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Mark Pincus: Biden Is Even Riskier Than Trump

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Hello, and Welcome to My TED Talk

In January, I was announced as a 2024 TED speaker in Vancouver. Predictably, a small group of very loud people were angry—mostly on Twitter. Then, five TED fellows resigned. They wrote…

In January, I was announced as a 2024 TED speaker in Vancouver. Predictably, a small group of very loud people were angry—mostly on Twitter. Then, five TED fellows resigned. They wrote a letter to the head of TED, Chris Anderson, titled: “TED Fellows Refuse to Be Associated with Genocide Apologists.” They pleaded to disinvite me, plus a few others who had been asked to speak, and take us off the program.

A strange thing considering that TED is devoted to curiosity, reason, wonder, and the pursuit of knowledge, without an agenda: “We welcome all who seek a deeper understanding of the world and connection with others, and we invite everyone to engage with ideas and activate them in your community.” In the end, TED didn’t disinvite me. But I wondered if I should actually go.

For some people, being invited to TED probably is the most exciting thing in the world. And at one point I would have felt that way too. But I knew they were inviting me to be their token dissident voice, to prove that they are not a monolith. And on the one hand, I appreciated that effort. On the other hand, if I’m your representation for ideological diversity, if I’m your most radical speaker, then you’ve already lost.

In the end, I decided to speak. I felt like they were genuinely trying to right the ship, and shouldn’t I support that effort?

When I arrived, I was sequestered in a group with people like Bill Ackman, Avi Loeb, Andrew Yang, and Scott Galloway, and TED called our portion of the conference “The Provocateurs.” But as I looked around at my little group of five, something felt very obvious: none of us are all that provocative. Or at least we shouldn’t be. The biggest irony of all is that that was the very topic of my speech I came to Vancouver to give.

The talk is about how normal ideas and issues are often crowded out and overshadowed by boutique issues such as whether Bari Weiss should be allowed to speak at TED. It’s about how a few small voices end up adjudicating which voices are morally righteous and which ones are not. It’s about how common-sense positions became transgressive and polarizing overnight; how our ability to disagree is our freedom, and, most critically, why it’s so important to stand with conviction in our beliefs even when it means standing out in the cold.

Today, you’ll hear my talk, titled “Courage, the Most Important Virtue.” Afterward, you’ll hear a conversation I had with the head of TED, Chris Anderson, about victimhood, about how words are misinterpreted as violence, and about the paper-thin line between civilization and barbarism.

Thanks to the TED Talks Daily podcast for letting us share this episode of their show with Honestly listeners today. And if you want to hear more talks like mine, check out TED Talks Daily. Each day, the show brings you a new idea that will spark your curiosity and just might change the future, all in under 15 minutes. You can find TED Talks Daily wherever you get your podcasts.

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