So – here’s how knowledge works: Disciplines (and domains) are stacked upon disciplines. i.e., Domains of knowledge in bioculture:

Vertical Integration of the Sciences (Velikovsky 2015)

Vertical Integration of the Sciences (Velikovsky 2015)

And actually, there was an amusing xkcd comic doing the rounds on Facebook:

Fields arranged by Purity – xkcd comics (2016). http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/purity.png

Actually, I think they mean “Domains “(i.e. Disciplines) rather than “Fields”. In the systems model of creativity, The Domain is the knowledge, whereas the Field is the people (experts, and audiences) for that Domain. But, whatever. It’s still funny, cos, it’s still true. (THough Sociology isn’t just Applied Psychology, it’s Social Psychology as group dynamics are different to Individual Psychology, but – meh.)

Anyway, a really great article on STEAM (i.e., On, integrating: Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths), is

Walker, A. S. (2013). “A Missing Link: Building STEAM with Literary Darwinism”. EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 5 (1), pp. 15-50.

Epistemology - How do we know what we know?

What is STEAM? …It’s: Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths.

The Abstract of the (Walker 2013) article is:

`Literary Darwinism is a relatively new and controversial theory, but it capitalizes on the interdisciplinary knowledge required in our modern 21st century academe and builds upon a concept known as STEAM, the integration of the Arts into the traditional framework of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

It is, therefore, a powerful tool for both scientific and esoteric inquiry because it blurs the boundaries between disciplines, encouraging students to approach ideas of literature and evolution through creative thinking and multimodal knowledge.

This article provides an introductory-level First Year Seminar (FYS) approach to teaching literary Darwinism by first building a foundational framework of key evolutionary terms, then exploring the evolution of language itself as well as literary Darwinism’s relatively recent and controversial genesis within literary scholarship, and finally providing specific curricular components that facilitate synthesis of key concepts through creative thinking and interactive, STEAM-driven lessons designed to appeal to a typical FYS audience.’ (Walker, 2013, p. 15)

KEYWORDS: Literary Darwinism, STEAM, FYS

That `STEAM’ article is free, online, here: A Missing Link: Building STEAM with Literary Darwinism (Walker 2015).

Importantly, Walker (2013) notes:

`To assess any STEM or STEAM curriculum, Ostler points out that integrative learning occurs when “students ask questions, design experiments, create products, test results, and evaluate conclusions… not just take tests” (p. 32).’

(Walker 2013, p. 23)

Notably, this correlates with Gottschall (2008):

`I will call for a much more vigorous branch of literary research based
in the scientific method.

As detailed in chapter 2, I will not merely suggest that literary studies should be “more scientific” (whatever that means), or that scholars should know more about science (as C. P. Snow averred in “The Two Cultures”), but that literary scholars
should actually do science; where possible, we can and should make
use of science’s powerful methodology.

(Gottschall 2008, p. 13)

Literature, Science and a New Humanities (Gottschall 2008)

Literature, Science and a New Humanities (Gottschall 2008)

And here’s one I prepared earlier – i.e., Science’s powerful methodology:

The Scientific Method

The Scientific Method

But Popper breaks it all down much more succinctly: in All Life Is Problem Solving (Popper 1999) .

All Life Is Problem Solving (Popper 1999)

All Life Is Problem Solving (Popper 1999)

Here are some quotes from that wonderful book (i.e., Popper 1999):

`The natural as well as the social sciences always start from problems, from the fact that something inspires amazement in us, as the Greek philosophers used to say.

To solve these problems, the sciences use fundamentally the same method that common sense employs, the method of trial and error.

To be more precise, it is the method of trying out solutions to our problem and then discarding the false ones as erroneous.

One solution after another is put to the test and eliminated.

At the bottom, this solution seems to be the only logical one.

It is also the procedure that a lower organism, even a single-celled amoeba, uses when trying to solve a problem. In this case we speak of testing movements through which the organism tries to rid itself of a troublesome problem.

Higher organisms are able to learn through trial and error how a certain problem should be solved.

We may say that they too make testing movements – mental testings – and that to learn is essentially to try out one testing movement after another until one is found that solves the problem.’

