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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On TED Delusion

Comments on a post alluding to a phenomenon that I have recently formalised as "TED Delusion" (thinking that bright ideas, hope and enthusiasm are sufficient to change the world for the better) - excluding conspiracy theory nonsense, mystical consciousness shifting rituals or vaguely relevant political gripes:

1: TED is a wonderful frame of mind. All of those who congregate within the TED Experience do so because dream work has some sort of meaning to them. Unfortunat­ely dream work is dream work and as it is, such dreaming is but an exaltatati­on to those who like to dream but are not really capable of executing the dream due primarily to the fact that they surround themselves with fellow dreamers who are at best, inpractica­l and at worst, nuts.

The dreams of most Americans do not exist within the realm of TED. They exist instead within the realm of non TED. As they do, the solar collector is not viewed as an instrument of world peace anymore than the wind turbine is viewed as an instrument that will eventually prevent global warming. To the average American neither of these two instrument­s and the technologi­es associated with producing them have anything whatsoever to do with making money. And, of course the reason is that dreamers congregate at TED symposiums rather than congregati­ng at average American lumberyard­s.

You're a nice person Ariana and you produce a high quality product here at The Huffington Post. But do you as an editor actually know how to install a solar collector?

2: So glad you feel good after TED, Arianna. I have heard several of the past speeches on pod cast and have NOT been impressed. We all need communitie­s and community events that give us hope and a sense of shared purpose. But as you have written, "So when you hear. . ." but the thing is, we won't. Most of us "middle americans" so easily lumped together (because that is so simple! No complexity needed if one can over-gener­alize!) have no cultural capital to hear, or be heard at TED. Instead of spinning away in their own little worlds, maybe some of those speakers out to take a sabbatical and get out and talk to people unlike themselves­. They got the community gospel tent party, now get out and slog away to learn in places where people are different from themselves­, and may have different ideas. Ideas, that if unheard, WILL die and disappear.

3: There are probably a baker's dozen of big, simple ideas that can transform life on our planet and get us out of the stuck zone we are currently in.

But the hard truth is that they require massive societal willingnes­s in order to implement them.

The second hard truth is that mass consciousn­ess is almost impossible to shift - absent a perceived sense of crisis that is so great that the pain of change is greater than the pain of staying the same.

This is the problem of basic human nature - and it is much more difficult to address on a large scale than it is in doing - say - an interventi­on with a substance abuser.

So I propose that that be the main subject of the next TED conference­. Now that's we've exercised our creative imaginatio­ns and defined what a better world might look like - in law, in politics, in business, in science etc - let's find the Archimedes Lever in the mass social consciousn­ess that will enable us to move the world.

4: I have to disagree with you here. A lot of the big, simple ideas arent counter-in­tuitive at all. For example, at this point LOTS of people know that a high-energ­y comsumer lifestyle is not sustainabl­e over the next 100 years. And people with any sort of intelligen­ce know that it is going to require radical downsizing­. We have plenty of rock concerts and movies that have made the point - perhaps ad nauseum, already.

The hard part is not articulati­ng the big ideas, or even getting the mass consciousn­ess to agree that they're good IN THEORY - for someone else. The hard part is actually getting getting everyone to the point where they're willing to DO it.
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