TEDYou – Skeptical Manga

Attending TEDActive was an amazing experience. Just seeing the TED2010 simulcast alone is great—-12 sessions of TED talks in four days. Then there’s the swag; the TED gift bags and the surprise giveaway of Google Nexus One phones for the 1500 Long Beach attendees, 500 TEDActive attendees, and all the TED Associate members. One of the experiences I’m most grateful for in my TEDActive ’10 attendance was the opportunity to give a 3min TEDYou talk, Friday morning, to an audience of a few hundred of my fellow TEDActive members.

I was second to speak, which meant following Sebastian Wernicke‘s amazing talk on how to make an amazing TED talk. My 3mins was dedicated to speaking about why I think the world needs more skepticism and how I’d like to promote that idea through manga storytelling.

What I believe is an idea worth spreading can be summed up in one of my favourite Sagan quotes “For me, it is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring”. The theme of this year’s TED conference was “What the World Needs Now”. My pick for what the world needs is more skepticism, critical thinking, and science literacy.

If we want to distinguish what is true from what we simply want to be true, we will learn to be good skeptics.

TED is a conference of the world’s leading thinkers and doers. What speaks to me the most about the TED speakers is not only that they are at the leading edge of their field, but that their work is driven by a passion to somehow make the world a better place. In my own work, I’m motivated to improve my writing and art from a technical perspective, but my major focus is often to establish what my own idea worth spreading is.

Manga is a hugely popular form of sequential art. Some of the things most appealing to me about it is the diverse readership (people of all ages read manga, including a high percentage of female readers) and the unconstrained storytelling—-you can tell all kinds of stories using manga. My goal in my work as a mangaka is to create stories that show the value in critical thinking and the dangers of mixing power and ignorance. I want to create characters that are good role models as skeptics—-overcoming problems using knowledge and evidence-based thinking.

Legend of the Ztarr is the story I’m writing with these ideas in mind. Currently, the first chapter is available online. My goal for 2010 is to get the series picked up my one of the major US manga publishers.

I had a great time getting my 3mins in front of the amazing TEDActive crowd. It isn’t often I get to talk to others about my work and my passion behind it. My fellow TED 2009 Fellowship member, Tino Chow, posted about my TEDYou talk on his blog, where he covered the TED simulcast.


2 Responses

  1. uberVU - social comments Says:

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by saramayhew: Post and pics of my TEDYou talk on manga and skepticism at TEDActive http://bit.ly/c0PqzF #TEDActive #TEDYou…

  2. Sara E. Mayhew Says:

    […] the simulcast, in Palm Springs, of the TED conference which takes place in Long Beach, CA. You can read more about TEDActive and Sara’s TEDYou talk over at her blog, There Are Four Lights. If we want to […]

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