The legacy media is catching the idea from new growth theory that the key to civilization is the creation of enough ideas, and the recombination of existing ideas.
If your society isn’t big enough to create enough new ideas, it won’t flourish.
If your society doesn’t encourage the synthesis of new ideas from old ones, your society won’t flourish.
The author of the piece — Matt Ridley — has a passable metaphor for this: ideas having sex.
Better ones are “ideas hooking up” or “ideas getting promiscuous”. The key is that there needs to be a lot of this going on, and it has to have some random aspect to it.
Read the whole thing in the May 22 issue of The Wall Street Journal entitled “Humans: Why They Triumphed”.