Matt Miller Hates Dead Ideas

Question: What is a dead idea?

Miller:    To me, dead idea is something that’s a conventional wisdom that’s so engrained particularly among the opinion leaders of the country, the business elite, the politicians, the policy makers, the media observers, professionals, other media folks, that is so engrained and yet so out of date and wrong headed that it’s become destructive or harmful for the nation.  Now, there’s probably dozens of these in our public life, maybe there’s, you know, hundreds in our personal and business lives, but I try to focus on what I thought were the six biggest dead ideas that were stopping us from coping the way we need to with globalization and rapid technological change.

Question: Which ones do we find in The Tyranny of Dead Ideas?

Miller:    I tried to focus on the ones that pose the biggest threat to America’s economic future and, you know, that might be a long list and we’ve got a contest going at my website where people can send in their own dead idea nominees, but I was really trying to focus on six big ones that are kind of… because of their power to shape our future and their sacred kind of status really are holding us back.

Question: How did you brainstorm the book?

Miller:    It was basically me in the process of thinking through the book.  I thought, you know, I knew I wanted to write a book on what was wrong, how we weren’t thinking clearly about the challenges we face in this global age.  And then it just occurred to me once I hit on the dead ideas framework that these six were the ones that were most potent and would be the ones to really wrap the book around and try and get people engage to it.

Question: Are Americans addicted to dead ideas?

Miller:    I actually think dead ideas are something that’s part of human nature.  I think we all have this, you know, if we’re honest, we have them in our relationships, in our marriages, at the office, and I think this is just, you know, society wide this is something that things [crop] up conventional wisdoms take hold and then they kind of dug in because that’s the way things have always worked.  Nothing is really rising up to challenge them.  A lot of vested interest obviously build themselves up around the current conventional wisdom.  And so, I think it’s a sort of a human, it’s a human nature thing, and, you know, at different periods of change I think that’s when it becomes really important to be open to the idea that we’re in the grip of these outdated dead ideas, because, otherwise, we can’t cope with rapidly changing circumstances and that’s the situation we’re in now.

The author explains his approach to identifying the dead ideas we love.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

Getty Images/Suvendu Giri
Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Top Video Splash
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and things that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way.".