12 Categories of Interesting Ideas
Anatomy of Interesting Ideas: Part 2
In this essay, I will mention twelve categories of interesting ideas—divided into two sections. Any idea that stands out might have at least one out of these traits.
Under each category of an idea, we will discuss a real-life idea as an example of that category. It can get a little overwhelming for most of you, which is why I recommend you to read it in two parts.
Trust me when I say this, this essay is nowhere as interesting as the ideas it is going to stimulate in your shiny little brain.
You can think around these categories to start a company, write a book, create a podcast. In simple terms, you can change the world for the better or worse. Let’s get it started with the first category.
PS: this essay is the second part of my series. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you to do so. In that way, you will understand the fundamental theory behind all these categories.
Category A: Characterization of a Single Phenomenon
When you claim a disorganized (unstructured) phenomenon to be an organized (structured) phenomenon or vice versa.
Example: Game Theory
In Game Theory, it is assumed that players within the game are rational and will strive to maximize their payoffs in the game. Even though it sounds logical, the people with whom we share this world are far from being rational.
When you claim an assorted heterogeneous phenomenon to be composed of a single element or vice versa.
Example: “Advertising is legalized lying”—HG Wells
Here a heterogeneous phenomenon, i.e. advertising, is said to be composed of a single element i.e. lying.
But if you ask anyone working in an advertisement agency they will say that a good ad is composed of art, psychology, and behavioral science.
When you claim an individual phenomenon to be a holistic phenomenon (sociologizing).
Example: We all like the smell of our farts. Something that you thought is a personal experience is correct for most of us. Yes, it is true, and yes, it is disgusting.
When you claim a local phenomenon to be a general phenomenon or vice versa.
Example: Indians have a deep-rooted assumption that European and American countries are crime-free, which we all know is far from the truth.
Crime, instead of being a local phenomenon is a common social occurrence.
What you claim a stable and unchanging phenomenon to be an unstable and changing phenomenon or vice versa.
Air seems to be very quiet and friendly. But at a molecular level, it has an extremely random motion. At room temperature, an average air molecule is moving at about 1000 miles per hour. Three times faster than the fastest bullet trains.
When you claim a phenomenon that functions ineffectively as a means for the attainment of a goal to be a phenomenon that functions effectively.
Example: David Epstein’s book Range.
This book is a Geeta for those who want to learn about learning. In its 4th chapter, David highlights that the learning process which is inefficient and frustrating in the short term helps you to retain information for the long-term.
Inefficiency, in the early stages, is usually demoralizing and it pushes us to quit learning. It is considered an ineffective way to achieve your learning goals. But David claimed the opposite in his book, and that made it a very absorbing read.
When you claim a bad phenomenon to be a good phenomenon or vice versa.
In her book The Upside of Stress, Dr. Kelly McGonigal highlights that stress can be both good and bad depending upon our perception of it.
Category B - Relation Between Multiple Phenomena
When you claim an independent phenomenon to be a correlated (interdependent) phenomenon or vice versa.
Example: Speed of a car.
People think that the bigger engine a car has, the faster that car would be. It’s a pretty simple conclusion, accurate in most cases. But, this popular conception was shattered to pieces when Koenigsegg unveiled their engineering masterpiece— Gemera.
This car has a two-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 600 horsepowers that, along with the three electric motors (which skyrocket its power to 1700hp), shoots the car from 0 to 100 in 1.9 seconds.
My point being that the performance of a car is not dependent solely on the engine displacement. But also on thousands of other insignificant factors.
When you claim a bunch of phenomena that can co-exist to be unable to co-exist or vice versa.
Example: Christopher Hitchen’s views about religion.
Hitchen believed and advertised the idea of antitheism. This means that not only did he believed that there is no God, but also that religion is toxic and poisons everything. It cannot co-exist with peace.
So, contrary to the popular belief that religion is noble and essential for moral order, Hitchen had something different to say, something interesting, whether true or not. Do you agree with him?
When you claim a positive co-variation between different phenomena to be negative in reality or vice versa.
Before getting to the example of this type of idea we need to understand the meaning of positive and negative co-variation.
Any two or more variables are said to be in positive co-variation when due to the growth of one variable, the other variables grow as well, and vice versa.
Negative co-variation is just the opposite—when two variables move in different directions, that is, the growth of one variable will influence the declination of the other.
Example: In India, a myth that tomato seeds cause kidney stones is wildly popular. A positive covariance is claimed between tomato seeds and the chances of getting kidney stones, but it’s not true.
Tomatoes contain oxalates, which are responsible for the formation of kidney stones. However, what people fail to understand is that this quantity of oxalates in tomatoes is not enough to cause kidney stones, because 100g of tomatoes contain only around 5mg of oxalates.
When you claim similar (or nearly identical) phenomena to be opposite in reality or vice versa.
Example: Busyness, for a vast majority of people, is a sign of productive and fulfilled life. In reality, being busy is just a lot of noise, and it only disturbs the streamline of productivity.
When you claim an independent phenomenon (variable) in a causal relation to be a consequence of another phenomenon (variable).
Example: Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species
Before Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, the world believed that all animals and plants were always the way they are. Their structure, shape, and color are eternally constant.
Darwin claimed something against a loosely held popular belief, and now the whole biological science and evolutionary psychology rest on the foundation of his ideas. More than a Billion people have read his work.
I appreciate your patience and dedication to read this overwhelming essay. I am glad you made it through the end. I hope I gave you a new tool that will aid you to think more creatively and out-of-the-box.
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