So, the question is whether we ought to read carefully, or just the headlines.
Parkinson’s UK posted this article today on the supposed link between Parkinson’s and creativity. It was the third paragraph before these words appeared: ‘The researchers spilt [sic] the people with Parkinson’s into 2 groups and found that those who took more Parkinson’s medication were the most creative.’
The research that this references is also reported here. Much as I hate to be a killjoy, the header to this press release, ‘Proof: Parkinson’s enhances creativity’ no more understands what the word ‘proof’ means than it bothered to read the release, which again says this:
The conclusions from the second round of testing — in which the Parkinson’s participants were split into higher- and lower-medicated groups — also demonstrated a clear link between medication and creativity. Parkinson’s patients suffer from a lack of dopamine, which is associated with tremors and poor coordination. As such, they are usually treated with either synthetic precursors of dopamine or dopamine receptor agonists
According to Prof. Inzelberg, the results are hardly surprising, because dopamine and artistry have long been connected. “We know that Van Gogh had psychotic spells, in which high levels of dopamine are secreted in the brain, and he was able to paint masterpieces during these spells – so we know there is a strong relationship between creativity and dopamine,” said Prof. Inzelberg.
Ah, so the link is with the drugs, not the disease … and anyway, correlation does not equal causation, as any fule kno. To extrapolate van Gogh’s ‘psychotic interludes’ with increased dopamine levels (they obviously have proof of this, and are not speculating at all, right?) and thence to his painting masterpieces and thus to ‘a strong relationship between creativity and dopamine’ is doing logic, and science, a disservice.
The most shocking thing of all is that it’s in the Daily friggin’ Mail that this is finally pointed out:
Do Parkinson’s drugs make people more CREATIVE? Pills that increase dopamine levels may improve artistic abilities