Thursday, 25 October 2007

TED, Not So Cuddly After All.

I recently had a chat with a rather amiable TEDster (a TEDster is an aficionado of the famous TED lectures).

She purported with verve and glee that the TED lectures are a real boon for our world. The bringing together of the most successful, smartest, insightful and driven people on the planet to speak about their achievements, and how they are, or will, benefit mankind.

I’m, in fact, a TEDster, and proud of it. But I do have may reservations.

In the constructive sense, I can be quite critical of TED. Here’s an example.

Steven Pinker, the Harvard University Professor of Psychology, gave a lecture on ‘The Myth of Violence.’ He maintained, in his own words, that ‘Our ancestors were far more violent than we are… violence has been in decline for long stretches of time… and that today we are probably living in the most peaceful time in our existence.’

Looking at human history, there is much evidence that backs this. Going way back to the beginning of human history, human’s would wage war for no reason other than to dominate. War and outright murder just because one human or tribe was bigger than another. It was outright savagery.

In the recent past, invasions and wars were base on economic and territorial gain, which, if the truth be known, were based on primitive ego and mania (re: Genghis Kuhn, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, at el).

Only lately, in relative human history terms, have wars been waged on ethical grounds. So-called principled wars doing the right thing, putting a fullstop on the spread of illegitimate or corrupt causes. And in the extreme halt genocidle tyranny

But what Pinker neglected to say was the fact that at no other time have we had the capacity to totally and utterly wipe humanity off the planet. He didn’t include the fact that the UK’s Ministry of Defence, and the US’s DRAPA are R&Ding weapons of a destructive magnitude that make Nuclear and Biological warheads look like pop guns.

For me, the real issue is not simply how peaceful we are, but how safe we are.

I’d like to hear Prof Pinker lecture on that.

No comments: