Benjamin Bratton, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at UCSD and Director of The Center for Design and Geopoltics at CALIT2, gives a TED talk explaining everything that's wrong with TED talks. He argues that "Science, philosophy and technology run on the model of American Idol as embodied by TED talks is a recipe for civilisational disaster"
The first reason is over-simplification.
To be clear, I think that having smart people who do very smart things explain what they doing in a way that everyone can understand is a good thing. But TED goes way beyond that.
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. This is not the solution to our most frightening problems rather this is one of our most frightening problems.
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