Professor Ceiling Cat is otherwise occupied today, and so posting will be light and limited to persiflage.
I don’t know if this is a regular feature of Prospect magazine, but it should be. Thursday’s issue published a short piece called “Daniel Dennett: If I ruled the world.” It’s a laundry list of what Dan would do if he could run everything. (He says nothing about enforcing compatibilism.) I’ll include just one of his Roolz:
I am not known for my modesty, and some may be surprised to learn that I really don’t think I have all the answers. Here, for instance, is one of my favourite ideas, but I am truly baffled about how to put it into action even with all the powers in the world at my disposal. As we all know—but sometimes forget, in our panic— when the plumbing has burst, the first step to take is to turn off the water main. In that spirit, I would like my first step on ascending to the dictatorship to be decreeing high quality, non-ideological education for boys and girls in every community on the globe. If we could just liberate the world’s children from illiteracy, ignorance, and superstition, their curiosity would lead them to solutions that were both locally informed and sensitive while also tuned to a fairly realistic view of the global context into which these solutions must fit. Once accomplished, the result of this universal education would be the opposite of paternalism, giving people everywhere maximum freedom to make informed choices about how to live their lives.
A great idea, but, as Dan admits, not workable:
The disastrous attempts to separate children from their families in the recent past in order to give them “proper” educations should convince us that there is simply no way of imposing an educational system on children in different cultures against their will and the will of their elders that isn’t both inhumane and ineffective. . . My reluctance to use my political power to educate the young is based on the begrudging opinion that resistance to such impositions is itself so intense that the effort is almost certain to be counterproductive.
He has another diktat as well, and one that even Sam Harris would agree with, but go over and see for yourself.
What would I do if I ran the world? Well, let’s leave aside Big Projects like the above, or forcing the North Korean government to disband and merge with the South (something much to be desired). My aims are smaller:
1. Anybody with more then ten items in the “ten items or less” (and it should be “fewer,” not “less”) grocery checkout lane would be roundly excoriated, turned away, and sent to the end of another lane. One item too many and you’re GONE! (Note: two bottles of soda count as two items.)
2. Speaking of which, anyone approaching the register in the checkout line who has not fully written out their check except for the amount (or who has not removed their wallet from their pocket or purse) would also be expelled from the line. In my world there will be no fumbling in change purses for pennies or dimes.
3. The price of lattes—the most overpriced non-alcoholic beverage on the market—would be capped at $2.00, even for a large one.
4. No hotel could charge for wireless.
5. No airline could charge you to check a single bag so long as it’s not overweight.
6. If you had an appointment for a haircut, and had to wait more than 15 minutes past that time for your trim, the haircut would be free.
7. Cilantro would be banned from all restaurants as an inedible substance.
8. All bicyclists would obey the traffic laws, including stopping at stop signs.
9. No commenter on this website could ever use the words “I don’t mean to nitpick, but . . . “
Feel free to add what you’d change about the world, along the lines of the above. But please, no stuff like “I’d bring world peace.” That’s for Miss America contestants!