full transcript
From the Ted Talk "Karen Thompson Walker: What fear can teach us"

Unscramble the Blue Letters

And sometimes, of course, our worst esarf do come true. That's one of the things that is so extraordinary about earf. Once in a while, our fears can predict the fuertu. But we can't possibly prepare for all of the fears that our imaginations ccntoco. So how can we tell the difference between the fears worth listening to and all the others? I think the end of the story of the hwelhipsa Essex offers an ituignlnmlai, if tragic, example. After much deliberation, the men finally made a decision. Terrified of cannibals, they decided to forgo the closest islands and instead mdaeekbr on the geolnr and much more difficult route to South America. After more than two mosnht at sea, the men ran out of food as they knew they might, and they were still quite far from land. When the last of the survivors were finally picked up by two passing sihps, less than half of the men were left alive, and some of them had resorted to their own ofmr of cannibalism. Herman Melville, who used this story as research for "Moby Dick," wrote years later, and from dry land, quote, "All the sufferings of these miserable men of the Essex might in all human probability have been avoided had they, immediately after leaving the wreck, steered straight for Tahiti. But," as Melville put it, "they dreaded cannibals." So the question is, why did these men dread cannibals so much more than the extreme likelihood of starvation? Why were they swayed by one story so much more than the other? Looked at from this angle, theirs becomes a story about ngeidra. The novelist virdilma Nabokov said that the best reader has a combination of two very different temperaments, the artistic and the iciincefst. A ogod reader has an artist's passion, a willingness to get caught up in the story, but just as importantly, the readers also needs the coolness of judgment of a scientist, which acts to temper and complicate the reader's intuitive reactions to the story. As we've seen, the men of the seexs had no trouble with the artistic part. They demedra up a variety of horrifying scenarios. The problem was that they listened to the wrong story. Of all the narratives their fears wrote, they responded only to the most lurid, the most vivid, the one that was easiest for their imaginations to picture: cannibals. But perhaps if they'd been able to ared their fears more like a scientist, with more oolsnces of judgment, they would have lseidnet instead to the less violent but the more likely tale, the story of starvation, and headed for tihait, just as Melville's sad yotrnmcaem tsesuggs.

Open Cloze

And sometimes, of course, our worst _____ do come true. That's one of the things that is so extraordinary about ____. Once in a while, our fears can predict the ______. But we can't possibly prepare for all of the fears that our imaginations _______. So how can we tell the difference between the fears worth listening to and all the others? I think the end of the story of the _________ Essex offers an ____________, if tragic, example. After much deliberation, the men finally made a decision. Terrified of cannibals, they decided to forgo the closest islands and instead ________ on the ______ and much more difficult route to South America. After more than two ______ at sea, the men ran out of food as they knew they might, and they were still quite far from land. When the last of the survivors were finally picked up by two passing _____, less than half of the men were left alive, and some of them had resorted to their own ____ of cannibalism. Herman Melville, who used this story as research for "Moby Dick," wrote years later, and from dry land, quote, "All the sufferings of these miserable men of the Essex might in all human probability have been avoided had they, immediately after leaving the wreck, steered straight for Tahiti. But," as Melville put it, "they dreaded cannibals." So the question is, why did these men dread cannibals so much more than the extreme likelihood of starvation? Why were they swayed by one story so much more than the other? Looked at from this angle, theirs becomes a story about _______. The novelist ________ Nabokov said that the best reader has a combination of two very different temperaments, the artistic and the __________. A ____ reader has an artist's passion, a willingness to get caught up in the story, but just as importantly, the readers also needs the coolness of judgment of a scientist, which acts to temper and complicate the reader's intuitive reactions to the story. As we've seen, the men of the _____ had no trouble with the artistic part. They _______ up a variety of horrifying scenarios. The problem was that they listened to the wrong story. Of all the narratives their fears wrote, they responded only to the most lurid, the most vivid, the one that was easiest for their imaginations to picture: cannibals. But perhaps if they'd been able to ____ their fears more like a scientist, with more ________ of judgment, they would have ________ instead to the less violent but the more likely tale, the story of starvation, and headed for ______, just as Melville's sad __________ ________.

