Imagination During a Pandemic: How our Failure of imagination Led to a Pandemic

[Evan Rutter]: For alumni and parent engagementat Claremont McKenna College.

It is a thrill to have all you here.

I mentioned this earlier, but Ihope everyone is safe and healthy.

I hope your families are all doing well.

We're all in this together, of course, soknow that the college is here to support you and support all of our students, faculty, and staff as well.

This week two of a number ofvirtual programs that we've created to help support our community, to keep you allconnected to each other but also to the college, and it's a silver lining in avery uncertain world right now.

So, we are thrilled to have Professor AmyKind with us to speak to us about some of her research and what she's passionate about, but it's also just great to see all of you and to let you all know that we arecontinuing to support you however we can.

We're moving programs virtual.

We're also pushing springprogramming into the fall, and we hope to see you all on campus very soon.

So, on behalf of the college, it is my pleasure to introduce our second professortalk of our virtual program.

If you don't follow us yet on Instagram orFacebook, please do on Instagram at CMC Alumni and Families, and there's also a newCMC Community private Facebook group.

Just type in CMC Community there, andyou can stay connected and up to date on all the things that are going on.

You can also start a number ofconversations on the Facebook group.

Today, we're thrilled to have ProfessorAmy Kind, Director of the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies and the RussellK.

Pitzer Professor of Philosophy at CMC, discuss imagination before andduring the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Kind will speak and share some slides.

So, at some point, your screen is going togo to her screen, so don't be too nervous.

That's normal.

And she'll take us through a few things.

And then we'll go into Q and A.

We promise to be done on the hour.

For the question and answer portion, pleaseeither enter your question in the chat feature, or you can, there's a button there that saysraise your hand, and if you raise your hand, then I will click unmute on youand ask you to ask your question.

And I'll give a reminder of that whenwe go to questions in just a bit.

So, without further ado, I handit over to Professor Amy Kind.

Amy, thank you.

[Amy Kind]: Thanks.

Thanks Evan.

I have to say, I was getting a littleemotional as all these names were coming up.

I think I have some students who are inthe very first batch of students I taught when I started at the college in 1997.

So, some people I haven'tseen in a very long time.

And anyway, I just wish I could sayhi to each one of you individually.

I see some parents of students.

I see some people I work with now at the GouldCenter or I'm working with at the college, and in this time of social isolation it's just, I just can't tell you how greatit is to see all your faces.

It's just, it's great.

So, with that little emotional start, I'm goingto share my screen and get started on this talk, which draws on my longstanding researchproject in imagination, but it really picks up on some sort of personal reflections, I meannot too personal, but some personal thoughts that I have been having over the last few weeks.

And so, the sort of genesis for the idea of thistalk and to some things I have been thinking about lately is, you know, I was, like somany people, I was staring at the cupboards and thinking like why on Earth didn't I buythat extra, you know, six-pack or 12-pack of toilet paper when I was in thestore, you know, last week, right.

So, I mean I remember at the beginning ofMarch being in the store and thinking like, oh, no, it doesn't matter, right.

Like this, I don't need to pickup that extra toilet paper.

I don't need to really worry about this.

And in retrospect, it turns out that that wasjust a tremendous failure of imagination, right.

Like I just failed to imaginehow bad things were going to get and what the world was going to be like.

And so, I started thinking likewow, I work on imagination, and I'm exhibiting all these failuresof imagination in various ways.

And it just got me thinking about whathappens when we experience the unexpected.

So, that's sort of how I started thinkingabout these ideas in this particular context.

So, I'm not the only one who's beenthinking about failures of imagination in connection with this pandemic.

So, there have been headlines all over theplace, The New Republic, CNN, Boston Globe, these are from all different sites, about ways in which there is a failure of imagination going on right now.

And then interestingly, it's also not the firstdisaster, international or national disaster, in which these very same points abouta failure of imagination has been made.

So, going back to the 9/11 Commission Report, there was this, for me, very interesting set of remarks in the 9/11 Commission Report wherethey said, they were bemoaning the failure of imagination in leading up toappropriate planning for 9/11.

So, people just couldn't imagine that or didn'timagine that planes could be used as weapons in this way or that the bombers, the suicidebombers, would be intent on a certain kind of destruction, right, willing to sacrificetheir own lives in the fashion that they did.

So, the 9/11 Commission said, imagination isnot a gift usually associated bureaucracies.

It's therefore crucial tofind a way of routinizing, even bureaucratizing theexercise of imagination.

And so there's this idea that we really, it seems almost counterintuitive, right, to routinize imagination, but we need, goingback to what they were saying back in 2001, we really need to start imagining in new waysin order to prepare ourselves for the future.

And so, we're seeing, I think, some ofthese same failures of imagination now.

So, I guess what I wanted to do justto start off is just a quick rewind, and I found this useful formyself, just to remind ourselves, even though it's only been say a month orsix weeks, I mean it feels like forever that we've been locked in our houses, but it's been actually a very short time, but I thought it was useful to just thinkabout like where we were even just, you know, on March 1st or six weeksago or something like that.

And so, you know, you probably remember thatthe first reports of the cluster of cases of pneumonia were at the end of last year, December 31st, and it was the beginning of January when we were told thatthere was a novel Coronavirus here.

Then we had the first confirmed case inJanuary, January 20th, up in Washington.

But I was just thinking about like ourselves andour own planning, right, and actually CMC did, I have to say, a really great job of planning.

We had planning for just disasters andacademic continuity planning in general.

So, back in January, the end of January, wegot an email from the Dean encouraging us all to activate our Zoom accounts, thatthe college had bought all the faculty, had bought an institutional subscriptionto Zoom, and back at the end of January, the Dean of Faculty was encouraging us allto activate our accounts and become familiar.

And at this point, I remember thinking that thisseemed like a weird, unlikely scenario, right.

Like it didn't even seem thatwe were planning for something that was going to be happening like nowish.

It just seemed like, oh, the college is doingall of this planning, like it does, very well, just to think about possiblescenarios in the future.

So, in this email at the end ofJanuary, right, we were told like Zoom, this will be exceptional circumstances, right.

