The Worst Ideas. Updates every Monday!

Your weekly source for terrible ideas.

Month: July, 2014

One Snake’s “Snakeccination” Plan to Eradicate Polio

The issue:

There are a few diseases that are making a comeback, despite the fact that vaccines exist for them. Polio is an especially dire example.

There are many reasons for this, some of which are:

1) In disease-free areas, these diseases are unknown and thus have no power to terrify.

2) In some remote areas, it is difficult to supply the vaccine.

However, these two issues can be easily solved with the proposal below.

The proposal:

Modify a variety of snake so that it injects a helpful vaccine instead of a deadly neurotoxin.


These snakes could be airdropped over regions that were experiencing disease epidemics, where they would gracefully glide to the ground and get to work vaccinating the population.

Alternate plan:

The spitting cobra is a promising candidate for modification; it could supply the vaccine by spitting it into the eyes, rather than requiring a painful fang-ing.

PROS: Eradicates diseases. Puts unemployed snakes to work. Generates good will in foreign countries that are appreciative of the “snakeccination” effort.

CONS: None! You should go and lobby for funding for this idea right now.


Ethics Statement

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Statement of Ethics:

  1. Ethics are an abstract concept that exists.
  2. A statement is also something that exists.

Please feel free to use this statement of ethics as a guide for your own endeavors as well.

One Bicyclist’s Quest to Fix Traffic Congestion Forever

The issue:

Traffic laws are made with the idea that everyone is driving a car. In the US, four-way stops are all over the place, at almost every intersection. In a car, this isn’t a huge burden, since it requires no human effort to stop and then accelerate again.

But with a bike, this requires significant expenditure of energy.

(In the absence of cross-traffic, it is also rare to see any vehicle actually come to a complete stop.)


The idea:

Bicyclists could opt-in to a “EXTREME BIKING” program in which the following two traffic law changes are made:

1) A red light becomes a “STOP + YIELD” together — the bicyclist must stop at the light and must yield to any cross traffic. In other words, cross traffic (going through a green light) continues to have unimpeded right-of-way.


2) A STOP sign becomes the rarely-seen YIELD sign. A bicyclist can pedal right through it, but must stop and wait if there is any cross traffic.


All other traffic laws remain the same.

But: Drivers are generally averse to bicyclists playing fast-and-loose with traffic laws. In order to gain support among drivers, the program will be opt-in, and every bicyclist who wishes to abide by these new rules must put an “EXTREME BIKING” sticker on their bike.

In a collision with a bike with the EXTREME BIKING sticker on it, the bicyclist will be assumed to be at fault unless evidence implies otherwise.

Ideally the sticker should be something evocative of the danger, like a skull on fire or pirate flag of some sort.


Above: a suggested suitably-evocative sticker design.


PROS: Recognizes the unreasonableness of requiring bicyclists to stop so frequently. Should increase average bike speed. May result in amazing Youtube dash-cam montages of disasters. Will increase the number of available organs for transplant.

CONS: None whatsoever!


The incredible plan to save the world with more Californias

The issue: Like the citizens of many states, Californians believe that their own state is great—so what could possibly be better than even more Californias? There is a novel plan afoot to turn one (1) full-sized California into six (6) fun-sized Californias, as documented in the following link:

Above: Figure 1: An original official promotional image

(not my image; see details at )

This new California would consist of 4 Republican-leaning states and 2 Democratic-leaning states, instead of the single Democratic-leaning state that currently exists.




Instead of splitting California into just six states, with 12 Senate seats, I theorize that California should “shoot for the moon” and attempt to split itself into SIXTY states (with 120 Senate seats). Then, instead of just having a moderate six-fold increase in the state’s senatorial power, it would have a 60-fold increase.

With 120 Senate seats to the remaining states’ 98, California would be able to bend the remaining states of the union to its inexorable will.



Above: Figure 2: Artist’s rendition of the hypothesized “Sixty Californias” initiative.





The “Sixty States” still won’t give California a majority of the House of Representatives (CA would have somewhere between 60 and 120 representatives). In order to remedy that, a more drastic proposal must be put forward:


Above: Figure 3: The optimistic “Six Hundred Californias” initiative.

Since every state must have a minimum of one (1) representative, the new 600-fold alliance of micro-Californias would easily have a majority of total House of Representative seats (in fact, it would require serious re-structuring, since the House is currently limited to 435 voting members).



Instead of wasting their time attempting to split California into a mere six pieces, the voters should unite to make more dramatic change.


PROS: The legislative tyranny of this new assortment of mini-states would be absolute.

CONS: None per se, but it might be difficult to convince the other states to accept this partition.

