I am re-thinking a few things: a) where intelligence comes from and b) where good ideas come from and c) whether or not those are actually 2 separate questions..
Maybe all you potential academic starlets are smart partly because you can conduct good post-mortems on failure of all sorts. For example- commerce, from a previous Terry post.
Right after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig incident, William J. Broad of the New York Times noted
Disasters teach more than successes.
While that idea may sound paradoxical, it is widely accepted among engineers. They say grim lessons arise because the reasons for triumph in matters of technology are often arbitrary and invisible, whereas the cause of a particular failure can frequently be uncovered, documented and reworked to make improvements.
Here is the New York Times article from July of 2010.
The result is that the technological feats that define the modern world are sometimes the result of events that some might wish to forget.
I am entertaining the thought that every good idea, breakthrough innovation, or perhaps beautiful piece of art or funny joke is just the tip of an iceberg, resting upon a large and somewhat hidden pile of not-so-good stuff.