20 July 2015: TED Talks – Beyond One’s Comfort Zone and The ‘God Complex’ – led by Adrienne

We considered 2 TED talks:

https://www.ted.com/talks/alberto_cairo_there_are_no_scraps_of_men In this presentation the speaker, a Physiotherapist relates how he was encouraged to move beyond his comfort zone by his desire to help others requiring prosthesis. By a series of steps, the consequences of one decision lead to another and yet another to help this group of people. The presenter was encouraged and supported by a colleague, showing the importance of this kind of role. We admired the vision, persistence, empathy and care that the presenter portrayed.

https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_harford This presentation was a little more provocative than the one above. The ‘God Complex’ refers to people who believe their view is the only right and correct one – if you like, behaving as an omniscient, all-knowing god. The presenter’s argument is that the natural world and the situations humans find themselves in are very complex. Humans have a natural tendance to reduce the complexity to a few variables that we can hold at once and hence generate a path to a logical conclusion. We just can’t hold and optimise solutions from many variables. The conclusion the speaker advocates is the practice of trial and error, as has occurred in nature through the process of evolution. We considered that politicians are the most visible group that reduce complexity to simple mantras eg the market knows best, competition and privatisation will benefit all, small Government is good. Could a politician campaign on the platform “I don’t have a definitive answer to ….., but I have these ideas which I would like to try, see what works and then refine those in further trials’ be successful? I think not as we, the public, crave the prospect of apparent certainty in definitive answers, from leaders who (seem to) know! I also suspect that we realise that they do not!

[For the churches in 21st Century NZ facing falling attendance, some humble ‘don’t know but lets try this and see how it works out’ would be better than trying to replicate programmes which worked a generation ago or sitting on our hands hoping things will improve.]

Adrienne also identified https://www.ted.com/talks/uri_alon_why_truly_innovative_science_demands_a_leap_into_the_unknown Give it a try and see what you think.

Ian Harris