TOTB (“Thinking Outside The Box”) No. 1

Welcome to the first edition of Thinking Outside the Box (“TOTB”), pronounced “Tot-B” for short!  TOTB will be devoted to examples of people who have found a new way of thinking about something old, often by reframing the issue or asking a different question.  The capacity to look at old things in a new way, to reframe issues, to ask new and interesting questions about old and seemingly settled matters, to challenge settled assumptions, is, I think, what distinguishes great creative thinkers (e.g, Newton, Einstein, etc.) from us mere mortal folk.

So, without further adieu, here are my first two TOTB’s:

1.   The “Map” episode from “The West Wing,” in which a group of cartographers explain to Josh and CJ how the customary “North is up” map distorts our perception of the world and the relative importance of various countries and their inhabitants.

2. A counterintuitive solution to the problem of too much money in politics–less transparency, not more:

Maybe the problem isn’t too little information about donors and donations, but too much. That’s the argument of Yale law professors Ian Ayres and Bruce Ackerman. They’ve been arguing for a decade that the key to fixing the campaign finance system isn’t to strengthen mandatory disclosure rules but to abandon them in favor of a system where all donations are secret — especially to the recipients.

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