(Popper 1999, p. 3)

And another great quote from that same book (well, collection of essays, actually):

`I would like to present what I have said so far about learning through trial and error in a three-stage model.

The model has the following three stages:

(1) the problem

(2) the attempted solutions

(3) the elimination.

… The third stage in our model is the elimination of unsuccessful solutions.’

(Popper 1999, p. 4)

And, yet another quote:

`Before I turn to the formation of scientific theories, I should like to point out another biological application of my three-stage model.

My three-stage model:

     (1) the problem

     (2) the attempted solutions

     (3) the elimination

may also be understood as the schema of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

It is applicable not only to the evolution of the individual organism but also to the evolution of species.

In the language of our three-stage model, a change in either the environmental conditions or the inner structure of the organism produces a problem. It is a problem of species adaptation; that is, the species can survive only if it solves the problem through a change in its genetic structure.

How does this happen in the Darwinian view of things? Our genetic apparatus is such that changes or mutations occur again and again in the genetic structure. Darwinism assumes that, in the terms of our model, these mutations function as Stage 2 attempted solutions. Most mutations are fatal; they are deadly for the bearer of the mutation, for the organism in which they occur. But in this way they are eliminated, in accordance with Stage 3 of our model.

In our three-stage model, then, we must again stress the essential pluralism of the second stage of attempted solutions. If there were not very many mutations, they would not be worth considering as attempted solutions. We must assume that sufficient mutability is essential to the functioning of our genetic apparatus.’

(Popper 1999, p. 5)

And – another great quote, from All Life Is Problem Solving (Popper 1999):

`My thesis is that each new development in science can be understood only in this way, that its starting point is a problem or problem situation (which means the appearance of a problem in a certain state of our accumulated knowledge)

Why did the old theory wrongly think that in science we start from sense perceptions or observations, and not from problems?’

(Popper 1999, p. 6)

And yet another quote:

`We cannot conclude that our knowledge begins with sense perception. On the contrary: our senses, from the point of view of evolutionary theory, are tools that have been formed to solve certain biological problems.’

(Popper 1999, pp. 6-7)

More about Science:

`What is distinctive about human science?

What is the key difference between am amoeba and a great scientist such as Newton or Einstein?

The answer to this question is that the distinctive feature of science is conscious application of the critical method; in Stage 3 of our model, the stage of error elimination, we act in a consciously critical manner.’

(Popper 1999, p. 7)

And yet another:

`We come here to the important distinction between two meanings of the word knowledge [Wissen]- knowledge in the subjective and the objective sense

Scientific knowledge consists of objective propositions formulated in speech, of hypotheses and problems, not of subjective expectations or convictions.

Science is a product of the human mind, but this product is as objective as a cathedral.’

(Popper 1999, p. 8)

Hey – and guess what?

Epistemology - How do we know what we know?

If you’re still alive, you’re doing science, all day, every day.

(Some anti-science, and anti-consilience “postmodernists” seem to think that “science is just another discourse”…) – Unfortunately this shows ignorance, or delinerate denial – or deliberately ignorant denial.

For the postmodernists, maybe, step back in time a century or more and read the essay `The Method of Scientific Investigation’ by the great Thomas Henry Huxley (1863), aka “Darwin’s bulldog”.

In that great essay, T H Huxley (1863) notes:

`The method of scientific investigation is nothing but the expression of the necessary mode of working of the human mind. It is simply the mode at which all phenomena are reasoned about, rendered precise and exact. There is no more difference, but there is just the same kind of difference, between the mental operations of a man of science and those of an ordinary person, as there is between the operations and methods of a baker or of a butcher weighing out his goods in common scales, and the operations of a chemist in performing a difficult and complex analysis by means of his balance and finely graduated weights.

…Do not allow yourselves to be misled by the common notion that an hypothesis is untrustworthy simply because it is an hypothesis. It is often urged, in respect to some scientific conclusion, that, after all, it is only an hypothesis. But what more have we to guide us in nine-tenths of the most important affairs of daily life than hypotheses, and often very ill-based ones?’

(Huxley 1863, online)

Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein#/media/File:Niels_Bohr_Albert_Einstein_by_Ehrenfest.jpg)

Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein#/media/File:Niels_Bohr_Albert_Einstein_by_Ehrenfest.jpg)

Einstein (1936) also noted:

`The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of every day thinking.

