Your Imagination Sucks

The imagination gets a great press. As that little-known thinker Albert Einstein put it, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world.” All you have to do, surely, is use it and voila! Creative genius is but a short hop away.

But if we’re talking about your ability to literally visualise alternative and potentially creative ideas, your imagination is actually hindered by a pesky thing called reality. In a 1987 article entitled “Imagined spatial transformations of one’s hands and feet” published in the journal Cognitive Psychology, L.M. Parsons demonstrated that mental transformations – i.e. physical movements visualised in the mind’s eye – incorporate the many natural, biomechanical constraints that apply to real-life physical motions. Apparently, “it is easier to imagine turning your hand in a natural direction than to imagine a physically impossible hand motion. Such constraints may limit the extent to which creative possibilities can be explored that violate natural directions of motion.”

Thanks, real world. 

But there is hope, grim-reality-bound earthling! For there is a place such constraints are less ... constrainy. It's called dreams. One for the more ambitious thinkers among you to ponder.