Dancing in the “possibility space”

Pardon me while I nerd out for a moment. A few weeks ago I caught an interview with neuroscientist David Eagleman. I had no idea who he was and as I listened to the radio interview on NPR, was pleasantly surprised that some of his thoughts on creativity as a scientist and my thinking on creativity as an arts educator, aligned quite a bit. Not only is he a brilliant scientific mind, he is also a creative writer of nonfiction and fiction. Some of his works include: Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia, Sum: Forty Takes from the Afterlives, and Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain.

Image credit: getyourbreakthrough.com

Aside from the interesting titles of his written works, it was actually the NPR Fresh Air interview that got me interested in Eagleman’s ideas. As an arts educator and writer, I am inspired by Eagleman’s flexible scientific sensibilities. I appreciate the creative space he engages in scientific research and writing. Those who like to think of science as void of creativity should hear Eagleman speak. He researches, writes, and plays in the murky, messy space between science and art. And after listening to bits of his interview with Terry Gross, I wanted to hear more from him, read more of his work.

In the interview, Eagleman talked about “the possibility space”, a flexible, creative space seeking potential narratives through inquiry and exploration. Paraphrasing, Eagleman talked about science “as having a tolerance for multiple hypotheses”, and science as exploring those hypotheses to uncover a narrative or many narratives. For Eagleman, science is flexible and capable of rendering myriad ideas worth exploring.

That is creative thinking. Not just in the creative arts fields where we would expect; but in academia in the science laboratories of the Baylor College of Medicine, where David Eagleman directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action.

Curious about his work? Follow David Eagleman on Twitter @davideagleman


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