The Dean tells us that he has no reason at allto believe that we're anywhere near a situation in which this kind of exceptionalcircumstance would happen, right.

It just kind of interesting to think back wherewe were mentally like at the end of January.

And then, even in March, at the beginningof March, on March 4th, the email from, there was an email from the president sortof updating us on very, the president of CMC, updating us on various things, and I just kindof laughed when I went back to look at it, because it starts off by saying first, if you're unfamiliar with COVID-19.

And it's just kind of funny tothink that as of March 4th, right, that's basically five weeks ago, one would thinkthat that might be something that one needs to, you know, provide a link to a videoto tell us what this virus is.

And so, that's where we were mentally.

And actually, March 4th, it's an interestingdate for me because I was at the Ath that night.

There was a Gould-sponsored talk byAlex Kotlowitz, and I can't tell, there are too many participants now for meto see all the people who are on the call, but David Black, one of the Gould Centerboard members, was at the Ath that night, and I was talking with him, and we were talkingabout the upcoming Gould board meeting in April.

And he was saying that he wasn't sure if he wasgoing to be able to make it because of work.

And then, I said, well, regardless, I'll see you at graduation, because he has a son who is a senior.

And he said, well, I don't knowif colleges are going to be able to hold graduations now given what's coming.

And I had, that thought, at thatpoint, had never entered my mind.

It was like this crystallizing moment for me onMarch 4th where all of a sudden it just occurred to me, like wow, things coulddramatically change.

And already on March 4th, like when Imet Alex Kotlowitz that day, you know, we had just gotten this email fromthe president that morning, you know, warning us about all this stuff, and I waslike, yeah, let's not shake hands, right.

So, that whole evening at the Ath I waswalking around not shaking hands with anyone, and it felt very strange and new and peculiar.

And that was just five weeks ago, right.

So, things progressed, and then as of March11th, as you all know, that's when we decided to at CMC to make the move to online teaching, and life has been very different ever since.

But that was really just a month ago, and sowhen we think about how incapable we were, even five weeks ago, six weeks ago, to reallythink of what life was going to be like now, I think it does show us that we all need todo a better job of preparing our imaginations in the future for what's to come.

This is the, this is a teachablemoment for all of us in a lot of ways, but in particular in thinking relativeto what I'm talking about today, in thinking about how we canbetter think about the future.

So, well, this was just toremind us of where we are today.

I mean different sites are using differentstats, but that was all a rewind, and now, I want to fast forward a little, or now I reallywant to talk a little bit about imagination and the power of imagination and whatwe can do to use the current situation to help us think better aboutsituations in the future.

So, I guess the point that I want tostart with and anyone who's heard me talk about imagination has heardme probably say this, because it's one of the underlying featuresof my recent work, but I think it's very, very important for us to rememberthat imagination is a skill, and that means that it's somethingthat we can get better at, okay.

It's not as if the imaginative capacity you haveis just the imaginative capacity that you have.

Just like you can do thingsto improve your memory, you can do things to improve your memory.

Sorry, just as you can dothings to improve your memory, you can do things to improve your imagination.

But it takes practice.


These things don't just happen overnight.

And so, I always think it's really interestingwhen someone says something like, oh, I can't imagine such and such, right.

I'd never be able to imagine such and such.

And there's a question that we haveto ask ourselves is how much we try to imagine that kind of situation, right.

If we spend five seconds here, fiveseconds there trying to imagine something, that's not really doing the kind of imaginativework that we need to be doing, right.

If you spent five seconds trying to improve yourmemory and then concluded, ah, it's hopeless.

It's never going to happen.


Or, suppose you're trying tolearn some kind of new athletic skill.

So, an example I used was one time myson was trying to learn a new trick shot at the ping pong table, a trick serve, andI can't tell you how, because I could hear that ping pong ball on the table, I can'ttell you how many times he just tried that serve again and againand again and again and again.

That's what you do to try andmaster some new skill, right.

You have to do it repetitively, and you have to keep at it, right, and not give up when you hita sort of stumbling block.

And I think the same is true forimagination, and we don't usually take the time to recognize that or to realize that.

So, that's sort of one starting pointto think about what we can do now.

One of the things that the currentpandemic does for us, ironically, is that it gives us new experiential resourcesto draw upon in imagination going forward.

So, in general, what we do in imaginationis scaffold out some experiences that we've already had to ones thatwe haven't had, and when we don't have that rich experiential base to draw upon, that's one thing that's stilts imagination.

So, again, ironically, the morekinds of experiences we have, like the experience we're all having now, locked in our own homes or sheltering in place, hopefully safely at home, these kindsof experiences give us the capacity, the resources to imagine differentlyand hopefully better in the future.

But so as I talk a little bit moreabout that, what I want to do is talk about some different uses of imagination, and in my work, I tend to distinguish between imagination in an instructive sense, which is when we really use imagination for things like decision making andplanning and brainstorming, okay, cases in which we're really tryingto learn from our imaginative acts.

And then imagination in a transcendent sense inwhich we're maybe using imagination to transcend or to escape the world that we're actually in.

So, make believe acts, make believe children'sgames, and make believe, or also fiction and literature and movies andall those kinds of things, those imaginative activitieswe often engage in a sort of, use imagination in a sort of escapist way.

So, I think it's helpful just to keep in mindthe different kinds of uses of imagination.

And actually, earlier this week, I knowyou can't read this, it's too small, but earlier in this week, I was doinga mock class for the admission office for some admitted students who are eligiblefor some scholarships, and we were talking about imagination, and we made up a big list.

You might be able to see it better here, but this was a list these ten high schoolstudents came up with about different uses of imagination, and then they, all in the class period together, we were categorizing them intothese different categories.

But some of the things that might be sort ofinteresting to think about is that they noticed that we can use imagination to questionassumptions and break out of orthodoxy.

One of the students said that we can thinkof that as a kind of imaginative liberation, and I told him I was going to steal that phrasefor the future because I kind of liked it.

