haim_harari's picture
Physicist, former President, Weizmann Institute of Science; Author, A View from the Eye of the Storm
The Edge of the Circle

My concept is important, useful, scientific and very appropriate for Edge, but it does not exist. It is: The Edge of the Circle.

We know that a circle has no edge, and we also know that, when you travel on a circle far enough to the right or to the left, you reach the same place. Today's world is gradually moving towards extremism in almost every area: Politics, law, religion, economics, education, ethics, you name it. This is probably due to the brevity of messages, the huge amounts of information flooding us, the time pressure to respond before you think and the electronic means (Twitter, text messages) which impose superficiality. Only extremist messages can be fully conveyed in one sentence.

In this world, it often appears that there are two corners of extremism: Atheism and religious fanaticism; Far right and far left in politics; Suffocating bureaucratic detailed regulatory rules or a complete laissez faire; No ethical restrictions in Biology research and absolute restrictions imposed by religion; one can continue with dozens of examples.

But, in reality, the extremists in the two edges always end up in the same place. Hitler and Stalin both murdered millions, and signed a friendship pact. Far left secular atheist demonstrators in the western world, including gays and feminists, support Islamic religious fanatics who treat women and gays as low animals. It has always been known that no income tax and 100% income tax yield the same result: no tax collected at all, as shown by the famous Laffer curve. This is the ultimate meeting point of the extremist supporters of tax increase and tax reduction.

Societies, preaching for absolute equality among their citizens, always end up with the largest economic gaps. Fanatic extremist proponents of developing only renewable energy sources, with no nuclear power, delay or prevent acceptable interim solutions to global energy issues, just as much as the oil producers. Misuse of animals in biology research is as damaging as the objections of fanatic animal right groups. One can go on and on with illustrations, which are more visible now than they were a decade or two ago. We live on the verge of an age of extremism.

So, the edge of the circle is the place where all of these extremists meet, live and preach. The military doctor who refuses to obey orders "because Obama was born in Africa" and the army doctor, who murdered 12 people in Texas, are both at the edge of the circle.

If you are a sensible moderate thinking person, open any newspaper and see how many times you will read news items or editorials, which will lead you to say: "Wow, these people are really at the edge of the circle" ...