The aim of this project is to solve four well-known problems by communicating them differently. We can tackle greed by ignoring people’s motives and encouraging them to “be symbish not selfish”. We can tackle climate change by ignoring emissions and aiming to “swap a million assets a week”. We may tackle the mysteries of the human mind if we re-explain what controls the cost of consciousness. We may tackle the problem of a coherent theory of the universe if we carefully re-explain a series of key results. If we do all these things, we can lead better lives.
The idea of using words to solve problems is nothing new. John Dewey, the famous American philosopher, was known for saying “A problem well put is half solved”, and he had a point. Careful use of language can reveal faulty assumptions, find new connections between concepts, frame new angles and introduce new perspectives. The trick is to do it in a way that people respond to, and that sticks. This requires persuasion. It also requires resources.
I’ve been passionate about solving these types of problems since 2008, when I realised that very smart people can sometimes overlook very obvious things. However, I don’t have the skills or resources to solve any of these four problems on my own. So I’m adopting the lean startup approach, which means sharing my half-formed ideas with the public as I go. Your feedback will help to develop them, make them more relevant to people, and easier to act on.
There’s a second strand to this too. A wise man once said that imagination is more important than knowledge. So when it comes to solving an extensively studied problem, one approach is to look for assumptions which no-one else has had the imagination to challenge. Re-explain an entrenched falsehood, and you might be on your way to something radical and new.
This blog is a tool to help the process. I’ll post short updates every now and again, and would welcome your input. I’d also value your thoughts on similar ideas, similar thinkers, and chances to test my ideas with an audience. Victor Hugo was wrong when he said “No one can resist an idea whose time has come”. It takes effort to reach people, and effort to convince them, and that effort needs thought.
This is an unusual project, and it is ambitious. But it’s not an ego project. Collaboration would be great :-). Join in!