Mar 06 2012

Not Our Burden

I don’t usually post TED talks. It isn’t because they aren’t often interesting or thought-provoking. It’s more because the whole concept of TED gets under my skin in some ways. “Look! A series of mini-lectures to tickle the brains of those who have the leisure to engage with them for a few minutes and the money to hire thinkers to assuage their boredom.”

Yes, I can get quite cynical.

This one I am posting, however, because I think it makes one of the clearest statements of humanism I’ve ever heard. Enjoy.


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  1. 1

    No offense, but can’t that objection to TED talks apply nearly equally well to a variety of blogs (heck, most of the internet that isn’t porn), TV, books…? The only difference is a bit more virtuous halo to it than most things.

  2. 2

    That was great! Thanks for sharing.

  3. 3


    What would it feel like to be living in a world where the nation-state of Germany was executing people, especially if they were disproportionately Jewish? I couldn’t bear it. It would be unconscionable.

    And yet in this country, in the states of the Old South, we execute people. We are eleven times more likely to [use] the death penalty if the victim is white than if the victim is black; twenty-two times more likely to [use] it if the defendant is black and the victim is white — in the very states where there are buried in the ground the bodies of people who were lynched.

    And I agree with becca about the objection to TED — but hey, isn’t Stephanie’s biting cynicism part of why we read her? :)

  4. 4

    Haven’t watched the video yet, but you should listen to the most recent Slate Culture Gabfest podcast – they have the exact same feeling that you do about TED talks. Guess they’ve jumped the shark.

  5. 5
    Stephanie Zvan

    When it comes down to it, I think what bugs me about the TED crowd is that they come down on the “innovation” side of this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2011/02/01/innovation-or-implementation/ They could be doing something to fix our problems, but instead, they keep looking for answers as though no one had ever come up with any.

  6. 6

    I’ve always enjoyed the TED talks that I’ve discovered through FTB and other progressive and atheist blogs.

    Maybe its the filtering.

    Great post by the way. Sharing it on the Facebook and sending to one of my non-Facebook friends who works with the Freedom Project even though he’s a conservative Republican.

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