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Author Topic: Favorite TED talks: NOW with TED club and metaphysical discussion. Join today!
Tatiana
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Is there already a thread for these? I searched and didn't find one. If I overlooked it please link me. Thanks!

I've been watching a lot of TED talks lately for fun and there are some amazing, fascinating, jaw-dropping, inspiring, and beautiful things on there. I just wanted to share a few of my favorites. Please share yours as well and let us know what you liked about them.

This Dance Piece by Pilobolus is the most amazing thing I've ever seen, I think. It's almost as though the dancers are one creature with two bodies. Or even one creature with one body that can be separated from time to time into individual components. It's so flowing and graceful and organic that it seems like something discovered rather than invented. I just keep watching it over and over.

Warning: the dancers' bodies aren't covered up much, but you totally don't want them to be because you need to see all the amazing things they're doing with them.

Porcelain Girl, if you still read hatrack at all please watch this piece. It totally made me think of you.

[ February 07, 2010, 03:33 AM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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Tatiana
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Tonight I've been exploring things under the theme of The Creative Spark, and one of my favorites was this one about teaching kids to take charge. I want to learn how to teach kids to do that! I got all inspired and my hair stood on end and I got weepy-like and energized and enthused. I love TED!
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Tatiana
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A fascinating talk that I've watched five times now is this one by a molecular biologist turned Buddhist monk about the enormous plasticity of the brain, mind training in the form of meditation, and how it has the capacity to take us far outside the typical human bell curve of ordinary experience towards happiness, fulfillment, well-being, compassion, and joy. Trained monks (the Olympic Athletes of mind training) show EEG patterns that are 4 standard deviations outside the normal curve toward the direction of joy. I think this talk has profound implications for our entire experience of living.

Note: his French accent is a little hard to discern so you might want to turn on the English subtitles.

[ February 04, 2010, 04:27 AM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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Tatiana
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One more! Probably the most delightful and inspiring so far for me has been this talk by Elizabeth Gilbert that I've watched three times now, about the quirky and irrational forces of creativity, and how we think of them.

She's so likable here and has such good insights that I bought her book "Eat, Pray, Love" and found it very good. I'm not usually one to read stuff that looks too chick-litty, but this one was suitably meaty as well as entertaining. It was sort of like a Zen-and-the-Art-of-Motorcycle-Maintenance-Lite, if you've read that one. In other words, some interesting philosophical explorations at the heart of a good story. I definitely recommend it.

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Tatiana
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Talking about ideas gives me such a kick. It's been a long time since we did much of that on Hatrack but that was the original draw, the type of topic we mostly riffed on around here. Now I'm finding more of that on Goodreads and TED. Anyone up for a jatraquero idea-fest revival?
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Mucus
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TED is definitely a very interesting resource.

I'll highlight two talks that stood out for me. Hans Rosling's talks are a very interesting and funny illustration of statistics in regard to the world.

This talk by Richard Dawkins on militant atheism is also interesting from a historical perspective since it dates from 2002 before the major success of The God Delusion but it is the first time (AFAIK) that he articulated many of the ideas behind the book at the same time.

[ February 04, 2010, 07:54 PM: Message edited by: Mucus ]

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Jim-Me
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I like Aimee Mullins.
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King of Men
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quote:
show EEG patterns that are 4 standard deviations outside the normal curve toward the direction of joy.
"Four standard deviations" is a matter of measurement; I'm happy to believe that people with unusual training have unusual EEG patterns. (Modulo selection effects, of course. It's quite possible that people with this 4-SD deviation are the ones who take to meditation.) But "the direction of joy" instantly sets off my bunkum detector. If the current state of the art allows us to measure joy from EEG patterns, that is much more momentous than a mere ability to train your joyfulness through meditation. That would be a minor side effect; you can readily improve anything you can reliably measure. So how come we hear about it from this guy with a clear agenda to advance, rather than the scientists who, presumably, invented this amazing joy-measuring procedure?

Now, if he had said something like "The (size/frequency/third Fourier component) of alpha waves, which is associated with (self-reported happiness/financial success//other measures of health)", then that would be very interesting indeed. But when he resorts to the "direction of joy", sorry, that's propaganda.

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Tatiana
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Actually, did you watch the talk? My one sentence summary wasn't meant to stand alone as a scientific paper. Go watch what he said before you call it bunkum.

And by the way, KoM, please speak to me when you post in reply to my posts, with a more respectful and friendlier tone. If I were Papa you would have been corrected or banned long ago for your disrespectful tone of posting.

I'm interested in speaking to friends, here, not debating with Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. If you want to speak to me, please do it in a way that presupposes I'm a decent and fairly intelligent human being who's trying to share something of value with her friends. Otherwise, I'll just put the internal ignore button on and not see you, is that okay? I hope you don't mind me taking that approach. I respect your intelligence and think you have a lot to offer hatrack as a poster.

