Health TED Talks

Creating the psychopath experience: TEDTalks from Julian Treasure and Evan Grant

Jon Ronson got by with a little help from two friends at TED2012 as he told the story of Tony, a man who faked insanity when facing jail time after a fight — but did it far too well, ending up in a psychiatric hospital for 14 years under the label of “a psychopath.” Standing onstage with Jon, Evan Grant created a wall of animation to illustrate the cautionary tale about the dangers of labeling. Meanwhile Julian Treasure appeared on stage too, crafting a live soundscape for the story, giving it a creepy, told-around-the-campfire feel.

Jon gives the highest marks to both his collaborators.

“Julian does audio in a really empathetic, understated way,” Jon tells the TED Blog. “He’d get so annoyed if we were walking through a building together and the ambient noise was disturbing — but not disturbing in a way that would disturb people who aren’t totally attuned to this. Julian cares a lot about how things sound.”

He adds about Evan, “Because we were working with that enormous backdrop — that fantastic wall — it felt to me like the visuals were a completely overwhelming, immersive experience.”

Since both Evan and Julian happen to be TED alums, below, check out each of their wonderful TEDTalks.

Evan Grant spoke at TEDGlobal 2009, explaining the fascinating field of cymatics. In this talk “Making sound visible,” Evan delves into his work collecting auditory data — from natural phenomenon like dolphin calls and water ripples, as well as from the likes of Beethoven and Pink Floyd — and rendering it into ever-morphing images.

Also speaking at TEDGlobal 2009, Julian Treasure gave this fascinating talk “The 4 ways sound affects us,” revealing how sound evokes chemical reactions in the body, alters our psychological states, shapes our cognitive experiences, and influences our behavior.

A year later, Julian returned to the TEDGlobal stage for the talk “Shh! Sound health in 8 steps.” In it he describes a plan for how we can restore our tenuous relationship with sound and be kinder to our ears.

A year later, Julian spoke at TEDGlobal again, giving the talk “5 ways to listen better.” Julian points out that while we constantly hear, we aren’t very good at absorbing data and can only recall about 25% of what we hear. He suggests a few easy ways to make sure we don’t lose the ability to consciously listen, especially to each other.

And stayed tuned to the TED Blog. Later today, we’ll have a Q&A with Jon Ronson about his experience with the psychopath test and how it illuminates the gray areas of psychology.