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Why should we care about dumb ideas?

Why should we care about dumb ideas?


Intro: Welcome to “Dumb Ideas that Changed the World.” The views expressed are solely those of the host and do not reflect the opinions of this station or its funders.


Here at “Dumb Ideas” we try not to judge previous generations with hindsight bias. But when smart people are faced with the truth in their own era and still choose folly, we have to call it out. Recent episodes exposed the pseudo-science of phrenology, the tragedy of asbestos, and the stupidity of dueling. Plenty of people saw through these abominations at the time, but they still wreaked havoc.


It isn’t about dumb people being dumb. This show is about smart people being dumb, which is far more dangerous. We’ve barely scratched the surface of humanity’s capacity for error, so more episodes are on the way.


We also cover dumb ideas that weren’t so dumb after all. People thought CIA agent Herb Meyer was a dingbat for saying “we were about to win the Cold War.” (History tells us he was spot on.) Those are some of my favorite episodes, and we have another coming up soon.


Herb Meyer wasn’t just smart about geopolitics. He said “Soft thinking means… your emotions matter more than your intellect... And when your plan collides with reality — as it always will — instead of making adjustments or… admitting you were wrong, you find someone else to blame and… keep on going down the same mistaken path.”


And don’t think scientists always have it together. Dr. Peter Gluckman says, “Scientists when they act as advocates for an issue are fundamentally no different than any other lobbyist… they need to be careful to give a balanced view of what the data does and does not say." Now that’s smart thinking.


You can listen to all our archived shows at KENW.org. Go there and type “dumb ideas” in the search bar. You’ll find a play button for each show, and my best reference for further reading.


And drop us a line with any comments or show ideas to Por.Dumbideas@enmu.edu. That’s Por.Dumbideas@enmu.edu.


Here at “Dumb Ideas” we uncover stupidity so you don’t have to.


I’m Jeff Gentry


(If underwritten, ask announcer to acknowledge it here)


Best reference:


Meyer, H. (2016, May). Why is the world so dangerous: A clear explanation of what’s gone wrong, by the intelligence officer who predicted the end of the Cold War. New Windsor, NY: Storm King Press.


Dumb Ideas that Changed the World copyright 2024 by Jeff Gentry. All rights reserved.

Host of Dumb Ideas the Changed the World
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