Please take this gentle correction as it's meant, in a spirit of friendliness and caring for your well-being and the community here. Picture me as I am, a rather plump and aging mom, aunt, and grandma to many, with my gray hair in a bun, and smiling and speaking to you softly in a voice that others can't overhear. I hoping you can take this gentle nudge in the spirit in which it's intended. I'm probably decades older than you and I'm from the southern U.S. where we all believe in correcting each other's kids on into their 80s or until whenever it is we croak. Thanks. =)

[ February 04, 2010, 11:43 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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Tatiana
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Mucus, I love the first two of Hans Rosling's talks I saw under the "most favorited all time" sorting of talks. Because of your link, I realized he's done more talks at TED than I knew of. So I'm planning to watch the others tonight. Thanks for the link!

I also haven't watched the militant atheism one by Richard Dawkins, though he's a good scientist and I loved The Selfish Gene. I do get tired of him harping on the single subject of religion, which in my opinion he doesn't really understand, so that's why I've postponed watching that one. But he's a delightful and intelligent guy so I'll surely watch it eventually.

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Nighthawk
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J. J. Abrams talking about his "Mystery Box" and putting things up Tom Cruise's nose
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Tatiana
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Nighthawk, I LOVED that one! So funny and intriguing. I've not seen Lost but a lot of people seem to really enjoy it, and meeting this guy who created it and/or wrote much of it makes me understand why. I almost started crying about his grandfather myself, even though he said that about crying at TED in a jokey tone. I could tell how much he really loved him. I want to be a grandparent like that! I want to introduce my grandkids to ideas and resources that teach them to explore their creativity and find their missions in life, you know? Nothing could be more fun!
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Strider
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If you're interested in a Dawkins talk that has nothing to do with religion, watch this talk on how the universe is queerer than we suppose.

I love that Pilobolus video btw, it's one of my favorites as well. Here's a random sampling of some of my other favorites:

Love and gender from an evolutionary perspective

The paradox of choice

Do schools kill creativity?

Fabulous 14 year old piano player - at one point she improves a completely new piece of music from 5 notes picked at random

Endangered cultures

How are brains think about other people's thoughts and judge their actions

Our buggy moral code

Are we in control of our own decisions?

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Tatiana
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I'll watch all those, thanks! I intend to go looking on the web for more Pilobolus vidz. I've heard the name for many years, but I guess I never thought to do a websearch about them before. The only problem with TED is that too many intriguing possibilities for more learning open up at once, and I can't even keep track of them or remember all of them to follow up on, you know? =)

I did find out more about Sunitha Krishnan who absolutely knocked my socks off with her galvanizing talk about rescuing victims of human trafficking. Her organization Prajwala is doing great work, so I gave them some money. The thing I loved about her is here's this woman who looks like a tiny 12 year old girl to my eyes, but she has a PhD and more courage in her little finger than I have in my whole body. I just loved her instantly! She's faced down organized crime and heads of state in the defense of the most helpless and victimized people there are, been beat up six times or so, is willing to verbally slap us all in the face (in global society) to try to wake us up to the fact that we're all part of the problem. Nothing illustrates to me better the fact that Will, Intelligence, and Love are more powerful than anything else in the universe. I think even Seyfert Galaxies would bow to her superior vision and explode in another direction or something if she took them on, you know? =)

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Strider
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Awesome Tatiana, and btw, I'm totally up for an idea revival! If you wanna discuss any of the talks linked to, I'm up for it. I've seen most of the ones you linked to above so I can talk about those as well.

Do you think we could actually get something like a TED club going(along the lines of a book club), where we pick a different TED talk to talk about every few days?

There have been a handful of TED threads over the years with people linking to various talks and talking about how much they love TED. But never a concerted effort to facilitate real conversation.

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Tatiana
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I would LOVE that! I elect you head of the club. What's our first talk we're going to discuss?
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Strider
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hah, okay. [Smile]

I nominate the first one I linked above.

Love and gender from an evolutionary perspective

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Tatiana
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Okay, I just watched it. That was really interesting. I think she's on to something with the three drives.

My first objection was to her definitive statement "Men and Women have very different brains" or whatever: that's probably not a direct quote. I think, on the contrary, that for a lot of traits, men and women may have somewhat different average levels of talent or ability, but that the amount of overlap always seem totally to swamp the actual amount of difference between the sexes.

Let me link to a graph that illustrates what I'm saying. The x axis here is the variable, maybe it's spatial ability, or math scores, or any other task that we're saying men's brains do better than women's. What they usually display is some sort of bell-shaped curve for both men and women, and perhaps the average for men is somewhat higher than for women. But if you look at the actual data points, for most any man's point, there are plenty of women with higher scores. Ditto for most any woman's point there are lots of men with higher scores. Indeed, the overlapping region is probably 95% of the area under the two curves, while non-overlapping residual space is pretty tiny.