When a killer clown menaces someone, you won’t believe what happens next!

The issue:

Sometimes there is no way to know certain aspects about a person’s character without putting them in an unlikely scenario.

For example, you might want to know: “What would the new mailroom clerk do if a dinosaur was rampaging in the hallway?”

Sadly, there is no easy way to determine the answer to this question. And if there was, it would probably get you arrested.
The idea:

An organization can set up unusual scenarios for testing the mettle of an individual.

This could have many uses:

Employee hiring: “Is the new job candidate a stand-up individual who would help a stranded motorist change a tire, or would they drive on while cackling maniacally?”

Dating: “Would my date attempt to save me from a killer clown, or would they run the other way without even glancing over their shoulder?”


National security: “Would the new agent betray the country for a huge sack of money with a dollar sign on it?”

PROS: Could answer many hypothetical questions in a controlled and more-or-less safe environment. Don’t leave it up to amateurs to answer questions about killer clowns in a dangerous fashion!

CONS: None come to mind.


Amazing Elevator Occupancy Secret that will Change Your Life

Here is a boring update to the previous elevator idea:

The issue:

When someone presses the “call elevator” button, the next elevator traveling to that floor (in the correct direction) will stop to let that passenger on.

However: sometimes an elevator is COMPLETELY FULL, yet it stops at the floor anyway.


This is just a waste of time for everyone: the current occupants are delayed, and the person who pressed the call button just has to press the button again to summon a new (hopefully empty) elevator.

The proposal:

Install a grid of “electric eye”-style detectors on the elevator ceiling. If enough of them detect an obstruction (for example, a passenger) below, the elevator will be declared to be “full.”

Then, the declared-as-full elevator will not stop on a floor where the call button has been pressed unless a current occupant is also getting out on that floor.

PROS: All of them!

CONS: None of them!

One weird plan to eliminate crime by using business plans

The issue:

There are a number of crimes that make no sense from a cost/benefit analysis standpoint.

Example: armed robbery of individuals on the street: this involves a high chance of 5-10 years in prison, but the maximum payoff is probably around $500. Expected value: strongly negative.

Even a bank robbery typically has a paltry total take (perhaps one year of income per robber), yet still has a high chance of resulting in arrest.

The theory: fewer crimes would be committed if the prospective criminal actually weighed the benefits and risks of the to-be-committed crime.

Proposal: prospective criminals should be encouraged to write up a “Crime Business Plan” in which they detail their proposed crime, the benefits that they stand to reap from it, and the potential negative consequences.

The method of encouragement is as follows:

If a criminal has written up and submitted a “crime business plan” to the city, and that criminal is also convicted of the crime described therein, then the sentence is reduced by 50%.

(E.g., 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine becomes 5 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.)


In pictoral form:


Fig 1. Crime business plan is written up. On a scroll, apparently.



Fig 2. Crime business plan is sent by mail to City Hall, where it is registered and filed away for safekeeping.



Fig 3. After the crime is committed, the criminal is caught, convicted, and sentenced, but the sentence is reduced by half.

Case Study:

Mr. X wants to steal a safe. He writes up a plan, indicating that he assumes the safe will have 1 million dollars in cash in it, and that the chance of detection is only 5% during the burglary, and 1% afterward. (He plans to be very careful about spending his windfall.) He shows that the expected value of the crime is POSITIVE for him.

After writing up the crime business plan, he mails the letter to City Hall, which accepts it, sends him a confirmation code, and files it away.

Later, Mr. X commits the crime, but is immediately caught and goes to trial. He defends himself admirably but is convicted and sentenced to 14 years in the salt mines.

However! Now he exclaims “But I filed a crime business plan, to show that this was a well-thought-out idea!” The court will verify that the described crime in the filed-away business plan was in fact the one committed, and his sentence will be reduced by 50%.

Why this is a great idea:

By heavily incentivizing individuals to ponder their crimes, they could:

1) Be less likely to commit crimes of passion (Example: “I’m so mad, I’m going to kill you—but first I have to file the paperwork in triplicate and wait 6 to 8 weeks!”)


2) Be less likely to commit crimes that have a strongly negative expected value (Example: robbing a fast-food restaurant).

and perhaps

3) Be less likely to commit certain premeditated crimes (“I’m going to beat up my neighbor for putting his fence too close to my property! Wait, while I was researching my crime business plan, I discovered that I can actually take this case to arbitration and resolve it that way.”)

Or they might just turn to white-collar crime!

PROS: Might result in less crime. The business plan aspect will employ legions of lawyers who would have otherwise turned to crime in desperation.

CONS: Other countries might become jealous of this new legal system.