Where Good Ideas Come From-Steven Johnson
By Trissean McDonald
To understand the Darwin’s Paradox, one has to gain an understanding of the innovative persistence of life. On April 4, 1836, Charles Darwin, on a voyage to the Keeling Islands, a desolated habitat, by observation theorized that the coral colonies of the Keeling Islands are created by tiny organisms that develop intellectually over a period of time, actually forming the colonial reefs. Darwin refers the tiny organisms as “architects.” Yet, the Keeling Islands are not nutrient-rich for environments fitting for livelihood. How is it that organisms and other life form able to thrive in these poorly nourished environments? This, is the Darwin’s Paradox: “many different life forms, occupying a vast array of ecological niches, inhabiting waters that are otherwise remarkably nutrient-poor,” according to Steven Johnson’s “Reef, City, Web” section of “Where Good Ideas Come From” located on page 3.Darwin’s observation allowed him to convey his studies with a mentor of his, Charles Lyell. Charles Lyell was a geologist. Lyell, upon understanding the theory imposed by Charles Darwin, refuted Darwin’s observational theory. Lyell concluded that the coral colonies were not formed by a biological phenomenon; rather, the coral colonies were constructed by undersea volcanic activities. Nevertheless, Darwin allowed his mentor’s conclusion to formulate within his mind. The theory did not resonate within his mind, however. Therefore, Darwin reverted to his original theory of “innovative persistence of life.”
Life over the number of days, weeks, months, even years will allow itself to recreate or restructure what was already started. Yet, the only way this can occur, one must become receptive of new ideas and change. New ideas are usually formulated when change is about to happen, or when change is actually happening. To elaborate a little bit more on the “innovative persistence of life,” take a prisoner. The prisoner has to decide whether to formulate new ideas to accept his/her new livelihood, due to the innovative persistence of life, in order to survive. This personally hits home. Even though I was not in actual prison, I was incarcerated and had to spend 3-4 months is the Los Angeles County Jail. The obstacles that were encountered included me not accepting where I was in the beginning, having to learn how to cope with a fear that was completely indescribable. When the acceptance was actually welcomed, the discomfort of being there was indeed still there; however, I had to formulate new ideas, along with other inmates to take my mind off the fact that I had to do time in the “can.” The inmates, occasionally, because some aren’t innovators and feels cynical of others, usually befriend other inmates and formulate new ideas. The process of “innovative persistence of life.” Rather it’s a positively constructed idea or negative, the innovative persistence of life is always at work. Negatively, it usually resorts to more crime and exacerbated jail time. Positively, it usually resorts to a minimum sentence and possible plans of productivity once discharged. Whatever route the individual takes on, that individual will always be faced with the process of innovation. Rather it’s a replica of the Darwin’s Paradox at work or not, every individual if given the opportunity to survive in a skew and paltry environment amongst a mass of other minds and livelihood, will come up with innovative ways to develop a new system that will be suitable for that individual and the society in which that individual resides.
Albeit it being contrary to the actual concept of the Darwin’s Paradox, on an academic scale, the Darwin’s Paradox could still be applicable. For instance, in educational settings with which are not flourishing academically, students are most likely left without the proper attributions to excel in life or even within their own community. Nevertheless, there are students that take what is given to them and make the best out of the worse circumstances. Washington Preparatory High School, for example, academically declines in state average expectations; yet, several students at this high school, as well as myself whilst in the 9th grade, develop innovative ways to excel academically. Washington’s test scores alone are quite egregious. To illustrate, English has a score of 31% out of the state’s average of 44%. In the math section, the school has a score of 8% out of the state’s average of 33%. Additionally, the science section has a score of 12% out of the state’s average of 53%. These statistics could be found on the “Great Schools” website at: http://www.greatschools.org. Reportedly, these statistics were lastly modified December 14, 2016. The mention of these statistics is another welcoming illustration of my personal life. Albeit the learning disparities that I’ve encountered daily, due to the lack of text material and unenthusiastic instructors, I came up with innovative ways to excel within an environment extremely poor of productive tools to excel in life in order to become successful. I wanted to birth out the best within myself; I had a plan, even in an environment poorly nourished academically. I managed to take what was given to me and made the best out of it; surprisingly, I was on the honor roll in the 9th grade at Washington Preparatory High School. The community with which the school resides in is completely impoverished and has a high level of crime. It could allegedly be common for instructors to lose interest within their students potentially prone to roam the streets, sit behind a jail cell, or even worse, experience death. Nevertheless, there’s always some number of individuals who are ready to bring about change within the school to make it a better learning environment for themselves and their peers. These individuals may be active members of a leadership club, or perhaps any other organization that promotes productivity within students and the school itself, an organization that I myself was also involved with. Innovation is always accompanied by any form of obstacle or challenge. That’s the only way that new ideas are created; the only way that the innovative persistence of life continues.
Collectively, in a vast array of ecological niches, life forms will always find ways of utilizing intellectual ways of thriving. The persistence of life, especially in the most chaotic situations, will always become superior in innovative situations because life wouldn’t be able to continuously work productively to concoct a better future fit for the environment or its innovators.