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Playing Devil’s Advocate February 18, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

alice26thLast month, Eric shared a video about someone who is not a fan of TED talks and asked for our thoughts on the speaker’s points.

As I watched the video and listened to the speaker’s criticisms of TED talks, these thoughts (which I shared with Eric) crossed my mind:

1. All TED talks are not created equal.

2. TED addresses a great diversity and range of topics.

3. Bratton’s points apply to some TED talks some of the time.

4. TED speakers address complicated topics in an accessible fashion.

5. TED never promised to “save the world.”

6. TED is just one “book” in the world of Global information.

7.  Those who want more information on a topic need not stop with TED.

Anyone who expects to move from “IGNORANT” to “EXPERT” after a short lecture on a complicated topic is in serious need of a reality check.

From my perspective, TED’s primary benefit lies in reminding us that the “what is” is not a constant or a given, it is static and changing.

TED Talks open eyes to the field of possibilities.  Instead of despair (“I have seen the future and it doesn’t work”), viewers leave with hope (“I have seen the future and it MIGHT work”).

* * *

Calvin-gots-an-IdeaBefore adopting someone else’s criticisms about THIS, judgments about THAT, or pronouncements about THE OTHER THING as your own . . . step back and play Devil’s Advocate first to clarify what YOU think.

He who trims himself to suit everyone else will soon whittle himself away. ~ Raymond Hull

Aah . . . that’s better!


1. sued51 - February 18, 2014

Love that quote at the end by Raymond Hull…so true.
As far as the TED talks…I agree with you: some work, some don’t, but I think they are like appetizers…if a topic interests you, you can further pursue it. Sometimes they are entertaining, sometimes it makes you say…no…I don’t think I care about that.

nrhatch - February 18, 2014

Well put, Sue ~ like appetizers! TED speakers give quick and engaging overviews to fascinating topics that raise awareness.

After that, it is up to us to decide whether to dig deeper in a given topic or turn our attention elsewhere.

2. Lisa A. Kramer - February 18, 2014

I honestly couldn’t watch the whole video. He may have some valid points, but I am a firm believer that talking about something can motivate people to want to learn more and make a difference. Sure, TED talks aren’t perfect, but neither are talks at academic conferences. As long as people remember that no word is gospel, and to question everything, I don’t see how TED talks are harmful.

nrhatch - February 18, 2014

Yes! TED speakers are compelling introductions. Some people engage with a topic by getting involved. Others by sharing the information with others. Still others, by turning to the next topic.

Here’s to choosing the causes and topics that speak to us!

3. diannegray - February 18, 2014

I’ve probably only seen two or three Ted Talks and they’re not bad if you want to find out about someone or something. I haven’t seen Eric’s video (BTW who is Eric?)

nrhatch - February 18, 2014

Eric Tonningsen, who blogs at “Awakening To Awareness,” posted the video of Professor Bratton’s talk.

BTW: Another Eric I follow is Eric John Baker ~ who writes about writing, unless he’s in the mood to work on his novel.

diannegray - February 18, 2014

I went over and checked out Eric Tonningsen’s blog after I posted this (thinking – how lazy am I to just ask you without taking a look myself? – LOL) Thank you 😉

nrhatch - February 18, 2014

I’ve done that. 😉

4. Don - February 18, 2014

Well said Nancy. I read the critique and I must say my sentiments are with you.

nrhatch - February 19, 2014

Eric’s post seemed a perfect springboard for a more general discussion on “making up our own mind” or “keeping an open mind” or “weighing arguments” before adopting them “lock, stock, and barrel.”

People love to throw arguments around to support their view of the world ~ it’s up to the “viewing audience” to decide whether those arguments have merit. If not, we can safely ignore them.

5. Behind the Story - February 19, 2014

Those of us who write and read short blog posts can’t complain about how brief TED talks are.

nrhatch - February 19, 2014

Exactly! I’m not an expert on most/any/all of the topics I’ve addressed on SLTW . . . but I know a little bit about THIS and a little bit about THAT. Sharing what we know may spark curiosity, causing someone wandering the cyber corridors to dig a bit deeper into topics of interest.

6. Eric Tonningsen - February 19, 2014

I do hope, Nancy, that you weren’t inferring that I was adopting Dr. Bratton’s criticisms. In sharing the post, my intent was to remain neutral on his perspectives while simply inviting others to share their thoughts about his views. I could have easily assumed a Devil’s advocate role though some may have inferred that very act as bias, either way. Your closing words don’t make clear who you feel/felt was responsible for clarifying. If it was intended for me, I would welcome directness. Absent that specific, this comment.

nrhatch - February 19, 2014

Not at all. I used my thoughts about Bratton’s criticisms to illustrate that we need not absorb the opinions of others (in text, tv, or face-to-face) wholesale.

Your surface neutrality is clear from the article you wrote ~ which is why I linked back to it.

7. Three Well Beings - February 22, 2014

I really enjoy TED talks, too. When I browse through topics I realize how many interests there are to choose from, and I’m selective, based on my own interests and how much time I have. But isn’t it great that we live in a time when there is such easy access to information. I appreciate your perspective on the criticism and don’t really understand the criticism in the first place! There is something for everyone…people have interesting biases sometimes. 🙂

nrhatch - February 22, 2014

Yes! This Information Age overflows with interesting nuggets to nibble on until we find a topic that compels us to dive in, head first, to gather as many details as possible.

Professor Bratton, an eloquent speaker who is “easy on the ears,” seemed to be complaining that TED paints Zebras when he would prefer them to paint Giraffes. :mrgreen:

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