TED Conversations

Jake Maddox

Field Service Engineer,


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Do you find it difficult to engage in intellectual conversations with people in general?

It happens to me all the time. My wife encourages me to have dinner with her friend and her friend's husband. "It's the opportunity to socialize and meet new interesting people!", she proclaims. And yet the same boring conversations unfold. The guy rambles on about how many yards this guy ran, and how many interceptions this guy threw, and did you see how many spiders that guy ate on Fear Factor, etc, etc. I ask something like, "Hey, did you see that they possibly discovered the Higgs Boson at the LHC?" And the guy looks at me like I'm from Mars, "The LH what?". Then my wife makes a comment like I'm a nerd then everyone laughs. I'm far from a social misfit or hobbit, I just prefer to discuss things that stimulate me intellectually. I hope I don't offend anyone for saying so, but most of the time I feel like I'm surrounded by people that are intellectually challenged, to put it kindly. And maybe that's just it, if you consider that the average intellectual quotient is around 100. They're easily entertained and amuzed to watch television shows cataloging the "real world" of college kids living in a house together, arguing over who got the most trashed the night before at the club.

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    Aug 29 2012: I have always had this dream that we would live in a culture in which, when two people unknown to each other get on an elevator, there will not be silence, or even the "Hello"Howareyou"Fine" ritual, but one will look at the other and say, "Nietzsche or Kirkegaard?"

    And then the other might reply "Socrates."

    And by that they will know there is an attraction.

    Sadly, to this day, no woman has ever replied like that. They just keep hitting the "open door" button frantically.

    Seriously, though, you just have to keep searching the right people. When you're in a conversation like what you described, try to find a way to draw the conversation into something interesting for all involved. Example: guys who are into football - football can easily be led into a conversation about physics: muscle power, the amount of energy expended in order to gain momentum, which can eventually get you into particle physics if you work it right. I usually take football convos into history, by using the analogy of the Battle of the Bulge in WWII: that usually achieves the required result for me.

    Someone may never get to the Higgs-Boson with you, but the sign of a great conversation is when all involved walk away somewhat enriched.
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    Sep 23 2012: I use to be very judgmental in debates. I would attempt to attack people instead of communicate. I don't think debate should be seen as a "game" or "competition" rather....it is a "meshing" of information.

    We compare information for a reason. It gives us the benefit of validation and the opportunity to change perspectives when necessary. If you are talking about "meeting a certain individual" and having issues....I would suggest you take that opportunity to share your knowledge.

    However, formatting is key. An understanding of humility will get you very far in debate. This is something I still struggle with so I am definitely not trying to act like an expert....just offering advice.

    The fallacy here is that you assume your subject "Higgs Boson" is more valuable than his "sports".

    I see what you are saying. However, the subject at hand has no relevance.

    The only subject that does hold relevance is "communication" as that is what's going on.

    Attempting to define your communication by the constricts of "science" may cause problems in communicating with people.
  • Aug 31 2012: Hello... It is dangerous to think that your ideas and passions are in some way superior to other people's passions. It's also a turnoff to the person across the table... You'll find more people who want to discuss entertainment and sports than sub-atomic particles... It's easy to insult others who don't share your interests; it's also easy to find things that you in common with others... Which would you rather do? The second we realize that we are all knowledgeable in different arenas and aspects of life is when we'll really begin to enjoy the variety and diversity of "intelligence". What is "intellectually stimulating" to one person, may be incredibly boring to another. There are many different types of intelligence, and just because you may not share a particular interest with someone, it is certain that this person does have knowledge about other topics/subjects that you don't. I think Sophia (below) has it right that if don't share a particular interest with one person or group, then it is easy to find other who do share your interests. But, although it's fun to talk about topics you know a lot about, how will we ever learn about new topics, passions, and experiences without listening to what other people enjoy?
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    Aug 29 2012: No, but that is why I like TED. I was have a problem finding people who could hold an intellectual conversation. I do not drink, like rap, play video games, carry a expensive cell phone, or listen to a Ipod all day. That pretty much narrows my chance to talk to most people and the rest are on TED. So here I am.

    The concern has often been raised that there is a dumbing down of America. Could this be true.

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      Aug 29 2012: While at the same time, there are intellectual things in a lot of the things you've mentioned, despite their labels/brands/stereotypes.

      Perhaps America's not becoming dumber, but we're becoming smarter and more aware of the dumb people
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      Aug 29 2012: When i'm out on the street walking around doing whatever i have this strange compulsion to reach for my invisible phone,is behavior transferable? or am i easily susceptible to the inner drive to conform?I wonder if Einstein could walk down a modern street today,i wonder what he would make of it,he would most probably be jumping from foot to foot,wandering where's the library and what is those small boxes people are so enamored with,well he would of deduced that straight away.

      Boys and our toys.
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        Aug 31 2012: Well there are some experiments that show that if enough people face one direction in an elevator, the unwitting subject of the experiment will gradually turn in that direction. You might be feeling a subconscious urge to do something like that.
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          Aug 31 2012: Damn Mat

          Your post brought all the snippets of data to the fore of what you typed,yes it's coming back now.

          Damn it! I'm not a fish.Fight the Power!
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      Aug 29 2012: I think it could be a dumbing down of sorts. But I hope not. Perhaps we are just becoming less visible and more exclusive. Before TED, there was only physic.org with all those young know it all who spent more time debating insignificant issues that lent nothing to the big picture, consistently moving off track.

      TED has introduced me to the social and psychological side of intellectualism that I'm coming to enjoy, being mainly focused on Cosmology, math and physical science. When everyone starts hitting each other over the head with their diplomas, it gets a bit annoying. Some seem to think if you walked the walk you have to talk the talk, which probably makes their world a bit smaller.
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        Aug 29 2012: I agree, John, that "diplomas" are irrelevant to social discourse. I find their mention embarrassing, in fact. It's what you contribute and how well you listen that matters.
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        Aug 30 2012: John and Fritzie,

        I find some folks continual mention of "diplomas" as a sign of insecurity in him/herself. If one has to depend on trying to intimidate people with their educational background, it seems rather pathetic. There are many people who have the credentials, and apparently have not assimilated a bit of the information, while there are many people without formal educations, who have fully lived and learned from the life experience.

        My "play group" (mostly retired engineers) has several members who have been nationally and internationally awarded and recognized for work they have done and I didn't even know that for several years after being involved with the group. The information was provided in casual conversation by OTHER members of the group!!!

