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Experiment!: Planning, Implementing and Interpreting by Oivind Andersson

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5.5 Creativity

Some people may wince at the word creativity in a book about scientific method. The educational system often drills us to associate science with thinking styles that are strictly rational. Without reflecting we see poets and artists as creative people, scientists and engineers as rational people, and we assume that these ways of thinking have nothing in common. The truth is that creativity research studies thinking in various fields, not least in science. When Einstein replaced force with spacetime he was not merely rearranging known parts in a normal problem-solving process; he invented a completely new way of seeing gravity. When Newton associated the falling apple with the moon he was not thinking rationally. Neither was Kepler, as we have seen, when he tried to understand the planetary motions. As science aims to generate new knowledge and ideas, creativity is an essential part of scientific thinking. This section is too short to even begin to introduce creativity as a subject, but it is so often overlooked in research education that it must be allowed a little space here. We will very briefly look at how creative people think but first we shall discuss how our expertise can be detrimental to creativity. This is an important point for researchers who are often experts in their fields. It can be understood using a theory of learning that is attributed to the psychologist Abraham Maslow. I will call it the four stages of learning and use a simple example to explain ...

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