Peter Mullen


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What specific things do you believe generate the most positive responses to comments in TED conversations.

Is it all about being brief? Is it about being controversial? Does anger work, humor, what? Make a list of characteristics of the ideal TED conversation so we can all practice the fine art of good communication for a productive outcome. Not just calculating thumbs up, but functional exchanges that move thinking forward. What are your personal tricks?

  • Jul 9 2013: I tend to live in the questions area of the TED conversations, so my responses reflect my boundaries.

    1. Honesty in the original question
    2. Pursuit of truth or genuine curiosity in an area not often discussed in the original question.
    3. Questions about life choices or requests for help, particularly from the young.
    4. Questions about a new idea.
    5. Questions on topics that draw out the wisdom of the TED conversations group. I like reading other answers a lot.
    6. Questions that ask for explanation about a position. I like attempting to follow a line of thought.
    7. Questions that are not attempts to polarize opinion.
    8. Questions that are constructed to generate ideas and cause brain storming responses.
    9. Questions, that by answering, cause the writer to think about their personal philosophy on life or value systems and apply these values to a given new situation.
    10.Questions that provoke the imagination.
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      Jul 9 2013: "Brilliant"! Finally getting down to the nitty gritty here. Fantastic answer. Listing things, I think, forces us to think about the components of our innate, and learned strategies for communicating. Things often overlap, but it helps differentiate techniques, and concepts. I keep getting a few over arching trends. Positive messages that don't harshly castigate another'is opinion, get the best responses, and therefore seem more productive. That should be obvious, but many of us including me from time to time have a lot of frustration penned up that makes for harsh reactionary responses hastily composed, unproductive. The other thing that comes up is staying on topic. Don't go wandering of into interstellar space. Honesty, integrity, are big factors, making assertions about phenomena unsupported, untested. Use references to peer reviewed material is a great device for building credibility. This is getting more interesting. Thanks Robert
  • Jul 12 2013: I responded to your conversation once previously, but I had another thought relative to a conversation about TED Conversations.

    I really like responding to reader comments in a conversation that have taken content from other comment submitters and assimilated it into a new quilted comment. In addition to giving someone a thumbs up, perhaps you can just reference their comment as you cobble together your response. A thumbs up might indicate that something in the passage is useful, but what? A citation of some kind clarifies what you used in the passage to inspire a new thought. The ability to pull the nuggets from a long comment is itself a talent. As Kevin M. points out, listening is important. A citation is an indication you were listening...or reading and processing in this case. Mary M. does this quite frequently and it sort of personalizes the collaboration at the same time. It makes me want to respond.

    When the comments start to capture ideas, thoughts, and connections made by multiple responders, your conversation grows in depth from being just a linear reply. As the aggregate thoughts boil to the top, they will spawn more aggregate thoughts and perhaps a new hypothesis or opinion will form.
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      Jul 12 2013: Thanks so much Robert. That s most certainly one of the best ideas. People automatically feel more part of a conversation when their ideas are incorporated into a response. That is after all the point of having a forum is to meld ideas, and come out with more than the sum of the parts at the end. I like to imagine myself sometimes being a fly on the wall during the Manhattan project. Just imagine the conversations those guys had. "Holy frijoles" talk about brainstorming. I grew up with John Glenn, and the glory days of the space program. I know the power of collaboration, and brainstorming. If we don't eat each other alive. We may eventually be tied together like collections of specialized cells in the body, into one giant organism. Let's hope there's more than one so we don't get lonely : ) Mary is awesome.
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      Jul 12 2013: "When the comments start to capture ideas, thoughts, and connections made by multiple responders, your conversation grows in depth from being just a linear reply"

      I love your wording here Robert.......I think that many of us love meandering through conversations and picking up gems of wisdom and nickel knowledge that is quite useful. And unlike face to face interactions, where we cannot reply to everyone talking around us, but we listen to this one and that one speak and shake our heads, online forums allow us to listen to so many perspectives and experiences......

      I often lack the precise words to express a thought, and love when other TEDsters, who can wax grandiloquence go at it........I learned the term "wax grandiloquence" from one such TEDster about a month ago.

      The mental connections that we can all make by reading, and then subsequently participating in conversations, is really astounding.....our minds/brains are so very powerful!!!

      And Robert, thank you for acknowledging my effort to communicate with all of you.....I really enjoy being part of this community.
  • Jul 12 2013: One of the most effective ways of communicating with (especially) strangers, i find is is not by speaking, but by listening carefully to what THEY have to say. This is often the best indication of how they percieve the question or comment. We all hear and read things differently, and occasionally might need to 'translate' even within the same language. I'm Irish and english is my fist language, however very simple statements can mean very different things.......

    If you were to say to somebody in the west of Ireland (as happened recently with some visitors from New York).......