        Regarding your comment..."perhaps we...are becoming more exclusive". I use the word "selective" for myself. I realize that when I was younger, I LOVED participating in the "small talk" to eventually get to a deeper level of conversation. It seems that as I age, other people and I instantly recognize kindred spirits. For example, you say you're interested mostly in math/science. I'm certainly interested in learning more about science....math not so much!!! LOL:>) That being said however, we've had some good and interesting exchanges...in my perception anyway:>)

        I absolutely believe in walking the talk....say what I mean....mean what I say.....do what I say....say what I do with honesty..."BE" what I talk about to the best of my ability.
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          Aug 30 2012: Thank you, Colleen. I agree with your assessment. In my experience, which is, of course, limited and therefore anecdotal, those with an exceptional calber of mind never haul out or mention their diplomas in discourse nor, in my experience, refer to their intellect.
          They simply express ideas and arguments to be considered on their own merit.
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          Aug 31 2012: You certainly have my respect Colleen. I prefer to engage with people my age. It is a kindred spirit connection. Sometimes I feel I should be doing more.
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        Aug 30 2012: Fritzie,
        Each and every one of us has different life experiences, and although we may overlap with experiences, we are "limited" to a certain extent....wouldn't you say? That, to me, is exactly what creates joy and interest in the sharing of communications and experiences with other people:>)

        I haven't ever experienced anyone refering to their diplomas, IQs, high intellect, or intellectual expertise until recently, here on TED. I've met some very influential and intelligent people in our world, and have never been reminded of that by those who are truly in that position.

        BTW...Regarding the accusation of your "hidden identity"...
        I observed that your profile, from the time you started commenting on TED, indicated that you are a female, and if any of that gray matter called the brain serves me at all, I can think of at least two comments in which you stated that you are a mother.

        Apparently, I'm out of thumbs for you for awhile...sending you a smile.............:>)
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          Aug 30 2012: Thank you, Colleen. I have recently taken down my profile (which never, by the way, showed anything about degree or schools attended), just to emphasize that it is only the ideas we put forward and how open we are to considering the ideas of others that matter rather than our formal credentials, where we live, gender, and so forth.
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        Aug 30 2012: Fritzie,
        I'm aware that you didn't have anything about degrees, schools or credentials in your profile....me either:>) I agree with you that it is more about what and how we communicate that is the important piece.

        That being said, however, I like to see location in profiles, because when people talk about global issues, it gives me a better idea of his/her perspectives. Other information is fine too if one chooses:>)
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        Aug 31 2012: This is in response to your comment above John..................couldn't get it any closer.

        "John moonstroller
        9 hours ago: You certainly have my respect Colleen. I prefer to engage with people my age. It is a kindred spirit connection. Sometimes I feel I should be doing more".

        Thank you John...we have mutual respect:>)

        I LOVE communicating with people of all ages.....well.......I LOVE communicating with ALL people.
        I especially like communications with young people, because they are our future, and it's nice to know many of them are so knowledgeable and insightful:>)

        BTW my friend....a loving reminder....don't "should" on yourself:>)
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        Aug 31 2012: I am truly happy that you shan't:>)
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      Aug 31 2012: People who listen to their Ipod all day such as me will have something to talk about if they listen to podcasts like Radiolab, Freakonomics or the Nature podcast. I'm guessing you're talking about people who listen to the same music all day.
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        Aug 31 2012: Listening is wasted if it is none productive. People who read increase their vocabulary and critical thinking skills. People who write enhance their communication skills.

        iPod's are very efficient at distributing information to the masses.

        If information is not digested, it cannot grow into wisdom.

        A pencil is a word processor. It may only have a delete function but it can create words and create wisdom when used by the brain. It's use increases hand eye coordination and can turn an iPod listener into a world renown artist or literary expert.

        Because young people are one of the most targeted consumers by the advertisement industry, it is important that they take the lead and spread the word among themselves that they need to keep their money in their pocket.

        That's your job Matthieu Mioossec. Time to get to work. Produce a message that other iPod users can listen to, a rallying message that will propel you into the world of international acclaim. It's easy. Just pick up a pencil and start writing. :)
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          Aug 31 2012: Dear John, I am not sure I understand what you mean by saying listening to podcast does no good. I listen to many good things including Ted talks on my Ipod and I learn a great deal from it. How is listening very different from reading? Do we not listen to our teachers and learn? Well once we are above certain age we do not need teachers we can teach ourselves by listening even on an Ipod. If technology helps to understand things at ease, I do not see any wrong in using it. Kiran
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        Aug 31 2012: Kiran,

        Listening is wasted if it is none productive.

        Sorry, I'm actually in the wrong Question area.

        If you find yourself, like it did, not making sense of other's posts in reply to your post, set the sort parameter to oldest first and you will find the true path of the conversation. :)

        I guess you didn't see this post I made Matthieu Miossec. :)

        Take the ipod plug out of your ear and use your eyes. Read.
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    Sep 17 2012: Jake,

    Seems like you have been hanging out with the wrong crowd or at the wrong places. Wanna talk about the Large Hadron Collider? i assure, there are plenty of geeks around (i count myself as one) who would enjoy discussing the subject. Wanna talk about astrophysics? super novae, and how nuclear fusion allows life to exist? welcome to the club.

    But we are social creatures. We evolved to feel terrible when cast out of our groups, and we evolved to fear groups of outsiders. Humans don't even have the copyright on this, since these traits are shared with most great apes and with many other animals. And if media encourages a culture of admiring sports super stars and ridiculing the geeks, well, you can see why so many people will want to feel part of the "in" crowd.

    I would not be so quick to blame them, though. Yes we all should raise our bar and try to educate ourselves more broadly, and i guess that means that people like you and me should at least learn a little bit about soccer and football and basketball and whether Michael Jordan and Larry Bird ever played in the same season.

    If we want to fix this, if we think that a more cultured, specially more scientifically educated population is something desirable, we need to do something to fix the root problem. We need to reduce the amount of crap that kids see and hear from age one, we need to provide them with better information and we need to allow them to grow into critical thinkers. I would start there

    Sorry, seems like i transmuted my response into a rant

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    Sep 2 2012: it is not uncommon thing that you are observing. it happens everywhere. that is why the social networking is so popular because here you can choose to whom and what you want to discuss. but in society we find all kind of people and then we have to talk to them the things they like to. but i think the world would become humour less and become stiff we dont find various colors of people.

    Suppose in a B'Day party, everyone is talking about Men's new adventure to go to Mars. the kid in question would certainly like to have some noise and laughter. the fact is we, the people who are discussing at TED are somewhat different from others, that is why we are sitting here and not in front of tv but then we have to go to society and talk to them because we are part of it. They also contruibute to society in other way if not in the intellectual way. every one is important.
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    Sep 2 2012: I think a more intellectual conversation would be one that is able to incorporate many facets of society. Being eclectic and able to voice an opinion on a huge variety of subjects is, in my opnion, better signs of an intelligent person than one who would ask a highly scientific/religious/political based question and expecting a typical person to have an answer.

    If I were in a conversation with a few people and one person chimed in with your example of a question, "Hey, did you see that they possibly discovered the Higgs Boson at the LHC?" I would think one of two things...
    1. That person is possibly uncomfortable in social situations and tends to try to focus on things that they may have an expert opinion on. They may not know that to attempt conversation on a higher level, without knowing the person they are talking to, carries a negative connotation with it.
    2. That person is a braggart and is attempting to use a conversation to show how bright they may seem to be, hence showing a want/need/desire to prove how much better they are than those around them. Once again...that type of attitude has a negative connotation with it.

