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greg dahlen

Alumnus, academy of achievement

TEDCRED 50+

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Many people in this world are more famous than me. I guess that means they're better people than me, right? And better than you, right?

I probably don't even need to example some people more famous than me, famous for their positive achievements. Brad Pitt; Bill Gates; Peyton Manning; and so on. If they're more famous than me for good things they've done, that means they're better than me, right? And also better than you, right?

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    Mar 20 2013: Depends on what you consider to be 'better'. Famous people are better than you or I in terms of getting public attention.
    Famous need not be do-gooders. You can experiment it by para-dropping naked in Trafalgar Square at 12 noon any day.

    What is more interesting question to me is if I am better today compared to yesterday.
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      Mar 20 2013: You really think so, Pabitra? Do you think people can get attention if they haven't really done something good?
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          Mar 31 2013: Technically, Kate, I would say mass murderers are infamous rather than famous. I will certainly try not to go there as I don't want a ruined, miserable life nor to hurt people.

          I saw the same psychologist for five years who died while I was seeing her. She was 77 when we started and died at 82. When I went to her memorial service, I chatted for a while afterwards with another of her ex-patients who told me his father was a serial killer who had never been caught, and then died in a rest home. I eventually reported that conversation to the LAPD cold case squad, but at this point, to my knowledge, they haven't found that guy (I need to check on that).
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        Mar 21 2013: I see fame and distinction/accomplishment as two separate things. A person who has done good may be famous but not necessarily one can assume a famous person must have done good. History and Media give us many famous persons whose actions are more doubtful than good.
        I don't believe that Adolf Hitler was a better person than me despite his immense fame at one point of history. He got so much attention of people that kids of 12 -13 agreed to die in a lost war.
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          Mar 31 2013: Well, my question is about people who are famous for having done good things. People like Adolf Hitler we might say are infamous rather than famous.
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        Mar 21 2013: Dear Greg,
        I would seriously listen to our monkey cousins here...Pabitra and Questions First. Are you a little bit obbsessed with this idea Greg? This question is very similar to your question about farmers and actors.
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          Mar 31 2013: Well, they both have to do with fame, but I think they're quite different questions. One is trying to understand why certain fields have more famous people in them. The other is trying to understand what being famous, in any field, says about a person's character.
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        Mar 31 2013: Greg,
        Actors probably have more famous people because their jobs depend on being famous. If they are not recognized, they don't make the big bucks.
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          Mar 31 2013: I need to think about this Colleen. Aren't there a lot of non-famous actors? Thus we could say that not all actors' jobs depend on being famous.
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    Mar 19 2013: no they are not better than you or me. my guess is that the names you mention are people with wealth so, they get the press. every single act of kindness, forgiveness,a helping hand, empathy......they all play an equal part in bettering the human race. Tell me it doesn't feel good on the inside when you have done something to better another ! This my friend is true human nature and we all have an equal share to give one no better than the other!
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      Mar 20 2013: yes, mary ellen, they all have wealth, but isn't it a chicken-egg question, perhaps they did good and then the wealth came?

      You may be right that we all have an equal share of kindness to give, but wouldn't you agree that some end up giving more of it than others? Why is that?
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        Mar 20 2013: No ..no chicken involved Greg ( good analogy though). Their parents were fortunate enough to gain some wealth during a time were opportunities were far more available, ( 21st century is a world of technology .We have moved from an industrial nation to a brand new technological age and a whole new set of skills is needed in the market place). the real challenge lies in the ability of their children to earn an income to match the life styles their parents offered. the only way....education

        ok acts of kindness. Kindness comes in all shapes, forms, sizes, actions, etc. I guess if you can give many dollars to an organization or a village of people in need, you are performing a multitude of acts of kindness in one shot.

        holding the door for someone, saying good morning with a smile, let them take the spot in front of while waiting in a line, carrying a bundle for them, a friendly nod, ......all acts of kindness. one human being to another.