    'Any Crack? Have you got a Fag?' The response here (Ireland) might be 'Ah we had a great time in the pub last night and no sorry I don't smoke..........I imagine the response in New York might be a little different........

    And If your second name is 'Lange'r and your visiting Cork be prepared for childish titters every time you tell someone your name.....You'll have to check that one for yourselves.....

    Some people are better at multi-tasking than others but nobody can speak and listen at the same time.....:)

    I do believe there is also some research in the business world to show that appropriate use of emoticons can have a marked effect on deals done through e-mail....
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      Jul 12 2013: Kevin, wonderful contribution, thank you for sharing your insights with us.
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      Jul 12 2013: "Fantabulous response." Now we're getting somewhere. Listening carefully is one of the most important skills we'll ever learn. It can be the most difficult skill to learn, especially when your a blabbermouth, as I can be from time to time. Communication is a (two way street). If we learn to carefully listen, or in this case read the responses on the thread, the conversation grows eventually becoming something bigger, and more interesting. We all have an ego. It's important to put in in the background occasionally so one can focus with understanding comprehension, and (empathy).
  • Jul 8 2013: Obviously, when you say something controversial, you will get a large number of people disagreeing with you. Then people will disagree with them, etc. That will produce a large number of posts. I view this as trench warfare discussion. Both sides have dug themselves in and are just throwing bullets at the other group.

    I think saying something that looks at the problem, topic etc with a new lens creates the best responses. It encourages people to think about things in new ways. It creates ideas worth spreading. After all, that is what TED is all about. Inspiring thought.
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    Jul 11 2013: When words are insightful, practical, helpful and well-written; they do get positive responses.
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      Jul 11 2013: Thank you Feyisayo. I've found that I didn't choose my words carefully enough. The word (positive), should be replaced with (productive) I think. The question, as worded gives the impression that i'm seeking approval thumbs up just to be stroked, and happy. Not the case. It hurts to be criticized, but not as much as making a fool of oneself. The best part of this forum is the chance to grow, and put away the myths that hold us back. The question is really about learning (techniques) of communicating effectively with strangers. Great speakers, writers often have (tricks) they use along with traditional methods.
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  • Jul 9 2013: I think all topics share one thing, the giving and recieving of other ideas. Some here attempt to modify others thoughts, which generally doesn't work. Opinions can be the best way to share information, but only if they remain opinions. Trying to correct someones opinion, or erasing a thread because you didn't win, or didn't get your way, is just bad form.
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    Jul 15 2013: I believe that to be able to comment well requires a few qualities.

    1. Be Truthful.
    Speak truthfully.Even if you think it might make you sound like a fool. You will ultimately benefit you as you will learn something from it. If you are not ready to make mistakes, you will never learn. being truthful will allow others to know you better and give responses that will help you personally.

    2. Talk Smart.
    Being truthful doesn't mean being stupid. It also requires you to talk smart and not like a dumbass. Talk like a man. Imagine you are talking to the most smartest and sophisticated person EVER! Talk with references and quotes. it will make you sound much smarter. Use words that correctly describe something, don't be vague with your speech.

    3. Be Willing To Learn.(Ask questions)
    Its self-explanatory.

    4. Be Yourself.
    Write what you really feel about something. Sometimes you might sound stupid but correct the grammar and your language to make it sound smart. You should be able to do that.

    5. Proper Grammar.
    Use proper grammar. You should not use similes, emoticons, sms abbreviations, or slang(unless required)

    Hope this helps.

    And btw, I have a fake profile on Facebook and guess what, its the same as your name. Haha.
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      Jul 15 2013: I think talking smart always is a pressure, I love to let the dumbass in me to speak too. Its very relieving.
      I tried talking like a man in the past. Women dislike it. Since I like women, I like to underplay the man in me and let the person talk more frequently.

      Simon, you seem to be way more confident for your age. I was like you once. :)
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        Jul 15 2013: Thank you very much Mr.Pabitra. This has boosted my confidence.

        If I ever visit Calcutta someday, i'll make sure to meet you for coffee. You are very smart and interesting; it would be a nice conversation.

        I currently live in Guwahati but my home is in Alipurduar, WB (the so called "Switzerland" of India, named by our dear Didi.).

        Anyway, its a pleasure to meet you and I hope to converse more with you in the future here on TED.

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        Jul 15 2013: And btw,

        I'm a different person according to the person I'm talking to.

        i talk to a smart person intelligently; to dumb people like a crazy stupid guy; so that's how I mix with everyone. But with women/girls I talk really smart with a lot of funny talk and stupid gossip. From my experience, I found that girls like smart men- men that can teach them something (women are good listeners), they also like men that can make them laugh a lot and keep them happy.