That's why I think it makes a whole lot more sense to think of humans as individuals than to decide men's brains display quality x and women's brains display quality y. Note that the women's curve is somewhat higher overall because there are fewer living men than women. That means there may even be MORE individual women than men with high performance in a certain area, even though the average woman is lower than the average man. Does that make sense?

I'm also thinking of the book by Stephen Jay Gould called "The Mismeasure of Man". I think all these pat just-so stories about men's and women's traits based on so-called evolutionary reasons are highly prone to scientific bias in the direction that we already believe, just because of our inherent social biases and default-assumptions. In Mismeasure of Man, SJG shows that seemingly rational scientists once had all sorts of science showing that whites are superior genetically to blacks. They even changed through the years in contradictory ways as science changed. (e.g. Blacks are inferior because they retain more juvenile traits into adulthood except then later that quality of neoteny is found to be a big part of what distinguishes humans from non-human sibling species, so then studies showed that blacks were inferior because they retained FEWER juvenile traits into adulthood, lol. Lots of stuff like that.) That's caused me to be extremely skeptical of just-so story science like this. I think Desmond Morris is very unscientific in this exact way, as is Oliver Sacks, for instance. (Not in the sense of racism but in saying things like "as we all know, such and such is true about people and here's the evolutionary reason why" which is just a just-so story and not at all demonstrated by the actual data.)

So that's what I'd say about the first part of her speech. It didn't strike me as something we know like we know gravity, or whatever. I feel like this area of knowledge is quite soft still.

Another thing this sort of thinking does is ignore completely people who are gay of either gender, or who are transsexuals, bisexuals, hermaphrodites or inter-sexual, and so on. They are likely to be something like 30% or more of the species, altogether, though our societal biases often overlook them completely.

I myself, though heterosexual, have always been called a tom-boy, and my areas of expertise and talent lie in regions that our society sees as being typically male. I guess that's why I'm so skeptical about "girls are this way and boys are this other way" scientific thinking, because I'm almost always personally more like the supposed boys' way than the girls'. So what I see it as, is a faulty definition or faulty stereotyping on the part of society or scientists. I think it's a false definition of femininity that's the problem, and not anything about me. I take myself by definition to be a perfectly valid and normal female person, and I challenge anyone who disagrees with me on that.

The second part, though, was far more intriguing to me. I think it's interesting what she says about how society may change based on the modifications and training we do of our different brain systems for lust, romantic love, and long-term attraction. Not just SSRIs but also widespread pornography use, the easy availability of sex-toys, the earlier onset of sexual behavior and stimulation in both genders, the more widespread acceptance of autoeroticism (oh that's right, on hatrack we say onanism), all these things are changing how our brains respond to each other, and so they're going to change society as a whole a lot too in ways that we probably don't forsee.

I read someone (sorry, I forget who) who opined that in the future we will all have sex robots as toys and actual human intercourse will become rare. After all, real women and men with real flaws and normal bodies can't compete with dolls or animated toys built to simulate some idealized unrealistic version of the opposite sex. It's like we'll all have Stepford spouses. I thought that was an interesting idea, though I think it would be very sad if that happened. I stumbled upon a documentary about this company that builds realistic female life-sized dolls, once, and profiling four or five men who have the dolls. They all for whatever reason couldn't really find girlfriends. One of them used to date women, but since he had bought six or eight of the dolls for himself, he just didn't really have any girlfriends anymore. He was the most normal of the men they showed. He was dating a woman briefly during the show but after she met his dolls, and soon after they began having a sexual relationship, she decided to leave him. My guess is that he asked her to lie perfectly still like a doll and not make any noises during sex, and she then got creeped out and decided to leave him to his dolls. Just a guess. [Smile]

Anyway, another thought I had along these lines is this. We always read, when researching male and female sexuality, that men are very visual in their sexual responses. They respond mostly to visual cues. I'm wondering if that could possibly be mainly because of the habit of casual pornography use (which is mostly visual, I'm supposing) that most men in our society seem to begin from an early age in adolescence. Could it be that men train their minds and bodies through use of pornography to respond sexually mostly to visual cues? I don't have any anecdotal data either way, but it's a hypothesis that occurred to me. I'm wondering what men themselves might think.

To sum up, an interesting and excellent talk with lots of ideas and implications that spin off from her subject. Great first choice by our president for our new TED club! [Smile]

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Tatiana
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I don't know what the rules are for our club, but maybe we should leave this talk up for a few days to a week for everyone who's interested to talk about, then maybe we could take turns picking the next talk for discussion, and maybe each member could pick one in turn. To become a member and get in the queue to choose the next talk, maybe you just have to make at least one thoughtful comment on someone else's choice first. Does that sound workable?
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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:


Anyway, another thought I had along these lines is this. We always read, when researching male and female sexuality, that men are very visual in their sexual responses. They respond mostly to visual cues. I'm wondering if that could possibly be mainly because of the habit of casual pornography use (which is mostly visual, I'm supposing) that most men in our society seem to begin from an early age in adolescence. Could it be that men train their minds and bodies through use of pornography to respond sexually mostly to visual cues? I don't have any anecdotal data either way, but it's a hypothesis that occurred to me. I'm wondering what men themselves might think.


