TED Conversations

John Davis

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Rehabilitate the homeless in America by using simulated environments with guidance by volunteer professionals from a variety of fields.

"Why are we helping so many poor people all across the world when we have so many homeless people here at home?" This is a common question that seems to never be answered. Is it cognitive dissonance? Is it apathy? Is it the worry of more costly social programs?

I believe in the innate goodness of people, and I believe we see it in each other every day. So why is it still a problem?

What I propose is that we work together to alleviate the suffering of others in this country by creating simulated towns that volunteer homeless can come to. By training them to maintain a hygienic existence, obtain simulated work and pay, and allow them to shop in stores stocked with donated items, we can reintegrate them into the real world again. This process would be guided by volunteer counselors, psychologists, nutritionists, financial specialists, law enforcement, and anyone else who is willing to donate their skills for creating a better future for those we all know we deeply care about. This environment could also serve as a free means for students of all levels, globally, to see constructive altruism in action. We would also welcome them as volunteers, where they can obtain real experience that could help them in their respective career-or even life-choices.

There are many innovative products being used today in developing countries that could make this program very inexpensive. By establishing a non-profit or charitable trust organization, we can assure that all donations go straight to the program.

Besides just offering our time, I believe the homeless are the key to reaching unprecedented wisdom and innovation possibilities in this country. Their unique perspective on hardship could serve to help us eventually regain our country's status as a beacon of hope for the struggling all across the world, and we can take what we know elsewhere and help all who need it.

The hope is for a restoration of pride and meaning. Both in the homeless, and in ourselves.


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    Nov 26 2012: "Some television shows have extremely quiet parts, so you turn up the volume. And then they have EXTREMELY LOUD PARTS AND THE VOLUME IS TOO LOUD and you go deaf and turn down the volume. Then as a consequence of being deaf and the quiet parts being too quiet, you can no longer hear. So you turn up the volume. A vicious cycle."

    I believe the potential sources for the problem are those television shows that incorporate sound effects for the purpose of incorporating suspense or excitement. Although not a problem in itself, many do struggle with the fluctuations and watch shows with the remote control in their hand.


    1. Use Rock Stars brand ear plugs while watching television. A real product, it claims to dampen particular frequencies, but still delivers a clear sound of them. Very interesting.

    2. Use sound-leveling technologies currently present in many modern electronics.

    3. Create a company that uses the internet capabilities of your media player to monitor the movie timer, then remotely reduce or increase the volume at predetermined times based on the customer's preferences. This can be automatic, as the customer can set profiles or allow the company to preset ones that are adjusted according to the customer's viewing habits.

    4. Hire a person (or find a volunteer) who will awkwardly stand behind you with cymbals. Whenever you hear a part that you do not find favorable, the person will clash the cymbals, thus reducing the effects of the movie sounds by desensitizing you through trauma.

    5. Wear a conically shaped listening device (such as Bugles Original or Nacho Cheese) that will still allow sound to reach your ears, but deflect piercing sounds that are meant to be directed towards your face. Laughing can cause the product to fall from the ears, so make sure you have your game face on the whole time.

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