Ideas That Must Die

It wasn't my idea that some ideas need to die - actually, to be killed off. In This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress , John Brockman looks at scientific ideas that have outlived themselves and are now blocking human progress. A controversial title for a controversial topic.

John Brockman is the publisher of and he regularly challenges some of the world’s greatest scientists, artists, and philosophers to answer a provocative question crucial to our time. He is the author of many books including This Will Make You Smarter and This Explains Everything.

In 2014 he asked 175 people to ponder: What scientific idea needs to be put aside in order to make room for new ideas to advance? He got some surprising answers - and a book from it.

Steven Pinker dismantles the working theory of human behavior. Richard Dawkins renounces essentialism. Sherry Turkle reevaluates our expectations of artificial intelligence. Geoffrey West challenges the concept of a “Theory of Everything.” Nina Jablonski argues to rid ourselves of the concept of race. Alan Guth rethinks the origins of the universe.

If you're not a book reader, you might want to check out some of the website's questions and answers. One of the annual questions is "What to Think About Machines That Think."

In a similar vein, here's one big idea that is ruining physics - Infinity. Max Tegmark wrote on although it is a beautiful concept, it's not helping. He says that "The assumption that something truly infinite exists in nature underlies every physics course I’ve ever taught at MIT—and, indeed, all of modern physics. But it’s an untested assumption, which begs the question: Is it actually true?"

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