Wanted—Dangerous Ideas


The Edge–a website inhabited by some of my favorite pointy headed intellectuals, such as Stewart Brand, Susan Blackmore, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Freeman Dyson, Joel Garreau, Brian Greene, Ray Kurzweil, Steven Pinker, Matt Ridely, and J. Craig Venter–has announced its annual question:

The Edge Annual Question–2006


The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?

In 2004, Foreign Policy magazine asked another bunch of policy intellectuals what they thought the world's most dangerous idea was. Robert Wright nominated a "War on Evil"; Eric Hobsbawn suggested the "Spreading of Democracy"; Paul Davies worred about "Undermining Free Will": and Francis Fukuyama warned against "Transhumanism."

BTW, I responded to Fukuyama's overblown fears about transhumanism in a column here.

I personally believe that no ideas are dangerous if they are true–false ones, though, can be a problem. I will periodically update Hit & Run on some of the "dangerous ideas" proposed over at the Edge and maybe even suggest a few risky ones myself.

Thanks to David Ridgely for the heads up on the Edge question.