OT-Dream dinner conversation with five people?

Submitted by Lee Everett on May 15th, 2017 at 4:20 PM

*Alive or dead on an individual basis.  
*Assume that there are no communication issues, no language barriers, everybody can understand each other.  Confucius could speak with Shakespeare who could speak with a 2017 English speaker living in the Midwest.
*Assume that you are meeting people in their physical and mental primes, be they dead or elderly or disabled.  Stephen Hawking is not necessarily wheelchair-bound or beholden to a computer for speech assistance.
*The individuals can discuss their entire history/body of work/life.  Albert Einstein could reflect on his entire body of work, with the benefits of hindsight and contemporary wisdom.
*You can establish the tone of discourse-all can be mannered and polite and honest and friendly if you choose, or it can be an argumentative and volatile shitshow.*  If there's a certain political figure you think is an imbecile, you could stage an intervention for him with the founding fathers.

Now that the technicalities are laid out...

Which five people throughout history would you like to have dinner with, and why?



May 15th, 2017 at 4:25 PM ^

Came in here hoping to debate the merits of Alain Ducasse Paris vs Alain Ducasse London with someone else who was into that kind of weird stuff. I'm disappointed :(


May 15th, 2017 at 4:29 PM ^

If I can bring back the dead and am not just bringing back family members who have died, I'd have to go:

1. Jesus

2. Muhammad

3. Buddha

4. Moses

5. Harbaugh

Figure that would be one hell of a group. With my long list of no accomplishments I'd really fit in.

Lee Everett

May 15th, 2017 at 4:30 PM ^

I would choose...

Noam Chomsky.  The man has forgotten more than I'll ever hope to know.  He is still going strong at 88, and every lecture or interview he gives is an absolute treat.

Nikola Tesla.  Plucked from a time when he was healthy and not impoverished and without dementia.  Let's get to the bottom of this Edison business and find out what really happened in the Tunguska explosion and is there eally a death ray.

Leonardo Da Vinci.  Arguably the most well-rounded individual in history.

Stephen Hawking.  Unencumbered.  There's a dry erase board wiith all the markers for him to go to town with.

My dad.  He probably would have wanted Einstein in there, but I feel like Hawking covers similar bases.  He was the smartest guy I ever met, knew a little bit about everything, and had strong interests in linguistics and technology and cosmology.

and I would be their server and silently eavesdrop as I refilled their waters or teas or coffees or whiskey neats.  

Lee Everett

May 15th, 2017 at 11:43 PM ^

I'd just listen and would be far too humble to direct that conversation in any way.  I couldn't come up with a list or questions or topics or attempt to moderate.  If Chomsky were to stick to philosophy and linguistics and cognition that'd be more than I could ask for, however his social and political commentary has always been compelling.  

My dad was pretty conservative (he was one of those people that would post embarrassing things on Facebok about Barack HUSSEIN Obama), so in one sense I hope that subject would be avoided entirely.


May 15th, 2017 at 4:38 PM ^

Honestly, I just want to see dinosaurs.

Why can't Mitch Albom write a book about "the five dinosaurs that you meet when you get in a fucking time machine"?


May 15th, 2017 at 4:42 PM ^

I'd bring back five of the Founding Fathers and find out if they think this country is going - or has gone - where they thought it should, or how it was intended to go.  I think the five biggest thinkers in that regard are Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, Franklin, and then perhaps either John Jay (author of those Federalist Papers not written by Hamilton or Madison) or Roger Sherman (only man to have signed all four of the country's "great state papers.")


May 15th, 2017 at 11:28 PM ^

A separate dinner party might be very worth it for those who were political thinkers but never actually got around to forming a government themselves.  Locke and Montesquieu, two strong possibilities, along with maybe Voltaire, Machiavelli, and Plato.  Confucius or St. Thomas Aquinas would go well too.  The older the better; I'd want to hear how their theories have stood the test of time.