        I am of the thought that each and every act is no greater than another. It is the giving of one's heart to another. we truly are in need of far more acts of kindness, (giving) in our world for most don't know the abundance you receive in return.


        you thoughts Greg? what does giving mean to you? do you feel you don't give enough? what does it mean to be wealthy?
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    Mar 18 2013: Obviously and undeniably the answer is "NO"!
    Let's say there are 5 categories of human quality into which each of the 7-billion humans now living on Earth can be placed: 5= Worst; 4= Bad; 3= Good; 2=Better; 1= Best.
    The question you are asking is: Does the Quality of a person depend strictly upon the degree of fame to which they attain?
    I will be watching this debate to see if even one rational, objective, convincing, argument based on the common understanding of the phrases "good people" and "bad people", appears on the "YES" side. There will probably be attempts, but I doubt there will be even one worthy attempt.
  • Mar 17 2013: No one really sets out to be famous.
    A person sets out to achieve a reasonable goal, like a good education in their chosen field, for example. They then go on to do good in that field and if by chance/fate/luck or what ever, they get recognition for something they did well. Get written up in a paper of some sort, put on TV, & then maybe they become famous.
    Fame also comes in different forms and levels too.
    Example: You reach out in your community and help people or animals or both. Family, friends, and strangers really like your work and always call on you for help. That is a form of fame.
    Even just being a good (or bad) neighbor is also a form of fame. But being bad can be infamous instead.
    Don't reach for that star, it will reach for you, even if it is a small one. It counts too!
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      Mar 20 2013: You really think it's chance/fate/luck, gale? Couldn't it be that they work harder?
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    Mar 16 2013: I have a feeling, Greg, that you don't believe this at all. People become famous, or don't, for all sorts of reasons unrelated to how "good" they are, broadly speaking.
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      Mar 31 2013: In my mind they are related, F, that the qualities that make you famous also make you good, such as working hard and taking risks.
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        Mar 31 2013: Looks and sometimes outrageous sorts of behaviors factor in as well, sometimes quite heavily.
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          Mar 31 2013: Well, looks I think Fr take effort and risk as well. Outrageous, well, I don't think anyone gets famous just for empty, outrageous acts. Occasionally someone famous might do something outrageous, such as Russell Crowe punching photographers, but that's not truly what he's famous for. Others may do flamboyant, somewhat outrageous things, but they're usually at least somewhat interesting or beautiful and even thought-provoking things. Like Elton John wearing glasses with really wild frames, or wild clothing. But even in his most "outrageous" getups he still looked pretty good and had much other talent to go along.

          I am a big fan of famous people and believe that anyone who becomes famous has done quite a bit of good.
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        Mar 31 2013: Greg,
        Don't you know of some famous people who you may not consider to be "good"? Working hard and taking risks are caracteristics that MAY accompany recognition, but not necessarily.
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          Mar 31 2013: I believe that if I got to know most famous people well, I would like them.

          How does one get recognition without working hard and taking risks?
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        Mar 31 2013: By outrageous I was not referring to big glasses. I was thinking more of the famous Charles Manson, whose fame came from the Tate/La Bianca murders.
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          Mar 31 2013: Yeah, F, I'm really talking about people who are famous for doing good things, even some who have spoken at TED. People like Manson get a sliver of fame, but more or less are infamous. I have no doubt that I'm a better person than Charles Manson and such.
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      Mar 20 2013: Well, I would like to be famous because I see the perks, you meet more people, you get treated better, you actually have more power to do good here and there.

      Peyton Manning is a fantastic pro football quarterback. You can say Just an actor, but having worked frequently as an extra in TV and movies (I live on the eastern edge of Hollywood), I can tell you that acting is hard work.

      I love your closing statement, but I wonder if it's true. If a person were really content with who they were, would they ever do anything? Or just sit and be content? Would they participate in TED conversations? I really don't see a contradiction between fame and being content with who you are, I think a famous person could be content with themselves, in fact are more likely to be.
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    Apr 2 2013: Greg I am intrigued by your reply.

    If we were having this conversation in 1996 I would likely have used Marc Andreessen as an example of a famous person. And yes he did develop and commercialize technology based on other peoples ideas. The thing is I'd guess that now, less than twenty years later, you would more likely have heard of at least one of the people who came up with the idea that Marc Andreessen helped make popular.

    This is why I am intrigued. Famous, as a word, has had a specific meaning for quite a while. We have other words for qualities of people. Wealthy, hard working, heroic and even great can be used to describe people.

    If I was to do a Facebook survey asking your question I'm sure that the people I know would react with a 'no'. That is if I could get a reaction to a question most of the people in that group would regard as obviously misconceived.

