Maya Lin from Systematic Landscapes (photo: arcspace)

Maya Lin from Systematic Landscapes (photo: arcspace)

I recently came across an amazing argument for increased arts funding, especially in this economic crisis. Actually, the thrust of the argument—one I believe in—is not so amazing, though it may often be neglected. But some of the numbers cited in support truly are. The claim, by Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein, is that arts education is an important factor in developing creativity and innovation, traits that seem more essential than ever at a time when the status quo has broken down. The examples leading off their article are interesting, but not in themselves compelling to me. The astounding part (which also struck the Artful Manager, where I first learned of this) is the following:

We’ve just published a study that shows that almost all Nobel laureates in the sciences actively engage in arts as adults. They are twenty-five times as likely as the average scientist to sing, dance, or act; seventeen times as likely to be a visual artist; twelve times more likely to write poetry and literature; eight times more likely to do woodworking or some other craft; four times as likely to be a musician; and twice as likely to be a photographer. Many connect their art to their scientific ability with some riff on Nobel prizewinning physicist Max Planck words: “The creative scientist needs an artistic imagination.”

I’m naturally led to wonder if a similar statement is true for artists. In my personal experience with artists, I keep being surprised at encountering greater interest in science than I expected. So it’s time to go beyond personal anecdote with a fully scientific poll! I’m assuming anyone reading this has a strong interest in art, so my poll question concerns engagement in science. You’re free to define for yourselves whether your interest is strong, moderate, or weak. I would consider that anyone who often reads science-related articles, or even seeks them out, demonstrates strong interest. Please indicate below where you stand:

How strong is your interest in science?

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