About Sara

Bio

International award-winning mangaka and 2009 TED Fellowship member, Sara E. Mayhew is a Canadian writer and illustrator striving to produce manga that promotes skepticism and critical thinking. Canada's prestigious graphic arts magazine, Applied Arts, featured her in their Young Blood article on "new talent commanding our attention". Sara was awarded the Northern Arts grant in 2007 by the Ontario Arts Council. She has spoken on the TED Fellows stage at the prestigious TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference, in 2009, in Long Beach, CA, and more recently at TEDActive 2010 in Palm Springs, CA. Currently, Sara is launching her newest series, Legend of the Ztarr, which aims to introduce manga readers to skeptical and humanist values through storytelling, available in the Apple iBookstore. Her blog, There Are Four Lights, combines art and science themes, with occasional pepperings of general geekdom and cuteness.

Languages

English, French

TED Conferences

TEDActive 2015, TEDActive 2014, TEDActive 2010, TED2009

Areas of Expertise

character design, Manga, skeptisism, Storytelling

An idea worth spreading

How do we distinguish between what is true and what we simply want to be true? Why is this important? I want to explore these ideas in Sci-fi fantasy storytelling; writing books and creating manga graphic novels.

I'm passionate about

manga, storytelling, character design. I love creating worlds and the characters that live within them. I want to tell stories that promote skepticism and portray critical thinkers as role models.

I am a…

Artist, Atheist, Blogger, Designer, Writer/Editor

Talk to me about

storytelling, character design, manga, astronomy, Legend of the Ztarr, skepticism,

People don't know I'm good at

Figure skating, cooking

My TED story

TED 2009 Fellowship member! http://www.ted.com/fellows/view/id/25

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

341702
Sara Mayhew
Posted about 5 years ago
Why do you think depression is on the rise in college students today?
First, I would ask if rates of depression in college students is rising because more of them really are becoming depressed or if the rate is due to better diagnosis. Improving medical knowledge leads to people being diagnosed when the might not have been a decade or more ago. i.e., long ago, many people with depression, bi-polar, and anxiety disorders would be lumped into "schizophrenia". Similarly, rates of autism appear to climb because of better diagnosis and the recognition that it is a spectrum, while the actual prevalence of the disorder in the population has remained the same. So, are today's college students more depressed, or were more of yesteryear's college students going undiagnosed? My next guess would be that a higher percentage of the population is attending college than in the past--the higher rate could be due to a bigger sample of people and not necessarily anything to do with college.
341702
Sara Mayhew
Posted about 5 years ago
Should Governments start to measure what really matters to people - their happiness? Or should they stay out of such a private matter?
I don't like the sound of it. Wellbeing and prosperity involve more than just feeling happy. In other words, though it may not sound nice, there are more important things than being happy. Anyone who's read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World will understand the dangers of a society that places comfort and happiness as its highest priority.
341702
Sara Mayhew
Posted about 5 years ago
Can people who deny science be educated? How?
Mark, If you're investigating a claim in a manner where you're attempting to reduce bias, then you are doing science. Science is a verb. Science is critical thinking. It's really quite that simple. Wishy washy post-modernism need not apply. I thought it was pretty clear in the original question what denying science meant; relying on personal experience and preconceptions to decide what is true and lacking the ability to accept disconfirming evidence. Debating what science is and how useful it may be isn't the topic at hand. Assume science is the only method we have to obtain accurate information about the world--can you/how do you educate people who deny this approach?
341702
Sara Mayhew
Posted about 5 years ago
Can people who deny science be educated? How?
This is great topic and so important to ensuring the safety and prosperity to our scientific and technologically dependent society. What's missing in our education is learning about skepticism; the many ways in which we fall prey to self-delusion through cognitive errors. If you can show people how unreliable personal experience is and the many ways in which our minds can deceive us, then they can be less prone to "denialism". You can't reason someone out of a position which they didn't reason themselves into. It's much easier to fix ignorance than misinformation. Perhaps a start is to teach students about cognitive bias and logical fallacies using examples which they are either ignorant about or already accept as true. If they can begin to see how others are fooled by self-delusion and irrationality then it may lead to them questioning themselves as well. Does that make sense? It may be too difficult to tackle issues they are emotionally invested in, but if they can be shown how confidently self-deluded others can be they might think "If it happens to them, it can happen to me" and begin to question their own views. You might not be able to change what people think, but if you can change HOW they think, there might be hope.
341702
Sara Mayhew
Posted about 5 years ago
Can people who deny science be educated? How?
The act of using science is removing the lens of our own bias and errors in cognition. We cannot distinguish between what is true and what we want to be true without using the scientific method. Appealing to the argument that everything is subjective is simply a way to rationalize denying facts that don't agree with our preconceptions. Science never claims absolute certainty about truth, so to claim otherwise is a straw man. What science does is tell us what is unambiguously untrue. So no, we don't really have to define what denying science is. It's a derailment of the topic and only serves to justify our desire to believe in what is objectively untrue.
341702
Sara Mayhew
Posted over 5 years ago
Brian Cox: Why we need the explorers
It's not an "either/or" problem. Any lack of funding to solve Earthly problems isn't due to funds being diverted to science. Americans spend more money every year on cigarettes than they do on NASA.
341702
Sara Mayhew
Posted over 5 years ago
James Randi: Homeopathy, quackery and fraud
There is no plausible mechanism for homeopathy. The entire concept goes against basic chemistry. Positive results are due to weak studies. If you truly are open minded, you will ask yourself what evidence would it take to convince you that homeopathy doesn't work. If the answer is "nothing", then you have before you the definition of close minded.