A Festival of Dangerous Ideas

No progress without dangerous ideas. Ideas can be dangerous regardless whether they are true or not and they even can be dangerous just because they are considered to be true or because they are considered to be false. Ask Copernicus, Darwin, Hugo de Groot, Nelson Mandela and other great minds in history. In 2006 The Edge launched its annual question:



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?

The question triggered more than 119 responses, you can all read them on the site. There is something that attracts people to dangerous ideas although they might be scared of it too, or just because they are scared of it. Maybe that is one of the reasons the Sydney Opera House held a Festival of Dangerous ideas:

What is a dangerous idea? This is a question that will be explored at our inaugural Festival of Dangerous Ideas, co-presented by the St James Ethics Centre, at Sydney Opera House in October.

In partnership with the Sydney Morning Herald, Foxtel and SBS, the Festival will give voice to both thought leaders and the public who will debate ideas ranging from the transformational to the ‘water cooler’ discussions of everyday life.

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas is consistent with our aim to place Bennelong Point and its famous House at the very heart of idea generation, exploration and presentation. Through courageous discussion, we aim to stimulate, provoke and engage with the wider world.

A dangerous idea for me would be an idea that (even when it is not – fully – realized) disrupts the existing status quo of society in its core and in a very crude way. I don’t think all of the ideas proposed at the festival are so dangerous in that sense but some of them are remarkable the least. Consider for example these:

  • Polygamy and Other Islamic Values Are Good For Australia, by Keysar Trad, read it HERE.
  • Policing our Minds is the Future, David Mutton
  • Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens, Read excerpts from the book HERE
  • Freedom: The Most Dangerous Idea of All, Germaine Greer, Read notes HERE.
  • (my favorite) People With Flat Screen TVs Should Stop Whingeing about Capitalism, Oliver Hartwich and Cassandra Wilkinson.
  • Why We Enjoy Killing, Jeff Sparrow
  • Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way For Africa, Dambisa Moyo, More on her and her book HERE.
  • Without God We Are Nothing, Cardinal George Pell, More on this lecture HERE.

More ideas, anyone?

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