        I'm not boasting but I'm naturally good with women. being an extrovert has its perks. Almost all of my friends are jealous of my people's skills.I never understood why they could not converse with girls like I do. Maybe it was our Indian community's affect on them but I hope they overcome it soon.
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    Jul 12 2013: It depends on diverse background of the people and their socio-economic culture.
    Most importantly, goes with the their area of interest.
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      Jul 12 2013: When you personally address strangers in your particular culture, what techniques do you use to get your message across? What culture are you personally familiar with? Are there traditions of conversation etiquette to be aware of. This question is so important for us to share because it is at the route of miscommunication and conflict.
  • Jul 12 2013: And just to clarify my point, What one thinks one might have said, is not necessarily what others hear....
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      Jul 12 2013: Man, you got that right. These days It seems like one can say "hello", and someone will come back, and say "EXCUSE ME"! What did you mean by that ??? huh huh huh? Am I right? Many of us who have been around for a long time find many conversations lacking excitement ,and progress. It seems many times we are talking in circles to placate peoples fears, and superstitions trying not offend. People seem to be stuck in a rut of mediocrity, not moving forward to new skills, and awareness, but static, and comfortable. That fortunately, is usually not the case here at TED.
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    Jul 12 2013: I'd like to say it's all about the idea or thought that is communicated, but I'd say it is just mainly that. I think the best way to communicate your idea would be after thinking about the idea for a while and only bringing up relevant ideas and thought processes, yet excluding none that are relevant. Rephrasing is fine in moderation. Simplicity is good for simple ideas (not good or bad just simple). Complex ideas (again just complex not describing anything about the idea) require some more explaining and background thoughts before reaching the conclusion.

    Now the only thing nagging me about this question is that I don't think there is a correct way to discuss. Certainly there are wrong ways as I'm sure many of you have run into, but I think many ways are just different not necessarily better or worse. So don't take my advice to heart, but just consider aspects of it. If you like parts adopt them and change them into your own, if not continue to discuss with your unique voice but still look for areas where you could improve until... (insert drum roll inside your head)... you have a way of communicating effectively that follows no single model, but is your own!
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      Jul 12 2013: Nice Kai.......loved your second paragraph.
  • Jul 12 2013: TED is an important platform for me to learn different cultures,to know different places people from all over the world.It is the closest method for me to know better-educated people here.I learn,think...from those comments I read line by line.I am sure TED's company will help me growing up in higher perspectives,broaden mind,let's keep on moving on together with TED
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      Jul 12 2013: Can you share where your from / what country,If that's not to personal?
  • Jul 11 2013: I don't think there's a particular way to make TED conversations better.
    One thing people in TED community have in common is, I believe, they appear to think deeply before they post their comments and passionately express their ideas.

    We love getting thumbs-up, don’t we?
    Whether it’s just +1 or more, for me, I find it amusing to receive 'thumbs-up', knowing that there’s a person who likes my ideas. It feels like my ideas are somehow worth sharing at some point.
    It feels like my ideas can be valued to someone.

    Besides, getting responses from others with different ideas is also exciting.
    That really makes me think again(about what I wrote and further, what I’ve been thinking)

    Regardless of their age, degree, occupation, whatever,
    They seem to be all intelligent when typing words in here.
    And quite often, we can see many insightful, inspiring, and creative comments here.

    I don't necessarily think there should be some ways to 'generate the most positive responses'.
    And aside from what you meant, optimism doesn't always necessarily do the good.
    We need cynicism, doubts, disagreement and feedback from many people as well.

    I love 'just the way TED conversations are'
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      Jul 12 2013: Hi Elizabeth.
      You know, I have shared the following before on TED.
      At times, when we talk to people around our community, we are looked at like we are strange creatures.
      Some people just don't value knowledge and exchanging ideas.

      I think that this site has allowed many of us who enjoy back and forth sharing of common and not so common knowledge to have a playground of sorts.

      We all walk away richer in our knowledge of subjects......both simple and complex.

      This is very unique.

      I really enjoyed reading your always!!!
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    Jul 11 2013: I have wondered about this a whole lot. I think mostly it has to do with having the right picture on your profile. Brief statements seem to help that are on point. Also, posting early gets the prize. Early posters get the most opportunities for feedback from the people who started the thread.
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      Jul 11 2013: Your picture is awesome by the way. I was listening to (Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend) this morning with a tear in my eye. Like millions of men I was desperately in love with Marilyn Monroe. Aside from being hotter than the center of the sun, she was a beautiful human being, with tremendous talent. She makes me melt even fifty years later. I hope i'm not loosing my eyesight. That is Marilyn isn't it, not you in drag ??? : >)
      Suggestions well taken.
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        Jul 11 2013: No, that is NOT me in drag. I am a monogamous heterosexual married over 20 years to a wife who still cares (Yea!). I'm your basic husband guinea-pig, nary-do-well - except for always doing what my wife says and giving her what she wants. That's pretty basic for any marriage (straight or otherwise). You have to make your partner more important than yourself.