    In my opinion, knowing the top 5-10 performers in any given subject (sports/music/television shows/movies/current culture) and being able to formulate an intellegent conversation about them AS WELL as knowing more intellectual subjects makes for a more intelligent person than one that speaks about higher level subjects alone.

    It would be like a brain surgeon at a party with rocket scientists and laughing at the scientists because they dont understand the higher levels of neurology. That doesnt make the rocket scientists dumb.

    The common ground of today's typical everyday subjects and being able to communicate with someone else about them shows true intellect.

    But hey, thats just my opinion. I mean no offense to those of you that might not be able to talk about Peyton Manning, or billiards, or catching a fish, or tires, etc.
  • Gord G 50+

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    Sep 1 2012: Intellectual elitism is often a barrier to meaningful interaction. Yes, social platitudes and empty play by play regurgitation of statistics can feel like an insurmountable obstacle to engaging conversation, but IQ isn't the measure of our humanity. Dig a little deeper. Try a little harder. Beneath the safe topics, lies a human being. Don't dismiss them and drop back into the safety of your self assured belief they are less involved in the world around them.

    Everyone has encountered the verisimilitude of life. So rather than evaluate their ability to appreciate the nuance of quantum physics, perhaps it would be better to look for their emotional connection to the absurdity of happenstance. We all share a common confusion about the life we live. Some avoid it by memorizing batting averages, others by being able to explain weakly interacting elementary subatomic particles with half-integer spin.
  • Sep 24 2012: If I enter into a conversation with an open heart and a curious mind there is always something interesting to find out about others. I always say yes to every invitation and every opportunity on the basis that you only regret what you never did - and even if I only meet one interesting person it is worth the adventure - and I always met at least one interesting person.
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    Sep 23 2012: I have the very same problem here. I would say something like "Have you heard the piece on BBC about molecules traveling faster than light? That means time travel will be possible in the future" and they'd look at me with flat faces then say something like "O...Kay" and go back to mundane conversation about who did what and when. It's frustrating sometimes but I realized, recently, that I've started to accept the mundane and join in. I suppose that's why I often converse with my father and find myself on TED. The truth is, though, it's 'nerdy' to have stimulating conversations and those who do are often misfits.
    • Sep 23 2012: Where can I find the Molecules traveling faster than light on the Internet ? .. Looks Fantastic. Yeah, I have the same problem in Texas. Although, for a different reason, I've a PH.D in Physics, I can teach them why molecules travel faster than the speed of light. Why the Sky is blue. And just for grins, why the wine is red. :)
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      Sep 24 2012: your problem can reflect a lot !
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      Sep 27 2012: This is exactly my problem! My interests are more on the philosophy side, but i find whenever you bring up an interesting new theory, sometimes controversial, people aren't even curious. that's the bit i cant stand. The lack of imagination people, and their dry satisfaction with the boring things around them.
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    Sep 19 2012: Having not read through all of the comments this generated, I apologize if this has been written, but I think there can be a couple of factors. One is the sound bite/headline nature of our culture right now. We are inundated with information and tend to just take the key point and move on. This can cause people to have only superficial knowledge of what is going on and possibly a level of discomfort in speaking to it.

    The other thing is I think you have to work at finding what people find interesting and intellectually challenging to them. You state specifically that you want to talk about things that stimulate YOU. And while you might find the Higgs Boson and the LHC fascinating and interesting, others may not, or simply may not have wanted to dedicate their time to that. It doesn't mean that they are intellectually challenged. I consider myself fairly intellectually astute, but couldn't carry on a conversation about this topic. However, I think I could talk fairly intelligently about things like marketing and general business, economic trends, and health care. On TED, I gravitate toward the business talks and some of the psychology and sociology presentations because I find those interesting.

    I think you have a couple of options. First, find people who have the same intellectual interests as you as was stated a few times I'm sure. There are definitely groups for it. Second, it might take a little work to find the stimulating conversations that you want, but they can be had with the group you are around (which will be good for you and your relationship). Turn it into your own personal case study. What is your theory for why they are easily entertained by what you consider trashy television? What is it about society that makes these types of shows successful? What are the underlying interests that people have? I have found that most people are deeper than trashy shows and sports if you are willing to probe a little and listen deeper.
  • Sep 17 2012: I can certainly empathize with people who are starved for intellectual conversation. This is not to say that I think that the average person is uninteresting, however. Most people, regardless of IQ, have invested intellectually in something, which to me is the same as saying that most people have something remarkable about them. It is up to me to find out what it is. Also, if you are one of the lucky few who has intellectual gifts, and you know about something significant, then you have something to give to people, especially to those who do not have your gifts. It takes creativity and imagination to tell people about a difficult topic in a way that is interesting so that it is accessible to them. Baseball? Talk about stats. Fashion? Talk about color theory...etc. I think that being starved for intellectual conversation is more about finding like-minded people (i.e., fellowship/communion) than it is about finding an intellectual challenge for yourself.
  • Sep 17 2012: "Do you find it difficult to engage in intellectual conversations with people in general?"

    I think it would be very arrogant to answer this question with a yes. I know I myself will sometimes stop an emerging intellectual conversation dead in its tracks by pretending I'm not interested, usually because I just don't feel like having a long discussion when I think we both know very little about the subject, the subject is some silly ancient argument that can't be resolved logically, or I know much more about the subject and it would take too long and be too boring to explain. This could give the other person the impression that it's very difficult to engage in a discussion and that people around them aren't interested in such matters.

    Also, what qualifies as "intellectual"? It seems like such a vague and subjective term that people just throw around to try to give themselves or their arguments more authority. Anyone who calls themselves "intellectual" is suspect in my eyes, just like anyone who calls themselves an "artist" or "successful" or a "job creator". To me any conversation that doesn't contain logical fallacies can be intellectual, but some people think even that's not broad enough because they like to consider theological conversations as intellectual.
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    Sep 2 2012: It is all how you define an intellectual conversation. Maybe your niche of interest is just not someone elses niche of interest. Possibly, your wifes friend might actually know a lot about the science and schematics of plays or the mechanics of sports, but others, like me, don't find interest in that topic. Try to find their "nerdy" topic and/or learn or discuss something new about the topic. Relationships are like plants; some take a short period of time and attention and others can take a long time for the seed to even germinate...depends on your tolerance and patience. Come back and teach me more patience because it is most difficult when you are talking to a close minded person. I usually don't talk to those people long though, usually. =)
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    Sep 1 2012: I'm increasingly finding that it's best not to judge on first acquintance.

    Common discussions that people have about pop culture give the appearance of being 'dumbed down', shallow and not worth bothering with, but isn't that the social norm of small talk? A comfortable way of initially getting to know someone? That first contact may lead to hitherto unknown intellectual depths if the conversation is allowed to gently continue and to take its own course.

