The Dissident Writer
The Dissident Writer Podcast
Bad Ideas

Bad Ideas


Intellectual history is generally the study of good ideas or what we currently think are good ideas, but it is the bad ideas that have the most impact. The use of slave labor in the New World, for example, seemed like a good idea at the time but has proven to be a terrible burden on us. If the slavers knew that their descendants would be tormented by the consequences of slavery, would they still have done it?

Of course, the life of a bad idea is the result of the people choosing to embrace the bad idea, often when it is obviously a bad idea. Much of what Marx had to say about economics, even in the context of his age, was obvious nonsense. Further, people knew enough about the human condition to know that communism could never possibly work, but intellectuals chose to embrace it anyway.

Put another way, stupid ideas need a special sort of stupid person. Orwell famously wrote, "One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that; no ordinary man could be such a fool." Orwell was addressing the educated opinion in England at the time that Germany would win the war. The basic concept is something of a universal, as we see today with our "expert" class.

Even so, ideas matter and this age is haunted by bad ideas that should have been relegated to the dustbin of history. That is the show this week. It is a breezy survey of some of the bad ideas that still vex us. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but the things that came to mind when I cooked up the idea for a show. Feel free to add your favorite stupid ideas to the list.

This Week's Show


  • Equality

  • Utilitarian

  • Progress

  • Marxism

  • Social Contract

  • The Social Construct

  • Individualism

  • Reason

  • The Trouble With These Ideas

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