Something I've thought for years but never could verbalize so eloquently. From Kent Sepkowitz at Daily Beast. Read the whole thing.
Nowadays, though, TED spells trouble for several reasons. First it doesn’t celebrate a love of smart people really; it celebrates a love of smart-style people. Just as kosher-style food looks and kinda acts like the real thing, but isn’t, so too are the diplomats of TED U kinda full of it. TED provides the Cliff Notes versions of the talks right there on line (TED quotes), little gnomic cyber-samplers (“If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average” and “I share, therefore I am”) you can sprinkle around without really understanding a drop of the work that stands behind the claim.
As such, TED is a direct descendant of another American favorite: the get-better-quick scheme...
TED and their entire Starship Enterprise world feed directly into many people’s instinctive distrust of the intellectual (and the Santorumians’ absolute contempt). With the provocation, TEDdies are dragging down with them actual American intellectuals (yes they exist). These are the real gym rats who fret their way through daily confusion and panic, hostile never-ending scientific turf wars, and lousy funding to squeeze out a drop of truth – people who scare us not because they are cool but because they are so frantically intense and of a single lumpish piece. Not that the TEDdies care about the trouble, really. They already are getting their slides together for the next big powwow.