        By the way. Check my profile. Do you see Albert Einstein? Use the browser zoom feature to go way OUT & you'll see Marilyn again. Same story for the smaller Marilyn pictures here but zoom way in on them & you can almost see Albert Einstein in them. It is some kind of bizarre optical illusion that I ran across and decided that only TED could appreciate it. I do this in memory of my old friend, Roland Knoop. He told me once that he was chauffeur to the real Albert Einstein. The first time I saw this picture was one that he had.
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          Jul 11 2013: Oh my god. I just made the whole world think I have the hots for Albert Einstein. "Man", I am getting old ! That sure looks like Marilyn Monroe on this page. Really freaky man. That's not fair dude. Thanks for having a sense of humor. That's the clearest sign of a superior intelligence. I'm gonna go watch (Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend) just to get back on track, then I'll take a cold shower, and my afternoon nap : >)
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      Jul 12 2013: "Early posters get the most opportunities for feedback"

      That's a good point.

      Sometimes, a topic is really popular, but when you see your inbox with 35 emails, and you come back to TED and think "oh boy, how will I respond to all these people".......well, you get the picture.

      And, many of us enjoy discussing different subjects at the same time.
      It can get challenging.

      Good points I finally got how to see the optical illusion in your avatar.

      Well, that only took me two weeks..........maybe it's because this morning I had a straight shot of expresso, instead of adding hot water to make a café Americano........wadda ya think?

      Cheers! Enjoy the weekend!!!
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        Jul 12 2013: Me, I just drink whatever dribbles out of the percolator. My wife buys her brand & I get to be happy w/it. Works better that way.

        Dribbles? Rhymes w/shrivel. When you get old, everything either shrivels or dribbles (or both). It's kind of an 'old man' thing we got going on. But coffee makes the world better. So I think I'll go make another pot in the percolator.
  • Jul 11 2013: I would argue that every single response to any post has some kind of 'Positive' element to it. What I mean is that if a person takes the time to even simply click once on a thumbs up.....or down, that in itself means the post they are replying to has in some way provoked said response, thus supplying some researcher or reader with valuable data. How boring and pretty much usless would any conversation be if somebody said something and nobody replied in any way at all.
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    Jul 10 2013: You ask "does anger work, humor, or what?" I think anger typically doesn't stimulate highly productive responses. The thread often generates into a form that interferes with communication and learning, and people who are not drawn to "slug-fests" pull out of the thread. Others then cannot benefit from the ideas they may have shared.

    Humor brings smiles but does not necessarily increase the likelihood of insightful contribution in the thread.

    I think thoughtful posts in which people seem invested in getting into a question deeply tend to be most productive in drawing other people who like getting into the heart of things. If I may include just one example, when Theodore enters a thread, lots of substantive engagement typically follows.

    This doesn't mean there will be lots of thumbs ups but rather that the thread has a good possibility of sense-making in community. That is only my interpretation of "positive responses."
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    Jul 10 2013: Peter, I wish I had a great answer ... I don't. I am not always looking for positive, supportive responses. Surrounded by yes people is great for the ego but stifles learning and growth. We have the whole nine yards in the TED community. We have those who are willing to listen and learn .. those who know it all ... those who are here for the fight ... politically aware ... and those who bought in and the mind has slammed shut.

    I have posted conversation for many reasons ... to inspire thought ... to seek opinions ... to inform .... etc ...

    It is often not what has been said or asked ... but who said it. We are like any other site or community. We have friends, supporters ... enemies, and those who seek confrontation, must have the last word and convert you to their opinion or side. For the most part this all happens in a "nice" exchange. Every so often the TED staff must remind a few to play nice.

    You can't make everyone happy ... after a while we all develop a picture of what another member will say or do. It is not always a pretty picture ... I like TED and have had many exchanges that I grew and learned from.

    As I said I have no great answer .... one size never fits all.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Jul 10 2013: introduce yourself as 15 years old girl, and show us something green you have invented, or a charitable initiative you have started.

    probably the hardest thing in this plan is to become a 15 years old girl if you don't happen to be one. work on it.
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    Jul 9 2013: When I first joined TED, I mostly just watched the videos.

    When I first started participating in conversations, very rarely did people reply to my contributions.

    But as time passed, I felt that I 'knew' the other member's personalities a little bit better.

    I think it is important to just be yourself, but also to speak in a way that elicits more reflections on the part of the other members participating in the conversation.

