me with the value of combinations. So I found that my idea of making a hunting knife with a hollow handle that could be used as a match safe or for storage of other items of use to a camper answered my musings.
The closest patent was for a jackknife with two compartments making up the sides of the handle. I never got around to discussing my idea with a knife manufacturer, but the fall-out was the first on the list above of mental manipulations useful for solitary brain-storming.