Solution

  1. dreamed
  2. coolness
  3. essex
  4. tahiti
  5. fear
  6. concoct
  7. fears
  8. ships
  9. commentary
  10. reading
  11. good
  12. scientific
  13. listened
  14. read
  15. illuminating
  16. whaleship
  17. longer
  18. vladimir
  19. embarked
  20. months
  21. suggests
  22. future
  23. form

Original Text

And sometimes, of course, our worst fears do come true. That's one of the things that is so extraordinary about fear. Once in a while, our fears can predict the future. But we can't possibly prepare for all of the fears that our imaginations concoct. So how can we tell the difference between the fears worth listening to and all the others? I think the end of the story of the whaleship Essex offers an illuminating, if tragic, example. After much deliberation, the men finally made a decision. Terrified of cannibals, they decided to forgo the closest islands and instead embarked on the longer and much more difficult route to South America. After more than two months at sea, the men ran out of food as they knew they might, and they were still quite far from land. When the last of the survivors were finally picked up by two passing ships, less than half of the men were left alive, and some of them had resorted to their own form of cannibalism. Herman Melville, who used this story as research for "Moby Dick," wrote years later, and from dry land, quote, "All the sufferings of these miserable men of the Essex might in all human probability have been avoided had they, immediately after leaving the wreck, steered straight for Tahiti. But," as Melville put it, "they dreaded cannibals." So the question is, why did these men dread cannibals so much more than the extreme likelihood of starvation? Why were they swayed by one story so much more than the other? Looked at from this angle, theirs becomes a story about reading. The novelist Vladimir Nabokov said that the best reader has a combination of two very different temperaments, the artistic and the scientific. A good reader has an artist's passion, a willingness to get caught up in the story, but just as importantly, the readers also needs the coolness of judgment of a scientist, which acts to temper and complicate the reader's intuitive reactions to the story. As we've seen, the men of the Essex had no trouble with the artistic part. They dreamed up a variety of horrifying scenarios. The problem was that they listened to the wrong story. Of all the narratives their fears wrote, they responded only to the most lurid, the most vivid, the one that was easiest for their imaginations to picture: cannibals. But perhaps if they'd been able to read their fears more like a scientist, with more coolness of judgment, they would have listened instead to the less violent but the more likely tale, the story of starvation, and headed for Tahiti, just as Melville's sad commentary suggests.

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
whaleship essex 4

Important Words

  1. acts
  2. alive
  3. america
  4. angle
  5. artistic
  6. avoided
  7. cannibalism
  8. cannibals
  9. caught
  10. closest
  11. combination
  12. commentary
  13. complicate
  14. concoct
  15. coolness
  16. decided
  17. decision
  18. deliberation
  19. dick
  20. difference
  21. difficult
  22. dread
  23. dreaded
  24. dreamed
  25. dry
  26. easiest
  27. embarked
  28. essex
  29. extraordinary
  30. extreme
  31. fear
  32. fears
  33. finally
  34. food
  35. forgo
  36. form
  37. future
  38. good
  39. headed
  40. herman
  41. horrifying
  42. human
  43. illuminating
  44. imaginations
  45. immediately
  46. importantly
  47. intuitive
  48. islands
  49. judgment
  50. knew
  51. land
  52. leaving
  53. left
  54. likelihood
  55. listened
  56. listening
  57. longer
  58. looked
  59. lurid
  60. melville
  61. men
  62. miserable
  63. months
  64. nabokov
  65. narratives
  66. novelist
  67. offers
  68. part
  69. passing
  70. passion
  71. picked
  72. possibly
  73. predict
  74. prepare
  75. probability
  76. problem
  77. put
  78. question
  79. quote
  80. ran
  81. reactions
  82. read
  83. reader
  84. readers
  85. reading
  86. research
  87. resorted
  88. responded
  89. route
  90. sad
  91. scenarios
  92. scientific
  93. scientist
  94. sea
  95. ships
  96. south
  97. starvation
  98. steered
  99. story
  100. straight
  101. sufferings
  102. suggests
  103. survivors
  104. swayed
  105. tahiti
  106. tale
  107. temper
  108. temperaments
  109. terrified
  110. tragic
  111. trouble
  112. true
  113. variety
  114. violent
  115. vivid
  116. vladimir
  117. whaleship
  118. willingness
  119. worst
  120. worth
  121. wreck
  122. wrong
  123. wrote
  124. years