The digital age has been a boon for Dean Keith Simonton, PhD, who has studied such creative geniuses as Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein for more than 35 years. Thanks to the Internet's expanding reach, rarely does a day pass when the University of California, Davis, distinguished professor doesn't peruse the letters, journal entries and even barbershop receipts of history's great minds. "Increasingly, more raw data is readily available on the Internet," he says. "So much information is right at your fingertips."
gradPSYCH asked Simonton for his short list of websites for researching and snooping on creative geniuses, as well as for simple enjoyment.
"Darwin Online includes unpublished material on Charles Darwin — manuscripts, notebooks, diaries, correspondence and more. The site includes his bills when he was a student at Christ's College in Cambridge, England. You can learn how much money from his tight budget went for rent, the apothecary, barber, bed-maker, shoe-blacker, porter, library books, coal, his cook, the chimney sweep, laundress, tailor and more. How often can you be so voyeuristic concerning a personal hero? Practically beats Twitter."
"Because I'm an avid reader, I love having instantaneous access to a stupendous library wherever I happen to be in the world, from Istanbul to Taipei. I can have more than 36,000 free e-books in practically any format. All the classics are there to download — including the complete works of Shakespeare and Don Quixote of Cervantes, in the original Spanish or the English translation. The masterpieces of science and philosophy are also included, such as Isaac Newton's 'Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.'"
"This is a great site if you're a psychologist with any interest in the creative geniuses of our discipline's history. It includes some of the major books and articles that helped make psychology what it is today. One highlight is the works by one of my heroes, Francis Galton, including his "Hereditary Talent and Character" and "History of Twins." The site also has high-impact journal articles, such as Watson and Rayner's 'Little Albert' study. It's where I get my daily dose of historic psychology from Plato to B.F. Skinner."
"Capital Public Radio streams news, jazz and classical music over the Internet, and it's what I listen to all day at home and whenever I'm holed up in out-of-town hotels. There are also concert and interview programs that keep me up on contemporary creativity in the arts and sciences, including the young music geniuses performing on NPR's 'From the Top.' Because CPR streams out of Sacramento, I can even learn about the latest budget cuts to the University of California. That's when I irately switch from the news to music streaming."
In each issue, gradPSYCH asks a famous psychologist to share his or her favorite reads, websites and other media. To suggest our next candidate, email Sadie Dingfelder.