I'll give up my porn when your pry my keyboard from my cold, dead hands.

And what's wrong with being visually-oriented? That's part of what picking a viable mate is about. There are also plenty of girls I've dated who I KNOW would not have been nearly as willing to date me if I looked like Quasimodo. Their attraction is based on appearance too, it's just not as focused toward breasts/butt/etc..

I've used pr0n on and off most of the last 15 years, and I am still way more motivated by a woman's intelligence, personality, and general character than by a woman's looks. Do you know why? It's call "life experience", maturing, etc. After dating/knowing beautiful annoying women, homely wonderful girls, and dumb and smart girls (and many other more specific subtypes), and being married and divorced, I KNOW from experience that the women I would want to date/marry/anything are the ones that can

1. Hold an intelligent conversation on many subjects
2. be a lot of fun to be around
3. be trusted with access to my money, etc.

When brains, personality, and character are good enough, a woman can be as ugly as homemade sin, and I don't even notice. In a case like that, I just think she's beautiful, and that's the end of it. I know I'm not the only man like that, either. Younger men are often stupid about pretty girls, but relatively fewer older men are primarily looking for physical beauty only. IMHO, anyway. [Smile]


IIRC, I've seen a couple of studies that show the incidence of rape goes down in any area after the internet is introduced and becomes widely available there.

That definitely does support the assumption that actual human intercourse will decrease at some point, in favor of sexbots or direct nerve/brain stimulation, or whatever. It does NOT support the assumption that women are worse off as a result of pr0n, IMHO. [Smile]

LOL your post was hilarious. You actually managed to contradict yourself within the same post. First you complained about assumptions that have no studies to back them up, and then did the same thing at the end.

Faith-based thinking, much? LOL

I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, I just felt that was a little too obvious to go without mention, maybe.

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The Rabbit
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I love this one my Jonathan Haidt
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
... I do get tired of him harping on the single subject of religion, which in my opinion he doesn't really understand, so that's why I've postponed watching that one.

I disagree, I think he understands it perfectly well [Smile]

But anyways, I agree that you probably won't appreciate that one. It is very much "written by an atheist, for atheists" and what I think is one of the earlier airings of his public thoughts on the religion issue (as opposed to just reacting to attacks on evolution).

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TomDavidson
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quote:
They respond mostly to visual cues. I'm wondering if that could possibly be mainly because of the habit of casual pornography use...
I doubt it. I was responding sexually to visual cues long before I got interested in porn. Seriously. I think you've actually got it backwards: men like porn better because they respond sexually to visual cues, not the other way around.
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Strider
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Tatiana, you had a lot to say!

I'm also weary when someone makes a statement like, "men's brains are like this, and women's brains are like this," similarly to how i get annoyed when someone goes on about left vs. right brains. But I also think it's a mistake to discount differences in brains of different sexes. Whether the argument is made from evolutionary history, or whether it solely looks at neurophysiology. If neuroscience tells us definitively that there is a measurable difference in the amount or types of neuronal connections across genders we'd be foolish not to study the implications of that for behavior or cognition. Same with data that might tell us about relative levels of neurochemicals.

Now, i'm not an expert and I don't know if the data backs up these claims. But if it does, we're best off paying attention to it. It's worth noting that nothing in this would imply one gender is inferior to another, but ignoring the fact of our physiology would be just as bad as overreaching in the pronouncements we make based on that physiology.

As to the comment that steven jumped on you for, while I disagree with the way in which he responded, I do agree that your statement has problems. Mostly that it seems you're making an assumption about the causal nature of the connection between the visual nature of men's sexuality and pornography. I think it's much more probable that pornography exists, and is more prevalent among males, due to the very fact that males are more visual than females in regards to sexuality.

Before I was ever trained by society and pornography to think about women as sexual objects ( [Razz] ) I wanted to see naked women. And when I first saw a porno magazine as a kid, I was in awe. I think in this case, our evolutionary history IS a good indicator of why are sexual responses are the way they are! I mean, it's not like porn magazines for women aren't available, or that television doesn't gratuitously show men's rippling muscles and chests as much as they show the correlate with women, or that video porn isn't available to both sexes. I certainly agree that women are objectified more than men in our society, but my point is, the material exists to warp women's minds just as much as men's to respond more to visual cues, and I'd guess that this hasn't happened due more to inherent differences.

Oh, in regards to logistics for conversations. I'd say three days should be good for each talk. I agree we should all take turns nominating a talk. And that someone should make a substantive remark before being allowed to nominate. I'd also add that the remark should at least in part address the talk itself, rather than a criticism of someone else's response. It would hopefully guarantee that the person did in fact watch the talk. Which is to say, if someone hasn't watched the talk and wants to converse, that's fine. But if they want others to watch a talk of their choosing, they should make the effort to watch someone else's.

