Speaking of which, it's isn't clear to me whether I think of ideas, or whether ideas simply get thought through me. I should probably cite Richard Dawkins at this point for his idea of the "meme" as something that replicates through people's minds. I like to think of myself as a creative person. But sometimes I have an idea--a good one--and discover that work along this line was published a decade ago, and by someone not too far removed from my immediate social network. Or, I discover that I would have known that an idea wouldn't have been worth pursing, had I read one particular paper that I missed when I started the project.
Further, I think many of my current ideas are being thought by many other people whom I don't know, and have never met. The flow of information is so rapid and efficient in science at this point, that it is difficult to imagine any particular "Einstein" figure who's ideas are only being thought by one individual. In part we can thank the Internet. But historically, both Newton and Liebniz discovered/invented calculus, and both Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace discovered evolution by natural selection. Newton and Darwin both freaked out a bit when they realized that their great discovery wasn't something unique to their minds. I overheard a conversation at Evolution in Raleigh, NC this year that confirmed that I'm not the only one who thinks about this, and that freaks out a little bit too.
I was sitting outside, reading my novel, and a engineering professor was talking to some friends or colleagues or both. He said, "you know, there are three other groups working on the questions I study. So I wonder, if something happened to me, would it matter? The field would certainly progress a bit slower, and competition in my field would be less, but eventually, the work would get done. It's a little disheartening to think about, isn't it?"
For society as a whole, it's good that there's redundancy in scientific thought. But it is a bit disheartening to think that almost all my thoughts -- the sane ones at least -- probably aren't unique. Of course I think the conclusion is general for all people. So why blog about "my" ideas? At the very least, communicating my thoughts functions as an "upvote" for the questions, answers, ideas, and beliefs that I think matter. Perhaps it's a bit like Hebbian learning in neurons, but for people in social networks. I'm sure there exist social scientists who are falsifying/verifying this analogy as I write this post.