TED Conversations

Mike Colera


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Why is there so much vitriol expressed by TED contributors in conversations on contentious subjects?

I have been a contributor to many conversations. I am opinionated,and I freely express those opinions. I even try to add some facts to support my opinions. Or, at least some logical rational.
Why are so many comments laced with words and phrases like "Stupid, Idiot, unschooled, bible thumping redneck, and many I won't repeat here. Some rise to the level of threat to do bodily harm and death wishes. I know there are subjects that raise passion. I know that in a rage, words are typed. OK! However, there is a delete key and an opportunity to read your words before you hit submit. Been there, done that.
Still, these words and phrases continue to show up. I don't know why.
It's rude, uncivilized and worse, name calling has never strengthen an argument.
Can anyone explain why this happens and why it should be accepted?

PS. I know there is a process where we can ask the TED system to review and delete improper comments, I haven't done that because no one else seems disturbed. Am I wrong to question such comments?


Closing Statement from Mike Colera

I came to a conclusion yesterday as I thought about all that had transpired in this conversation. I expressed my appreciation to all the participants. As I give it more thought, many comments were similar to my conclusions that vile name calling was an uncalled for comment. A few suggested that when ... you play with fiery topics, you get burned. I understand great passion and excitement but I was not comfortable with those comments.
Thanks to all participants again.

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  • Jun 14 2013: Social Neuroscience states, that when we are confronted with the differences in opinion, the chemicals, that are released in the brain are the same ones that try to ensure our survival in dangerous situations. In this defensive state, the more primitive part of the brain interferes with rational thinking and limbic system can nock out most of our working memory, physically causing narrow-mindedness.
    Voila ! :)
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      Jun 14 2013: Sure, that's the science, but we are supposed to be rational beings and able to control our emotions when the threat is not an immediate danger to our physical well-being but just some #@&*$$# calling us names. Then we have to type a response in a little box that is barely legible, correct the numerous mistakes in spelling and then scroll down to hit submit. I think the worse of us can calm down and find a more civil way to respond. Just saying.
      • Jun 15 2013: Sure, we should and we'd better :)
        But i guess, there is a kind of ultimate solution, which is difficult to implement, but it solves a lot of problems before they even emerge :
        tame the Ego !
        It lessens the chances to insult and be insulted dramatically.

        Please, don't take me wrong, i am not one of those who managed ( not even close :) ), but i think it's the right direction to move.

        Thanks for responding !
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      Jun 14 2013: Interesting Natasha, and it makes sense!

      Mike's idea also makes sense....."we are supposed to be rational beings and able to control our emotions.........calm down and find a more civil way to respond...."

      Could it be that what you describe Natasha is more instinctive, and what Mike describes takes a little more awareness?

      I believe that as thinking, feeling intelligent humans, we are evolving beyond the basic instinctive responses, and we do indeed have the ability to be more aware of our actions/interactions/words/responses....etc.
      • Jun 15 2013: Colleen, it's the way science tries to explain it, not the way i try to justify rudeness.
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          Jun 15 2013: I don't perceive you trying to justify rudeness Natasha:>) I think many human behaviors involve instinct, intuition, logical, rational, reasoning, and probably a lot more than we even realize:>)

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