    I know to my own cost, that wading straight in to deep discussion can be a big turn-off for a lot of people. Many just walk away from it, or try to revert to trivia. Taking things empathically and gently on the intellect allows one to find another's true intellectual level - as long as they feel respected in the conversation.
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      Sep 1 2012: "I'm increasingly finding that it's best not to judge on first acquaintance"

      Wise words, Allan. People often under-estimate quiet people or those who don't "pick up the ball" when you throw out an idea.

      Sometimes it might not be what you think. Some people don't join in in discussing a technical topic in social conversation not because they cannot grasp it but because they have trouble talking about it to someone who knows so much less than they do. Sometimes they are just not interested over dinner in straightening out the most common misconceptions, or out of modesty they don't want to show anyone up..
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      Sep 2 2012: Good points Allan and Fritzie.... which I find to be true... "That first contact may lead to hitherto unknown intellectual depths if the conversation is allowed to gently continue and to take its own course". AND...we "often under-estimate quiet people or those who don't "pick up the ball" when you throw out an idea".

      I find that with no expectations whatsoever, conversations flow....move.....evolve....gently continue and take its own course. I've had some of the very best, deep insightful conversations, and made life long friends while standing on the corner waiting for a bus, waiting for a flight in the airport, sitting next to someone on a plane...people who visit my gardens...chance meetings of all kinds. In my perception, it takes genuinely being open to how a conversation may evolve. People can FEEL if we are open minded/open hearted, and/or if we have certain expectations.

      I'm still out of thumbs for you Fritzie....sending you a smile......:>)
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    Sep 1 2012: In my electronics courses in college, we had one girl in the whole class(1977). She took a lot of ribbing from time to time. One day we were talking about God and she told us this joke which I thought was very thought provoking:

    "In my opinion, God is most certainly an engineer", she said.

    "Really?" we responded. "In what way?"

    "In the beginning God created Man, is this not correct", she offered.

    We nodded in agreement.

    "And then he created woman, right?", she continued.

    We nodded in agreement.

    "Well, doesn't an engineer always create a prototype before building the finished product?"

    End of story.
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    Sep 1 2012: I found most people like to talk about themselves. As you ask them questions, you become the Listener - you can slowly bring the conversation around to more interesting topics to discuss. This usually works 1/2 way through the meal, after the other miscellaneous chit chat dies down...
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      Sep 1 2012: We are our own biggest fan. Talking about the other is the first rule of seducing (in business and personal life). It takes a lot of exercise to know how direct a conversation from the person to more interesting topics. The trick is to know something about everything so you can easily link one thing to another and end up talking about a (more) interesting subject.

      I always congratulate myself when the other says "How did we ended up talking about this?".

      Or another "technique" I use is to skip the chit chat and immediately ask something like "When is the last time you wrote an actual letter by hand?".
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          Sep 2 2012: Hi Colleen. It's funny to see that within certain subject area's it's always the same people who contribute. Must be that we somehow care and think about the same matters :)

          Life stories can indeed be very interesting. It depends what you talk about and how you talk about it. I do not care about the discussion as such one has had with its friend. What I do care about are the arguments used. The discussion can still be subject of the conversation but depending on the way you communicate about it is of interest and one can gain something your experience.

          Also the other person must be open to having a conversation. If the other shares an experience I can relate to I'll share it. But if the other continues talking about his own experience after I shared mine you can deduce that he has no interest in you. On the other hand, if he takes the opportunity of you having shared your experience to take the conversation on a deeper level. By for example talking about how you experienced it and what you did with it. Then there's room for an "intellectual" conversation out of which you'll gain something.

          I hope you understand what the point I'm trying to make. I often feel like my contributions sound quite abstract.

          The last letter I wrote was last week (I still need to post it though). As summer began I asked my closest friends to send me a card or letter whenever they were on holiday. And not just a text message and a picture on Facebook but something personal. I miss reading actual handwriting where you can see the effort and love they've put in the words. I haven't been on holiday but I've sent some cards form my hometown to other friends with a basic text like "Hi, sun is shining here. How is your summer going?" And I'm also trying to get to know somebody better so I decided to write her letter just like they did back in the days (that's the letterI still need to post).
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        Sep 2 2012: Yes indeed Pascal-Xavier..."within certain subject area's it's always the same people who contribute. Must be that we somehow care and think about the same matters :)"
        I think you are right on my friend:>)

        You are also "right on" with the realization that "It depends what you talk about and how you talk about it". I think if one person is attached to a certain outcome, it is not as enjoyable, and the conversation does not flow as easily...do you think? For me, it is usually the process of the interaction that is most enjoyable, rather than the end result. Good communication is about the journey, as much as the destination...in my humble perception:>)

        I LOVE reading handwritten notes too, and I find that the more I stop sending them, the fewer I get! Maybe I have finally entered the electronic age??? LOL

        I also LOVE that you wrote the person you're trying to get to know better a letter.....that is very sweet my frined. DON'T FORGET TO POST IT!!!

        I think I absolutely and wholeheartedly understand, appreciate and agree with everything you've written above:>)
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        Sep 2 2012: Hi Pascal,
        This is a copy of my reply to your comment starting..."We are our own biggest fan,", which was removed my TED because I suggested who was actually being "smug"...it certainly is not you, as suggested by another commenter.

        You say..."It takes a lot of exercise to know how direct a conversation from the person to more interesting topics".

        I find that often the person and his/her life stories ARE the interesting topic. More often than not, when I listen to the person's story, it leads to the flow of more and more interesting conversations, and topic. As I learn more about that person, I share more about myself as well...it's a lovely flowing cycle, and when we allow it to flow, it very often becomes very interesting:>)

        I agree with you that knowing a little bit about a lot of things helps link one thing to another, and that contributes to the flow. I perceive everything to be interconnected, so to link and flow with the conversation has always been interesting to me. I also find humans, and human behavior (including my own) to be fascinating, so "listening", and participating on many different levels facilitates moving the conversation possibly in many different directions:>)

        I relate to your congratulatory feeling Pascal! At the end of hours of conversation, the other person and I often express....WOW....we just talked about politics, the economy, global issues, personal issues...etc. etc.....and we understand how they are all connected because we've just had a conversation that flows with the process of speaking, listening, sharing information.....I LOVE it!!!

        Interesting question Pascal....I cannot even remember when I last wrote a letter by hand, and I notice that my hand writing is deteriorating....probably from lack of use in that respect, and probably from a little arthritis. When is the last time YOU wrote a letter by hand?
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      Sep 1 2012: Whats wrong with people talking about themselves why you listen? This is the best way to learn about them - the listener is always gaining because you are the receiver . . .
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        Sep 1 2012: There are different ways to talk about yourself and different things you can talk about. I don't mind people sharing experiences they've had so others can learn from it. I do mind when people talk about themselves because they think they are interesting (and they might be to somebody else). If after 15 minutes of conversation (i.e. a monologue) I know the person's "whole life" but nothing of "intellectual value" I stop listening and leave. Not every word that comes out of somebody's mouth is actually worth sharing. I hope you understand what I mean.

