Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oh, TED, I hardly knew ye...

Not long ago, a well-meaning friend sent me a link to video which he thought would inspire, or at least interest me.

It was part of the TED series, so I took the time to watch it.

About the only feeling the video inspired in me was disappointment – that, and complete puzzlement about what exactly the TED foundation stands for.

I guess I was mistaken in thinking that a TED presentation meant a well-researched, well presented, thought-provoking piece. Instead, the video I saw was one that contained errors and seemed full of emotion-laden language geared towards a particularly non-scientific set of conclusions.

Granted, the imagery is remarkable. The video in question consists of a series of electronic scans strung together to illustrate the development that occurs between conception and birth. Primarily, it’s the captioning that got me shuddering.

Worst of all was the just-fertilized egg, in process of its first division (a stage I’d thought was zygote). Here the caption cites that, at 24 hours, the “baby’s first division” occurs. Egg, yes. Zygote, I think so. Baby, not.

Part of this is the editor in me, bothered by vertebrae being spelled ‘vertAbrae’ the term yolk sac becoming ‘yolk sacK’.

But my bigger concern is over the emotional ‘baby’ language embedded throughout the piece. I’d thought embryo and fetus were the more specific terms for stages of pregnancy. Instead, this presentation is filled with the loaded sort of terminology I expect from the likes of Rick Santorum, not from a supposedly respected scientist.

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