But all of these problem-solving, all thesethings in this problem-solving category, brainstorming solutions, right, or socialproblem solving, we even had someone who must have been a rockclimber in the group talking about how they used imagination duringrock climbing to sort of imagine, well, I'm not going to pretend to be rock climbing, but to imagine where to put their hand on the finger holds and how theywere going to get up the wall.

So, all of these are, those ones that I'mpointing out, are very instructive uses of imagination, but you can see, counterposedto them we have some of the transcendent uses of imagination where we're trying tocombat boredom maybe by daydreaming.

And by doing that, we're escaping from thereality that we're in or when we're writing and storytelling, there are all kindsof escapist uses of imagination.

So, one of the things that'skind of interesting, I think, is that the way I normally think aboutimagination in an instructive sense, is that in order for it to be useful to us, right, in order for us to really gain something from it, what we need to do isconstrain our imaginative uses.

And what I mean by constrainingthem is that we have to constrain them to fit the world as it is.


So, if you're trying to rock climb, andyou're trying to imagine where that toehold is, it better, because you ought to be able toget up the rock face, you better imagine like the actual position ofthe fingerhold or the toehold, or there's going to be some kind of disaster.

And likewise, if you're trying to dosome sort of problem solving, right, you're trying to figure out maybe some sort oflike corporate reorganization or who knows what, you have to think about the actual peopleinvolved, and you can't just, you know, fantasize about some different employeesyou might have and like how it will work if you have these, you know, fantasy employees.

Because instead, you have the employeesyou have, and you need to figure out what to do with those people.

And so, you constrain your imagination to atleast some of the facts that are before you.

So, normally I think it'sin the transcendent uses where we let our imagination gocompletely unconstrained, right, and that's where great literature andfiction and other kinds of fantastic games of make believe come from whenwe just let the shackles go.

So, we constrain our imaginationfor instructive uses, we let our imagination gounconstrained in the transcendent uses.

But thinking about the imaginativefailures with respect to the pandemic, I realize that perhaps sometimes inthese instructive uses of imagination, we're really constrainingour imagination far too much, and that's why we're havingthese failures, right.

So, we're too locked into the world asit is for us to really learn something from these imaginative exercisesabout different ways that the world could be orhow things could change.

And so, I have been starting to think thatmaybe the constraints that we normally place on imagination, when we're using it forthings like brainstorming and problem solving, those constraints just mightbe far too restrictive and that what we should really be doing isloosening some of those restrictions in order to get at the full power of imagination.

So, I just thought it might be funfor you to see a couple of the kind, I talked before about practice in imagination, and I thought it would be fun for you to just see a couple of the kindsof exercises that people often talk about when they're talking about becomingmore creative or practicing creativity.

And so, one of these is calledthe incomplete figures test.

I actually did this with some students in animagination seminar in the fall, but you give, this is usually with children, although you can do it with anyone, you give the group these incomplete figures, and you ask them to use those lines in some kind of drawing and see what you can come up with.

So, I don't know if you sortof can see a picture in those figures or how you would draw it.

We're not going to take the time to allpull out a pencil and pen to do that.

But here are some things that, these aren't mystudents, these are just some standard examples, but here are some thingsthat people come up with.

I don't know if you can remember the originalfigure, but it was this squiggle here.

Hopefully my laser pointer is working.

It was this squiggle here, right, as in this here, and the creativity exhibited hereis really quite extraordinary.

And so, these kind of incompletefigure tasks are one way to practice thinking outside the box, seeing new possibilities in these shapes.

There's another common exercise forcreativity called the alternative uses test.

So, you ask standardly how many different usescan you come up with for some simple object, and some of the objects are like a brickor a paperclip or a ping pong ball.

And so, you give people twominutes and ask them to make a list of how many different usesthey can come up with, and then you can all actuallygrade these on your own.

We did this in my seminar too, but yougrade the list on these dimensions.

So, fluency, so just the sheer numberof alternative uses you come up with.

Originality, so how different thosedifferent uses are from one another.

So, for example, if you're doing a brick, andyou say, oh, you can smash your brother with it, and you can smash your sister with it, youknow, and you can smash your enemy with it, well that's three on the list, right, but they're not really thatdifferent from one another.

So, you get more points for originality, flexibility, the range of ideas, and in different domains andcategories, and then elaboration.

So, how much detail and development youput into the idea in those two minutes.

And so, one of the things that sometimescomes up when you're doing something with a brick is most of the usesthat people come up with sort of take the brick as a given, right.

So, you can use it as a paperweight, right.

Or you can use it as some sort of weapon, or you can use it as a building tool.

But when you start to see the reallycreative uses is when someone says, oh, you can ground it up, and then youhave sand for your sandbox, right.

Or, other things that don't take, so, therewe have them more thinking outside the box, you don't take sort of theparameters of the brick as given.

And so, these are just two, I don't want to saysilly exercises, but two exercises that suggest that we can stretch our imaginationsand that we can find various ways to practice thinking outsidethe box, and that will enable us in stretching our imagination in these ways.

Then, when we come up with these more pressingproblems, right, and things to think about, about how we can envision these new threatsfacing our world, or how we're going to deal with these threats facing our world, right, or how we can each prepare.


So, who had the foresight tobuy the toilet paper in late February or who had the foresight tostock their cupboards, right.

And now, I don't just mean in acrazy, obsessive, hoarding way, but just in terms of really thinkingabout how bad things could get.

You know, who had the foresightto talk to their students, right, before we sent them off back home, and now we'reall in this [inaudible] where we're engaging with our students in this new way.


Who thought aboutthese things in advance, thinking about how life was going to change.

So, I guess I didn't quite meanto go to the thanks slide yet.

So, let me just go back for onesecond so I can just finish my point.

What I think we have to do in thinkingabout failures of imagination is remember that the future is not, the next thing thatcomes is not going to be exactly the same as the last thing that came, right.

And so, what we need to do is just likewe're not going to just use the brick to smash your brother and your sister, right, and you think of different uses.

You have to think about the world and thefuture in expanding ways and different ways.

And so, we need to scaffold outfrom the experiences that we've had, sometimes quite far out, to seewhere we're going to end up.


