Monty Python’s Ministry Of Silly Ideas
Monty Python made famous the Ministry of Silly Walks, for which a then-young John Cleese performed an astonishingly gawky long-legged walk while dressed in traditional British civil servant attire of black suit, black tie, black shoes, and black bowler hat. Were we to revisit satire today, we would likely want to inaugurate the Ministry of Silly Ideas, as our world seems to overflow with them and surely therefore they need to be administered.
Given the plethora of silly ideas, it is difficult to rank them. Should we prioritize nonsense that has enormous social consequences, such as the belief that representative democracy is anything other than a completely idiotic notion that generates predictably atrocious outcomes? Even the sparkly young things at The Economist are slowly beginning to wonder if their blind devotion to democracy is misguided, given the endless incompetence, venality, and sheer stupidity it engenders. This is not dissimilar to teenagers wondering if, after years spent trying to spot Santa’s sleigh traversing the globe on Christmas Eve, Santa might not be quite real after all.
Or should we prioritize ideas so absurd and knuckle-headed that it is difficult to imagine how anyone could take them seriously? Flat Earths and pyramid-constructing alien civilizations fall into this category, and each has its throng of devotees seemingly incapable of even the most rudimentary reasoning. These mindless notions blur into belief that foot baths can draw toxins out of the body, or that crystals can have healing powers (especially if you recharge them with the light of the full moon). The only challenge presented by attempting to rank such babble is that there appears to be an endless stream of it. Even breaking it into categories such as pseudo-scientific, mystical, and pure willful ignorance does little to reduce the problem.
My own personal favorite, however, combines pseudo-science with economic and technological illiteracy and is the old chestnut the Dyson Sphere. This is even more risible than the communicators featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation, that magically knew in advance of being pressed the person to whom their owner wished to speak.