Originally Posted by Daithi
What about Paladin Press type books? I'm sure a fair amount of people would like to limit access to books that discuss the production of explosives, nerve gas, automatic weapon conversion, silencers, meth and GBH production, lock picking, computer hacking, false ID production -- I think you have the idea.
When I was younger I loved reading these kind of books. As a teenage boy I preferred non-fiction that allowed me to fantasize. I even actually did some of the things I read about. I've picked locks. I learned how to play poker really well as a kid (I've won tournaments as an adult). I've done things I don't care to admit. I have to believe that books like these are certainly not good for many individuals.
However, it was fantasies of computer hacking that lead me to learn how to program, and for the last 20 years I've made my living as a software developer, primarily in the medical field. I out grew the desire to hack into bank or government computers or whatever, and I eventually became a productive member of society. How many software developers were drawn to the field for similar reasons? How many chemists were drawn to the field by the lure of creating explosives or drugs? How many boys (or girls) have been attracted to the dark side of knowledge but because of their sense of right and wrong eventually went into law enforcement or something productive instead?
Would even banning books of dangerous knowledge ultimately harm society?
Yes, it would. I don't think the op was asking if any books should be banned. Personally, I don't condone censorship under any circumstances. I do think there is certain literature people should seek out, though, rather than simply reading the "blockbusters" that are usually pretty shoddy as far as writing goes.
However, even if a book isn't good for someone, I would never wish to see it censored or banned. Censorship degrades the freedom of everyone.