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"I can answer the question, but am I bright enough to ask it?"
— James Lee Byars, founder, The World Question Center
"Fantastically stimulating...It's like the crack cocaine of the thinking world.... Once you start, you can't stop thinking about that question." — BBC Radio 4

The Edge Annual Question — 2006
The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?
[Thanks to Steven Pinker for suggesting the Edge Annual Question — 2006.]
January 1, 2006
To the Edge Community,
Last year's 2005 Edge Question — "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" — generated many eye-opening responses from a "who's who" of third culture scientists and science-minded thinkers. The 120 contributions comprised a document of 60,000 words. The New York Times ("Science Times") and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ("Feuilliton") published excepts in their print and online editions simultaneously with Edge publication.
The event was featured in major media across the world: BBC Radio; Il Sole 24 Ore, Prospect, El Pais, The Financial Express (Bangledesh), The Sunday Times (UK), The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, La Stampa, The Telegraph, among others. A book based on the 2005 Question — What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty, with an introduction by the novelist Ian McEwan — was just published by the Free Press (UK). The US edition follows from HarperCollins in February, 2006.
Since September, Edge has been featured and/or cited in The Toronto Star, Boston Globe, Seed, Rocky Mountain Mews, Observer, El Pais, La Vanguaria (cover story) , El Mundo, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Science, Financial Times, Newsweek, AD, La Stampa, The Telegraph, Quark (cover story), and The Wall Street Journal.
Online publication of the 2006 Question occurred on New Year's Day. To date, the event has been covered by The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times, Arts & Letters Daily, Yahoo! News, and The Huffington Post.
Something radically new is in the air: new ways of understanding physical systems, new ways of thinking about thinking that call into question many of our basic assumptions.  A realistic biology of the mind, advances in evolutionary biology, physics, information technology, genetics, neurobiology, psychology, engineering, the chemistry of materials: all are questions of critical importance with respect to what it means to be human. For the first time, we have the tools and the will to undertake the scientific study of human nature.
What you will find emerging out of the 119 original essays in the 75,000 word document written in response to the 2006 Edge Question — "What is your dangerous idea?" — are indications of a new natural philosophy, founded on the realization of the import of complexity, of evolution. Very complex systems — whether organisms, brains, the biosphere, or the universe itself — were not constructed by design; all have evolved. There is a new set of metaphors to describe ourselves, our minds, the universe, and all of the things we know in it.
Welcome to Edge. Welcome to "dangerous ideas". Happy New Year.
John Brockman
Publisher & Editor

119 contributors [75,000 words]: Martin Rees J. Craig Venter Leo Chalupa V.S. Ramachandran David Buss Paul Bloom Philip Campbell Jesse Bering Paul Ewald Bart Kosko Matt Ridley David Pizarro Randolph Nesse Gregory Benford Marco Iacoboni Barry C. Smith Philip W. Anderson Timothy Taylor Oliver Morton Samuel Barondes David Bodanis Nicholas Humphrey Eric Fischl Stanislas Dehaene Joel Garreau Helen Fisher Paul Davies April Gornik Jamshed Bharucha Jordan Pollack Juan Enriquez Stephen Kosslyn Jerry Coyne Ernst Pöppel Geoffrey Miller Robert Shapiro Kai Krause Carlo Rovelli Richard Dawkins Seth Lloyd Carolyn Porco Michael Nesmith Lawrence Krauss Daniel C. Dennett Daniel Gilbert Andy Clark Sherry Turkle Steven Strogatz Terrence Sejnowski Lynn Margulis Thomas Metzinger Diane Halpern Gary Marcus Jaron Lanier W. Daniel Hillis Neil Gershenfeld Paul Steinhardt Sam Harris Scott Atran Marcelo Gleiser Douglas Rushkoff Judith Rich Harris Alun Anderson Todd Feinberg Stewart Brand Jared Diamond Leonard Susskind Gerald Holton Charles Seife Karl Sabbagh Rupert Sheldrake Tor Nørretranders John Horgan Eric R. Kandel Daniel Goleman Brian Greene David Gelernter Mahzarin Banaji Rodney Brooks Lee Smolin Alison Gopnik Kevin Kelly Denis Dutton Simon Baron-Cohen Freeman Dyson Gregory Cochran George B. Dyson Keith Devlin Frank Tipler Scott Sampson Jeremy Bernstein Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Irene Pepperberg Brian Goodwin Rudy Rucker Steven Pinker Richard E. Nisbett Robert Provine Donald Hoffman Marc D. Hauser Ray Kurzweil Haim Harari David G. Myers Clay Shirky Michael Shermer Arnold Trehub Roger Schank Susan Blackmore David Lykken Clifford Pickover John Allen Paulos James O'Donnell Philip Zimbardo Richard Foreman John Gottman Piet Hut Dan Sperber Martin E.P. Seligman Howard Gardner

