May 2, 2014

Passing the Baton (CoE) and Visualized Creativity

As the first of May has come and gone, it is once again time to pass on the Carnival of Evolution baton. Number 70 (the game of evolution) was a success [1], and the latest edition of Carnival of Evolution (#71: A Theory of Evolution or the Evolution of a Theory?) is now live on Chimeras blog. A nice set links to evolutionary biology-related blog posts for the the month of April. Thanks go to scientist, artist, and author E.E. (Elena) Giorgi for hosting. If you are interesting in hosting a future edition, please consult the official CoE style guide and contact Bjorn Ostman to confirm.

In the continued spirit of creativity, I would like to highlight an infographic (above) and its corresponding legend (below) showing the work of R.J. Andrews [2] on the daily schedules of famous people. Oddly, very few of the creative types featured worked late into the night, nor did many of them take naps. This may be somewhat inconsistent with what we know about these type of people [3]. Data for the poster is from Mason Currey's book "Daily Rituals" [4].

A few notes on sleeping patterns: 

Many of the featured daily routines are mundane. There are exceptions, such as Maya Angelou, but I would have expected much more quirkiness. Also to my surprise was that only a few of the featured people are reported to have taken regular naps [5]. This was a staple of Edison's daily routine, as well as Freud and myself. My initial intuition was that many of the creative people would arise relatively late, nap, and then work at night. But apparently, this is only true for a few examples shown here.

Although this infographic seems to be consistent with the old adage "early to bed, early to rise" (or at least some version of that), I have two issues with the daily routine presented here relative to a set of general principles. One is that many of these people lived in a world without lights, thus biasing their habits. Contrary to this, but perhaps just as anecdotal, is the observation that many creative and iconoclastic people tend to be night owls [6]. Thoughts?

[1] well-received by readers, with a very modest but almost academically-viral 300 or so reads over the course of the month. SOURCE: Blogger analytics.

[2] Andrews, R.J.   Creative Routines. InfoWeTrust blog, March 26 (2014).

[3] Maas, J.B.   Power Sleep: the revolutionary program that prepares your mind for peak performance. NY Times Books on the Web (1998) AND Popova, M.   Thomas Edison, Power-Napper: The Great Inventor on Sleep and Success. Brain Pickings, February 11 (2013).

[4] Currey, M.   Daily Rituals: how artists work. Knopf (2013).

[5] Meyer, N.   Guide to Optimized Napping. Priceonomics blog, January 25 (2014).

[6] Dobson, R.   If you want to get ahead, be a night owl. Independent, March 24 (2013).

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