Dangerous Questions

A new book, entitled What Is Your Dangerous Idea?: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Unthinkable, was published earlier this year, and it looks fascinating. As the title suggests, some great thinkers attempt to consider questions that would ordinarily be (mis)understood as taboo, inappropriate, immoral, politically incorrect, etc. But what if the answers to those questions turned out to be true? What then? Could we just ignore them? Pretend they weren't true? Wouldn't that count as self-deception and dishonesty? Isn't dishonesty itself immoral? So what, two wrongs make a right?

If you're interested, you can read the book's preface by Steven Pinker, and its afterword by Richard Dawkins here. These are definitely ideas worth considering. Pinker's preface starts with the following questions (and if you just take a look at the table of contents of the book you'll see he's merely scratching the surface):
Do women, on average, have a different profile of aptitudes and emotions than men?

Were the events in the Bible fictitious — not just the miracles, but those involving kings and empires?

Has the state of the environment improved in the last fifty years?

Do most victims of sexual abuse suffer no lifelong damage?

Did Native Americans engage in genocide and despoil the landscape?

Do men have an innate tendency to rape?

Did the crime rate go down in the 1990s because two decades earlier poor women aborted children who would have been prone to violence?

Are suicide terrorists well educated, mentally healthy, and morally driven?

Are Ashkenazi Jews, on average, smarter than gentiles because their ancestors were selected for the shrewdness needed in money lending?

Would the incidence of rape go down if prostitution were legalized?

Do African American men have higher levels of testosterone, on average, than white men?

Is morality just a product of the evolution of our brains, with no inherent reality?

Would society be better off if heroin and cocaine were legalized?

Is homosexuality the symptom of an infectious disease?

Would it be consistent with our moral principles to give parents the option of euthanizing newborns with birth defects that would consign them to a life of pain and disability?

Do parents have any effect on the character or intelligence of their children?

Have religions killed a greater proportion of people than Nazism?

Would damage from terrorism be reduced if the police could torture suspects in special circumstances?

Would Africa have a better chance of rising out of poverty if it hosted more polluting industries or accepted Europe's nuclear waste?

Is the average intelligence of Western nations declining because duller people are having more children than smarter people?

Would unwanted children be better off if there were a market in adoption rights, with babies going to the highest bidder?

Would lives be saved if we instituted a free market in organs for transplantation?

Should people have the right to clone themselves, or enhance the genetic traits of their children?
If I had to narrow down my potentially dangerous ideas to one I would ask whether I, like everyone else, is nothing but the emergent illusion of a self by something other than a self, whether our consciousness is ultimately a deception of consciousness and freedom on the part of a plurality of materialist, unconscious, deterministic, mechanistic forces themselves without any foresight... wouldn't that be something?

I won't be upset if anybody wants to get me a copy of this book, I promise... ;)

What's your dangerous question/idea/proposal?
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