The Edge Annual Question — 2006

Kyung Hang, Rocky Mountain News, Telopolis, El Correo Gallego, The Sunday Telegraph (Syndey), The Hindu, La Vanguardia, Financial Times, Radio3 Scienza, Washington Times, Taipei Times, Berliner Morgenpost, The New York Times, The News & Observer, The Sunday Express, New Scientist, Australian, La Stampa, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Vintrenta Auvi, The Hankyoreh, Slashdot, Arts & Letters Daily, The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, Boing Boing, Yahoo News, Huffington Post

Edge Annual Question traffic report: 1st week in January
Dates     Hits    Unique Visitors
January 1-7     34,667,049    363,711
Kyung Hang
Soeul, South Korea
The great world-wide scholars talk about ' danerous thoughts'
January 4, 2006
[Click here for Google translation]  

Opinion — Columnists
Seebach: My dangerous idea: Each child deserves an IQ test
January 21, 2006
Most of the contributors appear to have interpreted "dangerous" as meaning something like "subversive," challenging to one or another received orthodoxy. ... In that spirit, here is my dangerous idea: Every child in school deserves an individual IQ test. ... And the corollary: Every statistical analysis of school- and district-level data should include individual IQ as one of the variables measured. ... Why is that subversive? Because so many people, especially in education, are terrified to admit that individual IQ has anything to do with academic achievement, because it is not evenly distributed demographically.
Meine gefährlichste Idee
Ralf Grötker 04.01.2006
172 Wissenschaftler antworteten auf die Edge-Frage 2006

Seit nunmehr neun Jahren startet die Stiftung Edge mit einer Umfrage zu einem großen generellen Thema ins neue Jahr. 172 Wissenschaftler haben diesmal geantwortet. Sie geben preis, was sie für ihre gefährlichste Idee halten, die wahr werden könnte.
[Click here for Google translation]

Santiago — Domingo 29.01.2006
Ciencia racista, atractiva pero muy peligrosa
Manuel Molares do Val
La afirmación políticamente más incorrecta, a cuyo autor pueden acusarlo de racista si no de nazi, es que hay grupos humanos cuyas características genéticas los hacen más inteligentes que otros.
Lo malo es que esto lo afirman algunos científicos al contestar a la pregunta que hace cada año The Edge (www.edge.org), órgano de un club de sabios de todo el planeta que se plantean problemas aparentemente simples que son comple- jísimos. La cuestión de 2006, que responderán hasta 2007 miles de investigadores, la presentó Steven Pinker, psicolingüista, profesor de psicología en Harvard. Recuerda Pinker que la historia de la ciencia está repleta de descubrimientos que fueron considerados social, moral y emocionalmente peligrosos; los más obvios, la revolución copernicana y la darwiniana.
[Click here for Google translation]

Syndey — News In Review
Into the minds of the believers
January 15, 2006
With the aim of gathering ideas from the world's leading thinkers on intellectual, philosophical, artistic and literary issues, US writer John Brockman established The Edge Foundation in 1988. Since 1997, Edge has been running on the Internet (www.edge.org), and every year poses a question in its The World Question Centre.
Gene discoveries highlight dangers facing society
By Alok Jha
January 3, 2006
Royal Society president Martin Rees said the most dangerous idea was public concern that science and technology were running out of control. "Almost any scientific discovery has a potential for evil as well as for good; its applications can be channelled either way, depending on our personal and political choices; we can't accept the benefits without also confronting the risks. The decisions that we make, individually and collectively, will determine whether the outcomes of 21st century sciences are benign or devastating."
Professor Rees argues that the feeling of fatalism will get in the way of properly regulating how science progresses. "The future will best be safeguarded — and science has the best chance of being applied optimally — through the efforts of people who are less fatalistic."
09 January 2006
“Los genios son de ciencias y de letras” [PDF]
Lluis Amiguet
What is a dangerous idea? One not assumed to be false, but possibly true?What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" These are the questions of the last two years that Edge Foundation asked of 120 free thinkers. The audacious and stimulating answers have been reproduced by in hundreds of newspapers such as The New York Times or Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Among the hundreds of ideas are the demonstration of life in other planets, or that life has been a unique chance of existing; concerns over the fact that there are genetic differences relating to intelligence between ethnic groups and between the sexes; the inference that global warming is not so worrisome, the notion that there are alternatives to the free market.
Arts & Weekend
Seductive power of a hazardous idea
By David Honigmann
Published: January 11 2006
The results (collected at www.edge.org) give an insight into how philosophically minded scientists are thinking: the result is somewhere between a multi-disciplinary seminar and elevated high table talk. The responses to Brockman's question do not directly engage with each other, but they do worry away at a core set of themes. Many agree that neuroscience at the micro level and evolutionary psychology at the macro level have abolished free will. Richard Dawkins is typical: "Assigning blame and responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in the world." Holding people responsible for their behaviour is, in his view, completely irrational.

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