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.
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.
- The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
- It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
- Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
The real Game of Thrones might be who best leverages the hit HBO show to shape political narratives.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues that Game of Thrones is primarily about women in her review of the wildly popular HBO show.
- Warren also touches on other parallels between the show and our modern world, such as inequality, political favoritism of the elite, and the dire impact of different leadership styles on the lives of the people.
- Her review serves as another example of using Game of Thrones as a political analogy and a tool for framing political narratives.
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