dangerous idea

Steven Pinker wrote the introduction of the book, What is your dangerous idea?:

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?

And Richard Dawkins wrote the afterword:

The 109 contributions are by a who’s who of leading scientific thinkers: “They are the intellectual elite, the brains the rest of us rely on to make sense of the universe and answer the big questions” (The Guardian). The content in the book originated on Edge, which has been described by novelist Ian McEwan as “Open-minded, free ranging, intellectually playful … an unadorned pleasure in curiosity, a collective expression of wonder at the living and inanimate world … an ongoing and thrilling colloquium.” (The Telegraph).

“There is a profound issue lurking here,” writes Pinker. “Everyone says that China will be the next scientific and economic power. Is this compatible with their ongoing rejection of open debate and exploration of ideas? Is a technologically advanced society compatible with anti-intellectualism and suppression of debate? It’s hard to see how China will ever compete with the West as a source of scientific and technological innovation if ideas cannot be discussed and evaluated. Or will the Internet — which can never be completely censored — and a stream of PhDs returning from the West eventually pressure them to open up?”


a penny for your thoughts

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