    So what is it about fame that makes you think differently, has fame got a new meaning for you? Can you really not conceive of a world where someone can be 'famous' but not 'better'?
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      Apr 3 2013: You know, Seamus, I really can't. I really think the things you do to become famous always involve doing positive things that in fact have the other qualities you mention imbedded in them, hard-workingness, heroicness, greatness, wealthiness. I don't even think in pure intellectual terms you can split fame from these other positive qualities, and definitely not in practical terms.

      Actually, I think it'd be scary if you could. If we thought that fame, this much-sought-after, rarely-achieved thing, didn't involve having good personal qualities, wouldn't it skew our world? It'd be like they were giving away diamonds for free, part of the value of a diamond is that we know it took a lot to get it.
  • Mar 31 2013: Perhaps, better=not afraid of failure? Which would mean we all have the potential to be "better" , but better than what? We are all our own worst enemies, constantly comparing ourselves to others. Maybe farmhouse people have simply found a way to quiet their inner critiques which in turn has made the idea of failing not so bad.
    Great discussion by the way :)
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    Mar 21 2013: no, not at all. they are simply better than you and me at what they do, not a better person. any NBA players is better than me at basketball but i'm pretty sure that i'm better than any or most of them at something like databases or business software.

    unfortunately, our society created the illusion that fame make you a super man. you do have more power by being famous and more money, but that does not make a better person. actually, quite the opposite may happen when people are overwhelmed by fame and its disadvantages
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      Mar 21 2013: I agree....any NBA player is better than me at bastktball, and I bet I could show them a thing or two in the gardens:>)
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        Mar 21 2013: That I am growing lettuce in my kichen garden is because of you my friend. Thank you so much.:)
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          Mar 21 2013: That is GREAT Pabitra. Did you know that I am famous for encouraging and supplying garden addicts?
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      Mar 21 2013: Hi QF! You do look like my cousin but with better eyesight :) Cheers!
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    Mar 19 2013: as soon as i saw this question my heart jumped and made my chest jerk. woa this is a good question. i think you need more TEDCRED dude.Of course they are not better than you ( is this for a satirical effect or are you serious?)
    besides fame does not elevate you only you elevate you, that is if you so choose. It's all about the state of mind and P.O.V.( also what you consider famous)
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      Mar 20 2013: well, Thaddea, do you consider that anybody is better than anybody else?
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        Mar 21 2013: I'm not sure of what you're asking.
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          Mar 28 2013: Well, Thaddea, if you say "of course" people who have worked harder than me, taken more risks than me, done more for humanity than me (all of which famous people have done), are not better than me, that kind of suggests that you don't think anyone is better than anyone else, doesn't it? Because on what basis would anyone be better than anyone else if you don't think those factors matter?

          But if you really succeed in elevating yourself, don't you become famous? Can't we assume that famous people have elevated themselves?
  • Mar 19 2013: Better in acting definitely . Probly better at picking up chicks in bars.....what to do , what to do.........
  • Mar 18 2013: It is your responsibility to answer this question.

    It is the responsibility of every adult to decide what it means to be better.

    You might start by considering people you know personally and ask yourself who do you respect more, and then ask yourself why you respect them more. What characteristics make a person better.
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      Mar 31 2013: Well, I respect my mom more than others because she is very hard-working and thoughtful. And couldn't we say that famous people have both these qualities? Therefore, doesn't my original statement still stand?
      • Mar 31 2013: In my experience, one characteristic does not necessarily correlate with another.

        Some people who are famous might be hard-working, but certainly not all of them
        Some people who are famous might be thoughtful, but not all of them.

        Paris Hilton is famous, and from the little I have learned about her, that may be her only reliable characteristic.

        So it is prudent to examine people carefully to determine each person's specific characteristics, without associating characteristics together into packages.

        I admire people who are thoughtful and hardworking and think of themselves as one individual in a large society of equal individuals. Fame is not a characteristic I admire. Fame is very often a result of circumstances rather than any virtues of the famous person.
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          Mar 31 2013: Well, Paris has cooled off quite a bit from her really famous days. What was she famous for back then? Well, she was beautiful, and beauty is not easily achieved, it takes work and thought. And she was a very successful socialite, also not easily achieved, also takes work and thought.
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        Mar 31 2013: I agree with Barry....one characteristic does not necessarily correlate with the other, and I don't think it is accurate information to "package" characteristics simply because a person is in a certain profession. Well said Barry:>)
  • Mar 18 2013: Not necessarily, it simply means they have accomplished something positive in an industry more centered around individuals. Doesn't make them better people, and it doesn't make famous people better people in general (Charlie Sheen comes to mind). Odds are, if you have a job, you are helpful.

