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TED Talks Thursdays

"Ideas worth spreading" is the motto of TED Talks, an ongoing series of brief but riveting videos from experts around the globe.
 
Given that the spread of worthy ideas is so much more to be desired than the viral spread we are currently facing, take some time off your worries to think about our situation in a different way.
 
All of these ideas are curated and brought to you by Uma Hiremath!
 
 
TED Talks Thursdays, February 25, 2021

If your Valentine's Day in 2021 was not all that you expected, your heart could actually take on the shape of a tako-tsubo. Huh? A tako-tsubo is a traditional narrow-necked, round-bottomed jar for trapping octopuses in Japan. It is also the unmistakable shape of a broken heart! Or what is more prosaically called "takotsubo cardiomyopathy."
 
In this riveting 16-minute TED presentation, cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar skillfully braids scientific data with historical metaphors and real life examples to demonstrate "How Your Emotions Change the Shape of Your Heart." Age-old symbols of the heart as the metaphorical crux of humanity is justified, even though science has proven it is not the source of emotions. The physical heart, as he describes it, is directly impacted by human emotions in mysterious but unambiguous ways. 
 
While descriptive, the talk is also powerfully prescriptive. Scientific medicine, he argues, has peaked in bringing down heart-related mortality. The sluggishness in accepting the reduction of emotional stress to be as potent a modifier of heart disease as cholesterol, needs to be explored and addressed.



TED Talks Thursdays, February 11, 2021

Fear. It is quite the dominant emotion these days. In less than 13 minutes, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks modulates a way on "How We Can Face the Future Without Fear, Together." 
 
One expects the comfort of truisms from religious leaders. Instead, we are treated to the workings of an elegant and searching intellect. With prose that flows like poetry, Sacks distills a range of ideas drawn from biology, anthropology, political philosophy and social communication to both acknowledge the challenges of a rapidly changing world and ways to gird it.
 
Poignantly, the 2017 TED talk is the last we can hear from this thinker; Rabbi Sacks died last November. After hearing this talk, I had looked forward to spending more time with him.



TED Talks Thursdays, February 4, 2021

"I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars," wrote the poet Walt Whitman, capturing the profound connectivity of all things. 
 
Bryan Stevenson, NYU law professor, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of the memoir Just Mercy that was turned into a film, aims to capture the connectivities that make up the criminal justice system. With over 2.3 million people in prison and another 7 million on probation and parole, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, a statistic that begs to be understood.
 
In this intricately crafted 22-minute TED talk, Stevenson weaves together large ideas on the politics of punishment, the power of identity, human dignity and justice with engaging links to personal stories and anecdotes as well as pronouncements on how "all of our survival is dependent on the survival of everyone."  "We Need to Talk About an Injustice" is Stevenson's bracing call to "care about difficult things."
 
 

TED Talks Thursdays, January 21, 2021

As the 46th President of the United States takes office, it seems timely to hear that sagacious and most captivating of presidential historians, Doris Kearns Goodwin.
 
In 18 minutes of assured storytelling, this Pulitzer prize-winner reflects on a life of satisfaction gained by balancing work, love and play. Using historical anecdotes from the lives of Presidents Lincoln and Johnson, psychological insights from her professor Erik Erikson, and personal stories involving her baseball-loving father, "Lessons From Past Presidentsbears Goodwin's unique ability to transmute past history into present relevance.
 
As she concludes in this TED talk, she is grateful for her curious lifelong love of history since it allows her "to learn from these large figures about the struggle for meaning for life." And we, in turn, can be grateful for the storytelling powers of Doris Kearns Goodwin!



TED Talks Thursdays, January 7, 2021

2021 - a new year with old challenges. As the global pandemic continues, it demands our continued resilience.

In less than 16 minutes, Dr. Lucy Hone shares a timely and particularly resonant TEDx talk on the "3 Secrets of Resilient People." The "secrets" are a distillation of both science and experience, aimed at mentally preparing for the vagaries of human existence as well as providing tools for those actively grieving.
 
