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Parable of the guppies

I read this in a science magazine many years ago and I have forgotten the details but not the lesson. I will be grateful to anyone who sends me the original article.

A guppy is a tiny fish that normally swims in schools. The front of its brain, which controls schooling behavior, can be surgically removed. A guppy without this part behaves just like a normal guppy if it is alone. It searches for food and avoids danger. A bunch of altered guppies in a tank ignore each other and behave as if they are each alone.

The interesting case is when one altered guppy is put into a tank with a bunch of normal ones. They all follow it. The altered guppy has become a leader because it has lost its ability to follow.

This holds a lesson about leadership and creativity in humans. How much leadership is the inability to follow? How much creativity is the inability to imitate? Again and again I have figured out how to do things because it was easier than imitating how other people had done them.

A child who is punished for being assertive may grow into a passive adult. A child punished for reading may read little as an adult. Children punished for saying or doing the unexpected develop inhibitions against original thinking. Most people are more intelligent than they appear but have deep seated inhibitions about thinking. Otherwise uncreative people often develop a particular skill or art in which they are quite creative. Perhaps it is because this special field is "safe" and the inhibitions don't apply.

Intelligence and creativity are not gifts that only a few of us have; they are gifts that most of us have but stop ourselves from using. Perhaps you are less creative and intelligent than you could be because childhood experience tells you that it is dangerous to be so.

Only acts, not thoughts, are dangerous. Think as hard as you like; it's fun.