[ February 05, 2010, 12:22 PM: Message edited by: Strider ]

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Mike
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A few points here.

1. It is interesting that what she calls romantic love is mediated by the dopamine circuits, that it is a drive rather than an emotion. This does seem to go along with my intuition this kind of love is characterized by wanting rather than liking. Not long ago I came across an article on a U of Michigan study that indicates that we (or mice, anyway) have separate brain systems for wanting and liking, which explains a lot (to me) and has deep implications for theories of happiness, fun, and morality.

2. On gender differences and mismeasurement. First mismeasurement: yes, many scientists tend to use just-so stories to justify their observations and many metrics of human behavior and ability have turned out to be flawed. That doesn't mean we don't have useful metrics now or won't in the future. Additionally, most just-so stories can be tested to the point where they become much better supported, or thrown away — that this doesn't always (or usually?) happen is the problem, not the just-so stories in the first place. Second, the claim that male and female brains are different is a statistical one, not (at least from Helen Fisher) a categorical one. This lets you make predictions about individuals that will be right more often than not; it does not claim to be 100% effective, nor does it say "all women have this set of traits in these amounts and all men have these other traits in these other amounts." I'm sure you know that even if the genders' histograms for a trait overlap by a large extent, the difference can be highly statistically significant. I could go on in more detail, particularly about your comment on being a "normal female person", but I won't unless you ask. [Smile]

It's true that gender differences, like all human behavior, are entangled to a large extent in non-linear feedback-reinforcement systems, i.e. culture and upbringing. (See also handedness, sexual orientation, intelligence, etc.) This complicates things. It might be worth pointing out, though, that a claim of differently gendered brains could be an observation of what exists in the current human population; human brains are somewhat plastic, so some of these brain differences come out of cultural "nurture" effects.

3. Pornography, sex toys, onanism, etc. This is a complicated topic that I would love to talk about, but don't have time to address right now. I'll probably have more time over the weekend, though, so I may weigh in.

--

As far as discussion structure goes, I'd actually lean towards a separate thread for each TED talk, or maybe a thread for a related group of talks. Long, monolithic threads can have a way of inhibiting discussion from posters who don't check in as often (due to the overwhelming quantity of reading material just to get in the door), and many times interesting topics that could be further developed get lost by the wayside when something silly or procedural or controversial comes up. There's nothing wrong with discussing multiple topics simultaneously, and I'd say different threads are ideal for that. Just don't start em all at once. [Smile]

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Strider
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That's a good idea Mike. So how about we discuss a new talk every three days. But each discussion gets its own thread. We can label each one "TED Club discussion - <insert name of TED talk here>".
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Strider
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Rabbit, I love that talk by Jonathan Haidt has well!
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Alcon
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Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

Can't believe it hasn't been mentioned yet. I teared up a bit at the end of it.

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King of Men
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quote:
If you want to speak to me, please do it in a way that presupposes I'm a decent and fairly intelligent human being who's trying to share something of value with her friends. Otherwise, I'll just put the internal ignore button on and not see you, is that okay?
On review, I find that I said nothing objectionable. You may do as you like with your buttons, internal and otherwise. As for your claim to be fairly intelligent, I do not see that I said anything to contradict it, but in any case it is not a point I presuppose in any discussion; I'll form my own judgement of that, thank you.

quote:
I'm interested in speaking to friends, here, not debating with Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.
And are your friends required never to critique anything you might share with them? I gave an argument for why I thought the video, or at any rate your presentation of it, silly; is that beyond the bounds of polite discourse where you are from?
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Nighthawk
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quote:
Originally posted by Alcon:
Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

Can't believe it hasn't been mentioned yet. I teared up a bit at the end of it.

Didn't even know that was on the site; I didn't think it had anything to do with TED.
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Strider
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Yeah, it's a great lecture, but I think it just got added to TED recently through their "best talks from the web" thing they're doing right now.

I think for future "TED club" discussions it might be best to avoid those types of talks since most of them are in the hour length as opposed to the standard TED 20 minutes. But I do highly recommend that lecture, it was very touching.

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Tatiana
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Wow, lots to respond to here! I'm going to take it piecemeal so my poor old brain can focus on one thing at a time.

First, steven: "You actually managed to contradict yourself within the same post. First you complained about assumptions that have no studies to back them up, and then did the same thing at the end."

I actually have not put forth this idea as a theory at all, but merely a hypothesis I'd like to ask for people to chime in on. Obviously as a female I don't have any idea about whether it's true or plausible myself. I'm just asking the question from guys who might actually have an opinion. So far I'm getting good feedback, which is great! Thanks for your viewpoint!

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Tatiana
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Strider: My remark about posting tone was directed as Kom, not steven. steven's tone was fine, I thought. He just mistook what was merely a question being asked for a proposed theory, as I mentioned above. I'm getting good feedback, unanimous so far, so it looks like my hypothesis is incorrect. I'm still interested in more data points if anyone else wants to weigh in.

