I’ve seen a good many of them, and a few them on our own Great Debates, but I have to say, the most ridiculous one I’ve ever seen was an idea proposed on another forum to eliminate taxes, have the government print a ton of money every month to distribute to everyone, and have the resulting massive inflation tax wealth. This was proposed in all seriousness by someone who had only the barest grasp of economics necessary to come up with the idea. Our own MichaelJohnBertrand came up with his ridiculous idea to allow people to buy votes, but I think the inflation one wins in terms of pure :smack: potential and likelihood of completely decimating the world economy if it were actually implemented.
Isn’t that just a slightly more radical version of the economic “plans” currently in effect?
Tax cuts? Check.
Government spending on stuff we didn’t seem to need last year at this time (i.e. putting money in peoples’ pockets)? Check.
Credit market interventions to keep interest rates low, which favors spenders over savers? Check.
The most harebrained scheme I’ve ever seen proposed on the internet (although I learned about it during a very interesting conversation with one of the principals) was to set up a website where you could “design” your own car and have it custom-built in some sort of futuristic robotic factory. We’re not talking just choosing options, we’re talking a clean-sheet design. I worked in the automotive industry for three years, which was more than enough experience to tell me that this could not be done for anything less than several million dollars a car, assuming they intended to produce reliable, safe cars in conformance with all applicable regulations. None of the guys involved had any practical experience with this sort of thing.
The interesting thing was, they actually got enough funding that it took them two or three years to burn through it. This was in 1999-2000. Needless to say, they never built the factory or any cars, and they never really even got the website up and running. The site they had was always talking about what they were planning to do, and how they had funding lined up, but nothing concrete ever came out of it. They spent some of their funding on slick cars for the “entrepreneurs” to tool around in (one guy had a Honda S2000 when they first came out). I guess that was supposed to stimulate their creativity or something. I have often wondered how the discussion went when the investors finally told them they were pulling the plug.
Now I’ve gotten to thinking about all the crazy stuff people were working on during the dot-com bubble. I remember a couple of guys who designed a box you would plug into your computer that emitted different smells, so for instance if you visited a website on hamburgers, it would emit a hamburger smell, or if you visited a website on horses, it would put out the tantalizing aroma of road-apples (I guess). I heard a radio interview and it didn’t take long to realize that these guys had a completely incorrect theory of smell. They thought you could create any smell simply by mixing a few basic components, like making colors from red, blue and green. So their box had little tanks containing what they considered to be the basic components of all smells. I am not a physiologist, but I know that the chemistry of smell is incredibly complex and it takes years of research to artificially reproduce, say, the scent of cut grass, and even then the results can be lousy.
I wonder whatever happened to those guys? They probably all went into real estate after the dot-com crash.
After re-reading your post, I realize these examples were not quite what you were looking for. But they’re fun to think about anyway. I hope someone writes a book about all the wacky internet-related stuff people came up with.
Replace ‘a few’ by ‘hundreds’, and I think that’s how it works. Note that knowing the rough, fundamental, underlying system of how things are constructed is not remotely the same as being able to construct them yourself.
In reading blogs, forums and comments threads I’ve seen plenty of dumb suggestions.
The all-time daftest one that springs to mind right now was from the Guardian’s ‘Comment Is Free’ a while back: In order to cut down on recidivism and save money on prisons, the Government should pay potential criminals £30,000 not to re-offend. This is a good idea because it will cost less than prison would.
I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out what would happen were this plan to be made policy!