So, I tried to keep it to about a halfan hour so that we'd have plenty of time for questions if there are some, and I thinkEvan and Jenna are going to field those.

>> Fantastic.

Thank you very much, Professor Kind.

If you could stop sharing your screen.

>> Yes.

>> Then we can go back toseeing everyone who is speaking.

And perfect.

Just so everyone knows, there is twodifferent ways you can view everything on Zoom, and it's in the top right corner.

You can do speaker view or grid view.

If you're on speaker view, then it goes towhoever is speaking at that time, and of course, if you're on grid view, you can see 25 people.

So, we're going to start withArt Dodd from Los Angeles, and let me get to you, Art, and unmute you.

Art, go ahead.

>> So, good morning.

>> Good morning.

>> Amy, thank you.

Going back to your failure of imaginationcomments, I was in a mystery book group after 9/11, and we chose the book by TomClancy intentionally where he has a plane flown into the capital building to kill the President, and Jack Ryan is elevated to the Presidency.

And there were members of Congressduring the hearings who asked generals, general officers about that, and they just said, once again, we could not conceive of such a situation.

But my question would be, I'm also remindedof a George H.


Bush comment about a failure of vision during his Presidential campaign.

So, would you recommend that the JoeBiden and the Donald Trump get together with their political consultants and gothrough these imagination exercises themselves? >> Well, I mean, how can I notanswer that question with a yes? Yes, I think they should.

Whether that's going to be at the topof their priority list, I don't know, but I do think that what probablymakes a political consultant or a political strategist useful in onerespect, I mean there's obviously lots else that they have to do, but is to help thecandidates and the people that they're working with think realistically about how things couldhappen, like what we could face and what kinds of solutions will be neededto face those outcomes.

So, I was very interested inyour mentioning the Clancy novel, because I think in the 9/11 CommissionReport right after the remarks that I was quoting earlier, theymentioned the fact that these kinds of scenarios were often found only on thepages of say science fiction or some kind of speculative fiction, and they weren'tbeing taken seriously by strategists, right, and by planners, and yet our creativeauthors, like say Tom Clancy could think of these kinds of things happening.

So, it's not outside the realm of anyone'simagination, right, but so we need to make sure that the people who need to be thinkingabout these things are indeed thinking about these things and not just tryingto catch up to the previous threat or the previous problem thatwe faced in the past.

So, thanks for the question.

>> All right.

We have a question from Amjad Kahn.

Amjad, I'm unmuting you.

>> And can you hear me okay? >> I can.

>> Professor Kind, I'm going to say professorbecause your presentation was just as good as it was 23 years ago when I took your course.

Just amazing stuff.

I am spending a lot of timewatching Disney with my kids.

>> Okay.


>> Like a lot of people, like a lot of parents, and I saw the imagineering story of Walt Disney, and one of the things that intrigued me aboutthat documentary was the institutionalization of people working on imagination andthe kind of vision to build this, these engineers were imagining things thatseemed like they were transcendent at the time, but they're now so much a part of who we are.

And it also reminds me of education, like thereis this place called Janelia Farms in Virginia, which is a neurobiological institute, and it was created for the very purpose of imagining new mechanisms, new understandingsof the brain, and it literally was created to attract people in a different space.

Janelia Farms is kind of a rural place.

I think it's in Ashton, Virginia.

And the idea was that if you put enoughpeople together, and with the spirit of imagination you can create incredibleprojects that have real lasting impact.

Now, we see with that it requires funding.

It requires money.

So, it's kind of an interesting, aphenomenon now that there's a massive failure of imagination, but I'm curious to hear yourthoughts about how institutions can think about, whether private, public, or in the academicsense of institutionalizing imaginations or imagineers in different fields.

And for example, Apple, this isthe last example I'll say is Apple, they're working on face shields for ventilators.

And they just quickly ramped that up in 30 days.

And they just got the best researchscientists and doctors all over the world for the simple question ofreimagining the ventilator.

And now, they've acted on it in 30 days.

So, how can we make thatmore of a massive enterprise? >> Okay.

So, let me think a little bitabout that, and let me say it's nice to see you after 20 plus years, right.

So, you were in some of my first classes, Ithink, that I taught at CMC, so it's a pleasure.

I mean one silver lining of this wholething is that I'm getting to see some faces, even in just one by one and a half inch boxeshere, that I haven't seen in a very long time.

So, I'm enjoying that.

But so, when you started your question, I wasthinking about all of the actual developments that have come from the minds of writers andso on, that it was first imagined on screen or in a book, and then itbecame part of our world.

So, the flip phone, many people cite StarTrek as being the origin for that idea, right.

So, they imagined it in Star Trek, and then they developed it in reality.

And so, when you were talking about some of theDisney stuff, that's what I was thinking of.

I guess to get to your actual question there, at the end, I think that one thing that we have to do as a society is to rememberthe importance of imagination.

We have to place value on it for, sort offor its own sake, I guess, so that we're not, so that it's not just in these times of crises where we're playing this kindof catch-up imaginative game.


But that we applaud not just this sort oflike assembly line production of various things but the development of new ideas.

And so, I think some of the stuff going on–sorry if you hear stuff in the background.

I locked my dogs out of the room, andnow they're very angry because I've been in here for too long without them.

But, if they were in here, it would have been worse.

So, if you hear that scratching, that's what it is.

I think some of the startups in Silicon Valley, like we hear tales of sort of idea swapping around a table, right, and so just where there'sreally no holds barred, and I think we need to have more of that no holdsbarred ideas not just in times of crisis but before times of crisis.

So, I guess I just want to applaud the examplesthat you give and say we need to have more of that, and we need to haveit going on all the time and not just in moments where it's dire, so.

>> All right.

We're going to Ben Turner.

Ben, go ahead.

>> Thanks Evan and thank you somuch, Professor Kind, for your talk.

It's really great to hear from you, and it'sreally helpful to have your perspective on this.

My question is sort of focused on theidea of kind of empathetic imagination.

>> Okay.

>> And it seems as if sort of throughout thiswhole pandemic there's been these failures on the part of North Americans, people in thewest, to sort of understand the Chinese example, and then it kind of shifted to Italyand to Iran, that are sort of more sort of traditionally western adjacent.

