The Great Idea

How should we think about weird things?
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Lance Kennedy
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The Great Idea

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:56 am

Every so often, someone comes up with a Great Idea and applies it to everything around them, whether it is appropriate or not.

For example, Eric von Daniken came up with the Great Idea that primitive human societies were too unempowered to build the impressive structures we know they did build. So obviously it had to be aliens from outer space who did it. From this came his book "Chariots of the Gods " and a plethora of other publications, films, TV documentaries and other garbage. Unfortunately, it also made Daniken rich., which just encourages the bastards.

Jared Diamond came up with the idea that societies collapse when they interfere with the ecology they are living with, and he wrote his book "Collapse " to explore that idea with a wide range of societies that collapsed in the past. Never mind other factors such as war, invasion, or drought. His book put societal collapse down to ecology every time. For example the pitiful remnant of a once great culture on Easter Island (Rapa Nui ) was due to deforestation, according to Diamond. No mention of the fact that before academics recorded the Easter Island problem, there had been waves of European visitors raiding the island to take slaves and inadvertently introducing smallpox and other diseases.

Other people have written books about overpopulation, ascribing every problem to this cause. Or chemical pollution. Or secret societies destroying the world. Maybe religion itself fits into the category of the Great Idea being misapplied to everything. This will continue, because people continue to have Great Ideas and set out to write books about them, to make themselves rich.

There is such a need for competent skeptics.

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Wordbird
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Re: The Great Idea

Post by Wordbird » Mon Aug 27, 2018 4:41 am

We should always be most skeptical of those who tell us what we ought to do, and ought not to do.
-Wordbird

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OlegTheBatty
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Re: The Great Idea

Post by OlegTheBatty » Mon Aug 27, 2018 1:34 pm

Maybe it would be a Great Idea if we stopped having Great Ideas.
. . . with the satisfied air of a man who thinks he has an idea of his own because he has commented on the idea of another . . . - Alexandre Dumas 'The Count of Monte Cristo"

There is no statement so absurd that it has not been uttered by some philosopher. - Cicero

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ElectricMonk
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Re: The Great Idea

Post by ElectricMonk » Mon Aug 27, 2018 2:21 pm

Great is ok, but amazing would be Great!
- Bender Bending Rodríguez

Dr_Dickie
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Re: The Great Idea

Post by Dr_Dickie » Mon Aug 27, 2018 10:36 pm

Those "ideas" were just wild assed hypotheses that flopped. It is not the ideas that are bad, it is that anyone took them seriously with no proof to back them up.
So, yes, skeptics are needed, not in a few numbers, but everyone should be one.