Christian Long

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics (about TED Talks)

In TED Talks on May 28, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Extra credit reflection by GABRIELLA B.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics (about TED Talks)

People, as a whole don’t much like statistics. I think this is partially because, for the most part, your average person has no need or use for statistics. They’re those annoying, unintelligible numbers set in columns on newspapers. They’re the random percentages that pop up on the screen in the middle of an irritating cell phone commercial. We don’t think about them too much we just go…

‘Huh, that’s interesting…I guess.’

We don’t consider what they might mean. We don’t assess their validity in the grand scheme of things. Instead we see a billboard that reads:

Three in ten teens will have suicidal thoughts.

Some of you will feel a pang of unease at that, others will have been too busy talking into their Bluetooth to notice and the rest won’t have seen it because they were turned halfway around in the seat to a) scream at the kids b) get a better look at the fender bender on the shoulder of the exit ramp or c) were to busy yelling at the idiot who just cut you off.

Or, perhaps you’re a health nut and you just saw a commercial for fiber plus. An over run commercial which gravely informed you that four in five Americans don’t get enough dietary fiber in their diets.

Whatever the situation, whatever the context, I don’t doubt that your response hmm, what a shame, we should do something about that, I really wish they would get on with my program, or any variation thereof. These are abstract figures we cannot really connect them to anything in our lives. Therefore just as quickly as we see them, we put them out of our minds.

Wernicke wipes away any lingering misconceptions that all statistics are boring minutia, stacks of uninteresting or complicated numbers. His witty presentation successfully dusts off the stacks and sets them in a new light. A fact made obvious both by his audience’s enthusiastic response and the many reviewers who’ve been charmed by this clever speaker.

I have found that whatever the talk, the engaging and witty speakers can completely pull you into a talk. Wernicke manages to pull this off in style. He makes what could have turned out a mundane how-to an very flippant running commentary on ted talks and statistics, all the while utilizing elements he says will form the ‘Ultimate TED Talk’.

His resulting TED Pad is a very good way to waste a half hour of free time.

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