And even then, there were videosof Italian doctors sort of pleading with their 10-day-old pastversions of themselves to imagine the horror it would become.

So, could you maybe speak to how to sort ofretool our imagination from maybe the local or even the [inaudible] the globalwhen it comes to some of these things.

Because it just strikes me as being thetool that we have to use the most as we deal with this as a world as opposed to justlike, you know, our fiefdoms of like our town or our province or state or things like that.

>> Sure.

So, you cut out for a secondthere, but I think I got the gist of it, and I'm very interested in the questionof empathetic imagination and our ability to extend our imagination outwards towardspeople who are quite different from us.

And actually, I mentioned in my talk, the[inaudible] class I was doing earlier this week, and we, I was asked to givethe students a light reading.

And so, I gave them a piece by PaulBloom that had, he's a psychologist, that had appeared in The Atlantic, and he'spresenting in that and arguing against empathy, he's presenting an argument against empathy.

He actually spoke at the Ath a couple yearsago and gave a version of this argument.

But he thinks that empathy is problematicbecause it's biased and that we tend to empathize the most with the people who looklike us or the people who are most like us.

And he also presents arguments to say, youknow, as nice as it is that you can get someone to donate money to a charitableorganization when you put up the picture of the one starving child, right, and youfeel like, oh, I'm helping that child.

The question is why aren'twe giving when it's all of these faceless peoplewho are starving, right? Why do we have to see the pictureof the one child to make us hit, click the button to give our money.

So, those are some of Bloom'scriticism of empathy, but I'm not willing to give up on empathy.

I think it's incredibly powerful.

So, Bloom argues that we should just switchfrom empathy to what he calls compassion, and he says that we should havecompassion for one another, but we shouldn't try reallyto empathize with one another.

And I'm not willing to give up on empathy.

I think a lot of what I saidhere about imaginative skill, I want to apply likewiseto empathizing with others.

And so, I think one of the most important thingsthat we can do, first of all, is to listen.

Sometimes people contrastempathizing with listening, but for me they go hand in hand, right.

It's not like, oh we listen to otherpeople or we empathize with them.

What we do is we listen to other people so thatwe can better empathize with them going forward.

And so, we make sure to take seriouslythe reports of others who are different from ourselves, and those reportsmight sometimes be coming from, Ben, I think you were saying, like overseas, right.

We need to listen to these reports fromfar distant communities and not just stay in our little echo chambers wherewe're only talking to people who have very similar experiences to ours.

We need to talk more widely, and we needto listen more widely, and doing that, I think will help us to honeour empathetic skills.

And we also have to just rememberand guard against the bias that we all bring to our empathetic practices.

So, thanks for your question.

>> We'll go to a couple of questionsin the chat, and then I'll go back to those that have raised your hands.

So, Christine Welmiak asks, as many of us willbe stuck at home for a certain period of time, does Professor Kind have any suggestionsother than the red brick or paperclip for us to work on our imaginative skills? >> Okay.

Well, you know, you can playthese red brick and paperclip games.

Exercises to work on your imaginativeskills while you're at home.

Good, that's a great question.

So, first of all, I think that one of the ways in which we all generally practiceimagination is through reading.

And that's something that we all probably havemore time to do now than we do normally I mean so once you finished binge watching, you know, Tiger King, which you know, we probably all have done, onceyou've done with that, pick up a book.

Pick up a book that is maybe somethingdifferent from what you'd normally read.

Read widely.

For those of you who havechildren, read with your children.

Take the time when you're reading withyour children to really pay attention to the books that you're reading them.


You're not just parroting thewords, but if you can get involved in the imaginative stories that you'retelling them, then I think you can start to remind yourself of what it's like to imagineand to develop that skill of imagination.

So, I guess my first answer is going to be toengage with fiction, to engage with stories.

That's one of the ways, I think, that westandardly increase our imaginative capacities, and it's something that we can all do right now.

Maybe I'll stop there.

I could probably come up with otherthings, but I like that answer.

>> Camillo Cripe [phonetic] says, thank you so much for your time, and how do those of us working as artistscreating hopefully transcendent work influence or help to push the worldof instructive imagination? >> Okay.

Can you read, can you readme that last sentence one more time? Or if– >> How do those of us working as artistscreating transcendent work influence or help to push the worldof instructive imagination.

>> I see.

Great question.

So, I guess I've been coming more and more torealize, and I said some of this in my talk, but I had always sort of like distinguishedinstructive and transcendent imagination and thought that they were twovery different kinds of things.

I mean both imaginative but twovery different kinds of things.

And I'm starting to come to realize how muchthe transcendent imaginings have to be fodder for the instructive imaginings and thatwe have to do a better job of figuring out when we need to let theimagination run free.

So, as far as what artists can go, what artistscan do, I mean I myself am not an artist, and I don't know exactly what kind of art we'retalking about, but if we're talking about, if we're talking about fiction and poetry, I think keep engaging with the emotions that we're feeling or differentrange of emotions to help the rest of us understand better.

So, going back to the previous question, or oneof the previous questions about empathy, right.

I think one of the reasons, actually it goesback to the previous question about empathy and the previous question whereI recommended looking at stories.

I think one of the reasons that lookingat stories is good is that when we, we learn more about people's innerlives when we look at stories than we often do from talking with them.

And we get that kind of depiction, and it'sreally a window into another way of thinking.

And that's something that, Ithink, literature can do for us.

With respect to art and music of othersorts, I think that the great works of art that are being produced now will probablybe drawing on some of the experiences that we're having now and some ofthe emotions that we're having now and helping us to process some of those.

So, that's something else, I guess I didn'tsay about some of these acts of imagination.

I think not only can they push us forwardto help understand things in the future, but they can help us understandsort of what we're all feeling now, and they can help us better processthe experience that we're having now.

So, that's something elsethat I think art can do.

It can provide us with a sortof mirror or a window of sorts into the experiences that we're having.

>> I'm going to go to Martin Kaplan next.

Martin, go ahead.

>> Yes.