    I think you might need to differentiate between success and being an overall good person. People like Brad Pitt earn way more money than most people, and is more well known, so you could say he's a successful person, but being a good person is something you would need to know him more personally. His actions towards others are what would make him a good person.
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      Mar 31 2013: Yeah, in many industries that are oriented towards teamwork, individuals still rise and shine as the famous ones. Football is a team sport, but Peyton Manning, who I mentioned above, has risen and become a star. Moviemaking is a team proposition, it takes many people to make a movie, but Brad Pitt has risen and become a star. Business is a team proposition, it takes many people to run a big business, and yet Bill Gates has risen to become a star.

      Wyatt, I really think that success and being a good person go hand in hand. I don't know that I have to know Brad Pitt, I think in order to be a successful actor he must have talked to and met a lot of different people and really thought about them, thought about them deeply so he can depict them well on the screen. Meeting people, talking to them, thinking about them are things that already make you a good person, they are good things to do. If he were a bad person, noone would want to meet him and talk to him, and therefore he wouldn't have as much to draw on when he gives a performance, and therefore noone would want to watch him act.
  • Mar 16 2013: ok this is not a straight forward question so it's imposible to answer it completely but in some cases that is a yes anyone who wins a nobel prize for helping the world in a major way is most definitely better than you are (unless you have done something better) and as for actors yes they are better than you in some ways they 1. got lucky 2. may have better social skills which they use to manipulate the system to get on top 3. won the lottery and got attractive genes 4. born in the right place at the right time
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      Mar 31 2013: Yeah, I tend to think it's not luck, Charles, that it's hard work and risk-taking. Having and using good social skills takes work and risk-taking. Being attractive takes work. Born in the right place at the right time, I don't think so, famous people have been born in all kinds of places at all kinds of times, but they all found a way to rise.

      I am inclined to stand up for famous people. If you didn't believe famous people had wonderful characters, wouldn't it rather turn the world topsy-turvy?
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    Apr 8 2013: Dunbar's number is a suggested limit on how many people the average person can maintain stable social relationships with. A glance at a concert is not meaningful in this sense, but you can look that up for yourself.

    If your impression is that 'stars' don't loose fame then; You are ignoring a great theme in drama form 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane' to 'The Wrestler' that explores what happens when they do. I'm guessing you have not done that much research into, say, who were stars in a particular medium at a given date and who were well known 10, 15 or 20 years later.

    On the generational issue since the advent of popular culture fans have admired their heroes, One Direction are not more admired now than Elvis was half a Century ago. It seems from a quick read of this debate that no-one else is buying your suggestion that famous people are better, so unless there is more evidence I think that one is case closed.

    A review of 'Saul Bellow's Heart: A Son’s Memoir by Greg Bellow' described as heartbreaking the realisation that great (and famous) writers are often not great people. It is a realisation that many young fans eventually make about famous people.
    http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/culture/books/non_fiction/article1239499.ece

    As for the communication technology connection, it is the means that the celebrity form of fame is created. The meaning people take from this type of connection is important to understand. For example there is the quasi-religious view of some Elvis fans that he did not die in 1977, complete with reported sightings.

    If a sizeable number of people started to believe the being famous had to equate to being good that would indeed be interesting.
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      Apr 9 2013: Well, again, Seamus, there are many levels of meaning, and probably different kinds of meaning. I think someone who was a big fan of the Beatles, bought some of their records, went to an occasional concert, had a somewhat meaningful relationship with them, the Beatles brought fun and joy into their lives, and stimulation and ideas. I think to some degree the Beatles had a meaningful relationship with their fans, they saw them, talked to many of them, got letters from many of them, and I'm sure were changed by many of them. Maybe this is the state of fame, that a famous person knows how to speak meaningfully to more lives than the average person does. Of course a young female fan had a different relationship with her own parents, perhaps the Beatles were more distant, distantly providing fun and happiness, and happiness only under particular circumstances, when the young fan wanted the joy of music.

      I can't remember why we were talking about whether stars lose fame. My impression is that most extremely famous people stay famous a long time. The Beatles are a good example, movie stars like Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie; political figures like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. I suppose for less famous people fame might fade, but I would say even to have been famous for a while says a person probably has better-than-average character, the things you have to do to get fame take character.

