Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

TED talks: The dangers of ‘willful blindness’ – Margaret Heffernan


In this week’s featured TED talk, Margaret Heffernan tells the story of a woman named Gayla Benefield, who worked in the isolated town of Libby, Montana going house-to-house reading utility meters. 

After a while, Gayla noticed that a lot of the middle-aged men whose homes she dropped into seemed to be using oxygen tanks. When her parents both died relatively young, Gayla became suspicious. The town was home to a vermiculite mine, and vermiculite was used in local lofts, playgrounds, and in farms. It was not known at the time, but vermiculite is a very toxic form of asbestos.

When Gayla made the connection, her difficulties had only just begun. The local community rallied together to reject her theory.

Through this parable, Margaret Heffernan teaches the dangers of ‘willful blindness’, which, she argues, exists all around us.

To watch this video on the TED website, click here.

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