On your next point, I see what you mean that average differences can still be highly significant. It's just that in most cases people seem to apply that knowledge about averages as though it really meant "almost all" men are better than "almost all" women at such-and-so skill, which of course scientists would be less likely to do. Just knowing something about male and female averages still tells us nearly nothing about individual males and females, is what I'm saying. The gender overlap is the most important feature of the data, not the gender differences.

I think the logistical suggestions are excellent. We should have each talk discussed for three days and start a new thread for each talk. Do you want to make a new thread and try to pull out the discussion about this first talk? Or should we leave this thread as the "favorites and first discussion" thread and have subsequent ones for each additional discussion? I think I'm in favor of the latter as it's less work. And it shouldn't be too confusing to have just one talk discussed in-depth on the favorites thread. What do you think?

I also agree with your stipulation that before proposing a talk for the group to discuss, a new member must make a comment on a talk itself, not just on prior posts. That way everyone must listen to at least one talk proposed by someone else before they get a chance to propose their own talk for the group to watch.

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Tatiana
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Mike: I completely agree with your statistical observations. Again, the thing I'm cautioning people against is mistaking that for categorical statements about men's and women's brains. As for me being a normal valid female, I do insist that I count as female, and am as authentically female as anyone, so how I am should be included in any definition of how females are. I don't claim to be an average female, whatever that might be. Is there anyone who is truly an average anything, I wonder? So that's what I'm saying.

For all the many, many times I've heard in my life statements to the effect of "girls don't do that" or "girls shouldn't be that way" or "girls aren't", I've found very close to 100% of them to be false in my case. Just saying. =) Hence, I learned long ago automatically to ignore such statements.

And I'd love to hear more of what you think about your point 3, when you get time. I find it really interesting to try and project what might be the results of society's changes in all these ways. I'm very interested in gender issues, and I've been a feminist since the 60s. Obviously I think many of the changes in gender politics have been for the good. For one thing, the fact that pictures of scantily clad women are ubiquitous in our culture contributes to me being able to do my job because the sight of me in jeans and a t-shirt, hard hat, safety glasses, and safety boots on the jobsite is not one that men find distracting or sexual, contrary to the situation 60 years ago, say, when Katherine Hepburn caused a scandal by wearing trousers.

I'm just wondering if we're losing the motivations for pair bonding at the same time, which would possibly greatly affect the stability of families for child-rearing purposes, and maybe adversely affect child development as well. The answer to that problem, if it does happen to be true, might be for society to begin to reward the work of parenting commensurate with its value to greater society and the continuity of culture. Or it might be to take other steps to enhance the likelihood of pair bonding. I'm not sure. But questions like that I find to be the most important implications of these societal changes.

I mean, seriously, I love being able to own property, and also not being property myself. I like being able to wear clothes that are comfortable and weather appropriate as well as activity appropriate. (Women engineers working on projects in Kuwait have been attacked on the streets for wearing shorts, for instance.) I like being paid well for the work I do. If the price of all that is also that men are less interested in pair-bonding, then it may well be worth it. But perhaps the two concepts are separable, and we want to choose as a society which effects we value most.

[ February 06, 2010, 12:51 AM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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Tatiana
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All: I'm going through and watching all the favorites people have suggested, though it's taking me longer than I thought it would. Please keep the suggestions coming! [Smile]
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Raymond Arnold
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I don't think KoM did anything objectionable in this thread yet. My initial interpretation of Tatiatna's statement was for him to keep it that way. Having read more I don't really know.

I'm pretty sure that men's propensity for visual stimulation predates easy access to pornography.

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Strider
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
All: I'm going through and watching all the favorites people have suggested, though it's taking me longer than I thought it would. Please keep the suggestions coming! [Smile]

Sorry! I shouldn't have suggested so many! [Smile] I even cut down my list to try to not overload the thread.

Regarding the logistics conversation...how do we decide who gets to pick each new talk? We have criteria down for qualifying, but if multiple people have suggestions what do we do? Do we have participants make nominations and have everyone vote? Then the winning vote gets watched and that person gets put out of the queue till everyone who wants has had a video of their's watched? Then everyone is free to suggest again and the process repeats. Is there a better way to do this? We can take the voting out of it and just do something like alphabetical order of qualifying participants(by poster name). If the next nominator in the queue isn't around or is unreachable, they get skipped and have to wait till next round. And if a poster joins late they are slotted into the appropriate spot and wait till it comes around to them. This latter method seems a bit smoother of a process.

Whichever way we decide I can keep a little database of participants and the like to manage things smoothly.

[ February 06, 2010, 01:51 AM: Message edited by: Strider ]

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Tatiana
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I think we should just go in order. You were first and I'll be second. I think maybe Mike is third if he wants to consider himself a member. We'll just make a list of each person who qualifies and tell them when it's their turn to pick. When we get to the end of the list, it's your turn again. Does that sound workable?

