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In most people's minds, creativity is associated with nonconformist attitudes and actions, clothing and speech. The whole "think outside the box" meme has the intention of getting people to access their creative side by choosing not to acknowledge the usual limitations, the usual framing of a problem, the customary solutions.

This is a good thing, most people agree, unless the idiosyncratic person happens to be someone living in your household, eschewing personal cleanliness and agreed-upon household chores in order to follow the creative zeitgeist of the day. Then the value of ordinary, day-to-day tasks becomes more obvious. Those who labor in the trenches to feed the family, clean up the mess, take out the garbage, and so forth, have a worthwhile contribution to be acknowledged, too.

It seems to me that creativity is not so great a good in our society as thought, though perhaps it is unpopular to say so. While most anybody is capable of petty lawbreaking, doesn't it require a high level of creativity to plan and carry off a clever robbery, a spectacular rip-off of clients' accounts? Wouldn't you call Bernie Madoff creative? How about some of the hotshots who have parlayed government bailouts into historic profits?

And isn't that kind of creativity and divergent thinking closely linked to unethical behavior, dishonest dealings, self-interested greed?

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