How Bad Ideas Become Reality


The enduring question for humanity is how (and why) despite all our knowledge and “progress” bad ideas keep getting put into practice. I personally think they float around unseen, searching for a host who will accept them and then implement them in the “real world”. The host must be morally susceptible to bad ideas in a way that very few other people are. Which means the idea has to work extra hard to find a human home.

Consider these examples:


Ray Kroc is in the shower when an idea taps him on the shoulder and asks “Hey, Ray, I want you to create dirt-cheap processed food full of unhealthy fats and added sugars. No one else is willing do this.” Ray asks what the effects will be from altering food that has served humans perfectly well for millions of years. When the idea reveals that it will probably lead to an epidemic of obesity and massive rates of depression, Ray replies “I’m okay with that if the money’s good.”


The idea for private prisons had floated around for years, looking for a host. But everyone it approached said “Profiting off of incarcerated humans? That’s evil. Go away.” So the idea, undeterred, kept hunting for a host and eventually found one. In 1983 Corrections Corporation Of America was born.


An idea floating around the West Coast asked various people “Hey, why don’t you take people who’ve never driven a car for a living and pay them next to nothing to drive drunk strangers around.” Everyone wisely dodged that idea until someone fell for it and invented Uber (short for Uber Bad Idea, Inc.). Morally susceptible to bad ideas, the founder(s) just couldn’t envision this inevitable scenario:


The passenger in back isn’t graciously picking lice from the driver’s head. And he’s not braiding his hair since they have plenty of time before they get to the airport. Nope, he’s loaded and yanking on the driver’s hair for some unknown reason. In a few seconds he’ll be breathing in mace. If I were a driver I’d either drive with an attack dog in the front seat or start racially profiling customers — the minute I saw a white bro with a backward-facing baseball cap approaching my car, I’d squeal away and report it as a no-show.

Speaking of bad ideas, it’s customary after Halloween to review the truly bad costumes people chose and pick a winner. As always, celebrities rose to the occasion (one I saw was dressed up as Bill Cosby). But this year’s winner has to be the soldier who tried to enter Fort Bragg dressed up as a suicide bomber, setting off a huge security alert.

I’ll bet that idea was looking for a good home for years.

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4 thoughts on “How Bad Ideas Become Reality”

  1. “Quick, Uber driver, take me to McDonald’s; I’m going to rob them of a bag of Big Macs in this suicide bomber costume.”

      1. Damn! I wish I’d said that. You topped me, Mark.

        Follow-up to Thomas: In the Broadway puppet play “Avenue Q,” the promotion of bad ideas is attributed to the Bad Idea Bears.

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