Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Sat Apr 28th 2007 at 9:06am UTC

Um, So Maybe the World Really Isn’t Flat After All

Tom Friedman writes:

“The whole theme of the last century, and of Einstein’s life,” Mr.
Isaacson said in an interview, “is about people who fled oppression in
order to go places to think and express themselves. Einstein runs away from the rote learning and authoritarianism of Germany as a teenager in the 1890s and goes to Italy and Switzerland. And then he flees Hitler to come to America, where he resists both McCarthyism and Stalinism because he believes that the only way to have creativity and imagination is to nurture free thought — rebellious free thought.”

If you look at Einstein’s major theories — special relativity,
general relativity and the quantum theory of light — “all three come
from taking rebellious imaginative leaps that throw out old
conventional wisdom,” Mr. Isaacson said. “Einstein thought that the
freest society with the most rebellious thinking would be the most
creative. If we are going to have any advantage over China, it is
because we nurture rebellious, imaginative free thinkers, rather than
try to control expression.” Will China hit a ceiling on innovation because of its political authoritarianism? That’s what we need to watch for.

My favorite Einstein quotation is that “imagination is more
important than knowledge.” A society that restricts imagination is
unlikely to produce many Einsteins — no matter how many educated people
it has. But a society that does not stimulate imagination when it comes
to science and math won’t either — no matter how much freedom it has.

2 Responses to “Um, So Maybe the World Really Isn’t Flat After All”

  1. bee Says:

    Cute stories is no substitute for reason … I would not wager a single dollar on the reasoning above … innovation is more complex than a few antidotes concerning Einstein … Rich you should know better …

  2. Robert Says:

    China has 1.2 trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves and is expected to have over 2 trillion in the next year or so. China will be able to buy any innovation that occurs any where in the world and put it to use on the Chinese mainland. The money that China has loaned America in order to keep the yuan’s value low against the dollar has been wasted on subprime loans to borrowers who didn’t even read their loan agreements and should never have been given a loan in the first place. The private bankers that run the Federal Reserve have put their own interests in making an easy profit on loans over the interests of the American people as a whole in terms of developing the productive capacity of the American economy.