February 27, 2021   4:17pm
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TED Quotes to Ponder

Still on my mind … Here are the “Big Questions” asked and a few quotes to ponder that will give you just an inkling of the TED experience previewed in this spot last week … (This doesn’t begin to be comprehensive or include all of the speakers) … I’m evangelizing (don’t you hate when people do that), but TED has just released some of the talks these quotes came from at TED.com

Who are we?

Roy Gould, astrophysicist
“We may be tiny but we are really, truly significant.”

Wade Davis, anthropologist
“The meaning of a society is not only what it does but the quality of its aspirations.”

Louise Leaky, paleoanthropologist
“We are most certainly the only animals that make conscious choices that are bad for our species.”

Chris Jordan, artist
“We behave in behaviors on a collective level”

Chris uses his art as a way to visualize statistical impact, for example:
– we use 40 million [throwaway] cups a day for coffee;
– 384,000 women — the majority under 21 — have breast augmentations;
– 400,000 people die from smoking;
– 1/3rd of the drug overdoses come from prescription drugs …

What is our place in the universe?

Live broadcast at TED: “BBC World Debate”:
“We need to care as much about an educational diet as our nutritional diet.”
“The best [news] reporting is done in defiance of management.”

Alisa Miller, NPR:
“News networks’ foreign bureaus have decreased by 50%.”
“Today’s graduates know less about the world than they did 30 years ago.”

What is life?

Paul Rothemund, DNA origamist
“A small mutation can result in “meaningful” large changes.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian
“Work, love, play … you need to pursue all three to have a life of serenity and achievement.”

From a commercial for Dove, realbeauty.com
“Talk to your daughter about beauty before the beauty industry does.”

Is beauty truth?

Siegfried Woldhek, dreamcatcher
“Style makes you feel great because it makes you forget you’re going to die.”

Thomas Krens, Director Guggenheim museums
“Things change; be prepared to adapt.”

Garrett Lisi, physicist
“Everything that can happen, does.”

Will evil prevail?

Philip Zimbardo, social psychologist
“What doesn’t kill you doesn’t necessarily make you stronger.”

How can we change the world?

“Whatever you’re looking for, it’s probably not going to be what you end up finding.”

Dave Eggers, writer, publisher, education activist
“We have a talent as human beings for messing up beautiful things.”

Karen Armstrong, authority on comparative religions:
“Religion should be a force for harmony in the world.”
“Religion is not about belief but about behavior”

How do we create?

Amy Tam, novelist:
“Imagination is the closest thing to feeling compassion.”
“There are no absolute truths. You create a life by questioning.”
“Uncertainly is a good thing because than you discover new.”

Yves Béhar, designer:
“Advertising is the price companies pay for being unoriginal.”
“It takes will to keep the process from destroying the original idea.”

Robert J. Lang, Origami artist
“The secret to productivity is letting dead people do the work for you.” [Look how someone else has already solved the problem.]

What’s out there?

Robert Ballard, ocean explorer:
“Why are people afraid of the ocean when it’s 72% of the planet …We have only explored 1/10th of 1% of earth’s oceans … most of the southern hemisphere is unexplored … It’s naïve to think that the Easter bunny put all the resources on the continents … 50% of the U.S. lies beneath the sea, and we have better maps of Mars than that 50% … The greatest mountain range on earth lies beneath the sea … why are we not looking at the oceans and how to colonize our own planet when we have the technology to do so … The bottom of the ocean (12,000 ft) is pitch black … We thought there was no life there because photosynthesis can’t take place, but there’s a profusion of live … there are more active volcano’s beneath the sea than above it … We should be focused on middle school education, not university …

Paul Stamets, Mycologist:
“Mushrooms produce the best antibiotics.”
“We need to save old, growth forests as a matter of national defense.”
“Engaging mycelium [the vegetative part of a fungus] can help save the world.”

Joshua Klein, Technology hacker
“No one is paying any attention to the species that have adapted and survived [crows], so we’re always trying to kill them like rats and cockroaches.” … “Crows are very intelligent and have memories. They learn from one another … they’ve developed cultural adaptation … they can be trained to do good things … we should find an equilibrium with them rather than eliminate them …”

Richard Preston, Science writer
“Humans are the only primates that are scared of heights … ”

What will tomorrow bring?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Scholar of randomness, author of “Black Swan”
“Respect the unobserved.”
“Probability doesn’t mean anything.”
“Never take advice from someone wearing a tie.”
“We cannot predict or understand the future.”

Peter Schwartz, Futurist:
“What are the big questions? …
1) Will there be a big world war? …
2) Will the global economy we’ve seen in the second half of the 20th century continue? …
3) Will the fruits of economic growth be relatively evenly spread? …
4) Will we be able to achieve growth in an ecologically sustainable fashion? …”

“OPEC is the most effective environmental organization in the world. Look what happens when they raise the price of gas…”

What stirs us?

Isaac Mizrahi, designer
“It’s important to be bored with everything or act like you are.”

Helen Fisher, Anthropologist:
“Anthropologists have never found a society that didn’t have love.”
“Romantic love is one of the most addictive substances on earth.”
“They’ve never found out why two personalities are attracted to one another.”

David Griffin, Director of photography National Geographic
“To be a good photographer, you have to be able to tell a story.”

Chris Abani, Writer:
“The world is saved in the small gentle everyday acts of compassion.”
“There is no way for us to be human without other people.”

Benjamin Zander, Conductor:
“A leader must believe people will follow where he leads.”
“Who am I if my children’s eyes aren’t shining?”

How dare we be optimistic?

Paul Collier, Economist
How can we give hope to 1 billion people? … What can we do? What we did last time … during the late 1040’s … America developed Europe … we knew we had to in order to keep countries from falling into the Soviet bloc … We need to get serious with: 1) an alliance of compassion … 2) enlightened self interest …

“We can’t change these societies but can help those that do.”
“Why aren’t international rules there? … Need a critical mass of informed citizen so politicians can’t get away with gestures, i.e. things that look good but don’t work …

Al Gore
“You must become the change you wnt to see in the world.” [Gandhi]
“There is a bridge between the climate crisis and poverty in the world.”
“We need to find a unified earth theory [local, regional, global].”
“We have a culture of distraction.”
“Change the light bulbs but change the laws.”
“If you want to go far, go alone. If you want to go quickly go together.” [African proverb]

And the point?

John Francis, Planetwalker
“If you’re a teacher who in not learning in the classroom, you’re probably not teaching very well.”

Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist (author of “The Happiness Hypothesis”)
The Moral Matrix: 5 Foundations of Morality:
1) Harm/Care
2) Fairness/reciprocity (the golden rules)
3) Ingroup/loyalty
4) Authority/respect
5) Purity/Sanctity
(The point was made that in studies 1-2 are important to Democrats while 3-5 are important to Republicans …)

“If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.”
“Use passionate commitment to truth to better the world for all of us.”

Bob Geldof, Musician, activist
“All human progress depends on unreasonable people.”

Want more? Do yourself a favor and go to TED.com, where you’ll find presentations from past TED’s as well as some of those mentioned above …

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