What conditions give rise to great artistic achievements? Wealth, urban centers, belief in God. Wait: What?

20120513:See update below

Future tense, IX: Out of the wilderness by Charles Murray - The New Criterion:
"Upon reading Daniel Boorstin’s The Discoverers many years ago, I became fascinated with the ebbs and flows of human achievement, and especially those points in world history that have been associated with a flowering of great accomplishment. The most famous are Athens in the Periclean age and Florence in the Renaissance, but there have been many other less spectacular examples. Sometimes, the surge of great creativity is most obvious in a particular domain—literature in nineteenth-century Russia, for example—but strides made in one field are usually accompanied by strides made in others. Historically speaking, what accounts for the difference in the fertility of the cultural ground?"
Update: Firstly I should acknowledge that the title is the Arts & Letters Daily summary of the essay.

Secondly, reading a bit more about the author is enough for me to discount the conclusions of the article. Thinking about it a bit more, other, less predjudicial, reasons present themselves.

Assigning scores based on his own judgement to hundreds of pieces of data, it is no surprise that the overall result would reflect his own judgement more broadly. In addition, even if such scores were awarded impartially, which I doubt, it may well generate such a noisy dataset that you could slice & dice any which way you wanted to obtain your desired conclusions.

As such my posting of this article is probably a case of confirmation bias, and my update above is probably an ex post-facto justification. Who knew :-/

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