Saturday, September 24, 2016

TTT: TED Talk Twaddle

Ted Talks aim, it seems, to provide some incredibly deep novel insight about the world in a presentation of scintillating wit and crystalline clarity, that can be assimilated by anyone with even the most modest intellectual aspirations and only ten or fifteen minutes to spare.

In fact, incredibly deep and novel insights, or novel insights of any kind at all, tend to be rather few and far between. Moreover, the most important novel insights are often the product of highly specialized research in arcane fields such as quantum mechanics, neurophysiology or hominid paleontology in Northwest China, topics that are not immediately accessible to the casual Web browser. Thus, TED Talks tend to fall short of expectation. Indeed, some amount to nothing more than hifalutin bunk, while others make claims that go far beyond, or which contradict, the evidence.

Here, for example, is a TED Talk that, though no doubt earnestly intended, seems completely wrong and frankly stupid. What the earnest professor labors to convey, with suitably learned-sounding quotations and sophomoric humor, is that we perceive reality, not as it is, but as it would be seen by an organism "tuned to fitness." What he means by that is that we do not see the world even approximately as it really is, but rather as it is advantageous for us to see it, advantageous that is in an evolutionary sense. In other words we see everything in such a way as to maximize the number of our children, grandchildren, great-grand..., etc.

But this is quite obviously bunk. The European nations, for example, are quite voluntarily committing suicide, not one of them having a fertility rate equal to the replacement rate. Germans and some East European nations are headed for virtual extinction within a generation. Moreover, there are Europeans who argue that reproduction is a positive evil.

So how could the professor have got it so hopelessly wrong? To gain a personal reproductive advantage, by knocking up gorgeous graduate students in thrall to his brilliant mind, perhaps. But that hypothesis reveals his error. In fact, we most often perceive the world with remarkable fidelity. What drives, or used to drive, human reproductive success is not the distortion of perception, but the emotions or feelings of pleasure or pain that perception elicits. Thus, the presence of the nubile graduate student, accurately perceived, evokes in the susceptible male the emotion of lust, which is to say the impulse to engage with said student in such manner as evokes pleasure.

It is mankind's extraordinary ability to perceive the world accurately that accounts for his extraordinary ability to shape the world in ways that satisfy his desires. It is because he accurately perceives the world and how it works that mankind, especially in the most developed countries, has been able to dissociate experience that gives pleasure from consequences that give pain or cause inconvenience.

Thus, today, hundreds of millions can enjoy the pleasure of a high-sugar diet without dying young by the simple expedient of injecting themselves with insulin. Likewise, mated couples in the developed world have by technological means largely dissociated the pleasure of copulation from the inconvenience of children. They have also, by their mastery of the material world, debunked the world's religions and thus know themselves to be free to engage in any kind of non-reproductive sexual gratification without fear of Hell fire in a world to come.

Thus, while it is true that the accurate perception of reality is driving the European and other advanced nations to extinction, it remains a fact that we do indeed observe reality with remarkable accuracy. It is the ingenuity of Western humanity in reorganizing the world we so accurately perceive that has made our evolved emotions and predilections detrimental to our survival.

Survival of the Western nations, if indeed the Western nations are to survive, which seems unlikely, will thus require some kind of social reprogramming, to replace or restore the lost authority of the Word of God that prohibited sexual perversion and bestowed the blessing of heaven upon the meek and fertile.

Islamization is one possible route to European survival. But that would entail abandonment of the West's cultural heritage and social traditions. Thus more appealing to most would surely be a return to Christian faith, not because it reflects our accurate perception of the world, but because it conforms with human repugnance at the prospect of self-destruction, and national self-genocide.

But perhaps the people of the Western nations feel no repugnance for the prospect of self-destruction and national self-genocide. In that case, the Western nations are doomed to an early extinction.


  1. Canspeccy,

    I thought the "hifalutin bunk" was the best TED talk I have ever seen. Thanks for the link. To say absolutely nothing of any meaningful content, whilst illustrating Presentation Skills quite brilliantly, was something I have never seen before presented in this way. I suspect this man is making a fortune teaching politicians et al how to speak with a live audience. Some people have most of these skills naturally - others go into a panic state when asked to speak - to give a speech - but if worked on by an intensive course in Presentation Techniques - they can improve dramatically - even if naturally very introverted. This is a good thing - because many introverts who study a lot when alone - have the best ideas - but are completely useless at communicating them.

    Re European extinction - in my experience - most people - despite their cultural upbringing - wherever they are in the world exhibit the same diverse ranges of human personality and performance. We are all a bit tribal - but most of the tribes are pretty much the same. Same emotions - same capabilities - similar percentage of born psychos.

    And no I do not want 100 Million people moving to the UK. We are full...Go to Canada instead -you guys have got loads of space as have the Russians..The only reason you want to come here - is because us British people are the nicest. I know our government and politicians are rubbish - but so are yours. Have you any ideas how to improve matters?


    1. Yes, I agree, the eloquent presentation of bunk provided a useful demonstration of communication technique, although I think the techniques displayed tend to be over-used by TED Talkers.

      As for "Go to Canada instead -you guys have got loads of space as have the Russians"

      Absolutely, Canada needs more people to secure the space, although there is something seriously wrong with a vast and rich country that cannot achieve a replacement fertility rate. And what is wrong is the post-Christian morality imposed by the first Trudeau regime: non-enforcement of abortion laws plus no-fault divorce. As a result Canada went from being among the youngest countries, if not the youngest country, in the West, to another geriatric basket case*, where waves of new immigrants replace the declining ranks of earlier immigrants and their descendants. Canadians are like all the other European peoples, disposable and easily replaced units of economic production. Pathetic, really.

      *The term basket case derives from the practice at some times and in some places (e.g., ancient Egypt) of burying the dead in a basket.