I had just mentioned David Deutsch’s very interesting theory of how creativity evolved in my review of his book, The Beginning of Infinity. He proposes an explanation for the interesting paradox of how human creativity arose seemingly so suddenly. Looking at the archaeological record, the pace of tool use and improvement is astonishingly slow given the comparatively rapid, almost immediate, rise in innovation in the last couple of thousand years. How could creativity spring into existence like this almost fully formed in almost no (evolutionary) time at all? Deutsch proposes that the evolving mechanism of creativity was steadfastly applied almost exclusively to maintaining the status quo and conforming to traditions. This is why the history of technology seems to explode once the singular innovation of redirecting that creativity to beneficial change takes hold.

Here is a paper titled Social conformity despite individual preferences for distinctiveness which asserts the same basic idea.

Tyler Cowen wryly titles his pointer to the article, "Toward a theory of American academia". As a cog in that machine I couldn’t agree more that this idea is profound in its ability to explain the abject stupidity of our smartest people. Really, scientists are much smarter than normal people. Pretty much every time I point out something they’re doing that is clearly insane (dull writing, MS Word email attachements, pointless proprietary software use, funding from big pharma, 18th century publication technology, etc.), their reason is "Yes, I know, but that’s how everyone does it and we have to do it too if we want funding."