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Jordan Reeves

TED-Ed Community Manager, TED Conferences

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What's one lesson you find super compelling?

If you could put a megaphone to the ears of the world for just 5 mintues, what's the one lesson you would teach. It doesn't have to be serious, but it can be. It doesn't have to be about math, science, literature, or history, but it can be. It just needs to capture the minds of your audience.

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    • Apr 20 2012: Andrew, sorry I'm not sure i understood - when you say "This faulty logic is also reflected in our opinions of the poor and the wealthy." do you mean that following statements ("People are poor, because...") is faulty or you think that what we think (cause I think different than what you offered) is faulty, and this statemenet is what you would tell us, it's how it is?
      • Apr 23 2012: Sorry for the delay in responding.

        Maybe, assumption would have been a better choice of words. Due to our belief in free will we assume everyone can choose how they act or react to circumstance. Our Western religions, and thus our system of jurisprudence, are all built on on this assumption. Because we believe in free will, we punish those who fail to act in a socially acceptable manner.

        Taking that assumption a little further we tend to view others in light of the choices we think we have made. We chose to be hard working and successful, so logically those who are not hard working and successful are that way because they did not choose to be.

        Once we give up this illusion, we will find it far easier to understand and forgive ourselves and each other. Giving up this illusion will replace punishment with empathy and compassion.
    • Apr 21 2012: No one can choose what happens to them.
      Everyone can choose how they react.
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          Apr 21 2012: B - E - A - UTIFUL!!!

          Adriaan!!!! Hi!!!!
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          Apr 21 2012: Mary, may I add .... Veeeery veeeery , before your comment ??

          Braam Braam Braam !
        • Apr 23 2012: The only reason? There is no reason in our being here except for this experience.

          OR to paraphrase Carl Sagan, we are that part of the universe that looks out on itself.

          And one more from Mr. Sagan:

          "Human beings have a demonstrated talent for self-deception when their emotions are stirred."

          I like to think I'm here to share this experience, to be there with others to ask, or respond to, the question, "Did you see that?"

          "Yes, that is beautiful."
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        • Apr 24 2012: Your last comment did not have a reply link, so I am replying here.

          Do you honestly think there is any such thing as a mentally healthy Human? Let me supply one obvious example of proof that we are all batshit crazy, belief in gods and any other supernatural or metaphysical beliefs. The DSM out of necessity includes an exemption for religious beliefs, otherwise any of these beliefs would qualify one as delusional.

          Other than that obvious problem with your comment, it fails to make any sense at all. No matter how you couch your jingoistic premise, it is false.

          I really can't say anything more, you have your opinion, based only on your own subjective experience and anecdote, all of which is meaningless in the face of recent fMRI experiments.

          Until you are ready to accept we are individually incapable of understanding our own experiences you will continue to believe you are actively controlling your own life.
      • Apr 23 2012: "Everyone can choose how they react."

        That statement is not only incorrect, but is little more than the sort of stuff people post on FB when they are feeling down.

        Once we include everyone, we have created a false statement. Not everyone can control how they react. In fact, neuroscience is rapidly approaching an understanding of how our brains work that is leading to the conclusion that none of us control how we react to anything.

        Having experienced incredible loss in my own life, I can attest that we can't control how we react. Even those times when you think you are choosing, you are merely doing what you do. Our freedom of choice is limited to the choices available, and those choices, I'm not conceding any point, are limited by our time and place of birth, our parents, the structure of our brains, epigenetics, and the circumstances of our lives.
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      Apr 21 2012: Andrew,

      Thanks for your input, but I'm not sure your message is clear enough. For instance, what or who are you refering to by "Free will" and what is free will?

      Your example about the poor and the rich, what is the correct logic you are describing in correlation to Free will?
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        Apr 21 2012: Derek, he is saying that until we really and truly understand how the brain works, we really do not know the meaning.....significance......of the choices we make....of why things are the way they are.

        And until such time as we come to understand this so called "free will"........the freedom to choose, which is born from our thinking abilities (the brain)............we really won't know why we are in the condition that we are in.

        This of course is my interpretation.........Maybe he'll come in a little while and make me wish I'd kept my mouth quiet...LOL

        His first statement made me think of what we use to say to each other as kids when we wanted to say NO...........instead of answering any question NO........we would say..........I would if I could, but I can't, so I won't.............

        The world, and our lives, are the way they are because we have chosen to have it that way......our brains have not allowed us to do anything else with the earth or our lives for them to be in a different condition. This also is what I take away from his comment.
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          Apr 21 2012: Thanks Mary. I would thumbs up if I could. =)
        • Apr 23 2012: Mary, you've hit the nail on the head. Thanks!

          The next point is once we relinquish the illusion of free will how does this change how we view ourselves and each other.

          "Things are the way they are, because that's the only way they could be, if things could have been, they would be."

          Believing this statement true, that things are the way they are because this is the only way they could be, is a very liberating experience. I would say for an atheist this is similar to let go let god sort of thing.

          We must accept that we did in fact do our best at that point in time, regardless of how we view our past actions. Whether it was right or wrong at the time, meaning did our actions produce a net positive or negative effect, is an entirely different question. By accepting our limitations we will find it easier forgive ourselves and others.
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      Apr 21 2012: Interesting ideas you have there, but I think you would do better by skipping the whole "logic" idea. The behaviour your're writing about isn't logical because it isn't under rational control. It only becomes "logical" if you view it in a very long perspective, as results of evolutionary compromises to make the most out of our limited neural circuitry.
      • Apr 23 2012: Again, assume may be a better choice of words. We make assumptions, correctly or incorrectly. Our opinions of ourselves and others are formed in light of these assumptions. Because we assume we have free will, we are then free to blame some for acting in a socially unacceptable manner, and shower praise and adulation on those who are more fortunate.
    • Apr 23 2012: "Things are the way they are, because that's the only way they could be, if things could have been, they would be."

      I don't know about this..I always feel that you shouldn't take everything for granted. The fact things are the way they are, doesn't mean that this is the way they 'should' be. Aren't we constantly seeking for development which also implies change?
      • Apr 23 2012: The statement does not imply that anything is taken for granted. That is an entirely different thing, though perhaps if we did not take things for granted this experience would become overwhelming.

        The word -should- is neither used nor implied. All this means is that things are they way there are, because everything that preceded the present condition could not have led to any other result.

        Where we find ourselves at each event is at the leading edge of a 13.7 billion year odyssey. Or, more precisely, we are always at the point where the cone shaped casual boundaries of the past and future meet. When our lives are viewed from this perspective, free will is seen as nothing more than a simple human illusion. One of many illusions born in ignorance, and like so many ancient unfounded ideas destined to be dispelled by science.

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