It is for this reason that the critical thinking of the physicist cannot possibly be restricted to the examination of concepts of his own specific field.

He cannot proceed without considering critically a much more difficult problem, the problem of analyzing the nature of everyday thinking.’

(Einstein, 1936, p.59)

Some postmodernists seem to think “science is just another discourse”. But maybe they are not very good at everyday thinking, either… They are very much mistaken. (This isn’t my opinion. This is a fact. Dear Po-mos, don’t argue with me about it. It’s not my opinion. You’re now arguing with: facts. So, you are wasting both our times. So – Good Luck, with All That.).

Also – let’s take a quick look at: What Is This Thing Called Science? (Chalmers 2000)

What Is This Thing Called Science? (Chalmers 2000)

What Is This Thing Called Science? (Chalmers 2000)

It is worth reading the entire book, if you haven’t. But Chalmers (2000) summarizes Popper, Feyerabend, Kuhn and Lakatos, and notes that any research program (or, `scientific paradigm’, in Kuhn’s terms) requires:

  • Hypotheses
  • Assumptions and laws
  • Assumptions about initial conditions
  • Predictions
  • Observation and experiment

Notably, Lakatos recommends the the scientific research programme (or Kuhn’s “scientific paradigm”) should have a “hard core”, and a “protective belt”.

Chalmers (2000) also notes:

`Three components of the stand on the facts assumed to be the basis of science in the common view can be distinguished.

They are:

  1. Facts are directly given to careful, unprejudiced observers via the senses.
  2. Facts are prior to and independent of theory
  3. Facts constitute a firm and reliable foundation for scientific knowledge.’

(Chalmers 2000: pp. 3-4)

Also the great Evolutionary Philosopher Daniel C Dennett notes in: Blume, H. (1998). “The Digital Philosopher: A Conversation with Daniel Dennett.” The Atlantic Monthly.   http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/unbound/digicult/dc981209.htm

`Blume: Analytic philosophy has always been influenced by science. That seems to be true of your thought as well.

Daniel C Dennett: Analytic philosophy certainly aspires to the sorts of objectivity and opportunities for confirmation and refutation that science does.

One of the things analytic philosophy always held against various continental schools was that they seemed to be doing something more like verbal ballet.
My view of science is very much an enlightenment view.

Aside from minor disagreements, it’s pretty close to [E. O.] Wilson’s view in Consilience.

That’s not an accident. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about it.

Much of what is said about science as an objective, progressive, best-ever technology for getting at the truth I simply think is right, and I believe people who think otherwise are deeply mistaken.

(Dennett 1999, online)

Also – check out the greatest (i.e. most important) inventions of the past 2,000 years. These inventions all solved problems!

All creativity can be seen to be problem-solving…

If you haven’t,, you really should read this book:

Weisberg, R. W. (2006). Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Creativity - Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts (Weisberg 2006)

Creativity – Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts (Weisberg 2006)

Here is what Weisberg (2006) finds (with very convincing evidence, and – it hasn’t yet been refuted, and isn’t likely to be).

`Is All Creative Thinking Equivalent to Problem Solving?
An important question that remains in applying the cognitive perspective
to creative thinking is whether all examples of creative thinking can be
conceived of as exemplifying problem solving.

The case studies presented in Chapters 1 and 5 can help to answer that question. In Chapter 3, I raised the possibility that creative thinking might be based on ordinary thinking but not structured as problem solving, since not all ordinary thinking involves problem solving.

The second column in Table 12.1 analyzes each case study discussed in this book, in order of presentation, to determine whether it can be considered an example of problem solving.
As can be seen, the answer to that question appears to be yes: All of the
case studies can be considered to be examples of problem solving.

Watson and Crick were explicitly trying to analyze the problem of the structure of DNA (Watson, 1968). Picasso’s creation of Guernica also seems to be an example of
problem solving, as it is reasonable to describe Picasso’s situation as grappling
with the ill- defi ned problem of expressing in his art the feelings that were
aroused by the bombing of the city (Chipp, 1988). Calder too was trying to
solve a problem: that of creating moving sculpture in the abstract nonrepresentational style of Mondrian (Calder, 1966; Marter, 1991, p. 102).’

