Memes that cause people to think outside the box and shift their paradigm... to the extreme!
February 15, 2006 11:07 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to make a list of big new ideas.

I want to get a survey of ideas that have been presented recently which have changed the way you think about the world. The ideas that, when you hear them, make you think you've just gotten a roman à clef for some aspects of human behavior, politics, philosophy, technology, art, science, etc.

When I say "big", I mean both ideas that achieved popular acceptance, and ideas which may not be well-known, but are big in terms of scope. Actually, since it's easier for me to come up with popular works on my own, important but relatively obscure ideas are especially welcome.

By "new" I mean ideas that weren't already familiar to most people. I'm anticipating someone pointing out to me that there's nothing new under the sun, and that these things were said long ago, and better. I don't doubt it. However, cleverly repackaging an old idea in a modern form, or reinterpreting it in the context of the 21st century is sufficient novelty for my purposes.

Some of the more obvious examples of what I'm talking about here: The Tipping Point, The Long Tail, The Database of Intentions, The World is Flat.

It's not important that you necessarily buy into the premises of any of these (I don't), I'm just trying to make a list at this point. Thanks!
posted by Hildago to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oddly, I see your four examples as simply aspects of one central idea: Humanity is now a tightly-connected social network with faster travel between distant synapses and longer memory. What are the implications of this?

Perhaps thats where your interests lie.

Does The Nurture Assumption fit? Or, Jayne's theory of Human Consciousness?
posted by vacapinta at 11:27 AM on February 15, 2006

posted by frogan at 11:29 AM on February 15, 2006

The Multiple Drafts Model of consciousness has significantly affected my view of others as well as of myself.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:43 AM on February 15, 2006

It's complete bunk, but lots of people love the Anthropic Principle.

Also, it doesn't have a name, but Jared Diamond's ideas in Guns, Germs, and Steel seem remarkably correct.
posted by bshort at 11:51 AM on February 15, 2006

Response by poster: This is all good stuff. Exactly what I want.
posted by Hildago at 1:00 PM on February 15, 2006

Thomas Metzinger's Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:21 PM on February 15, 2006

Some dangerous ideas.
posted by stungeye at 1:23 PM on February 15, 2006

I also find the ideas in A Thousand Plateaus interesting.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:26 PM on February 15, 2006

In terms of obscure and madcap, there's Fomenko's ideas that "mediaeval and classical histories as we know them today were fabricated in Renaissance times." Probably not true, but wins the outside-the-box thinking award from me.
posted by vacapinta at 1:55 PM on February 15, 2006

posted by meehawl at 4:30 PM on February 15, 2006

The idea that American compulsory education was/is designed to keep the masses stupid, because the powers that be thought that too much education caused "discontent".

This is new to me, as of my reading of the entirety of this book. Some of the quotes, from the people who set up the system, are really quite brazen about their motives.
posted by beth at 10:53 PM on February 15, 2006

Not the most well-accepted theory, but the bicameral mind theory of Julian Jaynes, which I first encountered either here or here on AskMe, is one of the most interesting concepts I've come across. I actually couldn't remember the name but spent like ten minutes searching for the right terms because it's such a different idea...

Basically, the theory is that human consciousness as we know it is a relatively new thing. Most religious "revelations" came from within early man's own brain, but because the hemispheres operated separately, it seemed like a distinct entity was talking. While I don't know that I buy into it, it's a creative and not totally unreasonable (AFAIK) explanation for the history of religion -- and why God doesn't seem to speak much anymore.
posted by SuperNova at 12:22 AM on February 16, 2006

The Singularity
posted by aspenbaloo at 5:43 AM on February 16, 2006

I recently asked a similar question on my site:

The Next Great Revolution in Reality

For me the ideas of Cosmic Evolution are the most mind-blowing I have come across for some time
posted by 0bvious at 5:26 PM on February 21, 2006

The fact that many different extra terrestial civilizations, most likely millions of years more evolved than we are, come to our planet. And that there is now so much indisputably evidence to this effect.
posted by petsounds at 11:01 AM on March 3, 2006

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