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How to Have Radical Ideas

The following tips on how to have radical new ideas come from the original Radical Thinking Course on my website radicalnewthoughts.com. The course is no longer offered because I decided to use the content for other projects, including my book The Thousand Mile Hole, which might still be published in 2011, but had been delayed. Though these are short descriptions of methods discussed in detail in the course, they are still useful if you apply them.

By the way, the word radical has a bad name lately, with people routinely assuming it to mean "extreme" in a negative way. But this is not the only meaning. The word "radical" comes from the Latin radicalis, radic-, or radix, meaning root or more at root. Common definitions in modern dictionaries include,"of, relating to, or proceeding from a root," and , "of or relating to the origin : fundamental." Radical thinking then, is thinking that gets at the root of things. It is deeper thinking. Here are some methods:

Reconsider Purposes

Questioning in general leads to a deeper understanding of things, but in particular it can help to question the purpose being served by an object, a system or an idea. What is the purpose? Is it acknowledged? Is it served in this case? Is it appropriate? What about more fundamental or hidden purposes?

The obvious purpose of voting, for example, is to elect political leaders who serve us. I don't find that my vote ever elects anyone I want, nor who serve my interests, and we might investigate why that is. We can also see that a more fundamental purpose for voting is to get a particular kind of government - one which enacts the policies we prefer. Looked at that way, we might wonder if there are better ways than voting to accomplish this goal. As an aside, I often wonder if my time would be better spent calling and convincing five friends to vote for my chosen candidate rather than bothering to vote myself. This brings up the issue of the real value of voting in national elections that have never (so far) been decided by one vote.

Question Those Premises

Anytime you want radical ideas that are new (at least to you), question the premise of existing ideas and arguments. People may argue about the best way to outlaw and punish marijuana use, for example, while sharing the premise that making drugs illegal actually reduces crime in society. A truly radical approach is not an argument for a better way to outlaw the drug, but to question the premise. Does outlawing marijuana reduce crime. Experience and data suggests the answer is no. The history of alcohol prohibition shows just the opposite, with the illegality and the resulting profitability of alcohol directly contributing to more violence.

From there you can decide if there are other premises for such prohibitions, or whether they are necessary at all. Whatever ideas you have, they are likely to be different from most of the thinking on the subject. Always question premises.

Use Metaphors as Tools

Man: thinking animal or emotional computer? The metaphor you choose determines how you think about the subject, so choose to use many different ones for different ideas. Do laws guide us down the right roads, or restrain us like chains? Does a "marketplace of ideas," lead to the promotion of those ideas that make the most money over those which are closer to the truth? A dozen metaphors may show you a dozen different aspects of something, and sometime give you a deeper understanding.

Use Different Perspectives as Tools

Metaphors are often just a way to create another perspective, but you can do this more directly by thinking about the existing ways things are seen. A business problem can be considered from the perspective of the owner, a customer, suppliers, competing businesses, or the earth itself. Think about how an issue would appear to a person from another culture, or another solar system. Look at things (in your mind) from five miles up or five years down the road.

This is just part of a review that covered a dozen more ways to have radicaly differentl ideas - and hopefully the occasional useful one as well. These and the other were covered in much more detail - as they will be in some of my books. I will also introduce the others in future pages of this site - and announce those pages in The Mind Power Report.


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