        I don't mind monologues as long as I gain something from it. Be it a new point of view, an experience, something I didn't know or never think of...
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        Sep 2 2012: Hi again Ehis and Pascal-Xavier:>)
        I think/feel it is a good thing to share information about ourselves, and to do that we need to feel comfortable with the other person, so I believe that is where a good conversation may begin?....our comfort level?

        I also agree that there are many different ways to talk about ourselves. Are we genuinely trying to share information? Is our intent to genuinely connect with the other person? Is our intent to dominate and simply tell our own stories without consideration for the other person?

        I agree Pascal, that it is not interesting to have conversations with folks who think they are the most interesting thing since sliced bread! It is not interesting to listen to folks who are constantly trying to teach us something, or who believe s/he has all the answers to everything. I agree...I understand what you mean, and I also stop listening after repeated efforts to get a person involved in a more interesting, productive way.
    • Sep 1 2012: I like when other people talk about themself. That brings me the oportunity to know other point of views.
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    Sep 1 2012: 3 evenings ago I went to the garden of the abbey where I’m staying. There were 5 people practicing yoga in the grass and I sat on the only bench in the garden. 15 minutes later a man comes and sits next to me nodding when our eyes crossed as he sat down. 10 minutes later I ask him if he’s staying in the guesthouse of the abbey as well. His reply was “No. Do you like classical music?” and he gave an ear bud and we listened for 30 minutes to a violin concerto of Tsaikovsky. Afterwards we started by talking about music and by the time our conversation was over we covered following topics: the economic situation in Africa, Modern colonisation by China, Columbus and the future (the end) of our world.

    I wanted to tell him I loved him. It has been so long since I’ve had an intellectual conversation with a complete stranger. Needless to say he was much older than I am with my 24 springs. I like to surround myself with people who are intellectually stimulating. It’s a rare species among 24 year olds.

    As some have pointed out practically all conversation start by small talk. However when I feel it will lead to nothing I easily stop showing interest. And as a result some people think of me as an arrogant person. I don’t want be arrogant but it’s exhausting to, time and time again, smile for a whole evening and pretend you’re interested in how many yards that guy ran or what’s going on in Jersey Shore (which is to me an example of a zoo with modern primates). If you think of yourself to be an intellectual person it’s your duty to make other people feel interesting and be able to have a descent conversation on a wide range of topics. You could say that one must be a chameleon and thus be able to fit in in any social circle.

    Jake says he feels like he’s surrounded by people that are intellectually challenged. I wouldn’t say so. I think that some people don’t feel like they need to stimulate their intellect which is different than intellectually challenged.
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      Sep 1 2012: I hope you didn't get an ear ache from his ear bud.

      I would pass on the offer for that very reason. If I whisked out a bottle of antiseptic and cleaned the ear bud, it might evoke disdain. So, I just pass.

      But I agree that we must find a way to engage one another on a level of equanimity. It is the duty of the strong to protect the weak. That includes making the less intelligent or reasonable feel at ease in your presence. That is what those much smarter than I have done for me and I appreciate it.

      Jake could find better answers to his question if he joined a group of people who were vastly superior to his level of intelligence. Physics.org offers some of these people. One of the most enjoyable is the Open Salon:


      Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance. ~Confucius
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        Sep 1 2012: I didn't get an ear ache and even if I did I wouldn't mind. The conversation would be worth it.

        It's important to make people of a "lower" level feel at ease in your company and teach them in some way so that one day you'll both be on an equal level.

        That Confucius quote holds a lot of truth. In line with Confucius I often say that one discovers his ignorance by learning. The more you learn, the more new things you discover. Call it a positive vicious circle.

        Thank you for bringing up Open Salon, I haven't heard from it before and certainly looks interesting.
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          Sep 1 2012: I guess my real point is that to: "learn" to make people at a "lower level" feel at ease; much could be learned by becoming that person at the lower level.
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          Sep 2 2012: " If you think of yourself to be an intellectual person it’s your duty to make other people feel interesting and be able to have a descent conversation on a wide range of topics. " ----This is a gift and if you are truly able to do it, you are not just blessed, but also deserve the title.
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          Sep 2 2012: Dear Pascal, John and Juliette,
          What do you suppose happens when we don't see anyone on a "lower" or higher level? What if we see others and ourselves on an equal level right away?

          I agree...the more we learn, the more there is to learn. There is always a deeper and deeper level of learning....in my humble perception:>)

          I don't think we can actually "make" anyone feel different, but we certainly can contribute information which may influence a person's feelings in some way.
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      Sep 2 2012: Dear Pascal-Xavier,
      I LOVE your story, and I'm curious as to why you are staying at an Abbey? I've had some very interesting conversations with people while staying at convents, monestaries and an abbey, here, close to home, in Mexico and Russia:>)
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        Sep 2 2012: Hi again Colleen :)

        To answer your first question: Chemistry with a bang! The moments when you feel you're on an equal level right away are priceless and are the basis of strong longlasting relationships. Sadly enough you'll only have that feeling with everybody you meet in an utopia. However if you go to the right places (on- and offline) there's a big chance that you'll meet (likeminded) people with whom you're on the same level right away.

        I'm staying at the Abbey to study. There are some exams I need to resit and this place is perfect for me to be. Not only to study but also for the people I meet. It's the third time I come here and every single time I've had wonderful encounters with the most interesting people. Everybody here has a story or an experience worth sharing.

        2 years ago I met the most intelligent man (on intellectual and emotional level) I know. He's a father who's judge and holds a master in archealogy who teaches at the university of Cambridge (UK) and Rome. When you talk to him he listens to more than the words you are saying. He captivates the deeper meaning right away, on trivial matters as well as on emotionally loaded subjects. I hope from the deepest of my heart that one day I'll be blessed with that gift.
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          Sep 2 2012: Pascal, the path of charity offers opportunities to learn and meet people. You can grow at an exponential rate towards the goal of gaining the blessing you seek.
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          Sep 2 2012: I agree Pascal-Xavier...to feel on the same level with others is WONDERFUL, and as you say, the basis of strong longlasting relationships.

          As individuals, we can make the choice to have that feeling with anybody....right? Whether or not it is reciprocated is the choice of the other individual....yes? By being open to possibilities, I've met many people throughout my life, who share this feeling.....it really IS possible....honestly:>) The more open we are as individuals, the more we contribute to the possibilities of connecting.....really.....it's true:>)

          I have found the convents and monestaries I've stayed at VERY relaxing, and at the same time stimulating.

