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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: 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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