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The Ethnosphere
June 21, 2008 4:50 PM   Subscribe

"Cultures at the far edge of the world" (YT) and "The worldwide web of belief and ritual" (YT). Two TED talks by anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis (previously) on the diversity of the world's indigenous cultures and their beliefs, and the richness of the "Ethnosphere," which he describes as "the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness." [Via Mind Hacks]
posted by homunculus (12 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Let me know when he manages to find a mythago.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:00 PM on June 21, 2008


The Colombian tribe that isolates their future priests for 18 years and then they see their first sunlight and suddenly become fully conscious of the profound beauty of the earth reminds me of this supposed phenomenon experienced by people who go up in space and view the earth from orbit and come back spiritually transformed, what they call the the overview effect. I wonder if it is the same psychological experience.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:57 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Matthieu Ricard: Habits of happiness (mentioned in the second TED talk).
posted by homunculus at 8:03 PM on June 21, 2008


"Fully half are no longer whispered into the ears of children..."

I enjoyed that first TED talk, but that guy is such a douche. He makes some interesting points, but boy does he pull some exoticist bullshit.
posted by borkingchikapa at 9:07 PM on June 21, 2008


that guy is such a douche

He is, but I cut him some slack for spending so much of his early career searching for new psychoactive plants and hunting zombies.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:43 AM on June 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


that guy is such a douche .. exoticist bullshit

I feel sorry for your ignorance. Try reading some of his books and we can talk about it. They are best-sellers, solid 5-star Amazon favorites, nothing you won't enjoy. One River is somewhat epic, The serpent and the rainbow is fascinating.
posted by stbalbach at 5:53 AM on June 22, 2008


Metafilter: It's like being shot out of a rifel barrel lined with baroque paintings and landing in a sea of electricity.
posted by localroger at 6:21 AM on June 22, 2008


I loved these, homunculus - thanks so much for the post.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:42 AM on June 22, 2008


I read The Serpent and The Rainbow years ago, and am probably going to pick it up again. This was good stuff - thanks for posting it.
posted by jquinby at 7:17 AM on June 22, 2008


These are fantastic, thanks.

exoticist bullshit

It's only exoticist if it's made up and you don't actually know what you're talking about.
posted by Tlogmer at 10:59 AM on June 22, 2008


I feel sorry for your ignorance. Try reading some of his books and we can talk about it. They are best-sellers, solid 5-star Amazon favorites, nothing you won't enjoy. One River is somewhat epic, The serpent and the rainbow is fascinating.

Ignorant or not, borkingchikapa is dead-on here. These talks are heavy on dream talk, light on usability. They are filled with wishful thinking, for certain, and deeply evocative. Nonetheless, it is also a great deal of showmanship at the expense of connecting with the audience for the sake of Davis' drama.

Did the one contradict the other by first stating the Elder Brothers live in darkness for eighteen years, then in the second showing and stating that they do not? I think so.
posted by humannaire at 6:26 PM on June 22, 2008


These talks are heavy on dream talk, light on usability.

TED's motto is "Ideas worth spreading" (not "Practical information worth spreading", TED isn't Wikipedia).

filled with wishful thinking, for certain, and deeply evocative.

Exactly, ideas worth spreading.

a great deal of showmanship at the expense of connecting with the audience

Well, I guess that is where we differ - good speakers are good "showmen". Good speakers are good at spreading ideas because they are skilled at the art of rhetoric - if he was a poor showman, it would be a boring 15 minutes and we would not be having this conversation because it would have never spread to Metafilter. Don't underestimate the power of style (or design), it is often more important than actual content. This is in fact one of the major lessons of most TED talks.

Did the one contradict the other

I think he was discussing two different locations.
posted by stbalbach at 8:48 PM on June 22, 2008


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