When J. P. Guilford stood before the American Psychological Association in 1950, he was at the peak of his powers. On the strength of his role in helping the United States military carry out the most massive testing program in history, he had been elected president of the largest and most powerful professional association in the field. The topic of Guilford's address to the association? Creativity.
It was a daring talk. As Guilford pointed out, virtually no systematic research had been done on the topic of creativity. And none was reported in Guilford's presentation, either. Guilford's address was a call to arms, a rallying cry, a polemic aimed to convince his audience that research on creativity was essential to the future security of America. In measured tones, Guilford laid out a scenario that placed creative thinking as the most vital resource available to the country. Here is an example:
We hear much these days about the remarkable new thinking machines. We are told that these machines can be made to take over much of men's thinking and that the routine thinking of many industries will eventually be done without the employment of human brains. We are told that this will entail an industrial revolution that will place into insignificance the first industrial revolution. . . . [E]ventually, about the only economic value of brains left