Friday, June 01, 2012

The Ugly Side of TED talks


TED talks have taken off like wildfire in recent years. Some of them have been indisputably great, with various experts weighing in on everything from creationism to the magic of Google to astronomical doomsday scenarios. Many, many others TED talks are simply tedious. Some are mind-numbingly absurd. Here is the best example of the worst of the TED talks that I know of.






Now, this is not a formal TED talk. It's part of an independent series of talks know as TEDx, licensed through the TED organization in the spirit of TED talks to share ideas worth spreading. Randy Powell is certainly spreading something. (Manure on a farmer's field comes to mind.)

It's nice that TED allows people to share the intellectual joy of the talks with their little licensing scheme, but they are going to have to find a way to vet talks at least a little better. Powell's talk is nothing more than 10 minutes of nonsense, which he claims to have inherited from another crank named Marko Rodin, and subsequently developed over the past twenty years. What a terrible waste of two decades.

I had considered trying to critique this talk point by point. After studying it as carefully as I was able, I am speechless. There is nothing coherent enough to critique. And yet, the crowd seems to be enthralled by the blithering nonsense.

I try to avoid posting about junk science out of the fear that adding one more link, even if it's associated with a negative review, can help in a small way to propagate the junk further. In this case, there's no real danger. This talk is so ridiculous that I'm pretty sure it's harmless, provided you don't mind throwing away ten minutes of your time.

One benefit to posting it is to help you see what sciency gibberish looks like. I hope that readers of this blog will never applaud someone for spouting strings of jargony nonsense, like the poor fools at the Charlotte TEDx talk did.


4 comments:

  1. What he didn't say: "Your drain will never clog again, your grass will cut itself (and with a tweak of one variable, it will even bag itself), your car will not only run forever on one tank of gas but it will never need an oil and filter change, cancer will actually increase your IQ, and Revelation will finally make sense (as opposed to sounding like Jesus on acid)."

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  2. Argh! I thought the button said "Preview"; instead, it published my previous comment. What was going to add was, "If this guy wasn't serious, this would have been the perfect April 1st posting."

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  3. He is mentally ill. He exhibits many of the characteristics of a person who is having a manic episode during a period psychotic thinking. He is not attached to reality at all. He show grandiosity with all the "I" statements.

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  4. He is mentally ill. He exhibits many of the characteristics of a person who is having a manic episode during a period of psychotic thinking. He is not attached to reality at all. He shows grandiosity with all the "I" statements.(typos fixed)

    ReplyDelete