As a long-time scholar of applied positive psychology, Dr. Hone's insights have been wrung through the unthinkable tragedy of losing her 12 year-old daughter in a car crash. The strategies she shares are hard-won.



TED Talks Thursdays, December 25, 2020

In an absolutely riveting presentation, David Christian spans 13.8 billion years of cosmic existence in "The History of our World in 18 Minutes." 
 
Using an ultra-wide angle lens that spins out of the Big Bang, Christian adds the clarifying constructs of eight threshold moments experiencing just the right "Goldilocks conditions" to attain higher degrees of complexity. This rapid romp through billions of years is bolstered by brilliant illustrations to help capture some of the immensities.
 
Our own hominid emergence as "huge complexes of chemistry" begin with the fifth discernible threshold and have carried us up to the eighth one in which a "single global brain learning at warp speed" is providing great opportunities inextricably married to great fragilities.
 
This 18-minute taste of big history is exhilarating, frightening, hopeful; an apt way to notch yet another new year in the timeline of human history.



TED Talks Thursdays, December 17, 2020

One-sixth of the population in America are 65-and-older but account for 40% of hospital stays. That makes sense. Between the ages of 60 and 70 years, our bodies' regenerative powers begin to slow down. Yet, every hospital has a pediatric wing staffed with pediatricians and an adult wing staffed with internists, while a hospital with a geriatric wing staffed with geriatricians is an anomaly. Instead, we set up nursing homes. 
 
In a recent 17-minute TEDMED talk, bestselling author and award-winning educator Dr. Louise Aronson provides a warm, empathetic, risible and thought-provoking analysis on "Embracing elderhood as a stage of life." Instead of conceptually moving from childhood to adulthood to death, the good doctor proposes the addition of a "third major stage -  elderhood."
 
Treating a 65 year-old differently from an 85 year-old and a 105 year-old just makes sense. With an average age span that has increased by 30 years since 1900,  we spend more years in elderhood than we ever did in childhood. Yet the culture is suffused at every level with "barriers rather than scaffolds" for this stage of life. Medical schools devote just a few weeks to geriatric study; the vaccine sub-culture is tasked with just one vaccine for 65 years and older; social architecture such as open spaces plan playgrounds but are rarely charged with equivalent spaces for elders. In short, the scope for opportunity and equity, a basic need for humans at every stage of life,  is largely ignored. Rethinking life stages to incorporate a third "elderhood" stage is a simple yet profound innovation, with the capacity to set a snowballing effect on American society as a whole.



TED Talks Thursdays, December 10, 2020

Mental shortcuts. We use them all the time as heuristic devices to navigate a complex multilayered world. It works. It helps us make constant decisions, big and small. We adopt those shortcuts to steer through the day and through life itself. But what if our reliance on shortcuts reflexively deepen biases at the cost of eroding our innate humanity? 
 
In this 14-minute exchange between two moms, one a staunch Republican and the other an equally staunch Democrat, we get to listen in on an honest and rather engaging conversation. Caitlin Quattromani and Lauran Arledge choose to make a commitment to each other in "How Our Friendship Survives our Opposing Politics."  The deceptively simple deconstruction of their mutual efforts to forgo political shortcuts and consciously pursue "the possibility that lives in dialogue" makes for easy listening, but asks a lot from us.

TED Talks Thursdays, December 4, 2020
 
Worst. Year. Ever.
 
Aren’t we living through it? Curiously, that was a record claimed both at the end of 2016 followed by 2017. In this 18-minute talk, author and professor of cognitive science, Steven Pinker, presents a response to the question, "Is The World Getting Better or Worse."
 
Better, argues Pinker; even though "news capitalizes on our morbid interest in what can go wrong... if you combine our cognitive biases with the nature of news, you can see why the world has been coming to an end for a very long time..." Even if you disagree with the data he presents, as many have done, his arguments make for robust discussion. Even if you find his fealty to Enlightenment norms specious, as many have done, the artistry of his rhetoric is compelling.
 