(Weisberg 2006, p. 577)

At any rate, Walker (2013) on STEAM is a great article.

The Arts and Humanities are in crisis.

See, just for example: The Crisis in Art History: Ten Problems, Ten Solutions

And see (well, read): Literature, Science and a New Humanities (Gottschall 2008).

And see: Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Viking.

And see: Sokal, A. D., & Bricmont, J. (1998). Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science. New York: Picador USA.

And – the best way to solve that crisis in the Arts/Humanities, is – a new (i.e., – better) paradigm.

As: the old one (`Postmodernism’, Continental Philosophy, and such nonsense), isn’t working. It is avoiding the problems…

So …Ladies and Gents, presenting, consilience.

Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (EO Wilson 1998)

Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (EO Wilson 1998)

And, lots more information and content on it, here: Consilience – A Reading List.

Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1996)

Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1996)

In Creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1996) it is noted:

“Your research project gets defined partly by some internal fascination for which one cannot account in any detail, preparation that is unique because of the life history of that person, luck, and something to work against. That is, something that you are dissatisfied with, that other people are doing.’

An intellectual problem is not restricted to a particular domain.

Indeed, some of the most creative breakthroughs occur when an idea that works well in one domain gets grafted to another and revitalizes it.

This was certainly the case with the widespread applications of  physics’ quantum theory to neighbouring disciplines like chemistry and astronomy.

Creative people are ever alert to what people over the fence are doing…

A large majority of our respondents were inspired by a tension in their domain that became obvious when looked at from the perspective of another domain.

Even though they do not think of themselves as interdisciplinary, their best work bridges realms of ideas. Their histories tend to cast doubts on the wisdom of overspecialization, where bright young people are trained to become exclusive experts in one field and shun breadth like the plague.’

(Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 88-9)

Csikszentmihalyi (1996) also notes there is a difference in `presented’ and`discovered’ problems in any given creative domain (e.g. in, say, science, or maths, or the arts, or movies, or painting, or music, etc).


Problems are not all alike in the way they come to a person’s attention.

Most problems are already formulated; everybody knows what is to be done and only the solution is missing. The person is expected by employers, patrons, or some other external pressure to apply his or her mind to the solution of the puzzle.  These are “presented” problems.

But there are also situations in which nobody has asked the question yet, nobody even knows that there is a problem.

In this case the creative person identifies both the problem and the solution. Here we have a “discovered” problem.

Einstein, among others, believed that the really important breakthroughs in science come as a result of reformulating old problems or discovering new ones, rather than by just solving existing problems…

The theory of evolution answered a great number of questions, ranging from why do animals look so different from each other from where do men and women come from.

But perhaps the most remarkable feature of Darwin’s accomplishment was that these questions had not been stated in an answerable form before, and he had to formulate the problem as well as propose a solution to it.

Most great changes in a domain share this feature of Darwin’s work: They tend to fall towards the discovered rather than the presented end on the continuum of problematic situations.’

(Csikszentmihalyi 1996: 95-8)


Consilience (i.e., Science meets the Arts) and Creativity (the act of creating something `new and useful’) isn’t that hard…!

And if you happen to think – for some bizarre reason – that you can’t use Science in the Arts, then I suggest reading every issue of Empirical Studies of the Arts journal, since 1983.

And also, read Scientific Studies of Literature journal.

And – read a lot of work, that has (very creatively) solved a lot of problems, in the domain of knowledge known as: consilience. i.e. Work in Evocriticism. Maybe someone in your discipline (e.g. Sociology, Social Science, the Arts, Humanities, Philosophy, etc) told you, you can’t do Science in the Arts/Humanities. Maybe you believed them…? Maybe you believe everything you’re told. That’s not critical thinking. Question everything, and see if it is true.

In reading in consilience, as Nick Bostrom states in his book: Superintelligence, (Bostrom 2014) Oxford University Press, Oxford:

“…I think that the content should be accessible to many people, if they put some thought into it and resist the temptation to instantaneously misunderstand each new idea by assimilating it with the most singular-sounding cliché available in their cultural larders.”