      I'm not trying to "sell" the suggestion that famous people have better character. It strikes me as true, but if others don't believe I don't think I'll be harmed. I guess the only way to know for sure would be to get to know a bunch of famous people. But until I do, I would still maintain that, logically, someone who becomes famous would have great character. In almost every case fame is about serving somehow, by entertaining, stimulating, governing; and people who serve are already showing character.
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    Apr 4 2013: Just a few points Greg,

    First ' much-sought-after, rarely-achieved' makes me think you are talking about national or global fame. We as humans are not really equipped to operate as a global community. I think that really only very very few people actively seek fame of this type.

    If you accept Dunbar's number about 150 is the maximum number of people we can meaningfully relate to. It is not that difficult to achieve a level of fame among 150 people, or in your own local community. Fame at this level is probably often sought after and quite often achieved.

    Sometimes people do get diamonds or the equivalent for free. Look at the Australian man who found a huge gold nugget in January. Or what about all of the people who inherit great wealth or win when gambling. It might be scary to think that aspects of the world can be unfair, but that should never stop us from doing, and being, the best we can.

    But fame is definitely not like diamonds. It is a fleeting fickle gift that some people have for a while. It is not the same as wealth or goodness or talent or any other positive quality you can name. That is why we have a separate word for it.

    Fame can go as quickly as it comes precisely because it is not tied to any other positive quality.
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      Apr 4 2013: Seamus, I love your tone here, which is measured and sober. I find myself disagreeing with some of the ideas.

      Yes, I'm talking about national or global fame, you know, fame. I don't think we would say of someone who is "famous" among 150 people that that person is famous.

      What is your evidence that we're not equipped to operate as a, well, you say global, but you also mentioned national. If that were true, could a website like TED continue to operate? How is it that nations stay together and remain nations, sometimes for thousands of years, if we're not equipped to operate as a national community?

      Occasionally people get diamonds for free, but usually they work hard for them. If we read the biographies of famous people, my general sense is that they don't come from astounding beginnings, but they make themselves astounding. Just as an example, look at our U.S. president--welfare mother, died young from cancer, father died let's see was he driving drunk and got in a car accident, or was he walking drunk and got hit? And yet our president raised himself to someone of large power and fame known, I believe, the world over.

      Why is fame not like diamonds? It doesn't seem so fleeting, many people have it for many years. It doesn't seem so fickle, we see that the people who have it are hard-working, risk-taking individuals.

      True, we have a separate word for it, because it is something different from wealth, intellectually we can distinguish it. And there is even the occasional famous person who appears not to be wealthy, such as Mother Teresa from India. But in most cases fame accompanies wealth, talent, and, I say, goodness.

      As I've already said, fame generally doesn't go that quickly. Once someone has achieved it, they usually keep it or some amount of it.

      I am not purposely trying to line up opposite to you. I hope we'll keep talking and reach some consensus, or perhaps agree to disagree. What are your qualifications on this subject?
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        Apr 5 2013: Fame as such is not of such huge interest to me, but I am interested in how people use technology to communicate and how that changes us. I am working a book looking at the long term impact of how and why communications technology changes us and our society.

        The reason for my engagement is that your take on fame is, I think, unusual and I wonder why. Is it a generational thing of the word changing meaning or is it something else.

        Dunbars number comes from a theory by a British anthropologist, and is a limit on meaningful relationships. So for example the theory would hold that while you may be Facebook friends with say 1,000 people you cannot keep up meaningful interaction with more than 150. I believe that research in this area is ongoing in the filed of social networking.

        There have been many stories of stars who have lost fame, such as the movie 'The Artist'. Culturally fame is fleeting, search for 'where are they now' and you will find people with just enough fame left to make it to a web page.

        So when it come to ' fame accompanies wealth, talent, and, I say, goodness' it will be definitely agree to disagree.
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          Apr 5 2013: Well, it seems to me there are many levels of meaningful interaction. For example, when the Beatles performed, wasn't there at least a bit of interaction with every fan in the arena, eye contact made, the singing voices being directed towards many different people over the course of the show. I believe the attenders did feel that it was a meaningful experience. Of course it's not like sitting at the breakfast table and chatting with John Lennon.

          It seems to me, Seamus, that you can have a meaningful experience of someone without interacting with them. For instance, if I was to listen to a tape of Gandhi, it could be meaningful with no direct interaction.