Named as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People, an invited speaker at global forums such as the Davos World Economic Forum, and popular contributor to TED talks, Steven Pinker has an amplified voice in ongoing discussions on the human trajectory.

TED Talks Thursdays, November 12, 2020

It was that most rigorous of scientists, Albert Einstein, who once said that "the most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science."
 
In the underwater world of Jason deCaires Taylor we drift into an 11-minute mysterious experience that is both art and science, as we witness the sui generis transformation of grey concrete sculptures into vibrantly hued living habitats.
 
Taylor creates underwater sculptures with durable pH neutral cement that is pitted and textured to encourage the growth of corals and other marine life. Art and science merge to create a fantastical underwater city, teeming with fish and crustaceans and sponges and algae as the sculptures magically morph over time. While the aesthetic effect is unreal, the environmental impact is very real. The underwater museums he is creating around the world powerfully argue against the wilful destruction of marine ecologies.


TED Talks Thursdays, November 5, 2020

The average American reportedly makes about 70 big and small decisions in the course of an average day - oatmeal or toast; red sweater or blue coat; quit or stay; Trump or Biden. 

This week, we chose a President. The choice required each of us to go through a complex process of thought, emotion and interaction. It seems timely, then, to deconstruct that process. How better than to have a choice, on viewing choice, as offered prismatically by three TED experts.

Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce – 2004 – 17 minutes

Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell elegantly combines stories and research on the making of simple spaghetti sauce. In doing so, he explores the complex diversity of humans that require a mirroring diversity in choice. In this talk, the very nature of happiness can be seen as a function of being able to access multiple choices.

The Paradox of Choice  - 2005 – 19 minutes

We now turn to psychologist Barry Schwartz who argues that far from making us happy, an overabundance of choice raises a spiral of  internal expectations that, by definition, can never fully satisfy. "What if we had chosen something else; would that have been a better choice" is an internal drumbeat with the potential to leave us either paralyzed or unhappy or both. Sigh.

How to Make Choosing Easier – 2011 – 16 minutes

Our third choice in the matter of choosing, comes from the clear vision of blind author and business professor at Columbia University, Sheena Iyengar. While both the attractions of choice and its paralyzing effects are acknowledged, Professor Iyengar offers business research that demonstrates the art of making choices more accessible for overloaded consumers. Like Goldilocks, we need an array of choices that are "just right."



TED Talks Thursdays, October 29, 2020

"Afterwards people asked, 'How could you not know? What kind of a mother were you?' I still ask myself those same questions."

In a searingly painful talk, Sue Klebold explores the tenebrous connection between violence and mental health issues. It was her son, nurtured in a pacifist family with a history of community philanthropy, who was one of the Columbine High School killers of 1999.
 
Twenty years later, a Pew Research Center survey has found seven in ten teens believe anxiety and depression to be the most significant problem among their peers. As parents and caretakers of the next generation, we are all achingly aware those numbers will be rising in this upended pandemic world.
 
Being proactive in recognizing mental health issues and committing to combat its effects with early intervention is the most important takeaway from this compelling TEDMED talk.


TED Talks Thursdays, October 22, 2020

In this week’s news, Anne Bakjian of Georgia reportedly spent two weeks in hospital battling COVID-19. She recovered, but has yet to recover from the $48,000 invoice that Medicaid did not cover. Physician, heal thyself!

The medical structure is out of kilter. In 19 minutes, well-known Boston surgeon Atul Gawande, brings a singular perspective on “How Do We Heal Medicine?”

The clinicians of today are equipped to deal with an extraordinary breadth of treatments, unknown in pre-penicillin times. 4,000 medical tests and surgeries as well as 6,000 prescription drugs have replaced the ubiquitous all-purpose aspirin. Yet, Dr. Gawande argues, there is “little sense that it consistently all comes together in a successful way” for the patient.

