TED Conversations

Linda Hesthag  Ellwein

Communications, Change, and Photography, Oikonomia, Inc.


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How attached are you to your deeply held beliefs? If solutions to global problems challenge your worldview, how do you react?

Allan Savory's recent TED Talk introduced an unlikely and politically incorrect solution to reversing global desertification and climate change with the use of livestock as a tool, and different decision making.

Well-meaning laws, bureaucracies, and activists at the mercy of public opinion have stifled this work from moving forward on a large scale in the US. Belief systems and the fear of being wrong often prohibits change.

How do you respond to ideas that challenge your belief system? How do we stop our paradigms and prejudices from unfairly shaping decision making, and allowing us to take real risks for lasting change? What's your reaction to cows helping save the world? What idea have you believed and been completely wrong?


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    Mar 18 2013: I tend to follow the often mentioned method of preventing, or at least delaying dogmatism from creeping into my mind. I ask myself a simple question, "What scenario/evidence would be needed to disprove my beliefs?". This sounds like a reasonable method of opening up your mind to alternative ideas. But it is not a foolproof solution; I doubt we have found any foolproof magic compass that always guides one in the right direction (assuming there is even a right direction at all). That is why Deng Xiaoping, when asked what he thought of the French Revolution, remarked that "it was too early to tell". Only by allowing different forms of discourse to flourish and form counterpoises over time will we eventually be able to discern which is the better course. This applies to everything from climate change to political institutions and moral philosophy. (with a little footnote at the bottom: anything but mutually assured destruction)
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      Mar 18 2013: A good point, but I like to be pro-active. For me to wait for a course of events to "event" is sort of like waiting to see if the forest fire will burn my house or the wind will change direction and spare me.
      Not easy. But, I can appreciate those who have nerves of steel

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