          My impression is that "stars" don't greatly lose fame, it may be supporting players who lose it, or people where we know that their prominence is a bit transient, they found the perfect project for themselves and it won't come again. But even enough fame left to make it to a web page isn't horrible.

          I don't know if it's a generational thing. Your generation may have been more influenced by the punk ethos, which questioned fame. But I see young people now who are as virulent admirers of their heroes, like One Direction, as ever.

          How does the technology/communication interest relate to how good a person a famous person is, I could see technology upping the level of fame someone could achieve, or the number of famous people.
  • Mar 31 2013: ok chance is the only reason anyone is anyway what they are now. Any small changes to a persons early life drastically changes their futre yes, it's hard work but without the luck of them properly learning how to work hard or to use good social skills they would never be where they are now. And being attractive does take (some) work but it is absolutely luck that they are attractive and not deformed and ugly, and being born in the right place at the right time IS the entire thing, i didn't mean that they come from a specific group or lifestyle but that if their life worked perfectly to their advantage and that if they were put in a different situation from birth they would never have gotten to where they are now
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      Apr 1 2013: Well, it's a depressing thought, Charles, that chance is the only reason anyone is what they are now. Do you find the thought depressing, why or why not?
      • Apr 1 2013: why is it depressing? the fact that you are just a product of your environment? this is enlightening information nothing else
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          Apr 1 2013: Well, it's depressing because it means anything we achieve isn't really due to our efforts or creativity, it's only chance.
      • Apr 1 2013: no it's our effort and ability not only is our life due to the environment but also genetics and since we never really think of our life like this it changes nothing we still have free will in every sense but our free will could theoretically be calculated if we knew all of the factors you'd be exposed to and how you would react to it but this is impossible unless we were all knowing and all powerful
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    Mar 19 2013: Greg, I also think that Hitler was famous, how about Nero, pontius Pilate, Attila the Hun, Jack the Ripper, etc ... Just for the record I had to look up Brad Pitt. I also looked you up ... You have a BA from Stanford ... you do not get those with a box top from Kellogs rice crispies. I consider Stanford one of the best schools in the USA and among the best in the world. I salute you.

    If I were Catholic I may think the Pope or Mother Teressa as "great people" .... If I were a sadist then the Marques De Sade would be my hero ... The fact is Greg ... why do I have to think someone is better than me or you ... I may be honest in thinking that Joe is a better mechanic .. Judy is a better writer .. Sam is great at math .... Anne is a science whizz .... That is a evaluation of a talent / strength ... not the worth of a individual. Any of those peope, although talented in certain areas may be a lousey parent ... a drunk ... a murderer .... a canibal (yuck). Just because they have a talent does not stamp their ticket "good".

    Greg all I want is to be the best ME I can be. My friends and family know me for what I am.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Mar 31 2013: Well, certain people, like Jack the Ripper, are infamous rather than famous, no?

      I don't know, Robert, I tend to think that when a person gets really good at one thing, it ripples across their whole life and makes them somewhat better at many other things. For instance, Tom Cruise is really good at acting, but I expect he's better at washing the dishes than most people, too. The mental stimulation you get as you get better at one difficult thing you can then apply to the other things you do and do them better, too.
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        Mar 31 2013: I agree Greg, that sometimes, the better one gets at one thing may contribute to self esteem and confidence to apply the information to other things. Do you think/feel all people use this knowledge and practice?
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          Mar 31 2013: Not just self esteem and confidence, Colleen, but practical skills. Like as a famous person meets more and more people, and gets more and more mental stimulation, they would have a better and better idea about what would be the best cleaner to use when washing dishes, or the best scrubbing technique, or the best whatever else it takes to wash dishes really well. And similarly with other mundane tasks. Like as you get more and more famous, you get smarter and smarter, and you can apply that smartness to both important and small tasks.
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        Apr 7 2013: I agree Greg, that we can apply accumulated information in many different ways, and it is insightful of you to recognize this:>)

        Many people often do not make the connection with one practice or another. They assimilate valuable information, and apply it to only one aspect of their lives. When, in fact, we have the ability to apply the same information to many different situations in our lives......good point Greg!
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          Apr 7 2013: Nice, Colleen, thanks for starting to see what I'm talking about. But people don't necessarily need to see it to do it. For example, you could take what you learned becoming Mrs. Vermont, and apply it to gardening. You could do it consciously, by really thinking about something you learned while Mrs. Vermont and applying it to gardening; or you could do it unconsciously, by applying it without realizing it. But either way, I would think many things we do shade over into other things we do. Thank goodness, right, it'd be awful if everything was locked away in its own little steel box.