          Pascal, my friend, in my humble opinion, you ALREADY ARE blessed with the gift of really listening, "feeling", and participating in conversations on deeper levels.
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        Sep 2 2012: Dear Pascal, from reading your posts I feel you are well on your way:) I think being heard, truly heard, is all that anyone of us hungers for. Good listeners are amazing to be with. I think much of life maybe spent searching for the one who "gets" us.Yet there is one other element that our souls yearn for and that is genuine reciprocation.
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    Aug 29 2012: Oh my gosh this made me smile:) I have lived through this for many many years.

    I was never very good at them either.

    So I started to embarrass my SO until he no longer made me go. I would talk about inappropriate things at dinner like waste treatment plants, feces processing. It finally worked but it took a while. Then it was only on occasion we would go. Now I just smile and eat and talk about the food. As a spouse we have to do some things we don't like that our partner does.

    As long as we can stop by the air and space museum exhibition opening next weekend.
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      Aug 29 2012: Lol, I liked your comment Linda. I'm glad you got a chuckle. :-)
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          Aug 30 2012: True Don. I agree and knew that some would view my comments as prideful and lacking humility. However, are we too deny any observation that requires we forgo the notion of remaining humble? Sometimes we must cross boundaries to answer difficut questions. ;-)
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    Aug 29 2012: Hi Jake,
    I have never found it difficult to engage in interesting conversations, because I am genuinely interested in people.
    I remember seeing this when I was a teenager:

    You say..."the same boring conversations unfold". A conversation takes two or more people, and if you are a participant, you are partially responsible for how it unfolds....are you not? Sometimes, it helps to connect with people where THEY choose to be with conversation, and then they are more willing to connect with where WE would like to be in conversation....it's a cycle....interested....interesting.....interested....interesting......:>)

    You say you "prefer to discuss things that stimulate ME intellectually". Do you think the other person likes to discuss what stimulates him/her as well? If you feel you are "surrounded by people that are intellectually challenged", do you think/feel that they may feel that vibe from you? It feels like you would genuinely like to have meaningful conversations. I'll tell you though, it feels like you are putting yourself on a little pedestal just a wee bit my friend.

    I have always had a variety of very diverse people as friends, and I love to talk AND listen with them. My "play group" (guys I ski, bike, hike, sail, kayak with) are mostly retired engineers, and I am about as right brain dominant as a person can be. We have WONDERFUL conversations about EVERYTHING....economics, politics, global challenges, the environment, sports, personal challenges etc., and we also joke, laugh and play a LOT. I also have GREAT conversations with the teenager who mows my lawn....his sport activities...college plans...interests...life plans, etc.

    I would say that most conversations are successful because of interest, rather than intellect. "BE" what you want to "SEE", and have fun with the exploration:>)
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      Aug 29 2012: Dear Colleen,

      You're an excellent communicator and I support every word you say.
      Yet I do understand the questioner and his problem.

      In my life I only once had the privilege to have someone around to talk to in a way that was really stimulating for both. It was an uncle that had many interests and our conversation ventured into depths and heights that stimulated my thinking and understanding as it was for him for he loved to engage any conversation with me whenever possible. As it ever happened among a crowd of people we were alone as well because within minutes everyone was silent and listening while at the same time we even forgot they were present.
      It was like our minds worked on the same frequency as among normal people we were used to turn this frequency a few steps down. It’s all long ago but to communicate in this way stays an unfulfilled desire.

      I’ve learned to be a silent listener and to watch every word carefully as I say anything back. This way everyone is happy but me. Some people hardly notice what I say but react only to how I say it. That’s the other end of the line.
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        Aug 29 2012: Thank you Frans, and I think you are an excellent communicator as well. I understand the questioner and the challenge too, which is why I offered some ideas:>)

        Based on the feedback I observe here on TED, there are a LOT of people noticing and appreciating your comments. Are you noticing the feedback you are getting? I have never perceived you to be a "silent listener"and joyfully perceive your comments to be insightful and to the point. I appreciate you and your contributions very much.

        I love it when conversations flow like you describe Frans! I have several friends with whom I can get lost in conversations, and before we know it several hours have passed, and we are not aware of time or space. It is very enjoyable, and maybe to create that we need to "grease the wheels" sometimes? The "grease" I use is curiosity...I LOVE verbal explorations:>)
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        Aug 30 2012: This is why I am grateful for TED. Here are definitely thoughtful, caring and intellectual exchanges which I find quite enriching. It is a terrific group and surely hard to find elsewhere. All we have to figure out now is how to share a pizza:) Regards.
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          Aug 30 2012: I wish we could share that pizza too Julie! (if I may so call you) :-) Wouldn't it be a pleasure to meet all the people in this forum in a central location and share in open discussion, brainstorming, and debate while sharing that pizza and engaging in plain old good times?
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        Aug 30 2012: Frans,
        This is a response to your comment..."You're a lucky girl to have such friends, Colleen."

        I have always been very grateful to have wonderful friends and family in my life. There was a time, however, around the age of 30, I made a very conscious effort to expand my activities and worldview.

        Prior to that time, I was pretty shy, and as a young woman, I focused on the emotional support and physical care of my kids and wasband (was my husband), as he was building a business.

        Because of various circumstances in my life around age 30, I activily sought to expand my world with additional people and activities. Based on my experience, it appears that these skills can be learned, and sometimes it requires taking a risk to step out of beliefs and behaviors that may keep us disconnected, or maybe connected in a different way.
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          Aug 30 2012: Okay Colleen, we learn as we grow.

          Different people, different lessons.
          I probably needed to grade up some EQ that was absent as a youngster.

          I married a woman that was nothing but emotion.
          With the age of 50 I started all over and changed one day wife, kids, house, work and place all together. She was the most sociable person I know of and again I learned much but in the end I know: you can't turn a tiger into a pussycat. This all now is history and I love the solitude, nature and of course a chat with you at times.
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        Aug 30 2012: I agree Frans....we are all different.....learn different things, in different ways, at different times in the life adventure!

        Really? You don't believe in the taming of the shrew??? LOL!

        My wasband is/was a very social creature too, and when I began my quest to be more "out there" I learned a LOT by observing him and how he first approached people. He could walk into a room of 100 people, and in a short time, know them on a superficial or business level, while I was simply following along because I was only the shy wife of this very social creature. I learned from him how to connect with more people, which means there is more opportunity to connect on many different levels.

