This conversation is closed.

Does TED present and/or allow a political bias?

I am a new user, and love TED so far. The talks are entertaining, enthralling, and informative.

I myself--and this is with minimal time spent on TED--seem to detect a liberal/left wing slant based on the speakers, the content of their talks, and so forth. Maybe it is just that these creative and intelligent individuals are also rather progressive, and being progressive and liberal go hand-in-hand?
I believe everyone has some sort of political opinion, regardless of whether they wish to or not (I certainly don't), since it is a defining feature of being human.
Hence, every speaker on this site must have a political bias. The question is not, however, whether or not the speakers show political bias.

What I would like to know is:

-Does TED moderate which talks are put on the site? If so, on what grounds?

-Are the speakers in any way screened based on WHAT it is they're going to say, as opposed to if it is innovative? (for example, might a speaker advocating the reduction of using fossil fuels have a better shot at getting a spot than someone who says there is no shortage of oil etc.)

-What constitutes an idea to be worth spreading in the first place?

I am not trying to provoke anything, I simply am curious about this issue and would like some insight from other TED enthusiasts and possibly a representative of TED (though I am sure that someone from the site would leave me well assured of TED's neutrality, regardless of whether or not it is actual).

Thank you!

  • thumb
    Jun 26 2011: since TED is a private organization, they pick people and topics as they please. surely, speakers are selected, and topics are chosen by some TED guys. and even sometimes they bury talks when things don't go in the right direction (like the sarah silverman case).

    it is not a problem. like you said, having a political viewpoint is inevitable, and in fact, desirable.

    the problem would be if someone joins a "side". looks upon his political or other views as tribal behavior, and not a conscious choice of values. in short, if someone chooses a group and not a view. we should have a view, and join a group or not, based on that view.

    i don't know much about TED, but i see no signs of TED having such tribal thinking.
  • thumb
    Jun 22 2011: There is no such thing as political neutrality. You can deny political engagement, but you will always reflect the current political scene of the place you live.

    As TED talks are not theoretical, there isn't much problem on political bias. It's rather natural.

    Nice topic!
  • thumb
    Jun 27 2011: i like to discredit most who claim to be left/right. it shows you are clearly missing the point, but then again that could just be another "political" viewpoint. to the question, i do think TED in general has a left lean.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jun 27 2011: Concerning your last paragraph - I fully agree with you as far as the United States are concerned. Looking at Germany though it's the other way around. Just wanting to point out that what bias reality has depends on your frame of reference.
  • thumb
    Jun 25 2011: I would be more inclined to think that this slant is the accident of circumstance. You've alluded to the possibility of liberalism and progressive attitudes going hand-in-hand. This might be part of it. I'm sure it's not something consciously being done.
  • thumb
    Jun 24 2011: I dont believe TED has any opinion or function other than to provide a peaceful means of debate for questions, thoughts, and ideas. The, "Ideas Worth Spreading" are really up to you and I as we respond to what is presented on TED.
  • thumb
    Jun 22 2011: I am going to have to talk in generalities here.

    Through my observations I feel that people who are liberal tend to be more caring about others and the world we live in. Now I base this on the political system of the United States. I don’t know the ins and outs of other systems, for all I know there may countries where conservatives are more like our liberals.

    With the ideas being spread through TED being those of solving the problems of people in general and the effects we have had on this earth, it makes sense that it would be more populated by liberals. Thinking back through all of talks I have viewed, there has only been a couple times where I thought it was a little conservative. But I have never felt like I was watching FOX News.

    I cannot speak for TED, but it would be interesting to hear from them on this topic to find out just how they pick a speaker. I am sure that on this discussion forum there are a wide range of viewpoints going from for left to far right though.

    And to be clear, I do not think that conservatives are incapable of harboring the desires that TED expounds.