Paradoxical Ideas

boxSometimes the best ideas for solving problems are the exact opposite of what you might first think. These “paradoxical ideas” are useful to consider not only because they probably are effective, but also because they inspire us to think creatively and without preconceptions about a wide range of solutions.

Here are five that are particularly paradoxical:

1) Pay Alcoholics with Alcohol

A well-regarded Amsterdam program gets homeless alcoholics working again by paying them with beer. NY Times

2) Don’t Worry About Auto Safety

Why is there so much attention about auto safety and manufacturer recalls when nearly all accidents are caused by human error? Shouldn’t we worry more about that? NY Times

3) Don’t Reduce Traffic Jams

Efforts to alleviate traffic jams only encourage more cars and create more sprawl. Traffic jams encourage ridership on more efficient mass transit. Wall Street Journal

4) Forget About Global Climate Agreements

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu argues that we should expend less efforts on international treaties and more effort on bilateral discussions with China. The US and China combined create 40% of the world’s pollution. An innovative, aggressive, bilateral treaty will represent great progress, and encourage other nations to join. Wired Magazine profile

5) Never Punt 

Statistical analysis suggests that punting in football almost never pays off. Teams should never (or almost never) punt. Time Magazine

And as a bonus, how about this paradoxical idea?:

6) For Road Safety, Get Rid of Stoplights, Road Signs, Crosswalks

The “shared space” movement in Europe promotes road safety by getting rid of traffic laws, stoplights, road signs, and crosswalks. This encourages everyone to be careful and cooperate. It has been adopted in over 100 cities. Christian Science Monitor

To comment or vote on these (or other) ideas – or add your own! – visit Good Ideas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s