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Home » The Illusion of Understanding: Phil Fernbach at TEDxGoldenGatePark (Transcript)

The Illusion of Understanding: Phil Fernbach at TEDxGoldenGatePark (Transcript)

Phil Fernbach – TRANSCRIPT

So, today is all about passion. Passion is super important, passion is great, but there’s a dark side to passion, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today. We live in an extremely passionate society.

So, we’re on the cusp of an amazing technological revolution in genetics. Scientists have discovered ways to directly manipulate the genome of various organisms to change their properties. Here’s an example, which I think is an interesting one. This new kind of rice they’ve created, which is called golden rice, is a genetically modified version of rice that is modified to create something called beta-carotene – that’s why it’s yellow, the same thing that makes carrots orange.

Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency, it’s estimated, kills somewhere around 670,000 children throughout the world. And the idea is that by introducing this new form of rice to those places, we might be able to decrease some of the negative consequences of this vitamin A deficiency. Some people are really passionate about this, okay?

This image is of anti-GMO protesters tearing up one of the test fields that was used to test the safety and efficacy of this golden rice. They think that it’s a very bad idea to introduce this to the world, and they destroyed this field, they set back the testing. These guys are really passionate about their beliefs that GMO is a bad thing.

What about politics? You guys probably need no reminders about politics, with the nonsense that’s going on in Washington, the scary, scary stuff that’s happening. Our leaders are incredibly passionate about their positions, and so are we. What this graphic shows is – this graphic shows the voting records of senators over time, starting in the ’70s and going through present time. And what you see here is that whereas in the ’70s and ’80s there’s a lot of overlap in the way senators from different parties voted on various issues, today that’s almost completely disappeared. We have this incredible polarization going on.

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