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    Project for Philosophical Evaluations of the Economy
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American Idol for Scientific Ideas
Dialog with the Alter Ego on the future of nuclear energy, first drafted on March 14,
published on March 15, 2011

Question by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): Last week’s quake off the Japanese coast and the ensuing problems
in different nuclear reactors along that country’s eastern seaboard, have profoundly shocked us. Obviously these
accidents raise severe questions about the future viability of nuclear energy particularly in places that are
vulnerable to natural disasters.
Answer by Noah denkt™ (Nd): Correct. It is in deed somewhat disappointing that scientific progress hasn’t yet
been able to come up with a new source of power generation that could effectively resolve the problematic energy
mess (just think of our unfortunate dependency on oil, and just think about the environmental impact of coal
burning etc…) that we are relying on for quite a while now.  

AE: You forget that there is quite a bit of progress in alternative energy generation. Should we not accelerate the
infra-structural build-up of that?
Nd: Well, alternative power generation is all very well. It doesn’t solve all our overall energy needs though.  The
fact of the matter simply is that we need something else that can produce clean power on a large scale. And it is
quite unsatisfying that we haven’t seen sufficient breakthroughs here for the time being.

AE: Why is that?
Nd: Obviously the exploration and implementation of new technologies is quite challenging. But it may also be that
there are, in deed, new ideas and proposals out there which simply do not get enough attention just because the
scientific establishment isn’t sufficiently open-minded to give them a fair hearing.

AE: What makes you think that this could be the case?
Nd: Well,
our everyday experience in this mass market of ours suggests that outsiders aren’t really been taken as
seriously therein as they probably should be. After all, it is too easy for those who operate inside the
establishment to discard all non-conventional reasoning by simply pointing towards the lack of recognition that
those who offer these maverick ideas usually suffer from.

AE: But is it truly reasonable to presume that somebody outside the establishment could have sufficient inside
knowledge to provide substantial advice to the overall process? After all, we are talking about very complex
technological issues here that go way beyond what your average Mom and Pop inventor tends to deal with.
Nd: True. But given the desperate need for a breakthrough here, it seems only reasonable to us, to reach out as
far as one possibly can in order to resolve our current predicament.

AE: Even if that could eventually result in a significant distraction and considerable loss of time for that matter?
Nd: Absolutely.

AE: And how would you go about engineering this reach-out process?
Nd: Why not use
the American Idol format for something like this? Why not invite the general public to participate
in a sort of casting show for power generation ideas? Who knows, may be there is an idea out there that is worth
exploring further.

AE: But isn’t this happening as we speak? Just think about the inventors’ conferences out there. Do they not
provide an adequate platform for this kind of idea fermentation?
Nd: In our mind there isn’t enough spotlight and attention on the participants of these shows. And what’s more
these shows usually offer a wide range of different (consumer) applications so that the scientific community
wouldn’t even think about looking at that twice.

AE: Okay. But again, why should there be a relevant scientific idea out there that hasn’t been discussed before in
the corresponding academic journals?
Nd: Because there is a lack of transparency in the selection process which the editors of these journals apply.

AE: Anyway, your proposal sounds like a wild idea to us. And what’s more it will certainly not make for great
television entertainment.
Nd: Does this matter? Should publicly funded television not feel an obligation to fill a gap that obviously exists?
And what’s wrong with helping your country to progress?

AE: Nothing but you don’t want to make a fool of yourself either.
Nd. So should we wait then another twenty of forty years before a major breakthrough in the energy field is

AE: Perhaps not.
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