Don’t estimate your creative intelligence by your critical intelligence

When I crit­i­cize, I’m a ge­nius. I can go through a book of highly-refer­enced sci­en­tific ar­ti­cles and find er­rors in each of them. Boy, I feel smart. How are these fa­mous peo­ple so dumb?

But when I write, I sud­denly be­come stupid. I some­times spend half a day writ­ing some­thing and then re­al­ize at the end, or worse, af­ter post­ing, that what it says sim­plifies to some­thing triv­ial, or that I’ve made sev­eral un­sup­ported as­sump­tions, or claimed things I didn’t re­ally know were true. Or I post some­thing, then have to go back ev­ery ten min­utes to fix some point that I re­al­ize is not quite right, some­times to the point where the whole thing falls apart.

If some­one writes an ar­ti­cle or ex­presses an idea that you find mis­takes in, that doesn’t make you smarter than that per­son. If you cre­ate an equally-am­bi­tious ar­ti­cle or idea that no one else finds mis­takes in, then you can start con­grat­u­lat­ing your­self.