Had Copernicus been too terrified to publish his theory of heliocentrism, how long would it have taken people to realize that Earth, in fact, revolves around the Sun? Had U.S. Secretary of State William Seward folded to public scrutiny and not purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for two cents an acre, America would face a worse oil crisis today—and may have faced a nuclear threat on North American soil during the Cold War. In the spirit of those who are brave enough to advance seemingly radical ideas, Big Think presents “The Month of Thinking Dangerously.”
Throughout the month of August, we will introduce a different “dangerous idea” each day. Brace yourself: these ideas may at first seem shocking or counter-intuitive—but they are worth our attention, even if we end up rejecting them. Every idea in the series will be supported by contributions from leading experts, from the world’s top theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, to prolific legal scholar Judge Richard Posner, to Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker, to linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky.
Kicking off the first week of the series is today’s suggestion from bioethicist Jacob Appel that we Drug Our Drinking Water. When the government added fluoride to our drinking water in the 1940s, it was hailed as a great public health success. Why shouldn’t the government add a trace amount of lithium—which has been shown to limit suicide—to our water as well? It may save 12,000 lives a year.