I just wanted to make a quick point about this TED talk business. Since Chris Anderson responded, some have claimed that the case is closed and that the talk simply wasn’t published because it wasn’t of high enough quality. Take, for example, libertarian grumbler Julian Sanchez:
First, it’s generally a really dumb idea to take a self-interested party’s word, uncritically, when they’ve been criticized. Of course Anderson is going to say that the problem with the talk was its quality. He’s the one getting criticized! More to the point, we don’t only have his word. We have his email, a private email, sent before there was any controversy at all. And he said, himself, “even if the talk was rated a home run, we couldn’t release it, because it would be unquestionably regarded as out and out political.” There it is, in black and white. He said it himself: the problem is the politics. As if a series of koffee klatsches where rich techies shine each other on and trade regard for each other could be anything but political.
Look, I’ll be honest: I think TED talks are the worst example of modern faux-intellectualism. Audience flattering, based on ego and personality, dripping with self-congratulation, they contribute to one of the great lies of our time, which is that the truth is entertaining and can be contained in bite-sized, ready-for-television aphorisms. The reality is that progress is hard, that knowledge making is a long and dispiriting slog, and that when ideas and solutions appear pat, cute, easy, or triumphant, they’re almost certainly wrong. So, like I said. I’m not unbiased.
But, then again, I’m also not a libertarian looking to excuse the silencing of a left-wing argument.