    I think you're doing a pretty good job right here.
    This is a great conversation, btw.
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    Jul 9 2013: I confess I'm a geezer at 58, but I do my best to keep an open mind. Learning is what I live for. It is rather difficult to shed all the years of personal experience that makes fallacies, and propaganda stand out like a sore thumb. When you've seen thousands of scams, and boondoggles you have to just sit back, and laugh sometimes. I'm really looking to hear about techniques that people / individuals use to discuss difficult, controversial issues without it degenerating into a screaming match. It's an art form that I really appreciate. I think if I were to ask the question again I might word it differently. I have had the good fortune of working with and for some truly brilliant people over the years. Invariably they were all good communicators. Some would soft talk, others wood joke, some were like drill sergeants, in fact some were drill sergeants now that I think of it. They all had their own technique for getting the message understood. Thanks for your input. I don't care about thumbs up brownie points. I hope to keep mankind from shooting themselves in the foot don't you?
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      Jul 9 2013: A lot of us are geezers.....welcome to the club.
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      Jul 10 2013: When you think about it this could be a brilliant forum for those of the younger generations who are discovering and inventing and to put their ideas forward to be mentored by "the older geezers" even just able to ask questions on certain issues.

      The biggest problem is of course certain questions ideas and debates will hit emotive triggers in certain areas of this community ( I know I copped a packet with what I hoped was going to be informative debate that went down hill fast because I did not realise how passionate people can be on certain issues)

      If you could take the emotive out of the equation and look at the question, idea or debate for what is being asked and do it from a dissociated point of view It would interesting to see where some of these conversations end up

      Then again the human factor towards responses makes it for some fun reading sometimes (although sometimes a thesaurus may be needed as well ;-) ))
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    Jul 8 2013: It seems obvious that a new idea, a new approach is one good way to spark positive conversation. I was hoping people would share a short list of specific things they do ,or that work in general to engage strangers, and encourage them to share without butting heads. It's sort of a rhetorical question I guess. When talking about politics, religion, or economics things seem to run off the track rather quickly.
  • Jul 15 2013: Peter, So very true but unfortunately our youths are all hung up on materialism which has at it's basics, propaganda (buy/get the "latest", the "best".) It takes many years and much wisdom to realize the greedy, mighty dollar is at the basics of so much of what we're told we want/need.
  • Jul 15 2013: I am personally stimulated by new ideas and find them an excellent learning tool. I hate propaganda but love honesty and information to critically assess for myself.
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      Jul 15 2013: Propaganda is a very serious issue that needs to be studied like any other (social disease ).It damages economies, human rights, and the environment around the globe. The methods used by (professional propagandists) (government representatives), and (corrupt news organizations / ?) are "knowable". They can be recognized by an experienced, trained listener. The very least a young person should do, is study the basics of human psychology. Become familiar with the workings of the human brain, Learn how social interaction is governed by (recognizable phenomena) discovered through experiment, and research.The tools of ( control, deception, and oppression ) are (varied), and (predictable). The wise person who learns to recognize propaganda will have a huge advantage over those swept up in it's destructive wave. If we are to survive as a species, the reigns of power must be taken away from the propagandists, and thugs so the society can deal rationally with it's problems. We are all victims of propaganda every day of our lives. Arm yourself with psychology, and knowledge.
  • Jul 13 2013: Say something that will elicit blind, knee-jerk, positive emotional response. The mob is irrational.
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      Jul 13 2013: You would think I wood learn that the mob, is irrational after all these years of getting kicked in the pants, and pulling those nasty daggers out of my back. Sadly i'm compelled, I just keep coming back for more . It's crazy really. I can't help myself. I keep this childhood fantasy in my head, that there are tiny pockets of rationality hiding out there deep in the universe somewhere. Since I view my own existence as a gravitational anomaly that came into it localized density at my birth and will join again with an energy continuum as I slowly meld into the chemical energy soup of space time. I shall press on. We are all, both rational, and irrational at different times in our lives. Even the village idiot climbs down off the wall to use the latrine, and eat from time to time. Who among us can say they've never been irrational. Luckily for us, we can join in the gravitational anomaly of TED. If we can gather enough intellectual mass, we may create a cascade of ideas, by making the irrational morph to the rational. Thanks Bryan
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    Jul 13 2013: Inside the minds of those 2 billion people is the answer to many of the challenges we face. Let's put them to work. I hope you'll check in frequently i plan to challenge all involved to seek the answers to some profound questions. It wonderful to have you with us.
  • Jul 12 2013: Hi Dear Peter Mullen:).Of course that's not to personal,I am from China:).
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      Jul 12 2013: That's awesome ! We are going to make you so smart you'll become the next Confucius. I was born at the dawn of modern China, and watched the frightening, difficult years in between with amazement. Even after all the huge changes, I still have a fantasy of old China. Now China is rocketing forward to a new 21st century. I hope you, and I can share a great deal about China new, and old. We'll learn together. Plugging into this forum will, i'm sure, prove to be a great learning catalyst for you. It's what the internet should be. If we all stop trying to buy happiness through "buying more toys" and learn to value knowledge, cooperation, and peaceful coexistence we can fix anything. keep in touch. Just remember, the NSA is watching everything we say. So don't say anything about those girls you went out with last night : >) "That's a joke." That's how you get started. Welcome.
      • Jul 12 2013: Lol,Yes,you all do:),Meanwhile I could be so smart,completely because of Confucious .you know what?because we have Confucius' thoughts in our bleed...Confucius guides us to move on one generation to another...of course I learn a lot from western country cultures too...

