I used to think TED Talks were just to provide me with material. When I first started this blog, I was riffing on these things once a week for a while. But, that’s not why they exist. They are the modern equivalent of the preaching circuit. Instead of educated men of the faith heading out into the boonies to convert the heathens, we have educated men of the faith telling their coevals in the managerial elite that they are special little snowflakes.
This one got my attention for a couple of reasons.
Since you probably don’t want to sit through it, here’s the transcript of interest:
When we think about mapping cities, we tend to think about roads and streets and buildings, and the settlement narrative that led to their creation, or you might think about the bold vision of an urban designer, but there’s other ways to think about mapping cities and how they got to be made. Today, I want to show you a new kind of map. This is not a geographic map. This is a map of the relationships between people in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, and what you can see here is that each dot represents a person, each line represents a relationship between those people, and each color represents a community within the network.
Now, I’m here on the green side, down on the far right where the geeks are, and TEDx also is down on the far right. (Laughter) Now, on the other side of the network, you tend to have primarily African-American and Latino folks who are really concerned about somewhat different things than the geeks are, but just to give some sense, the green part of the network we call Smalltimore, for those of us that inhabit it, because it seems as though we’re living in a very small town.
Managerial class types love the phrase “big data” and they really love these weird splatter graphs they claim are derived from the big data. These presentations often look like a Jackson Pollock work. Unlike the artist, the folks who do these today know their audience is uninterested in ambiguity. They want to see how they’re the best and it better be clear. The result is big bold blobs of goodness in friendly colors like green and blue.
In this case, the Ted Talker puts himself and by extension the audience in the friendly green blob he calls “geek” which is a favorite term of the managerial class. Every liberal arts major with a self-actualizing job now says they are a “nerd” or a “geek.” The whole point of this graphic is to make the audience feel good, but also feel bad, in a good way. That distance from the blacks is to work the old guilt complex.
The other thing I think worth mentioning is the great divide in Western intellectual life. It feels like we have reached a place similar to the late medieval period when science was just getting going. On the one hand you have members of the ruling elite heading off into the Church, which has reached its peak scholastically. On the other hand you have others heading into new, secular intellectual worlds like law, philosophy and science.
The Ted talkers are having a spiritual experience. Instead of eating mushrooms and looking into the stars, they are dressing up and hearing a preacher tell them they are the brightest starts in the heavens. They don’t think of it as a mystical experience, but that’s the draw. They are an elect, invited to The Thing of all SWPL’s. No one goes to these things to learn stuff. They go to experience them.
Compare that to the people doing real science and speculating about the nature of the world. Look at this from Razib Khan’s blog and imagine the Ted Talk types confronting those graphics. Everything about human sciences, our understanding of people, history and culture is now being reexamined in light of new information coming from genetics. The revolution in scientific understanding going on right now dwarfs what happened in the Renaissance.
Even so, vast swaths of the managerial class are both intellectually incapable of mastering the new material and ideologically disinclined to accept it. To borrow an idea from Marine Le Pen, the cultural elite of our age are using software designed for the industrial age. The new knowledge pouring in from genetics and neuroscience simply does not fit their mental model of the world.
Ironically, the cultural elites of today are still fond of mocking Christians about Galileo. Yet, the roles are clearly reversed. The science deniers are the sort of people watching Ted Talks with tears in their eyes. History says the clerical class does no fold up easily and they will try to keep the new dangerous knowledge about humanity from getting into the public domain. That’s why we get all the shrieking about HBD.
If history is any guide, the clerisy will try to co-opt the new knowledge. That’s what happened with the Church and science 500 years ago. How the Church of Modern Liberalism incorporates IQ and population genetics is a mystery to me. Maybe they just start burning heretics instead. Islam, when faced with challenges from science has chosen to kill the science. Maybe that’s where we’re heading. I don’t know.