        I also learned to find balance because I LOVE having those long, meaningful, insightful chats with some friends at certain times.....I LOVE doing sport activities, sharing laughs, and comradery, I LOVE nature and solitude, and I LOVE chats with you as well Frans...thanks for being you and sharing the gift:>)
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      Aug 29 2012: Thank you for your comments Colleen. I really am a humble person and I knew that some, including yourself, would see it as though I was "putting myself on a pedestal", as you describe it. I believe that Frans has understood me. He described the conversation with his uncle as, "It was like our minds worked on the same frequency as among normal people we were used to turn this frequency a few steps down." This is my point exactly. Sure, there are lots of people that are more educated and have higher intellects than myself. I might also add that being educated and possessing knowledge is not a direct reflection on a persons intellectual quotient. But what is wrong with bringing to light the fact that people with higher I.Q.'s prefer deeper, richer, more complex, and fascinating subjects? For example, I have attempted on several occasions to enlighten friends and co-workers on the fantastic wonders of the cosmos. After watching an episode of The Universe on star formation and lifespan, my friend replied "So you mean the stars are actually not little dots, and they are big like the Sun? I don't believe that because they would be bigger." I tried describing the size of the cosmos to him, referencing the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second, and the light year and so on. His mind could just not mentally grasp the distances involved and the vastness of space. I didn't despise him for it, and he is my dear friend to this day. I just realized that there was a difference between his level of comprehension and my own. I don't think it is "politically incorrect" to make that assumption, acknowledge it, and communicate it in an open forum. From my experiences, I have come to the realization that my friend represents what I refer to as the "Common American Experience". We place more value on the kind of athlete you are than how knowledgable you are. More money in the public school system is spent on sports programs than education. It's a sad reality.
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        Aug 29 2012: It's not sad. Really.

        I'm told ,before we attend family functions, by my wife to keep my mouth shut. :)

        More money is spent on the sports program because of the gambling that goes along on the side.

        I liked Marc Rose implication that the smarter you get the smaller your group of associates might become. And isn't that the way it evolves at every party?

        When ever I go shopping or out in the public, I stop people at random and and ask them this question:
        "Do you know how the rich get richer?"

        You would be surprised at the responses.

        On the whole, most people don't realize that the rich get richer by convincing you to take the money our of your pocket and putting it in theirs. It' not a big intellectual secrete, just a simple transaction done multiple times or for larger amounts of money.

        So, I would pose this question to you: "How do the smart get smarter?"
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          Aug 29 2012: By pickpocketing knowledge out of the pants of smarter people? :-)
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        Aug 30 2012: Jake,
        You say..."But what is wrong with bringing to light the fact that people with higher I.Q.'s prefer deeper, richer, more complex, and fascinating subjects?"

        I do not agree with that statement because my experience shows me something very different. Do you think that perception may be getting in the way of your quest? If you are seeking ONLY people with higher IQs, could you be missing other people who do not appear to have as high an IQ, but perhaps have a lot to offer in terms of meaningful, interesting and deep conversation?

        In the example you give, it sounds like you were trying to educate your friend with information you have and he does not have.

        You write..."His mind could just not mentally grasp the distances involved and the vastness of space... I just realized that there was a difference between his level of comprehension and my own"

        I suggest that there may have been a difference in comprehension IN THAT TOPIC. It does not necessarily mean that there is a difference in ALL comprehension.
    • Sep 23 2012: Dear Colleen,

      I have just begun reading your comments here and there on some of the discussions, and ma'am (please excuse my using of honorific) you are one of life's very rare gifts. I would like to know how wonderful it is knowing a person like you who seems to have such a genuine and vast interest in other people.

      I agree with the spirit of your comments, as it seems to resonate with my personal belief that every person is a universe of trillion of myriads of undiscovered treasures which, through conversations, can be revealed.

      I also seem to understand Jadek raising the thoughts about the difficulty to "engage in intellectual conversations with people". After all, intellectual or not, conversations between people are always difficult, are they not? I have never ever had an "easy" conversation in my life, not even when I converse with my own self. I believe conversations are meant to be that way, and for better or for worse, I think it's one of the most exciting things about life. Plus, there is always a tremendous feeling of exhilaration after you overcome a difficult conversation by truly wanting to converse with your conversation partner. The difficulty isn't the problem with conversation per se, the real problem is whether or not you truly want to converse with the person in front of you, and whether or not that person feels the same way you do.

      Nevertheless, I think some people are blessed with communication skills so powerful that it allows them to make conversations in a subtantially less effortful manner, and Colleen, you and a lot of others here are one of those. Me, certaintly not, but I'm willing to learn and are learning until the day those superb communication skills are in my possession. As for now, I am quite content with spending a lot more effort just to converse with another willing someone. Being able to get in touch with parts of that person's inner universe worth all the difficulty that I may and will need to go through.
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        Sep 23 2012: Dear Simon,
        WOW....I am almost speechless! Thank you so very much for your kind words.

        I honestly do not believe conversations are difficult, and in my experience, conversations almost always flow, which seems natural to me. Was it difficult or easy to write your lovely comment above?

        I agree that one of the questions is whether or not we genuinely want to converse with the person in front of us, and whether or not that person feels the same way.

        It seems like you may not give yourself credit for your own communication skills? It appears from this side of the communication that good communication skills are already in your possession:>)

        Thank you again, and I sincerely hope you continue to communicate on TED, and in all other situations in your life adventure:>)
  • Sep 23 2012: Being a gifted student and exceptionally bright individual I've had this problem since I was at a young age. I have always been able to relate myself on some level to those "intellectually challeged" for the purpose of conversing, making friends etc. However it gets to the point sometimes where I feel I'm being drained in conversation with those who know nothing outside of what they watch on TV or learn from their sub-par public school education. What I have found though is that everyone has an innate sense of curiosity despite their level of understanding, so if I can take an intellectually stimulating topic, present it in a creative way while using simple terms you can converse with anyone on a wide array of topics; ie suspended animation, sacred geometry, zero point technology or whatever interests you. It's a shame that this "real world" that is portrayed in the media underlies values of substance and ignorance, but by removing yourself from that and subsequently removing it from your thoughts, ideas and speech it's power of influence is diminished.
  • Sep 19 2012: I've discovered that if I ask people about themselves and remind myself to be fully listening they are often more interesting than I would have originally thought. Polite small talk when we live in a climate of polarization is very difficult these days. There is nothing that could not turn into a land mine! Even the weather end sup off limits. But, people love to talk about themselves. You find out amazing interesting things when you ask.

    (And come here, we love to talk about the Higgs Boson!)
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      Sep 19 2012: I just pull them around by the chin and say, "....are you listening to me?"
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    Sep 19 2012: Dude (I mean Jake), why do you think I'm here? [:-)
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    Sep 18 2012: You probably just need to find some mental stimulation elsewhere. People generally are too consumed with living their mostly very ordinary lives to focus on anything other than trivia. One only has to see the high viewing figures for soap operas on TV and game shows to understand that this is probably what the population can best understand.

    I enjoy debating and discussing a range of subjects from the origins of the universe to how society functions and can also understand why people feel that trivia enables them to avoid the subjects which would otherwise prove too challenging to discuss.
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    Sep 18 2012: Jake, I thought you might appreciate this TED video. The next time you see an old woman sitting down beside or across from you, knitting, you might take up an Intellectual conversation with her.