        By the way,Dear Peter Mullen,I beg your pardon,what did u mean:I was born at the dawn of modern China?
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          Jul 12 2013: Oh no!, we are now going to have to share you with Peter........I hope there is plenty of you to go around Edulover........heeheehee ;)
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          Jul 12 2013: I mean during the years of Mao Zedong, and the cultural revolution. The massive challenges of survival, and poverty were so horrendous it's hard for most westerners to understand completely. I'm not a communist, but I certainly can understand how China wound up there. The old historical aristocrat power structure was often extremely harsh. Poverty was unimaginable. Centuries of civil war colonialism world war, mass murder and starvation. Today despite severe problems of continuing poverty, and pollution at least the suffering is not as bad as 50 years ago. Together, we are going to find a way to make a bright future for China, and the rest of the world. It absolutely can be done.
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        Jul 12 2013: Peter, I think you are learning how valuable TED is to us all.
      • Jul 13 2013: Hi Dear Peter Mullen,thanks for sharing the history about the dawn of modern China to us:).You know better than I do about that.

        I do appreciate what u said:Together,we are going to find a way to make a bright future for China,and the rest of the world.China is a country with the largest population who are the people with the most tolerant and diligent mind-hearted.
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    Jul 11 2013: I foolishly used the word (positive) in my question when I should have used (productive). So much for careful thinking huh? It's like steering a giant ship. Just because you move the wheel doesn't mean it's going where you think it's going. You have to plan carefully way ahead, or you'll smash the dock.
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        Jul 12 2013: I'm half asleep i'm afraid. "Focus Pete focus." I just fixed it. What a space case I am today.
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    Jul 11 2013: Your absolutely right. Could you share some of your techniques for effective communication (with strangers). My hope is to (quantify / isolate) some (personalized) (specific techniques) used for getting (audience attention), "not to the speakers (ego)", but to the (ideas). Referencing empirical data, and published hypotheses, along with rhetorical methods, are usually among the top suggestions. (Spell check), and (grammar) which should be obvious, is a huge problem for many people. I came from a time, and place, that put a high value on language skills, for good reasons. At one time I excelled at sentence, and language structure. 40 years of working in technical work has left it's mark on my skills. Most of what I had to write was of an abbreviated technical nature. Verbosity, and eloquence aren't valued in that environment. It has to be short exact, and to the point. It would be wise for all of us to review grammatical rules, and sentence structure to make up for the pollution of time. Despite the existence of the digital revolution, proper communication skills are essential to advanced learning, and accreditation in academia. There's no way around it.
  • Jul 11 2013: The reality is posts are marked insightful if they agree with the pre-conceptions and popular understanding of the audience. Sometimes insightful posts get marked based on 'I didn't know that'. i.e. someone who actually knows what they are talking about shows up.

    Insightful posts can be broken down into following paradigm:

    -Agree's with what most popular propaganda americans believe (since TED IS an american site)
    -Is actually a useful post bringing new/contradictory information (calling bs on a ted talk) (bringing genuine informed skepticism)
    -Thoughtful post that isn't too long and is worded in a convincing way showing on the surface the person behind the post has years of experience having thought about an issue.
    -Religious in some way, either ideological/spiritual/christian/etc.

