Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Impact of a Bad Idea

CNN, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Oprah, Mother Jones, The National Review, Harvard, Sarasota High School, and your Bible study group all share one vitally important role in society: They foster the spread of ideas, good or bad. Beyond that, they give us the motivation to act on our ideas.

So, those are the sources of ideas, including social pollution. I've defined social pollution as...what?

Social pollution - any idea, belief, practice, or lifestyle choice that is counterfactual or illogical and that is harmful, especially in the sense of undermining human values like phyiscal health and honesty.

Everyone knows that not all ideas are equally important. That fact leads into a few observations on some ideas more influential and enduring than others. (Note: These observations apply equally to behaviors. practices, attitudes, and lifestyle choices)

How important is the idea to a particular group? The more important to their goals or worldview, the more time and resources they will give the idea. Why do Christians focus on salvation but don't generally care how many varieties of angels exist?

How many people hold the idea? The answer may be less important than the answer to this question:

How influential are the people who hold the idea? The more power, the more power. Obvious!

How much attention does the idea get in the mass media? This is obviously going to be largely due to the importance, influence, and numbers of people interested in the idea. Perhaps influence is the most important variable here. Perhaps not.

So, who worries you more? A fringe group spreading a message that we were created in an alien genetic engineering experiment? Or, the leader a poweful nation saying on national television that homosexuality is a sin?


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