Nobody Wants New Ideas

Although there are spectacular exceptions to the rule, I can say with some certainty, having spent a very large part of my life paying attention to how new ideas are accepted and diffused, that nobody really wants new ideas.

New ideas are confronting and discomfiting.  They cause people to have to think and re-evaluate their old ideas.  It involves difficult work and the pain of cognitive dissonance.  People hate new ideas, in the main.

What they love are ideas that seem new, but confirm their existing ideas.  Evidence and proof makes no difference at all.  If an idea is a settled idea, then all evidence will be sifted and discarded in order to preserve the existing idea.

That leads to an interesting conclusion.  If your stock in trade and talent is in innovation and new ideas, you’re almost certainly wasting your time.  The only “new” ideas that take root are the ones that the whole herd slowly embraces.  Those kinds of movements are typically glacial, irrespective of the actual urgency.

This is why nobody is really acting to avert climate change.  This is why the disproven and discredited economic system is not being actively replaced by something more imaginative and beneficial to all.  This is why money is issued the way it has been for generations.  This is why we still blindly worship monarchs.  This is why the most privileged elites can maintain their hold on the rest of us.

We still love impressionist paintings most, even though that new idea is well over a century old.  Those that hate impressionism love a style of painting that is even older.  Perhaps the last great painters were the hieroglyph painters of ancient Egypt.

Rock and roll is now the music of septuagenarians.  Anything new is abhorred by the so called rebels that embraced rock when it was young.

The principles underlying the internal combustion engine are basically the same as they were, when these engines were first invented.  We really haven’t moved on.  There has been little genuine attempt to foster and nurture newer innovations, in the conversion of energy to motion.

Cancer research has been going on since the 1950s, yet we have little improvement in cures and not much by way of progress to report.  In fact, they seldom report their progress.  It’s in stasis.

When a UK politician stands up and espouses institutionalising and legislating fairness, with an unprecedented mandate, he’s treated as a national joke, like some kind of alien, saying words that nobody agrees with or understands.  None of these new ideas can be allowed to flourish.  They will upset too many entrenched apple carts, such as the media’s presumption that they can tell the electorate who to vote for, what to think and how to think.  Belief is manipulated, yet the idea that you can escape it is seen as too new and radical to be seriously entertained.

We live in a world that systematically crushes and weeds out new ideas and perhaps we always have.  Perhaps this is the very reason why history repeats.  It’s because we never fully embrace the alternative ideas that would prevent the repetition of past mistakes.  The fact that history is a reliable guide to the future is all the proof you need that humanity hates new ideas.

I don’t know why I am telling you this, as the likelihood is that you hate new ideas too.  You probably feel uncomfortable reading this idea.  Those people that try their whole lives, at great personal sacrifice and peril, to introduce new ideas are your enemy.  No wonder they get so tired of having to explain those new ideas, over and over again, to deaf ears.  You’re all arrayed against them.

Even people that have new ideas to offer often hate new ideas that other people bring them.  In the end, they, too, go mad both trying to get their new idea heard and accepted and in disputing and deflecting other peoples’ new ideas.  What dies, every time, is the new idea.

Sometimes, somebody will discover an old new idea, dust it off and realise that it still has merit and that, in fact, if introduced today, it would still be an new idea, despite its vintage.  It does no good.  Rediscovered ideas are automatically classified as discredited, even though all they really were was discarded.

I’d love to see proof to the contrary, but it seems unlikely.  People really do hate innovations and nobody wants new ideas.

Prove me wrong.


About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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8 Responses to Nobody Wants New Ideas

  1. Well written and well ‘said’ – how can you be proved wrong when you are quite right! Have you heard of the five monkey experiment? It was a psychology experiment that showed the detailed mechanics for how the status quo is maintained in the primate world. Science confirms precisely what you are expressing. best wishes, Chris

  2. Pingback: Nobody Wants New Ideas – EMERGENCE BLOGGERZINE

  3. Reblogged this on EMERGENCE WEB DEVELOPMENT and commented:
    I am pleased to introduce and recommend this guest reblog in the link above called ‘Nobody wants new ideas’ from ‘Creative Ideas for Starving Artists’ by Michael Topic. For more about him visit

    I have been considering the difficulties of communicating new ideas for sometime after contemplating a psychological experiment called the 5 monkey experiment when this post caught my eye.

    The 5 monkey experiment subjected a group of monkeys in a cage to a jet of cold water as a punishment for climbing a step ladder to eat bananas hanging from the ceiling.

    As we might understand, the original generation of monkeys stopped climbing the ladder to eat the bananas. After this was done the punishment ceased and the real experiment began!

    New monkeys were gradually introduced, one monkey at a time, each one replacing an old monkey. As the new monkeys went to climb the ladder they were beaten up by the remaining original monkeys who feared the jet of cold water. This is still not entirely unexpected.

    However, eventually, when no original monkeys remained the new monkeys, who had no experience of the original punishment from a cold jet of water, would still initiate the same punishment beatings to new monkeys when they tried to climb the ladder.

    So, even when the experiment had moved to the stage when no monkey had ever experienced the original punishment jet of cold water the monkeys would still pass the punishment on, simply because that was what happened to them.

    This was the really significant thing, that is the brutal suppression of the simple idea of climbing the ladder to eat the banana, continued to be passed on indefinitely long after any monkey at all had any experience of the original punishment.

    But, hey, thats monkeys! We are human beings in the modern world, right? We love innovation – look at how we get all those new apps, and the latest generation of technology! They are all new ideas aren’t they?

    The world is, in fact, in a crisis through lack of funding for pure or so called blue sky research, as any idea that is not attached to an already existing service or product can be regarded as, well, bananas!

    In my opinion, Michael’s post perfectly corroborates the results of the 5 monkeys in the human world though independent observation.

    Chris Turner

    Editor of Emergence bloggerzine

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