Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What is your obvious, dull or unlikely idea?

John Brockman at asked scientists what their "dangerous idea" is, meaning something they believe may be true but might create a stir of everyone accepted it. Their answers are collected in What Is Your Dangerous Idea?, a book that is far less interesting and provocative than the title implies. Cultural differences is one cause, "there is no such thing as the soul" is not my idea of a provocative proposition, (next you'll tell me we're related to chimpanzees!) Other dangerous ideas are not all that profound, many are a bit silly, (not as in "how dare they say this!" but "eh .. nah I don't think so"), or they're interesting but not the right kind of interesting for a book like this. Some are. I especially like the ones that deal with the unpredictability of technological, scientific and cultural change, meaning we have no idea and no possible way of knowing if we're headed for a world that is better or worse than the current one. (Here's my views on this, and here's Hayek's.) The book as a whole though didn't interest me much - buy it to browse through the pages, or better just read the answers online.



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