Every day we hear about some fascinating new discovery. Yet anemic progress toward addressing the greatest risks to humankind - clean energy, emerging infections, and cancer - warns us that science may not be meeting its potential. Indeed, there is evidence that advances are slowing. Science is costly and can hurt people; thus it must be pursued with caution. Yet, excessive caution stifles the very thing that powers inventiveness: creation. In her boldest book
yet, Roberta Ness argues that the system of funding agencies, universities, and industries designed to promote innovation has come to impede it.
The Creativity Crisis strips away the scientific enterprise's veil of mystique to reveal the gritty underbelly of university research. America's economic belt-tightening discourages long-term, risky investments in revolutionary advances and elevates short-term projects with assured outcomes. The pursuit of basic research insights, with the greatest power to transform but little ability to enrich, is being abandoned. The social nature of academia today also contributes to the descent
of revolutionary discovery. In academia, which tends to be insular, hierarchical, and tradition-bound, research ideas are "owned" and the owners gain enormous clout to decide what is accepted. Communalism is antithetical to idea ownership. Thus science has not embraced the Web-based democratic sharing of
ideas called crowdsourcing, one of the greatest tools for creativity and social change in our age. A final battleground between creation and caution is within the sphere of ethics. Scientists are typically altruistic but sometimes have all-too-human inclinations toward avarice and conceit. The most original thinkers are most likely to flout convention. This tendency can pull them across the lines of acceptable behavior. Caution is a necessary check on the destructive potential of amoral
creation. Yet, when every individual and institution is considered a priori to be a threat, adventuresome invention is squelched.
Creation and caution in science should be in balance, but they are not. For possibilities to unlock, the ecosystem in which science is done must be fundamentally rebalanced.
Roberta Ness is an internationally renowned physician-scientist and author of 350 scientific papers and books. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academies of Science; a Fellow of the American College of Physicians as well as the American College of Epidemiology; and a frequent advisor to the National Institutes of Health, National Academies of Science, Department of Defense, and Centers for Disease Control. She is past President of the American College of Epidemiology and of the American Epidemiology Society. Her Board memberships include the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and the National Board of Public Health Examiners. Dr. Ness has received many awards and honors including a White House appointment to the Board of the Mickey Leland Center; Laureate award from the American College of Physicians; Leadership Award from the Family Health Council; and receipt of the Snow Award, one the most prestigious lifetime achievement awards in her profession.
Chapter 1: Yin and Yang ; Chapter 2: Creation and Caution in Three Acts ; Chapter 3: Which Should we Clamor for: Transistors or Smart Phones? ; Chapter 4: Stanford's Golden Egg ; Chapter 5: Is it all about Getting Rich? ; Chapter 6: Reinventing Meandering Exploration ; Chapter 7: Everyone Wins when the Genius Gets the Girl ; Chapter 8: The Good Fight in the Public Square ; Chapter 9: Find Piece of Mind in the Crowd ; Chapter 10: Reinventing the Power of the Group ; Chapter 11: The Perilous End of Science's Barrel 1 ; Chapter 12: Encouraging ; Chapter 13: Creativity and Malevolence ; Chapter 14: Reinventing Freedom ; Chapter 15: In Opening ; Chapter 16: Just Do It ; Afterword ; References