    Almost all the highest ranked posts fall into categories of what is popular not what is true unfortunately.
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      Jul 11 2013: 1# I don't agree with you about the first point. TED is international in scope. The comments are open to the world. The speakers are from all over the world. The conferences are held all over the world. The talks I'd say are very representative of the various national, and social groups. The industrialized countries with robust infrastructures and facilities tend to host the most conferences. That's only natural. I also note that many of the initiatives focus on areas outside the US. particularly the third world
      2# The second point is precisely why there is a (TED conversation). Discussion is the most basic form of peer review. It doesn't take long for people to jump all over you when you make a mistake, or misstatement. It teaches all of us to use references to peer review articles, and tested evidence to make our point.
      #3 This conversation forum is great training for making clear concise statements.
      4# I'm extremely cautious about religion, because I believe it is a very personal issue that's best discussed in a religious conference, or with family and friends. The exception to that rule is (fundamentalism) particularly radical fundamentalism that directly affects the lives of others in politics and law. Thanks for sharing Bob
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      Jul 11 2013: I agree that posts that question the position taken in the talks are highly valuable. Viewers forget sometimes that the speakers are people with interesting ideas and points of view but are not necessarily the final authority in the area in which they speak. I particularly appreciate when TED invites two speakers with opposing views to speak one right after the other.
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    Jul 10 2013: Honest and genuine real life question.
    TED community has many experienced, helpful and kind members.
    If you are asking a general question with a bit of philo thown in, you may end up getting answers completely unexpected. I personally consider those answers positive. I learnt many things I didn't ask for in TED.
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    Jul 10 2013: That's what I'm talkin about here people. Thinking outside the box. A little kinky ,but that's certainly an attention getter. I believe, I wood rate myself as the ugliest 15 year old girl in North America. After my audience gets up, and leaves in disgust, I could stomp my feet, and cry. People love to watch other people make fools of themselves. I know, because I've been doing that all my life. It works great. 50 points for originality, 50 points for courage. Off to the mall to shop for cloths, I guess. We'll give it a shot. What do I have to loose except my dignity,self respect, and some leg hair : ) I don't don't know dude? This technique might not work for me I think. You really have to be in the roll to pull it off. There are certain places in this universe a man should never see, or explore: lava plumes, black holes, and the mind of a 15 year old girl : (
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    Jul 10 2013: Well, looking at my cred, thumbs definitely doesn't do it. Which is quite humorous.
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      Jul 10 2013: Yep. I saw that video when he put it up.
      It's a lot of food for thought.

      I think a lot of people just do not want to "think".......sometimes it hurts to think.
      Because, if they sat down and thought.....they might arrive at.........t r u t h.........
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      Jul 10 2013: Hello Kate. Is there a difference between an expression of one's beliefs in the context of a discussion and thrusting one's beliefs on another? Or are you advocating for the prohibition of expressing personal beliefs even when there is no apparent evangelical, promotional, or proselytizing intent. I think many perceive even the mention of one's beliefs as aggressive thrusting. That really limits discussion. Thanks!
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          Jul 10 2013: Righto! I was unclear if you were suggesting we should adopt the idiotic social mantra that says: "Never talk about Religion or Politics!" I thought you were unopposed to peaceful, respectful discussion of any and all subjects, but in this case it sort of sounded like you wished we would never even mention the subjects of Theology, Cosmogony, Cosmology, Creationism, or Evolution. I'm clear now. Thanks. Prosper in peace.
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    Jul 9 2013: I tried to answer that before, I thought. I didn't do a very good job I guess. What I was trying to say is that the (thumbs up) can be positive in that you have apparently been able to reach someone with your message. Then the question becomes What is the validity of the message? That's where further responses come in. They are the slings, and arrows of disagreement, or the praises of congratulations. It's the most basic form of peer review. I'd say, just having a conversation without vitriol is the objective. The question is more about techniques for engaging strangers in civil conversation. Everybody has their own techniques along with classic techniques of rhetorical questioning etc. What's yours? That's the question really. If your blabbing profundities all day, as I have been know to do, and nobody's listening, what good is it doing? That's what this is about, how to get people to listen and respond constructively.
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      Jul 9 2013: If that response--which begins, "I tried to answer. . . "-- is for me I must tell you to be sure and click-on the word "REPLY" in red text to the right of the name of the person you want. That will trigger an email to them.If you don't they may not read your response. OK, so you are saying a positive response is one where people respond CONSTRUCTIVELY AND WITHOUT VITRIOL. Now we are getting somewhere. I agreeand say "ditto". Thanks for your crisp, provocative post! Be well sir.
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    Jul 9 2013: There is an underlying insinuation in your post. I don't know if it is intentionally shrouded in subtlety or simply the flow of language. Are you simply asking about the most effective way to accumulate Thumbs Up? Or, by "positive responses" do you mean contributions which are non-negative (positive)? Either way we are faced with the need to define what "positive" means in the context of TED Conversations. Is positive measured by the ratio of supportive versus challenging responses? Or is positive based upon promotion of truth and dispelling of error regardless of responses? What exactly does it mean to "generate a positive response"? For example someone might post an idea like: "The U.S. is hopelessly corrupt and deserves to perish." I suspect that would get a lot of agreeing responses.
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    Jul 9 2013: It's a balancing act isn't it. I'm steeped in the tradition of suspicion. I mean, that i'm skeptical of what appears to be unwavering acceptance of ideas, simply because that's the way it's always been, or the establishment says that's the way it is, IE. Galileo Galilei . That is the nature of science isn't it, questioning ideas to see if they stand up to scrutiny? Opinions are extremely important. They are the essence of developing and educated hypothesis. Opinions must evolve into testable hypotheses, or they begin to loose their effectiveness. My hope is that all young students can learn the techniques of effective communication by learning the process of testing ideas. The scrutiny of the community is the answer to building a strong argument. It's important for all people scientist or laymen.
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      Jul 9 2013: I take umbrage with the use of the expression "like most older people become (I said most)".