In addition to the in-depth discussions of the Ted club, I'm still planning to make quick comments about people's other favorites that I'm watching. Tonight so far I've watched the third and fourth most popular Hans Rosling talks, one about HIV prevalence and one about how it makes no sense nowadays to group the world into developing and developed countries. Both were delightful and made a lot of sense. His data is presented is such fantastic ways that show us a lot more about what is really happening than anything else I've read.

Next I watched Richard Dawkins talk about militant atheism. He's brilliant and fun to watch, but I think he misses the boat entirely when he argues against religion as a whole. As a religious person I watched his talk and found nothing specific to disagree with of his points. It's just that my religion doesn't involve anything he's opposed to, really. I understand evolution and natural selection and know that creationists are mistaken. I don't look at God as a theory that explains the complexity of the universe. I don't believe in supernaturalism at all, only lots of natural laws and events that we have yet to elucidate or understand. I'm first of all a scientist, and I know a good bit about physics and cosmology, none of which contradicts my religious views. Indeed there's enormous amounts of things we KNOW that we don't know in science, such as what dark energy is, what dark matter is, what is the quantum nature of gravity, if it has one, what's going on in the other 7 dimensions postulated in string theory, if anything, and whether string theory even fits the observations we make or not, since the calculations of the theory are currently too complicated for us to carry out, etc. etc. Just a bare sketch of all we KNOW we don't know can fill encyclopedias. And besides that, I'm sure there's also a lot that we DON'T yet know we don't know, if you know what I mean. =)

That's why I believe his militant atheism is misguided. I think instead I would just call for better education across the board, so that both religious and non-religious people can have the benefit of all the knowledge about the universe that we've obtained.

My religion specifically incorporates everything true. Science is as much a part of my religion as revelation. We study everything about all subjects. And in my religion the MORE educated a person is, the more devoted to religion they tend to be. This is contrary to the trend Dawkins notes in people overall. So I guess I deplore ignorance every bit as much as Dawkins does, I just don't particularly associate religion with ignorance.

Next I'm watching the next Dawkins talk on our queer universe. He's really good!

Oh Strider, I'm GLAD you posted so many favorites, since I'm blowing through them at many times the rate of 1 every three days. I need more good talks for my input queue, not less. So by all means please expand your list!

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Tatiana
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Dawkins on how truly mind-blowingly weird the universe really is, was fun. I often want to show people cosmic scales. I want us to understand more intuitively how small we are compared to the cosmos. But I don't know how to do it. I also want to show people how completely bizarrely against common intuition our deepest scientific understanding of the underpinnings of physics is. Quantum mechanics is so totally weird that it's something you want to say "no, this can't possibly how things work" about, but it can. They do. lol. I think literature and art have yet to encompass this understanding, which is only a hundred years old or so. And artists rarely study this sort of thing. I want people everywhere to see it, because it's humbling, and character building, and also because it's delightful and quirky and adds to our sense of wonderment. I love the queerness of the universe!

Next I watched Rabbit's favorite from Jonathan Haidt. I found it really good. I've never understood before where conservatives were coming from, and why they believe the way they do. Now I think I see and understand, and that's a great thing! I also understand a bit better the crazy recklessness of the young as regards things like anarchy and revolution. It's all about how we judge the relative importance of the 5 moral default systems. Great stuff!

So what's next? I spent last night exploring Pilobolus on you tube. I guess I'll continue down Strider's list of favorite Ted talks, or else explore more on my own in the realms of choice, creativity, and child development. See you guys tomorrow night!

[ February 06, 2010, 05:04 AM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
That's why I believe his militant atheism is misguided....My religion specifically incorporates everything true. Science is as much a part of my religion as revelation.
Let me know when you learn the scientific reason that women can't hold the priesthood, or homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to marry.
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Zotto!
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Let me know when you acquire an accurate understanding of LDS teachings.
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TomDavidson
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I restricted my comments to two things that the church has officially made statements confirming. I await the scientific justifications.

My point, of course, is that these are pronouncements which have real social effects, but which are not based on any kind of "scientific method." Since Dawkins' criticism of religion is precisely this sort of thing -- the way religion makes appeals to unverifiable, unimpeachable authorities to justify social experimentation -- I don't think you can justly claim that his criticism doesn't apply to Mormonism in exactly the same way it applies to most other religions.

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Zotto!
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I restricted my comment to pointing out that your encapsulation of LDS beliefs is phrased inaccurately. It's not that women "can't" hold the [edit: office of the] priesthood outside the Temple, it's that they haven't been called to at this time. The Church counsels members to support the traditional family, but makes no official statements about what laws members must vote to enact. Tatiana said that science is a part of her religion, not that every single teaching of that religion is based on our current understanding of science.

