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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Alain de Botton Tells Us the Good Things About Religion

Here's a TED talk by Alain de Botton. He claims to be an atheist but he's promoting Atheism 2.0. That's a version of atheism that incorporates all the good parts of religion like how they can brainwash children and con people out of lots of money. And pilgrimage. Let's not forget the value of pilgrimage and the importance of travel. (Think Canterbury Tales!)

There's a certain mysticism about TED talks that I deplore. In order to be a successful TED talker you need to be articulate and clever. You need to be engaging and just a little bit radical—though not too radical. That's just about all it takes to get an enthusiastic standing ovation from the people who comes to listen to these 18 talks. What you're actually saying doesn't really count for anything as this example plainly shows.

The mantra of TED talks is "Ideas Worth Spreading" but if you think about it there aren't very many important new ideas that can be explained in 18 minutes. On the other hand, if you want to spread ideas that your audience already agrees with then TED talks are just the thing for you.

[Hat Tip: PZ Myers: Alain de Botton is right about one thing.]


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I visit TED somewhat frequently, and this talk, I could not even finish watching. Started so wrong that I did not expect it to get better.

Alex said...

I believe his surname is "de Botton" and not "de Bouton".

Zebulon said...

I'm so tired of people telling me what I am like because I'm an atheist or what I should do as an atheist. All my athiesms says about me is my lack of faith in any number of gods.

It doesn't say anything about

how I live my life
how I treat people
what or who I love
what I think of Dawkins/Hitchens
how I see the world

This seems like yet another guy who want to make a religion of Athiesm, it's not enough to not believe, I have to not believe in the way he feels I should, and he assumes I don't already.

If he want to change the way people behave that's fine, why not leave faith (or lack thereof) out of it.

steve oberski said...

I really enjoyed the TED talks on Appalachian music and Juggling.

Those were 2 different talks although I would watch one that incorporated both.

Linzel said...

I think TEd talks have a place. Sure there is a great deal of 'preaching to the choir' or other forms of self-flagellation BUT there have been many talks I find interesting and increase my awareness. Many of them are great at introducing students to topics or even a wrap up. Bill Stone talking about a Mars mission. Larry Lessig's chat about media copyright laws. Kim Robinson's on education. Hans Rosling and gapminder. Dan Pink on problem solving. [And MANY more I LOVE and show to students] These are topics I may never have been introduced to. Maybe I'm just more closeted, or my education was much poorer but with work, kids, exercise I don't have time to read my normal content AND explore all these other areas of knowledge. Let them be fascinating introductions to ideas, concepts, inventions - whatever. If we are going to critisize and medium it should be the mass media's 30 second sound bite. The media perpetuates ignorance, deceit and division. I want to save my vitriol for them.

Joachim Dagg said...

You mean pilgrimage on the Sandwalk, I take it.

John S. Wilkins said...

I got an idea, Larry. You should go on TED and deliver the message that no religion anywhere ever has been responsible for anything good. Those who agree with you will be delighted.

Larry Moran said...

That would be ridiculous since I don't believe that. What I do believe is that no religion has ever done anything good that couldn't also be done by a group of atheists. You don't need God to do good things.

Anonymous said...

Shakespeare? Novels of Jame Austin? Gospels of John? Sorry, I'm still wondering how it all can be reduced to molecules and atoms. Some kind of new amino acid or something will do the trick, I expect.

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Your expectations got the better of you. You were wrong not to expect it to get better.

Jennifer said...

Exactly. I think because de Botton is a professional writer/speaker about ideas he has to come up with something "new" all the time whether it's a good idea or not.