    While I was watching this video, it occurred to me that if I, being in the upper (97% tile) were one of the 3 % of the survivors of a viral or bacterial world wide onslaught, that only targeted those people who were below this IQ level, that after the die-off, I would be one of the dumbest people on the earth.
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    Sep 15 2012: Guess there's always informal chit-chat when you first meet somebody, since neither of you has a grasp how much you might appreciate an intellectual conversation...
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      Sep 15 2012: Good point to reinforce Hugo! I also believe, as others have mentioned on this thread, that when we first interact with someone, there may be informal chit-chat as we get to know each other. The conversation will, or will not evolve as we decide who we want to interact with at any given time.

      You have shown us here on TED that you are knowledgeable, insightful, curious, eager to learn and teach. You have built a foundation for more intellectual conversation, and in my humble perception, that is exactly how we engage each other in conversation.
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        Sep 15 2012: Thank you Colleen! I really appreciate your compliments.

        Yes, like you said, the conversation may evolve or may not. From my high school experience, when I first talked to someone, I will have at least a grasp about how he will think of an intellectual conversation, because you know for some people, they dislike participating in an intellectual conversation. For instance, when I say something, say, nerdy and intellectual, he be like:" What? Speak English, Hugo." But I also have a friend who I love to talk to him about politics, we always spark great debate together.

        While on platforms like TED, I'm inclined to say we usually just go directly to intellectual conversations since some assumptions are rightfully made: pretty sure jocks, hippies, rebels wouldn't even peek up at this website lol.
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          Sep 15 2012: I appreciate YOU Hugo! I LOVE to see all the young people (our future) here on TED, who are so insightful, interested and interesting, as you are. We can learn a LOT from you:>)

          I think that valuable conversation can include playfullness AND serious intellectual discussion/exploration. Our comfort level is important don't you think? I feel that when I'm comfortable with someone, I'm much more willing to share information and truly "engage" in conversation.

          I agree that on TED, people often assume that we are here to share information in a respecful way, and that is really fun. I think we have some "rebels" here too:>)

          And "hippies"? I didn't even know that word was still used! I was a "hippy" in the 60s......that's 1960, for those of you who cannot remember...LOL:>) Flowers in the hair, playing the guitar and singing peace songs.....another lifetime....equally as serious and playful:>)
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        Sep 15 2012: Lol I'm flattered :) You know I first came to TED to watch those videos to improve my listening skills... but obviously I've changed my expectations here.

        You are right that our comfort level is very important. When I don't feel like talking too much(meaning I don't feel much comfortable around), I will just be a introvert. But when I do, I can be a noisy one...

        Haha I guess I wanted to say like "extreme nonconformists" or "radicals"? That's an interesting thing to know that you were a "hippy" in 60s lol. I wish I'd had a chance to remember it... it looked quite fun in those clips I've seen.
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          Sep 15 2012: In my perception, listening is a very important part of conversations Hugo, and you do it well....both listening AND communicating your thoughts, feelings, ideas, opinions and beliefs.

          Don't EVER accept someone telling you that you are not knowledgeable because you are young.....and s/he is more knowledgeable because s/he is older. That is simply NOT true, nor is it a way to genuinely connect with conversation.

          Those were the days my friend! The hippy days were indeed fun and challenging....war protests and things like that. Life changes....sometimes.....sometimes not so much.....we still have wars unfortunately....when will we ever learn?
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        Sep 16 2012: Haha thank you Colleen.

        My dad tells me all the time that I'm not that knowledgeable because of my lack of experiences and I still need to go through a lot of things. From within I don't want to accept that but I try my best to convince myself that he has a great point so I can actually learn more:) I used to be all cavalier like a typical teenager but now I feel like I've grown a lot:)

        As always it's really nice talking with you!
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          Sep 16 2012: It's always nice talking with you too Hugo:>)

          In general, the more life experiences we have, the more we have an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve as humans. To do that, we need to be open to possibilities, which you seem to be. I'm looking forward to more insightful conversations with you...carry on my friend:>)
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    Sep 14 2012: I tend to have difficulty with intellectual conversations only where heated topics are concerned. Although I have my own views, I work hard to empathize with the people I speak to. The problem comes when I attempt to keep the conversation centered on finding a truth and keeping emotions and egotism out of the picture. Not easy when you're conversing with someone hell bent on being angry about a political topic regardless of the logic.
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      Sep 15 2012: Hi Amy.....I agree.....
      It is never easy to converse with someone who is hell bent on anger, ego (a need to be right), or one who has his/her own agenda. For me, that is an important deciding factor regarding whether or not I want to continue any kind of discussion with a person.
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    Sep 9 2012: I've enjoyed this conversation very much Jake. Like many who shared their experiences I find I'm locked in a family group that wan'ts to emotivly demonstrate their attachment to Religious elements as opposed to discussing intelectual values. Most of their value structure revolves aroung religous learning and they know little of science as it applies to everyday life. They can't project how what is happening in the world today can be altered by activites other thatn divine influence.

    The people in my neighborhood tend to be mostly younger people who don't react much with older people. The older people don't react much with each other. Because our neighborhood is fashioned about the rules of an HOA (Home Owners Association) change that is dramatic, (painting your house purple) is not allowed, so extreme ideas of self-expression are suppressed. Basically everyone is force to go with the status quo and this is determined by the owner meetings and the HOA. We are locked in static relationships and ideas associated with radical change (growing vegetables in the front yard) and having chickens for fresh eggs are strictly forbidden.

    My wife and I are looking for another home that is more isolated where we can grow a garden and have chickens and a couple of goats. We are no longer interested or physically able to keep the lawn up to par with the rest of our neighbors and no one is inclined to offer help. We are slowly being ostracized by the community.

    Our only outlet for intellectual exchange is via the Internet with people like you and the others here. We enjoy it and it is enough.
  • Sep 7 2012: Yes, though sometimes I'm so happily surprised. Like last weekend when we had a friend over to dinner. We sat eating and talking for nearly three hours about positive thinking, cancer, health and the mind, politics and endless other topics that seemed to naturally flow one to the other. We built a deep connected conversation where in the end belonged to all three of us.
    I think people are so afraid to disagree or to share different points of view because all we do is get polarized. We don't seem to be able to create together with all of our differing opinions. When we can, like last Saturday night, magic happens, worlds open up, lights go off. And we are completed and satisfied by exercising our unique human gift of being the socially creative human beings we were meant to be.
    • Sep 9 2012: Elizabeth, I so enjoyed reading you post, because we too have had this kind of experience with good friiends. And I find this sort of intellectual conversation so easily happens when dining in one's home vs. a restaurant. People cannot seem settle into deep thoughts when there are too many other distractions in a public place. But with some good food and wine, in a more relaxed, quiet, atmosphere, thoughts are so readily exchanged. We've sat sometimes 3 or 4 hours like this not having any clue as to the passing of time, but just enjoying the people and the conversations. And I so enjoy this when people can feel so comfortable and relaxed and not having to hurry with a meal so someone else can have their table. Thanks for sharing this experience.