One of my favourite science bloggers, biochemistry professor Larry Moran (Sandwalk), comments in passing on the TED talks — the global institution which the sci-tech-design-online segment of the creative class loves to attend and watch:
There’s a certain mysticism about TED talks that I deplore. In order to be a successful TED talker you need to be articulate and clever. You need to be engaging and just a little bit radical—though not too radical. That’s just about all it takes to get an enthusiastic standing ovation from the people who comes to listen to these 18 talks. What you’re actually saying doesn’t really count for anything as this example plainly shows.
The mantra of TED talks is “Ideas Worth Spreading” but if you think about it there aren’t very many important new ideas that can be explained in 18 minutes. On the other hand, if you want to spread ideas that your audience already agrees with then TED talks are just the thing for you.
Right! I always wondered why I like to watch TED talks. I’ve never really felt I learned anything from them that I didn’t somehow knew before. So what it’s about is the nice and fuzzy feeling of being in agreement with a good-looking, charismatic, reasonably famous, and relaxed speaker (TED talk speakers are always extremely relaxed).
Maybe it’s the same feeling evangelical Christians have when they go listening to their favourite charismatic preacher on Sundays?