          This probably ups my regard for celebrities, because even though they're known for being good at one thing, I think it shades over and helps them become better at other things. But all of us benefit from this "shading over," I think.
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        Apr 7 2013: LOL! Dear Greg, I am not "starting" to see what you are talking about. Why do you think I asked the question above..."Do you think/feel all people use this knowledge and practice?"

        I believe that to use information effectively in many different practices of the life experience, it helps to be aware. Yes...many things we do can be applied elsewhere in our life adventure, and the use of the information may be conscious or unconscious. The more aware we are, the more possibilities to apply it in many different ways:>)
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          Apr 7 2013: Yes, I'm sorry, didn't mean to misstate. I'm thinking there may be many facets of this idea that neither you nor I are aware of or have articulated yet, but maybe it's only me. To articulate an example: Let's say as you sought Mrs. Vermont, Colleen, you learned to dress better. Is it possible you could then also dress better for gardening, too, in other words dress more appropriately to the task at hand? It does seem like what stimulates us in one place in our mind "moves over" into other places, would you agree?

          It's a little hard to speak for "all people" on anything, would you agree? I probably think all people use it to some degree. For instance, one woman has learned to spice one dish wonderfully. Now when she goes to spice a new dish she has never cooked before, doesn't it seem like she's going to use what she learned from the prior dish to spice the new one, she's going to make a better educated guess about what will be the right spices on the new one. This is a little different from my first example, because in the first one I'm saying you use knowledge in rather unrelated fields to enhance each other, and in the second I'm saying you use prior knowledge in a field to do new things in the field.

          Probably I think you apply knowledge from hugely unrelated fields to each other. Like you can take what you learn from tying your shoe and apply it to writing the Great American Novel. You can take what you learn from blowing your nose, and apply it to TED conversations. (I myself blow my nose gently, and try to be gentle on TED conversations).

          Had you thought about this before it came up between us? I've thought about it a long time, but I can't remember discussing it with anyone before. Do you agree with my examples? Do you have some examples you like?
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        Apr 7 2013: That's ok Greg:>)

        I think/feel there are LOTS of things we (humans) are not yet aware of.

        As Mrs. Vermont, I didn't really learn to dress differently, because I dressed pretty good prior to that.
        Dress better for gardening??? OH my goodness! You should see me when gardening!!! Yes...I dress appropriately for the task at hand and I'm not exactly a fashion statement when in the gardens!!! LOL

        I get your point anyway. I learned to communicate better and project thoughts, feelings and ideas more clearly. I was also learning that with the acting and guest lecturing at the same time. And of course communication skills are beneficial in all aspects of life. When doing volunteer work with the dept. of corrections, I became a mediator, for example.

        Yes, I agree that we cannot speak for "all people".

        Yes, I thought about "cross training" in the life experience before we had this conversation:>) Did you? I perceive everything as interconnected, so it seems natural to me that all our experiences would also interconnect.

        I realized a long time ago that my life experiences flowed, one to the other, and what I learned in one situation often served me in other situations as well.
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          Apr 7 2013: Very nice, Colleen. But then wouldn't it make you agree more with the original statement, which was that if someone is famous, they're a better person than me. Because if they're good enough at something to be famous, we could agree that their skills in that one area flow to other areas in their life and make them good at many things, they're not idiot savants who are just good at one thing.

          I'm sure you dressed well prior, didn't you fine-tune it a little as you did those spotlight activities, like pageants and commercials?
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        Apr 7 2013: Greg,
        I do not agree with the statement that if someone is famous, they are a better person than you. I will say again.....it depends on how we use the position....how we use the information. A person could be famous, and not be a very good person because of HOW they used their fame. Another person who is NOT famous, may be a wonderful person because of HOW they use their life experiences.

        As I think we agreed....I dressed for the task at hand:>)
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          Apr 7 2013: Well, what I'm saying is the very thing they do to be famous makes them a good person, didn't we already agree that entertaining people is rendering service, too, so if, say, Tom Cruise entertains millions of people, that already says good about his character. Then you add on that almost all, or all, famous people do many charitable functions, and you get great people, don't you?