My question is, how do you harness the, how do you harness the imagination practically? In other words, you've got 12 peoplesitting around a room, a table, and you come up with a variety of ideas.

How do you decide what tofocus on to become practical? >> Well, that's a really good question becauseit turns out, I guess, that some of the ideas that seem the most far off orthe most far flung are the ones that we should have been focusing on, right.

Like, so those crazy out-there ideas arethe ones that are turning out to be the ones that we should have, we should havebeen thinking more seriously about.

So, in terms of harnessing thepower productively, I guess, I guess part of what I want to recommend is thatwe not be worried about always being too safe, right, and we not be afraid to take risks andto try something different, and that when, even if we can't pursue all of the, youhave 12 people sitting around a table, even if we can't pursue all 12 ideas atonce, let's not get locked into only the one that seemed like particularly sexy ordramatic and forget about the other 11.


So, I think a lot of good ideas getlost when you're sitting around a table, because one jumps out, and thenall the others get left behind.

And so, one recommendation I would have isnot to orphan off those good ideas that come out through imagination and makesure that we attend to those too, even if perhaps not quite so quickly.

So, we have a lot of brain power presumably whenwe get 12 people sitting together at a table, and probably there are more goodideas that are coming up than the ones that we can pursue realistically in the here andnow, but let's not forget about the other ones that we can't at this exact moment take on, so.

>> I'm going to go to Milan Reed in Utah.

>> Hi.

>> This is continuing the hitparade of former students.

Hi Milan.

>> Yeah.

What I found a lot is people seemto think imagination is a waste of time.

So, for example, I'm kind oflike a network security nerd.

I'm like, guys, you got toset some good passwords.

And people are like, oh, no one's looking for me.

No one cares.

I can't imagine that I would gethacked just because there's, you know, eight billion people in theworld, yada yada yada.

And like in that institutional setting, how, what would your response to that be like you should imagine these things, you should worry about what could happen, not necessarily in the catastrophicway, like, oh, the world's going to end, but that idea that it's a waste of time toworry about stuff or to think about stuff that probably isn't going to happen oryou think probably isn't going to happen.

>> Yeah, well, I wasn't thinking you weregoing to go to passwords when you started that question, so, I have to, I have to thinka little bit about that example in particular.

Like the password one is so silly because it'sso easy to just pick another password, right.

Like, why not do so? That doesn't seem to me totake much imagination.

I hope no one's going to try to go hackinginto my email now, as I talk about passwords.

I'm almost like floored by the idea thatimagination could be a waste of time.

I mean maybe in that kind ofcomment that someone would make, they're thinking of only very fantasticalexamples of imagining of sorts.

So, like, oh, well, you know, we're grown up now.

We don't have time for make believe, right.

We're grown up now.

I have a lot of things to do.

I don't have time to justsit around day dreaming.

And so, it's there that I would, whatI would do is probably just remind, someone who says imagination is a wasteof time, I would say to them, look, when you bought your last sofa, right, when you were in the store buying the sofa, how did you decide which one to buy, right? I mean maybe no one goes to storesanymore, maybe you buy them online.

But let's imagine that you'reactually in a store, right.

How did you decide which one to buy? Probably what you did was to imagineit in your living room, right.

And you can't bring eachsofa home to test it out.

So, you have to do some imaginative work, or when you go to the grocery store now and you're able to get a bunch of supplies, right, and then you're trying to load them into your car, how are yougoing to figure out like how to fit all of those things into your trunk? Well, probably what you're going to do isimagine like, oh, well if I put the 20, 000 rolls of toilet paper over there, then I'm going to have room for the eight gallons of milk over here, right.

But before you start loadingall the things into your car, you imagine like how the piecesare going to best fit together.

And so, I guess in response to the, isn't imagination a waste of time, what I would try to do is remind peopleof how much they probably use imagination in their daily life for problem solving, and they are probably just not thinking of it under the rubric of imagination.

And so maybe that would be helpful.

That doesn't address part of the questionabout how do you get people to focus on imagining the worst or focus onimagining bad things that could happen.

And I mean one thing that one mightsay is maybe just to draw on some of these experiential resources we'redeveloping now, and we realize like, hey, remember the last time you didn't imagine theworst and you didn't buy that extra, you know, six-pack of toilet paper and how muchyou regretted it for the next month? Why not, you know, add a couple ofweird characters to your password now so that you're not regrettingit if something bad happens.

Okay, anyway.

I don't know.

I don't know if that's particularly brilliantadvice, but that's what I go right now.

>> Mark Schwartz came through witha couple of things on the chat feed.

Mark, do you want to ask a question directly? >> Can you hear me? >> Yep.

>> Yes.

>> So, I want to use your skills that yououtlined in this question, in this presentation, to answer the question, during the quarantinewhat will people regret not doing once this stay-at-home initiative andrequirement is lifted? It comes from, you know, a crisis is a terriblething to waste, and when I can't sleep at night, sometimes I wonder what am I going to regret nothaving done when I go back to a normal routine.

>> That is a great question, and it's somethingthat I have been trying to think about myself, you know, and tell myself, like no, you don't need to play that next round of Candy Crush, right.

Wouldn't this be a greattime to read a book, right? Wouldn't it be a great time do thesesorts of things that you haven't done.

So, I have been, so you ask, I mean, thequestion is what are we going to regret doing.

I guess I see one of the bestthings about this current situation, besides getting to see all your faces, is the family time that we've had.

So, I have two teen-aged boys, and we don't get to eat dinner together normallyduring the week, right.

Because one of them is off at soccer, and someone else is off at volleyball, and there's homework and craziness, andyou know, maybe I'm going to the Ath, and we're all running around, and nowwe get to actually have dinner together.

We've been playing like boardgames as a family over dinner.

And I, you know, it's so easy to say like, oh no, I have another email I should answer, or oh no, I should a little more prep workfor my class, and those things are important.

Like the emails are important to answer andthe prep work for my class is important, and I haven't even mentioned likethe articles that I'm overdue on because I haven't been able to focus well.

But that said, I'm trying to myself takeadvantage of the gift of this time with family and trying to really remember that.

