Big Ideas, Bold Ideas, or just Ideas

Monday, August 13th, 2012

In politics it’s a possible thing to adjust the definitions of words to convince other people, to hide actions, or to create desired or undesired images. We’ve heard over the last few years, for example, characterizations for some ideas as big and bold when better usage would be the less flavorful but more precise term: “ideas.”

Ideas are, as they say, while adjectives serve to create images or portraits of them. Hoover Dam was a part of a “big idea,” when in reality, the work was big, perhaps even bigger than the dam, and the plan to manage flooding, irrigation, power and so forth was large scale.

I don’t disagree with the word bold to characterize an idea, but appropriateness does matter. We know what’s intended. Perhaps many novels and poems are composed with big ideas in mind. I reach for them myself. To transform the way America makes power wholly from renewables is a big project but it’s not a big or bold idea. One hundred years ago it would have been a crazy idea or fantastic, like Cyrano de Bergerac’s writings about the moon.

If a scientist claimed that the universe was made out of jello, some would say this was a bold notion. If it was shown that, indeed, the universe was made of jello, then we could accurately claim that this was the truth as opposed to being false.

I’d rather go with good idea/bad idea.


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