Grab A Cup Of Coffee And Watch A Great Talk

At last year’s frank gathering in Gainesville, thinkers, writers and communications practitioners spoke on a range of topics that illuminated the ways people receive and process information and how communicators can harness that knowledge to develop compelling messages, campaigns and other kinds of outreach designed to address pressing social problems and needs.

As we prepare for this year’s gathering, we’re nostalgically watching our favorite talks from last year. If you missed frank 2014, you’ll enjoy these highlights. If you were there, enjoy watching them again. With this post, we’re kicking off a special series featuring some of the frank gathering presentations, that a year later, frankly speaking, people are still talking about.

For starters, we present a revealing talk by Shankar Vedantam, NPR’s social science correspondent, about accountability and how it’s often misunderstood and misapplied. Vedantam, who will be speaking later this month at our 2015 frank gathering, argues that accountability should be used as a means to “make good things happen in the future,” but too often, it’s used to hold people “account” for things that happened in the past, and sometimes as a punishment.

As an example, he cites how President George W. Bush sold the Iraq war to the nation to “hold the perpetrators of 9/11 to account.” He contrasts the money spent on a failed war — in response to the deaths of 3,000 people — to the miniscule funds allocated to address suicide, which claims some 300,000 lives annually in the United States–100 times the number who died on 9/11. “On a rational basis, it doesn’t make sense,” says Vedantam.

Vendatam cites the choice to spend considerable more money to fight terrorism over suicide prevention as an example of “cognitive bias,” which results in human beings sometimes focusing irrationally on what we perceive a threat greater than it really is. When these “biases are amplified over millions of people at the level of policy,” the result, says Vendatam, are decisions that don’t always serve the public interest.

Over the course of his talk, Vendatam makes the case for what he calls “Accountability 2.0,” a new approach that — instead of trying to motivate people with by warning of consequences if they fail — capitalizes on the drive that encourages people “to be the best they can be.”

Watch below and learn.

[vimeo id=”101403733″]

Posted: February 2, 2015