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TEDxDetroit announces speaker lineup



Yes, we know there are plenty of criticisms about the TED Talks brand. TED Talks have become "scholarly entertainment," "like the stage of a new reality show competition" in which education is run "on the model of American Idol." The best of them "become a sort of Secular Scripture offering a script to fix humanity," in which their microphone-headset-wearing speakers "feed directly into many people’s instinctive distrust of the intellectual." Yes, we know, and there's much to consider in those criticisms.

That said, the difference between TED and TEDx is worth noting. The TEDx talks are local events put together by local people under the TED brand, and they can be much quirkier and informal than the smarties parading before cameras in TED Talks. And the schedule for this year's TEDxDetroit has some surprises and some old pals among the speaker list.

There are plenty of people representing Detroit's cultural life. Sometime MT scribe and author of the upcoming book How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass Aaron Foley will appear, and so will Charles Gibson of the Michigan Science Center. It's an opportunity to hear Dr. Rita Fields of Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit.

Some of the better known speakers include NASA’s Dr. Cathy Olkin and the Consumer Electronic Association’s Gary Shapiro. And attendees can expect the usual gallery of CEOs, all there, of course, not to promote their personal agendas but to invigorate the search for knowledge, truth, and beauty. (Yeah, right.)

What caught our attention were a few of the speakers who weren't entrepreneurs, CEOs, or EVPs or Strategic Growth, such as Gary Abud, who teaches science at Grosse Pointe North High School, and Rob Miles, executive director of Organization for Bat Conservation. We're especially interested in the latter, given the way White Nose Syndrome has been killing off bats in the United States. 

There will also be live performances from Tunde Olaniran and others.

The 2015 TEDxDetroit conference takes place Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-471-3200; advance tickets for the event are available online now for $85 at


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