Like, I wouldn't normally get toenjoy this time with my sons this way, and I will really regret it in Augustor July or June or September or October or whatever month it is, youknow, when we're all released.

I will really regret if at the end I realizelike, wow, I had all this time to spend with my sons, and I didn't takeadvantage of that opportunity.

And so that's what I'm doing.

So, I don't, that's not really general advice, but I guess what I would suggest to everyone is, I mean this goes back to something thatI started to say during the lecture, which is that imagination is a skilland we get better at it by practice.

Also, what I didn't say is imagination is work.

Like, I don't think imaginationis just this, happens by magic.

I think we have to like sit down and imagine.

And so, for those of you trying to figure outwhat you would regret at the end of sheltering in place and what kinds of things you wouldfeel sad about, I would suggest that you, I mean this is going to sound silly, but I mean this quite literally.

You take a quiet second, right, where you turnoff everything, and you just spend a minute or two minutes, I mean two minutes is goingto seem interminable if you actually sit down and do this, spend two minutesthinking about that question, right.

And so, I think we don't often takethe time to do the imaginative work, like we'd spend five secondson it, and we're done.

So, if you're thinking about avoiding regrets, I would suggest giving yourself a couple of quiet minutes to really think aboutwhat you want to get out of this time.

>> All right.

We have Jeremy Steinman up next.

Jeremy, you're unmuted.

>> Hi Professor Kind.

>> Hi.

>> Thank you for everything you've shared today.

Appreciate it.

So, I work for a Hawaiian companythat's, you know, struggling right now because there are no flights to Hawaii, anda lot of our business is related to tourism.

And my question is, when is, how do youdistinguish between useful acts of imagination and acts of imagination that may be based infear or trauma or paranoia that might have like kind of a negative motivation? And to elaborate on that, you know, there's a conventional kind of idea that we will quarantine for a couple ofmonths and things will return to something that is resembling normal ordifferent but within the realm of what we expected or whatwe expect from the past.

And in some of the discussions that we have, we can choose to sort of continue on the path with what we were planning previously, or wecan kind of become imaginative in a way that's like do we change the business completelybecause it's never going to be the same.

And sometimes I have trouble figuring outwhether or not I should encourage the types of discussions that are further awayor kind of encourage the discussions that are sort of stick to the plan.

So, I was just curious about that.

>> Yeah, I think that's a really good, a reallygood question and an interesting problem, right.

Because we don't know right now how the worldis going to fully change as a result of this.

I mean we have, we have guesses, but would it be better to plan for a completely different realityor would it be better to plan for life resuming more or less as normal? And this is, I hope this doesn'tsound like a cheap answer, but I guess I think it'simportant to imagine both.

And that really you'd probably bedoing yourself a disservice if you, or we would all be doing ourselves a disserviceif we focused too much on one alternative rather than the other, because we really arein sort of a state of uncertainty.

And when we are in a state of uncertainty, wedon't want to close those imaginative doors.

So, I would, I think newinformation is coming every day.

That's one reason I actually went throughthe timeline, to sort of remind you of like how recent, how evenjust like a month ago, right, like the kind of mental state we were inabout like what life is going to be like.

I think a month from now we're going tobe shocked by where we were, you know, on April 10th, right, and whatit felt like on that kind of day.

So, I think we have to recognize the uncertainsituation we're in and given that uncertainty, we have to be sure not to close anydoors imaginatively or otherwise.

>> All right.

Next we're going to Jay Trombley in Chicago.

>> Evan, thanks, and if I break up, you can ask the question for me.

Professor Kind, thanks for your remarks.

What role do you see religion and imaginationinterplaying, particularly at such a trying time and particularly this week since wehave both Passover and Holy Week? And, for example, I have to imaginegetting Communion while watching mass and other services online because Ican't go to church and receive Communion.

And that does take some imagination, I must say.

>> Yeah.

So, and I mean, similarly, you know, my Facebook feed was flooded with pictures of people having Zoom seders earlier this week.

>> Right, exactly.

>> And there are all differentkinds of ways in which people need to start implementing imagination to engagein the kinds of rituals that are so important to our lives, so important we now can'tdo them actually, so we have to figure out new ways to do them virtually.

So, I think just like at the end ofJanuary, you know, it would have been hard, really to foresee how one couldactually teach classes virtually and how one could foresee goingto a church service, right, and getting something, gettingCommunion virtually.

We're learning that we can adapt and that we'rebetter able to adapt than we might have thought.

And so, I guess I would alsotake our imaginative successes and try to learn from those going forward.

>> Great.

Amy, it is noon, but there are alsoa few more questions I do want to get to.

Do you have a couple more minutes? >> I have a couple minutes.

In case people have to start leaving, I just want to thank people for coming, and anyone who has to leave, I understand, but yeah, I can stay around and take a few more questions.

>> And my thanks to everyonefor being here as well.

So, Ann Cinnick, who is aparent, mentioned, as a child, I never felt I was imaginativebecause I wasn't good at art.

That was my frame of reference.

No one ever told me I was imaginative untilcollege, when a professor recognized aloud that he admired how original my questionswere, that he felt I had an imaginative mind.

I was stunned.

It changed the course of mylife, and I eventually went on to become a children's television and mediaproducer valued for my imaginative take on work.

Do we tell our children they're imaginative? Do we nurture their different way of thinking? Do we affirm imagination as much aswe do industriousness or good grades? I wonder what would have changed in my lifehad someone labeled me imaginative earlier.

What are your thoughts? >> So, I, well, I'm so sorrythat happened to you.

I wish that we did value, Iwish– I value imagination.

I wish we as a society valued imaginationthe way that we valued other skills, and I think part of what I'm tryingto remind people, in reminding people that imagination is a skill, is that it's not this sort of like either it's turnedon or it's turned off, right.

And just like I don't think that weshould write people off as unathletic who aren't particularly skilledas third graders.

I don't think we should write people off asunimaginative who aren't particularly skilled in a certain way as third graders, right.

Because we can nurture these capabilities, and we can nurture these skills, and we tend, I think, to put our energies on thethings that we're already good at rather than focusing our energies on improvingourselves in a wider domain of skills.

