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Disassociating the message from the speaker. Is it really appropiate?

Many TED viewers have stated that we should only focus on the message given by the speaker and not mind the speaker's background. In the case of Emiliano Salinas his father's background and his affiliation to the cult group NXIVM stand out.

I think that in order to understand a speech, its consequences and relevance you should also consider the speakers background and the context. Specially if the speaker is calling to civil action in a complex situation like the war on drugs in Mexico...

What is your take on this?

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    Jul 7 2011: In principle, messages can be "universal". Think of mathematical formulas. It doesn't matter who formulated them. They're either good (valid), or they're bad (non-sensical).

    Whereas speeches and lectures aren't mathematics, it's still good to dissociate speaker and message - just to get some level of abstraction.

    Obviously, if the message is a call for action or an advocacy, it's better to check on the background of those who utter it.

    But in general, I always try to find the "universal" or more "abstract" message in TED-lectures. For me it's the best way to learn and to remember what's been said.
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    G C

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    Jul 8 2011: It's always appropriate. The first step in observance of any kind (listening to music, viewing a painting, reading a blog) should be the inherent message. Language, especially English, is horribly inefficient so the more you read between the lines and the more you pull from external context the more you obfuscate the point. After you've ingested the message at face value then you can begin to associate it to the world around you, including the speaker, but if you do this out of order you will likely miss the root of the message. Don't kill the messenger, disassociate!
  • Jul 6 2011: I commented after watching that video because I saw that people were attacking Emiliano Salinas the person based on his past deeds and not on his words. The words are good even if they were spoken by the devil himself. They have words for what you are doing. It's called preconceived notions. I understand that all perceptions are affected by preconceptions but we must not allow our brains to travel down that road until we completely hear what is being said and after asking him direct questions about what he means. We are going to get distorted views of the truth if we label someone solely based on our opinion of what they have done. It should all be weighed but don't belittle a person until it has been. I don't think you can in this forum so we should consider constructive criticism about his words here and not criticize his entire life. I too have great things to say as well as any of the bone headed things I have said and done in the past. I am pretty sure I share that defect with a lot of other people.
    • Jul 7 2011: My main issue with the reaction to Emiliano's video is that it focused solely on his family name and not his personal actions. In the few instances where his actions were brought up, it was something like "He went to school at Harvard"---Seems like a good thing to me. He left Mexico to get a great education, but still fights for Mexican causes. The easy thing to do would be to stay in USA, make a lot of money, live the good life, and not subject himself to the mob mentality of his attackers---yet he continues to work toward a better future for Mexico.

      I believe that a speaker can lose credibility to the point where he or she should not be given a global stage. That credibility can only be lost through personal actions, not the actions of his family. With the microscope on Emiliano his entire life, it would be easy to find fault with his character if it were there. When people are judged only by race, gender, or the country they were born in, people can recognize the bigotry and deal with it accordingly. Why is judging a man only on his last name any different?
  • Jul 10 2011: I believe, like many others here, that the message should not lose merit due to its bearer. However, nor should a message be elevated above its true value, due to its bearer.....It is only when the message requires an interaction with the speaker: say support , or call to arms, that the background, the past actions. etc of the bearer should be thoroughly scrutinized...
  • Jul 10 2011: Should you disassociate the message from the messenger, yes, if possible.
    I watched the talk, and I agree with the first part, being that the problem in mexico is not crime, but a culture that allows crime to continue, and the self victimization of the individual makes him not want to fight for a good cause. But everything else after that is pure bunk, the call for action is coming from a man who has little to fear of calling for action, no matter what he says.

    You can disassociate the message from the messenger, but when the messenger is calling for action, you'd better know if he has your best interest at heart.
  • Jul 6 2011: I absolutely believe that this is appropriate. An idea stands on its own merit, not on that of the speaker. It is incumbent upon the listener to determine the veracity of any message and determine the ways in which action should arise from an idea.
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    Jul 5 2011: I think that the background is important. Not only to know about the speaker, but to see how a person can make a postulate, or share an idea, even if it contradict past postures. Every person has the right to change his ideas and postures about the things she or he used to believed.
    In these case is extraordinary to hear the son of an ex president of Mexico.

  • Jul 5 2011: I think that as long as the spekar is sending a good message and if you can take something with you after the speech or presentation, it really doesnt matter, its what you take as experience and new points of view to improve yourself and those arround you what matters.