Could artist Rudy Giacomo have been serious when he proposed building a 39 mile manicotti around Manhattan Island?
Was the Nobel Prize Committee on drugs when they conferred the 1949 prize in Medicine to the man who perfected the lobotomy?
Bad ideas are everywhere—they're the tile grout of history, the crabgrass of civilization, poking up through every crack in our thinking. According to government statistics, they outnumber good ideas six hundred to one.
What Were They Thinking is a compendium of some 400 harebrained schemes, fool notions, and misguided obsessions both grandiose and mundane. In it readers will uncover one man's effort to market a board game based on the Lebanese civil war...an Iowa State University professor's proposal to blow up the moon...and Senator Victor Biaka-Boda's ill-considered campaign trip to the Ivory Coast hinterlands. (Not only did he lose the election, his constituents ate him.) Within these pages, the aim has not been to probe the motives behind bad ideas, but simply to recount and, above all, revel in them.
The stories in What Were They Thinking? range from the horrific to the hilarious; many are both. But none are fanciful. Every item has been carefully researched from published, non-fiction sources such as newspapers, trade journals, magazines, government reports, research studies, corporate literature, and reference books. Says Felton, "To have been any less exacting in my insistence on accuracy would have been a terrible idea."
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