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1/14/14

What's Wrong with TED Talks

~I, and many people, think it's way past time to take a step back and ask some serious questions about the intellectual viability of things like TED.

~My TED talk is not about my work or my new book – the usual spiel – but about TED itself, what it is and why it doesn't work.

The first reason is over-simplification.

~Let me tell you a story. I was at a presentation that a friend, an astrophysicist, gave to a potential donor. I thought the presentation was lucid and compelling (and I'm a professor of visual arts here at UC San Diego so at the end of the day, I know really nothing about astrophysics). After the talk the sponsor said to him, "you know what, I'm gonna pass because I just don't feel inspired ...you should be more like Malcolm Gladwell."

At this point I kind of lost it. Can you imagine?

Think about it: an actual scientist who produces actual knowledge should be more like a journalist who recycles fake insights! This is beyond popularisation. This is taking something with value and substance and coring it out so that it can be swallowed without chewing.

~TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and I'll talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment.


~This is not about "personal stories of inspiration", it's about the difficult and uncertain work of demystification and reconceptualisation: the hard stuff that really changes how we think. More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins.

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