(Bostrom 2014, p. viii)

And, if you aren’t familiar with the `problem-solution’ model, here’s some great examples:

Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Getzels, J. W. (1976). The Creative Vision: A Longitudinal Study of Problem Finding in Art. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Boyd, B. (2009). On The Origin Of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Problem-Solving Strategies That Distinguish Creative Artists (Kozbelt 2003)

Bordwell, D. (1997). On the History of Film Style. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Bordwell, D. (2008). Poetics of Cinema. New York: Routledge.

Here are some 40 domain problems in screenwriting, for example:

StoryAlity #117Velikovsky’s 40 Domain Problems in Screenwriting (or: “Consilient PhDs I’d Like To See”) 

And also – here is another problem-solution: The Unit of Culture, the Meme, as a holon/parton.

And – some more on it: StoryAlity #130Why Some Things Are Popular (Velikovsky 2014)

And – for more detail on the evolutionary systems (or, complexity) view of narrative and bioculture in general, see, this book chapter:

StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture – and the narreme, or unit of story – book chapter (Velikovsky 2016)


Comments, welcome.*

*Well – unless you’re a “postmodernist”, or, a Continental Philosopher. I don’t have time for that anti-science, anti-consilient “po-mo” nonsense. The rest of us, in consilience are trying to solve real-world problems, so please stay out of the way. If you’re a “postmodernist”, and use Continental Philosophy, it means you don’t understand how creativity works and/or are ignoring the past 50 years of creativity research in Psychology and Social Psychology, and you probably don’t even think there’s such a thing as Human Nature.

So instead of commenting or trolling with some random po-mo nonsense here, those folks can all go read Invalid Criticism of Consilience and frankly can build up a head of STEAM until their head explodes. (Just kidding.) No, seriously. No, just kidding. No really. No. …No! …Yes… No. If you are a po-mo, and don’t know what science is, or how it works, then sorry but you are very deeply mistaken, and also: flat-out wrong. – Stop it. Also: This isn’t my “opinion”. It’s a fact. Read some consilience to find out why. If you are arguing with any of this, you’re not actually arguing with me… These are facts.

And – if your head is full of Continental Philosophy, that’s not my fault. – Don’t get angry at me about it.


Boyd, B. (2006). Theory is Dead – Like a Zombie. Philosophy and Literature, 30, 289-298.

And read:

Mulligan, K., Simons, P., & Smith, B. (2006). What’s Wrong with Contemporary Philosophy? Topoi, 25(1-2), 63-67.

And read: Dennett, D. C. (1995). Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Instead of the anti-science, anti-consilient, Continental Philosophy, maybe try some Systems Philosophy. It’s easy, and, it’s fun. Also: it’s true.


JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/



Chalmers, A. F. (2000). What Is This Thing Called Science? (3rd ed.). Buckingham: Open University Press.

Einstein, A. ([1936] 1950). Physics & Reality. Reprinted in A. Einstein (1950) `Out of My Later Years‘. New York: Philosophical Library.

Popper, K. R. (1999). All Life is Problem Solving. London; New York: Routledge.

Walker, A. S. (2013). A Missing Link: Building STEAM with Literary Darwinism. EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 5(1), 15-50.

Weisberg, R. W. (2006). Creativity: Understanding Innovation in Problem Solving, Science, Invention, and the Arts. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Wilson, E. O. (1998). Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1st ed.). New York: Knopf: Distributed by Random House.


For more on how culture works, see: Evolutionary Epistemology, e.g. DT Campbell 1974, Popper 1963, 1999, Csikszentmihalyi 1996, and D K Simonton on BVSR, etc!). ie The books on this, are at:

StoryAlity #71On Consilience in the Arts / Humanities / Communication


5 thoughts on “StoryAlity#128 – Evo-criticism, STEM, and STEAM (Walker 2013)

  1. Pingback: StoryAlity#129 – Po-Mo `Theory’ is dead as disco | StoryAlity

  2. Pingback: StoryAlity#134 – ANZCA2016 Conference | StoryAlity

  3. Pingback: StoryAlity#143 – All of life is doing science | StoryAlity

  4. Pingback: StoryAlity#129 – Po-Mo `Theory’ is dead as disco | StoryAlity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.