Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ideas and such

This past week, I have been watching a TED video a day to keep boredom away. Just thought will share some of them with you. But, if you have not seen them already, be warned, each video is 20 minutes long. It is totally worth the 20 minutes, so only click on it if you have the time.

1) Larry Lessig : This is the Creative Commons License guy. I only know of him slightly, due to press surrounding the Microsoft law suit and he is not saying anything that gives me goose bumps. But his talk is, for me, representative of how to build an argument using analogies. Fantastic, for just that one reason.

2) Dan Dennett: In his talk, he is essentially making the point that “ideas” take the role of genes in social evolution. We know this. But he articulates this beautifully. And towards the end, he says things that did give me goose bumps.

3) Richard Dawkins: We all know this guy. Who has not read the Selfish Gene right? In this talk he talks about the fact that our so called “intuition” is evolutionary conditioning associated with the length and time scales we are able to probe with our senses (a point I had made earlier in a different context), and this is the reason we find fundamental physics on small scales and large scales counterintuitive. But he does this beautifully, or at least I thought so, because it resonated with the thoughts in my head.

10 comments:

ada-paavi!!!! said...

ur not seeing that post coz i saved it in draft. future ill post once i add some more masala to it.

Sreekumar said...

Just stumbled over your blog. You have put in some nice content. Would certainly check back.

The Dan Dennett video was very good. Especially since the idea that ideas act as gene had already infected me earlier.

CuriousCat said...

@vatsan sir : Thanks for telling me.

@ sreekumar : Welcome and glad you liked it. Do come back.

And the ideas are genes business is as you say familiar. But the fact that we are as afraid of ideas as we are biologically "afraid" of invaders was what I thought was articulated beautifully...no?

Sreekumar said...

Yeah, that was indeed the most interesting point. Gives a reason to consider the point of view of conservatives more empathetically.
And drawing the analogy with Jared Diamond's ideas was really neat. BTW India seem to be one of the places which has been adopting these ideas much quicker, though many of these ideas have been present in older times though not in so virulent forms.

CuriousCat said...

Well, as far as india goes, I have a pet theory Sreekumar, that I have not tested or substantiated in anyway. All the obvious evidence appears contradictory to it at first glance. The theory postulates the older a society is the better it is able to imbibe, withstand and survive change...

Sreekumar said...

Well, I hope the following doesnt sound like nitpicking.

If you grant that for a society to survive, it needs to successfully tackle change, then it is a circular argument. For the older the society, the more changes it would have imbibed, making it more likely to successfully manage the next one.

Just my two penny worth to test your theory.

CuriousCat said...

Oh! It is not nitpicking Sreekumar. It is indeed circular if we assume that the societies adapting to change are the ones that survive. I just am not able to see from available evidence if this is indeed the case. I am confused. So, do not take what I say without the proverbial pinch of salt.

Sreekumar said...

I guess the question is a difficult one to answer. Jared Diamond has written another book called Collapse: How societies fall...That might be interesting to read if you havent done so already. I have not got a chance to read it myself.

CuriousCat said...

"Collapse..." is on my reading list...but I still have 5 other books before that. Let us compare notes when we do read it.

Sreekumar said...

Yeah, Collapse is definitely on my to-read list. I am reading a book called "The Black Swan" by nassim nicholas Taleb. Its a really interesting one and its about how the nature of society itself is changing. Sort of like a much much more intelligent version of The world is flat. But The black swan's scope is much more wide.