My point, of course, is that these smug one-line interrogation-style "pithy" comments of yours, which have real social effects in these threads, but which are not based on any kind of "scientific method", are needlessly inflammatory. Since your criticism of religion is based on precisely this sort of unverifiable, unimpeachable appeals to the authority of our current understanding of scientific findings, I don't think you can justly imply that your criticism doesn't apply to the gigantic mote in your own friggin' eye in exactly the same way it applies to most other people.

I await the scientific justifications for your continual insistence on inserting such irrelevant inaccuracies into these types of conversations and using them to denigrate people's beliefs based on your own flawed understanding of them.

No doubt it's somehow for our own good.

(Edited much later just in case someone cares)

[ March 10, 2010, 07:37 PM: Message edited by: Zotto! ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I await the scientific justifications for your continual disrespect.
Disrespect for religion? *grin* Do you really want me to give you the "scientific" reasons for that one? Because I certainly am willing to do so, provided of course you can provide me with your scientific reasons for belief.

-------

quote:
Tatiana said that science is a part of her religion, not that every single teaching of that religion is based on our current understanding of science.
I would argue that this is a fairly meaningless statement. Science is not part of the LDS church; there is absolutely no tenet of the church that is grounded in the scientific method. What you really mean is that not every tenet of the church has been invalidated by science -- which, while praiseworthy when compared to some religions, is not at all the same thing.
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Zotto!
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Sorry, I edited before I saw your reply.
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TomDavidson
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I submit that the distinction between "the church has not yet seen fit to admit any of the women who have felt called to the priesthood to the priesthood, because the men who currently hold the priesthood do not agree with them" and "women are not allowed to hold the priesthood" is meaninglessly thin. Along the same lines, while the church has very carefully dodged outright political advocacy, they have made their actual position on same-sex marriage perfectly clear, to the point that those Mormons who disagree with them have had to bend over backwards -- rather awkwardly -- to do so without calling them flat-out wrong. (Lest you think this is just my opinion, check out the forums at Nauvoo some time.)

Certainly, however, neither of these quibbles address the main point: that here are clear examples of two positions with absolutely no scientific basis, with clear social impact, that are official products of a given religion. Dawkins' argument against exactly this sort of situation would seem to hold as true in this case as it would for any other similar situation; the LDS church is just as "guilty" of being unscientific as your random Baptist congregation.

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Zotto!
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Every single organized social-structure in the history of humanity that has issued normative statements to the community they govern has formed positions based on an incomplete understanding of whatever level of scientific theory they were at during the time any particular decision had to be made.

The fact that science itself is in a state of perpetual abeyance makes it a completely meaningless yardstick by which to measure the intricacies of community formation. Or were you going to claim that we've "scientifically proven" that pain is somehow "bad"? That people "should" do anything based on a "scientific" definition of "good" or "enlightened self-interest" that is more substantial than a synonym?

The most rigidly atheistic implementation of the scientific method in the social sphere is as "guilty" of being unscientific as your random one-liner internet poster, and is as anthropologically indistinguishable from any other religion as Dawkins is from any other biased evangelical. This means that your ethnocentric pretense to moral superiority based on your community's presumed objectivity is fundamentally incompatible with your own premises.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
Tonight so far I've watched the third and fourth most popular Hans Rosling talks, one about HIV prevalence and one about how it makes no sense nowadays to group the world into developing and developed countries.

Possibly redundant, but it should be noted that the Gapminder is free to mess around with and have fun at http://www.gapminder.org/
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TomDavidson
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quote:
The most rigidly atheistic implementation of the scientific method in the social sphere is as "guilty" of being unscientific as your random one-liner internet poster, and is as anthropologically indistinguishable from any other religion as Dawkins is from any other biased evangelical.
Except, of course -- and Dawkins makes this point -- a society built on rules which are not presumably handed down by an unimpeachable moral arbiter is a society free (or, rather, freer than another society whose laws are justified through appeals to God) to change those rules when they demonstrate flaws. The issue is not one of perfection; it is one of perfectability.

Dawkins' argument is not that religion is harmful because it makes people do bad (or even imperfectly efficient) things; his argument is that religion is harmful because it asserts that moral quandaries are "solvable" with reasonable certitude, often using "solutions" whose individual steps (in whole or in part) cannot be examined, tested, or rejected without requiring that the entire edifice be treated the same way.

I don't see that this is less true for Mormons than it is for Baptists. If anything, Mormons often assert a greater ability to resolve moral dilemmas, as they doctrinally claim direct access to divine guidance.

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Zotto!
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Except, of course -- and I made this point -- a society built on any "rules" whatsoever is fundamentally a religious society, and any claims to the "objectivity" of their beliefs reveals their fundamental consonance with all other systems of organized faith. Dawkins' argument that there is such a thing as "harmfulness" or "freedom" is predicated on a foundation as mumbo-jumbo-y as the most mystical cult.

You'll notice that the LDS believe in continual revelation in which their previous understanding of reality is modified or thrown out altogether. The issue is not one of perfection; it is one of perfectability.

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