And I think that that kind ofnarrowing with our children, right.

Like, oh, they're good at soccer, so they're going to just do soccer.

Or, oh, they're good at art, sothey're going to just do art.

I wish we didn't have that kindof, that kind of narrowing.

And then the other aspect of your questionthat I wanted to say something about is that I really find it unfortunate that anassociation of like, oh, not being good at art and thus not being good at imagination, that's just so incredibly unfortunate.

Because as we saw from like the vast list ofactivities that imagination is involved in, I mean you might be able to evidenceyour imaginative skills in rock climbing.

You might be able to evidence yourimaginative skills in ventilator design.

You might be able to exercise your imaginativeskills in all of these different ways, and we shouldn't associate imaginativeskill with just such a narrow area.

So, for those of you who are parents or forthose of you who may one day be parents, in answer to some of the end questions there, Iwould say, yes, we have to nurture imagination, and we also have to avoidthe narrowing of imagination.

>> Great.

Robin Barlett inNew York had a few questions.

Robin, I'm going to unmute you.

Robin, are you still there? Robin? Robin might not be there.


Let's see here.

>> I am here.

>> Oh, there you are.

Hi Robin.

>> Hi.

So, I had a question.

At the very beginning of your presentationyou talked about the idea that creativity and imagination is impacted by one'spast experiences and past creativity.

So, the question that I have is howis the ability to recall the details of a past experience and a past creativity, how does that impact the future experience? Especially if the creativityhappened a long time ago? >> Okay, so one of the things that Ithink is important is that there is a lot of synergy between imagination and memory.

And I think that's relevant to your question.

Because I think that the better able weare to draw on the resources from memory, the more resources that we willhave for imagination to do its work.

I also think that remembering how we've donesomething before or how we were creative in the past, I don't think is absolutelynecessary for our imaginative success in the future, because insofar as we aretrying to breakdown the walls, right, and think outside the box, we don't want tojust keep repeating our past successes, right.

We want to make sure thatwe're grabbing at new ideas.

So, we want to draw from the past, butwe also want to extend beyond the past.

And so, I don't want to put too much emphasis on like remembering what we'vedone before, if that makes sense.

>> All right.

We have a question from Ted'slaptop, I'm guessing his name is Ted.

Our ability to assimilate change hasbeen changed and stretched by the virus.

How does the current globaldisruption and radical solutions to the COVID virus expand the framework for imagination applied tosocial change going forward? >> Okay.


I'm just rereading the question also.

So, I think one of the thingsthat's in the question is that we, things are so different in scope now, right.

Like who would have realized that we wouldbe teaching all of our classes online, right.

That there would be, you know, none, no students on campus.

That seemed like such a big and possible thing, and now that's just like the least of it.

So, I do think that there's, that insofar inthat question is this idea that there is this like complete change of scopeand that what seemed to us to be impossibly large things now are no longer, those are the things that now seem small to us.

I think that we can learn from thatgoing forward when we start to things about other kinds of crisesand other kinds of situations.

One thing that we might, thatwe might really want to focus on is how dramatic changes do change the scopeof what we're dealing with and things shift in importance, and they shift insize, and they shift in emphasis.

And I think that being able to imagine thosekinds of shifts is very hard, because it really, really requires you to stepoutside of your own current values.

And as we were talking about withempathy, like the farther things are away from us, the harder it is to imagine.

And so likewise, it's very hard to stepoutside your own current value systems.

But I think that insofar as we can try to dothat, we will be better imaginers going forward.

>> Michael Fern asks, is imaginative skillused to anticipate future events different from imaginative skill incoming up with solutions? If so, are there differenttypes of exercises for each? >> So, I don't know exactly how fine grainedwe want to make all of these different, imaginative skills, so there are, whenever we're talking about a skill.

Like, so, when we're talking about a skill withrespect to soccer, we can talk about, you know, the skill of juggling versus theskill of passing versus, I don't know, I'm out of soccer skills that I can easilycall up, but there are all these micro skills that all go up to being part of a good athlete.

And so, likewise with respect toimagination, I think there are going to be all these different subskillsthat are going to be important.

Now, whether the skill isimagining the problems and the skill of imagining the solutionsis the same skill or not, I guess it sort of depends on how we look at it.

So, when in both cases we need to, we need tomake sure to guard against the kind of narrowing that I've been trying to guardagainst this whole time, right.

So, they both require us toexpand out our world views.

But it is true that in imaginingsolutions to a problem, we have a sort of focal point, because we have the problem.

And so our imagining in that caseis sort of stemming from something in particular whereas ourwork to imagine the problems, there's no focal point forus to get started from.

So, that makes me think that theyprobably are slightly different skills, because it's a question of howsolid the starting points are, and probably both skills are going to besuper important in general for imagination.

>> Thank you, Professor Kind.

And Rob did send out your URL for yourwebsite and your book, so amykind.

com/books, in case you want to see more of what Dr.

Kind has researched and edited and published.

I think I got to almost all the questions.

I know I missed a few, so my sincere apologies, but I want to make sure Dr.

Kind can gohave lunch and enjoy her dogs and her kids.

Professor Kind is usually around for a lotof alumni weekends and family weekends, and we thank you very much for your time.

Really appreciate it.

And for all of you who attended, thank you so much.

We'll have Professor Talks every week.

We'll have Professor, I mentioned[inaudible] on Thursday of next week talking about our relationship with China post COVID-19.

We'll also have Professors Kyle and Sheltontalking about the state of the economy and the consumer competence next week as well.

So, please join us again and reviewour website for any further activity.

If you haven't already, please do put yourname and year and affiliation in the chat.

Otherwise, I thank you all very much.


Kind, any last words? >> No, I just, I think I said thisalready, but it's so nice to see you all and for the former students, it's just really great to have a quick glimpse ofyou in these little boxes.

And I'm just really glad to have theopportunity to connect with so many CMC folks in this time of social isolation.

This has been a fun part of my day.

So, thank you all for coming.

>> Great.

Thank you all.

Be safe, be well.

>> Be safe, be well.

Wash your hands.


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