      Some of us old geezers have an open mind. :D
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          Jul 9 2013: LOL.....endurance Kate.......endurance.......

          We're not done with what we came here to do. :D
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          Jul 10 2013: Oh yes.....we all have opinions and beliefs that might be a challenge to change......but I keep myself open to new ideas, and new perspectives......I try to not use the word "never" and "always".

          And, just so you know.....I was kind of poking fun.....I love to use the word "umbrage".

          It's such a cool word.........I hardly ever get to use it. I'm always trying to use the new vocabulary words I encounter.

          Thanks for indulging me.
          Be Well.
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      Jul 9 2013: Your so right about the issues you mentioned. That is part of the reason I started this question. These issues are blocking mankind from taking the giant leaps forward we need to take, to sustain life on this planet "in my opinion". There has to be a way perhaps in a different forum to discuss these sorts of things in a way that doesn't create an explosive argument. One of the greatest dangers for us all in the world today, equal in importance to any issue, is the power of ( propaganda ). We must begin to deal with the concept of propaganda, what it is, and how it works. How is it created? Where does it come from? Who is doing it, and why. The immense power of the international cartels that control satellite communication, broadband, cell phones, have unprecedented control not only of the flow but the content of the infotainment they dump on us.
      That's killing us. People are being led by the nose with information carefully crafted to deceive, and manipulate. We all need to get smart and fast.
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        Jul 9 2013: Peter, this is something many of us are aware of.........

        We can do our part by talking to others around us.....but people are truly blinded by this system of things. They look, but they do not see. They hear, but they do not listen......It is scary at times. Really scary. When you see members of your own family fall into this is mind blowing. And you ask yourself, how can they not see that they are being led down a slippery slope....

        It is as if an invisible hand is everywhere controlling the detriment of us all.
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          Jul 9 2013: I grew up in an Irish Catholic household. That was a strange, and amazing experience that both imprisoned me developmentally, and enriched my life as well. I'm still trying to sort that out. I embrace science completely, and what I see as the temporal realities of this world. I still have feelings about a perceived sacredness of life. I am very well versed in classical, and quantum mechanics, the nature of cosmic chemistry, and light, as well as expansion theory before even light, and mater as we know it existed as far as the math tells us. I still have a corner of me that has a propensity to put a deity in the picture. It is the cheep plaster job I use to cover up the cracks in our understanding. "Brainwash", it drives me nuts! I believe in freedom of religion, absolutely! It's when the evangelical fervor of individuals or groups start to encroach on my beliefs, and freedoms and cause me (direct grievous harm), that we begin to have a problem. Sharia law, the Vatican, the church of scientology, whoever, doesn't matter to me. Today we have a very huge problem when millions of people choose to live in (superstition) and the (results of that superstition) causes (fatalism) meaning a deity makes all the decisions so don't bother trying to fix global warming. It's predestined that man will destroy himself, and the sinners like me will be stoking the furnaces for eternity. Just because they want to commit suicide, doesn't mean they have the right to drag the rest of us down with them. If they want to drink that cool aid fine, knock yourselves out, but i'm going to fight like hell, while still maintaining my moral code of brotherly love, kindness, sobriety, at least most of the time, compassion, and most importantly stewardship. I want the adults in charge.
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        Jul 9 2013: " It's predestined that man will destroy himself, and the sinners like me will be stoking the furnaces for eternity."

        These flat out lies have never done mankind any good.

        The world is a sad state of affairs Peter. And, sadly, the ones who are meant to help, do much harm by propagating lies.

        "I'm going to fight like hell, while still maintaining my moral code of brotherly love, kindness, sobriety, at least most of the time, compassion, and most importantly stewardship."

        I'm fighting too Peter. A lot of us are trying to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

        But there is only so much a mere mortal can do.......We come and telling what the ones who will come after us will do.

        I'll leave it at that....

        I feel your words are powerful, and they resonate with a lot of us.
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          Jul 10 2013: Your flower avatar, at least I think that's what they call that picture thingy up there, suits you perfectly Mary.
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        Jul 10 2013: You gotta smell the 'clematis' gotta smell the 'clematis'. :D

        Have a great day!!!
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    Jul 8 2013: The former I think is most important, but it would seem the democracy of thumbs up might also be an indicator of value. That's why I asked just to see what all you smart people think about it. It always feels great when people engage you. That says there paying attention. Ego aside we want to pinpoint the specific techniques that great speakers, writers use to communicate effectively.
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    Jul 8 2013: Are you asking which sorts of comments most enhance the productivity of a thread or which sorts of post gets the most thumbs up? These two will not necessarily be the same.
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    Jul 8 2013: .
    ~~~~❦ foster a positive (healthy) environment ❦~~~~