TED Conversations

Kelwalin Dhanasarnsombut

Patent and patent information specialist, Rouse & Co International


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Celebrity scientists

From Richard Dawkin to Brian Cox, from Sean Carroll to E. O. Willson, they have gave their talks here at TED, been on media, inspired and raised much of debates.

Who is your favorite scientist? Who haven't yet been on TED and should be invited to be on TED? and why? What is your opinion on 'Sci-celebrities'? Are they good model for kids, good educator, inspiring icon, or they are over-rated?


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  • Feb 2 2013: As a psychology major wanting to become a neuroscientist, my favourite scientists are neuroscientists. VS Ramachandran might be called a minor celebrity (my neuropsych prof said that if there were Ramachandran action figures, he would buy one), and Oliver Sachs might be called a retired science celebrity. Then there's Antonio Damasio, who I wouldn't call a celebrity at all and, of course, Sam Harris, who we've probably all heard of.

    I think science "celebrities" are important in the sense that they keep those of us without access to peer-reviewed scientific journals (or the educational background to decipher them) up to date on the latest ideas and findings in their fields, as well as for their popularization of science in general. Their celebrity, however, is usually due in large part to the popularity of the particular specialization of their field or their "extracurricular" activities. Dawkins, for example, is mostly famous for his criticisms of religion and his book, "The Selfish Gene", which was actually primarily a popularization of someone else's idea. Not to take anything away from him, but if he happened to have been born in an era when religious controversies were few and far between and evolution held less intrigue, he may not be quite the household name he is today.

    There are soooooo many brilliant scientists out there doing fascinating work that no one has ever heard of, not because their work is less important or interesting, but because they just happen to be working in fields that people care very little about today. The only thing holding them back from notoriety is a lack of major modern social or political issues that their work has anything to say about, or, perhaps, a simple unwillingness to speak up about them.
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      Feb 3 2013: RE: Michael Behe. Upon what do you base your character assassination of Dr. Behe? Please be specific beyond vague generalization and personal opinion.The topic asks who might be good to invite to give a TED Talk, not who should not be invited. Thank you!
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        Feb 3 2013: google the damn thing already!
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          Feb 3 2013: Apparently you have said all you have to say on this because you are repeating yourself. Is this some new protocol you are promoting? Say anything you want and when asked for facts simply reply "Google the damn thing already!"? I'm old school so I prefer the more established,venerated protocol. . . . . Put up or shut up!. (I did research online and found nothing derogatory about Dr. Behe, but several items about a Marine sergeant).
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        Feb 16 2013: I don't know about Behe's character but I am not impessed with him as a standout scientist, as someone who's efforts has clarified the workings of nature, or as someone who can explain science. His position, nothing new, on creationism/intelligent design, what he terms irreducible complexity, was smacked down again, in federal court (Kitzmiller v Dover).

        I think decent people, even very intelligent people, can get on the intelligent design crazy train based on gut feelings alone. Neil deGrasse Tyson and others have spoken well and given historical examples about the tendency to invoke gods when we can't explain something. Many great minds have done that because they have run into something they could not fathom, only to have the mystery solved later....seems to me the default position should be to admit that we don't know, to try to be aware of our inate biases, rather than hold, with certainty, an alternate solution which is shown to be false.
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          Feb 16 2013: You would stand alone as an Evolutionist if you offered even a modicum of respect to Dr. Behe as a scientist. He flies in the face of Evoultion and is therefore categorically dismissed as a serious scientist by the always obedient science/socio/political establishment. His efforts. and many others like him, have clarified the workings of our universe and explained science. What possible advancement in understanding of our world can come from the Federal Court? Jurisprudence and politics can neither dictate nor prohibit scientific truth. Truly great minds do not manufacture explanations just to eliminate the unexplained. Simply invoking gods is no more a departure from the Scientific Method than is the Theory of Evolution. Dr. Behe, and many like him, proclaim the Emperor's nudity. There is another explanation of life on Earth although American students are carefully carefully shielded against exposure to it by the federal courts. Behe points-out the defects in Evolution. I agree 100% that we should always say we don't know whenever we don't know. We ought to stop inculcating our youngsters with unproven, theoretical possibilities and probabilities while telling them it is Truth and to deny or question it is illogical. Can I prove to you God created the universe? No. Can you prove to me the Universe created itself from nothing? No. Let's move forward from there and stop teaching only the latter to our children. Let's return to honest, ethical application of one of our greatest developments as a species. . . the Scientific Method! Long live the Scientific Method! Thank you sir.

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