May 15th, 2017 at 4:51 PM ^

I'd pick the people in history that were in the best position to fill out historical gaps in our knowledge. These are western-focused, but mostly because I am so ignorant of Asian and African history that I wouldn't know who to invite. 

1) Emperor Claudius, who is the last known person who could read Etruscan. He'd also be able to fill in a lot of gaps in what we know about Roman History too.

2) Random Native American religious figure from Cahokia.

3) Random Mayan Priest. These two would help us understand loads about Native American history-- even if the language barrier would be huge. Just getting some recordings of them speaking about their past would be huge. 

4)A combatant of the mysterious, Tollense River battle circa 1250 BC, which involved at least 4,000 soldiers. This was Bronze age battle that seems to have involved people from a broad swath of Northern Europe, and It's so big that you almost have to reconsider what Bronze-age Europeans were capable of. For instance: the population density during this is about 5 people per square KM, and there are no towns or large settlements that we know of. How was such a large battle possible?

5) I am really tempted to pick out someone from about 30 different times in English History-- but I am going to put Agamemnon here. The Mycenaen Culture is incredibly well known, and yet we know relatively nothing about this society, and knowing how much they influence culture would be a huge, huge bit of knowledge gained.


May 15th, 2017 at 5:38 PM ^

I am similarly fascinated by the pre-Columbian stuff. I might actually go much further back than the Mayans and try to find somebody who could explain how the migration from Asia happened.


May 15th, 2017 at 11:44 PM ^

I love this idea.  It bugs me how much history is lost to us completely.  The collective knowledge of humanity is minuscule compared to the lost knowledge of humanity.  Here's another list along the same lines.  Instead of filling in major gaps of cultural knowledge, we could answer some of history's most nagging mysteries.

Jimmy Hoffa

Benjamin Briggs (captain of the Mary Celeste)

D.B. Cooper

Someone from the Roanoke Colony

Whoever the hell wrote the Voynich Manuscript


May 15th, 2017 at 4:57 PM ^

Ghengus Kahn
Scipio africanus
WT Sherman
Siddhārtha Gautama -- Buddha.
Last, a younger me. And I would try to instill in him a bit of the wisdom. I'd also hug him and tell him to take it a little easier. I'd finally tell him to floss more often.


May 15th, 2017 at 5:11 PM ^

Richard Feynman - physicist, scientist, safecracker, pimp, bongo-drummer, and all-around badass.  His memoirs are excellent reading, regardless of your academic interests.

Nicklas Lidstrom - my favorite athlete of all time, across all sports.  They call him "The Perfect Human" for a reason.

Queen Elizabeth II of England - her perspective on how the world has changed over the past 90 years is one that few will ever have.

Bill Gates - one of the few mega-billionaires who seems somewhat grounded (at least in relative terms).  Would love to hear his thoughts regarding both tech as well as philanthropy

Malala Yousafzai - the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and champion of womens' rights in a part of the world where they barely exist.


May 16th, 2017 at 1:13 PM ^

oh I'm well aware of that (I work at Microsoft).  but im going on the assumption that anyone who gets invited will talk freely as if they were with close friends and family (otherwise what's the point?).  because queen elizabeth II would say even less than Bill.


May 15th, 2017 at 5:03 PM ^

#1: Franz Fanon: I would ask him to update The Wretched of the Earth based on current political realities.

#2: Gary Gygax: I want to raid the Demonweb Pits and he's gonna DM.

#3: FDR: I would ask him why a man of his greatness yet turned away Jewish refugees from the Third Reich and sent Japanese Americans to concentration camps.

#4: Albert Einstein: I would ask him whether he thinks physicists will ever arrive at a functional unified theory and, if so, to make a prediction on what that will be.

#5: Joe Strummer: Whatever the f*k he wants to talk about will be fine by me.


May 15th, 2017 at 5:04 PM ^

Without putting too much thought into it.... Steve Martin. Chevy Chase. Bill Murray. Richard Pryor. Eddie Murphy. (late 70s/ early 80s versions of these guys). Might not be enlightening but most likely would be entertaining. Or supermodels.