When it Comes to Brains Are You on the Left or the Right?

Being these days a regular curmudgeon, I am always getting upset about the ceaseless attacks launched against reason and logic in these foolishly emotion-drenched times. The disciples of feeling would reduce human beings to unthinking bags of hormones. The taste for irrationality is growing.

Left and right brain hemispheres with coloured quadrants

The current popularity of intuition and irrationality says the left brain is inferior to the right brain. In reality, there are two sides to this question! (Image: public domain)

Annoyingly, I came across just such an “attack” in G. L. Rico’s, Writing the Natural Way. Rico lists two sets of very different character traits, inferring that each set resides in one hemisphere of the brain. A careful examination of these sets (the items in bold below) reveals a clear bias in favour of those traits associated with the right hemisphere, often considered the seat of feeling and other irrational – or non-rational – aspects of the mind. Traits associated with the thinking left hemisphere are couched in ways that sound negative by comparison. To amuse my(nasty)self – and to turn the tables on an unsuspecting G. L. Rico – I typed up the lists in bold and then set out my own alternative interpretations in plain text. Do not take what you find here too seriously, but at least think about what I am rather strenuously suggesting. Take a minute or two to compare Rico’s original lists.

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The Nature of Genius

What is genius? There is no such thing in the usual usage of the word. Genius is a title we confer on those who do remarkable things in their field. It is like being knighted, made a Commander of the British Empire, or winning a lifetime achievement award. In a way similar to such honours, which persons are awarded the status of genius is largely a matter of circumstance.

Albert Einstein

Genius combines reason with imagination, a unity most easily seen in the visual arts, but also there in the ground-breaking work of scientists such as Albert Einstein. (Image: public domain.)

What we ultimately label as genius is the product of a highly evolved mind. We are not born with such minds. We acquire them through long effort. To become a genius one must pursue some line of enquiry, or some art, long enough and thoroughly enough to acquire a high degree of sophisticated knowledge. In turn, that accumulating knowledge generates increasingly powerful thinking about the enquiry or art. Creativity research has shown that the mind is self-organizing. The process of becoming skilled enough to earn the title “genius” happens without our conscious awareness.

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