          What exactly is involved in pursuing Mrs. Vermont, Colleen, do you have to put on ball gowns and such? Maybe you were already used to putting on those elegant clothes, I guess in my life I haven't put on elegant clothes very often, such as tuxedos or even suits.
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        Apr 11 2013: I have been comfortable with different cloths my whole life Greg.....elegant, totally grubby, and everything in between. As I said before, I'm not exactly a fashion statement when in the gardens, doing carpentry, painting the house, etc. I dress for the occasion, and enjoy it all.

        When I visit other countries and cultures, I often trade my western cloths with locals, or buy cloths there because I like the feeling and experience of fitting in as much as possible. I wore a veil in Egypt and Jordan at times....very practical....kept the sun, wind and sand out of the face, and also helped me connect with local people, which I love doing:>)

        I believe it is not necessarily WHAT we do in the life experience, as HOW we do it. To me, the motivation and intent is important. Two people can have the same experience....maybe hold the same postion....be famous or not, and to me, how they/we use that opportunity is more important than the position, fame, etc.

        We have been talking about this for quite some time, and it's ok if we do not agree:>)
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    Mar 17 2013: When we see that a small proportion of people have much greater wealth and power than the rest some of us jump to the conclusion that those people are in some way superior.

    It is a seductive idea, but it is wrong. I have written about this here:
    http://seamus.mcgrenery.com/2013/03/no-superman.html

    The point is that we are all part of an interdependent system. No-one achieves anything without the support of a great many others. You have only heard of Brad Pitt because of the army of writers technicians, actors, publicists movie theatre staff and media people who have worked to make sure you do. They are all doing that because it is in their interests to do so.

    The same is true of Bill gates or anyone else you care to mention. Even the scientists who win Nobel prizes do not work in isolation. They are dependent on a scientific community working today building on work going back hundreds of years.

    In all of our actions we are faced with a frame problem. We have no way of knowing how the things we do now, or have done in the past, will change the world in the future.

    Maybe in a hundred years from now our descendants will marvel at the people who spread electricity generating across the world. Maybe the people they will remember for doing good are the technicians who kept the lights on in movie theatres through wars and natural disasters.

    But why do you equate fame with being better period? We might use the word better when comparing two people like-for-like. The fastest runner in a race may be a better runner. I doubt you could find many people, including yourself, who would say that makes them a better person.

    All that someones fame can tell you is how famous they are today.
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      Mar 20 2013: TRUE, SEAMUS, famous people have a large support system, but it's still the famous person at the top who turns it all into something extra appealing, no?

      True, we may not know certainly how our actions will affect the future, but don't you think the human race makes good judgements right now about who is doing the valuable work? Thus the person the rest of us deem famous probably really is doing something marvelous?

      I think the faster person in the race might be a better person because they have shown the self-discipline to become the better athlete.
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        Mar 21 2013: I suspect that concept of FAMOUS is a modern artifact that humans are not really equipped to deal with.

        Someone in a prehistoric tribe might get known by all two hundred people in the tribe for heroically saving a life, or being a great hunter. We are equipped to understand and react to that kind of fame, and yes we can say that the famous person is one some way better at something.

        Fame has meaning in our lives, at this level. We can learn to hunt from the great hunter, or avoid the cheating trader. It works both ways fame and infamy.

        Just over five hundred years ago Gutenberg, who's invention changed our world, was known by few people. So we can clearly see the link between fame in ones lifetime and lasting impact has been broken for a long time.

        Take a modern example, how many people are aware of who developed the computer, and how they did it? My guess is that more people will have heard of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs than the people who did the work that changed our world.

        Many people have heard of Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist. Yet he has said of the book that made him famous “It is an account not of my own invention, but rather an articulation of neo-Darwinism, a synthesis of the gene’s-eye view that has become the norm among field workers in evolutionary biology.”

        Because we are not equipped to deal with fame in the modern sense we confuse it with other qualities.

        “Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures - character.” Harry S. Truman
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          Mar 31 2013: Well, Seamus, I would have to think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs must have done a lot of some kind of work, perhaps they developed the initial idea that anonymous people came up with, or publicized it. Just because you came up with the initial idea might not mean you worked as hard as the people who take the idea further.

          I'm more inclined to stand up for famous people than you. If we didn't think that famous people had great qualities of character, such as hard work, risk-taking, creativity, wouldn't it turn the world topsy-turvy?
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    Mar 17 2013: No one is better than you, Greg. No one.

    It is said that our greatest fear is not our smallness. It is our greatness.