Outlook & Opinions

When the best you can say about a 10-year span is that Y2K was overblown and that at least our downturn wasn't a Depression, you know it was hardly the best of times. We're not particularly sorry to leave the Aughts behind. And if you need any more reminders of what makes this decade so worthy of finally ringing out, here's a look back at some of the really, truly bad ideas that it inflicted upon us.

Vote among Outlook's candidates and suggest your own -- we'll highlight the most interesting entry next week.

Vaccine scares

The misguided effort to blame vaccines for causing autism isn't just bad science, Clive Thompson argues. By hindering our ability to fight the flu, it's killing people.

The battle of Tora Bora

Remember how Osama bin Laden escaped after the battle of Tora Bora in 2001? It was no accident -- but the result of flawed planning and beliefs about how to wage modern wars, argues Susan Glasser.

Television dancing competitions

Could anything that brought you Tom DeLay doing the cha cha on national television really be so wrong? Yes. Yes it could, says Amelie Gillette. Dancing on TV is a meaningless fame factory, and viewers embraced it in depressingly huge numbers.

The BlackBerry

As hand-held e-mail devices such as the BlackBerry have proliferated, John Freeman writes, our addiction to email -- and to work -- has spiraled out of control.

The torture memos

The Justice Department's memos on torture were the lowest low point in post-Sept. 11 legal thought. As Dahlia Lithwick shows, they were proof that in wartime, the law is as malleable as its most cynical lawyer.

World-is-flat movies

An absurd breed of ensemble movie emerged, Dennis Lim observes, one characterized by large casts, intersecting plots and the wrongheaded belief that it's a small world after all.


The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was supposed to head off Enron-style wrongdoing. Instead, contends Nick Gillespie, it only added expensive regulations without fixing the problem.

Compassionate conservatism

Compassionate conservatism promised George W. Bush as the healer-in-chief. It won him the White House. But, Reihan Salam argues, it stranded Republicans in an era of crony capitalism -- with entrepreneurship and growth snuffed out for a generation.

The endless sports season

Sports seasons are bleeding into one another, with longer playoffs, more bowl games and an NCAA tournament that may reach 96 teams, complains The Post's Tracee Hamilton. What happens when the madness is year-round?

Housing prices always rise

Plenty of mistakes and delusions brought on our financial crisis, writes Greg Ip of the Economist, but none so much as the belief that housing prices can only go up.

The prosperity gospel

Would would Jesus do? According to Cathleen Falsani, he certainly wouldn't sign on to the prosperity Gospel, the pernicious idea that God blesses the faithful with material wealth.

Live Chat

Dahlia Lithwick and Reihan Salam will be online Monday to chat with readers about the torture memos, compassionate conservatism and other bad ideas from the decade that was.

© The Washington Post Company