TED Gets its Comeuppance — At Long Last

One of the most irritating trends of the last decade or so is the cottage industry that has formed around self-styled (and inevitably left-leaning) intellectuals, a fad that inevitably finds them convening in places like Aspen or Davos (what’s the life of the mind, after all, without a little Dom Perignon?). At the top of this list is TED, a series of lectures where mid-level minds demonstrate their profundity by conjuring futurescapes out of whole cloth and not wearing neckties. If you’ve ever…

  1. Dave Carter
    C

    This is great!  I see this guy being the next messianic mess for the DNC.  

  2. Dave Roy

    That is hilarious.

    One of my former co-workers was really big on the whole TED Talks thing. I have to admit I could never sit through one.

  3. tabula rasa

    One of the reasons I let my Atlantic subscription (there were many others) was articles about people like this big-idea guy. If we were to go back and check, I’m convinced that vast majority of the big-idea guys featured in those articles remain in well-deserved obscurity for the remainder of their days.

    I have lots of great ideas.  E.g., genuine BS detector; stairway to heaven. I too just need some really good engineers.

    Here’s the thought process for most big ideas:

    1.  Big Idea

    2.  [Then a Miracle Happens]

    3.  Fame and riches for the Big Idea guy.

  4. Jimmy Carter

    Give that guy some stimulus money!

  5. Fricosis Guy

    Another of my best ideas stolen.

  6. AHLondon

    Dave Roy, the one about human orgasms was pretty funny. And there was one good one about education for girls in China, but otherwise this is a fab parody.

    Girl talk here: 

    http://www.texpatsabroad.com/2/post/2011/02/tedx-today.html

  7. Innocent Smith

    I did see a TED lecture, however, with Mike Rowe, that I thought was really good.  It was about the need to work hard and not stigmatize manual labor. 

  8. Sabrdance

    There may be a lot of detritus in the TED talks.

    But I want to speak up for the middle-minds who do these shows.  A lot of ideas come from the middle minds -there being so many more of them than of the big minds.  It will be the middle minds that do things like grow artificial kidneys, convince pacafists that the military matters, and environmentalists that we aren’t going to save the world by forcing Argentines and Brazilians to cook their food with wood.

    If they sound cliched while they’re doing it, I’m OK with that.

  9. Dave Roy
    AHLondon: Dave Roy, the one about human orgasms was pretty funny. And there was one good one about education for girls in China, but otherwise this is a fab parody.

    Girl talk here: 

    http://www.texpatsabroad.com/2/post/2011/02/tedx-today.html · 2 minutes ago

    Thanks for this! I’ll take a look at it.

  10. Pseudodionysius
    Dave Carter: This is great!  I see this guy being the next messianic mess for the DNC.   · 48 minutes ago

    The guy should have introduced himself as Ted Solyndra.

  11. Eeyore
    Ryan M: I did see a TED lecture, however, with Mike Rowe, that I thought was really good.  It was about the need to work hard and not stigmatize manual labor. 

    The Mike Rowe TED is definitely worth a look. As is his foundation in support of the trades.

  12. DutchTex

    I like the talk from Philip K. Howard on four ways to fix the legal system.  And, one talk to which Sabrdance might be refering, a talk from the Dutch chief of defense,  (like the Commander of the Joint Chiefs) Peter van Uhm was also shocking in its own way.  You don’t often hear any Europeans say this about guns or national defense: 

    “That is why I took up the gun — not to shoot, not to kill, not to destroy, but to stop those who would do evil, to protect the vulnerable, to defend democratic values, to stand up for the freedom we have to talk … about how we can make the world a better place .”

    I think most of us would consider it wishy washy, but for an EU citizen outside of airports, it’s rather shocking to see a rifle at all, much less one on a TED stage.

  13. Guruforhire

    They have some that are good. Typically some to at least consider.

  14. Ron Selander

    TED:  The Educationally Deluded

  15. DrewInWisconsin
    Eeyore

    Ryan M: I did see a TED lecture, however, with Mike Rowe, that I thought was really good.  It was about the need to work hard and not stigmatize manual labor. 

    The Mike Rowe TED is definitely worth a look. As is his foundation in support of the trades. · 18 minutes ago

    Yep. Although to be honest, it’s the only one I could sit through all the way.

  16. Antipodius

    I kinda liked Gen  McChrystal’s TED speech.

  17. jt

    The TED talks that I like tend to be academics who have studied one narrow aspect of human behaviour and drawn some conclusions.  The mid-level guys who stick with what they know and can demonstrate are pretty good. I agree that the Big Ideas and Futurists are silly.

    Here are some good ones:

    Porn Experiment – Internet porn rewires the brain

    Bruce Schneier – Security

    Jill Bolte Taylor – Stroke – Brain scientist has stroke and describes it

  18. Tom Lindholtz

    I love TED. You have to keep your bovine fecal filter in place for the ones that are touchy-feely. But the ones on science and technology that I’ve seen are totally fascinating. 

    but the Onion parody is spot on for some of the social science/humanities lectures. 

  19. Indaba

    This guy is convincing, maybe my BS detector has been burnt out by too much Obama.

  20. Brasidas

    Troy, this is great.  I’ve been waiting for someone to do a send-up of TED for a while now.  While some TED lectures have quite a lot to offer, most are too pretentious to take.  

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