On willful mediocrity

The Monkey Cage leads with an article about ‘being a B’–that is, being someone who is not focused entirely on success and hard work.  Their argument (for my purposes) centers around a neurological explanation of insight.  We seem to come up with our greatest thoughts while our brain is ‘sorting’ information.  The mind, it seems, is more prone towards new lines of thought and new conjectures when it is in a state of repose, rather than focused on a singular goal.

This seems straightforward enough.  How do we reconcile this with the path of Western progress, however?  To me the technological and intellectual innovations of the past thousand years can be mostly attributed to minds who worked their asses off at their goal.  Indeed, laziness is one of the cardinal sins of christianity.  Looking at civilizations that pride leisure time, you can see that technology is not advancing at the pace that it theoretically ought to.  Forgive my wild generalizing, but I have a hard time making a rationalization that I think would inevitably lead towards my intellectual decline (my demons being indolence, drink, and all manner of activities that are the logical conclusion of too much relaxation).

I think the answer lies somewhere in between these two conflicting extremes.  As many people say, all things in moderation.  As I say, all things in moderation, including moderation.

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