A more coherent system is suggested with the analogy of "pit crews" replacing traditional "cowboy" approaches to healthcare. Author of four best-selling books, including The Checklist Manifesto, his study on the importance of medical checklists also figures in this densely argued talk.


TED Talks Thursdays, October 15, 2020

When humans began practising physical hygiene a hundred years ago, life expectancy rose dramatically.  In this 17-minute TEDx talk, psychologist Guy Winch urges us to follow through on "emotional hygiene" as well.
 
Loneliness, failure, helplessness, negative ruminations are common to all humans. Stepping back to consciously take one's emotional pulse is less common. A lopsided prioritization of physical over psychological health can be counterproductive. 
 
With a canny mix of stories and science and exhortation, Dr. Winch cogently argues "Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid." As we spin around in a pandemic whirlpool, the need to both recognize and heal from non-diagnosed spinoff conditions seems fitting.



TED Talks Thursdays, October 8, 2020

While Siddhartha evolved into Buddha after years of solitary wandering and Jesus advanced while roaming through the wilderness of the Judaean desert, author Susan Cain wonders why introversion gets a bad rap in our modern century. Productivity, creativity and leadership are now frequently believed to be a direct function of gregariousness and extroversion. The 20th century, with its move away from intimate smaller communities to large anonymous urban settings, ushered in the culture of personality and personal salesmanship.
 
With a skillful mix of storytelling, history, and psychological insights, ideas on introversion, quietude, and solitude are given a persuasive vote of confidence in less than 20 minutes.  We are wished "the courage to speak softly." Following the cacophony of the first presidential debate of 2020, this palliative argument on "The Power of Introverts" strikes a resonant chord.


TED Talks Thursdays, September 30, 2020

Lies. What does that word evoke in you? Something negative, to be avoided, to be feared, reprehensible; in short, a moral judgement.
 
In this intriguing 19-minute TED talk, author Pamela Meyer approaches lying more behaviorally, as an age-old and integral part of human interaction. The first half of the talk sets out how we are all liars. Even babies quickly learn to fake-cry to achieve their ends. Koko, the gorilla who learned sign language, pinned the blame for a sink ripped out of the wall on his tiny pet kitten. Lies are a complexly sanctioned part of communication. 
 
Spotting them in a world that is increasingly "post-truth" is a trained responsibility. The second half, on "How To Spot A Liar" is probably what has attracted over 18 million viewers and catapulted this 2011 talk as one of the 15 most popular TED talks of all time. Liespotting is not easy, but it is possible. Oversharing via social media is not equivalent to honesty. However, being more explicit about our chosen moral codes is a definitive way to signal against a culture of lying and collaborating in a lie.


TED Talks Thursdays, September 24, 2020

As the pandemic inexorably moves toward claiming one million lives around the world, Michael Murphy's transformative ideas on "Architecture That's Built to Heal" and Amanda Sturgeon's stunning imagery highlighting the use of "Biophilic Design to Heal Body, Mind, and Soul" seem particularly soothing. Yes, we are sickening; but perhaps there are ways we can move forward to heal ourselves in concrete (or less "concrete"!) ways.
 
In less than 16 minutes, Murphy, who is founder and director of Boston's acclaimed MASS Design Group, presents his central theme of holistically connecting any architectural undertaking to the needs, desires and hopes of the local community. His tour of building projects from hospitals in Haiti and Malawi to the powerful memorial in Alabama that honors more than 4,000 lynchings, testify to his goal of creating community-centric structures.

In 14 minutes, award-winning architect Amanda Sturgeon provides lovely juxtapositioned examples of architecture that connect humans to nature. The images are supported by studies that corroborate what we always knew - having a window office is so much more pleasant than a cubicle! "Biophilic" translates to love of life and holding that principle as the central tenet of any building blueprint leads to the creation of spaces that can make people happier, healthier and more productive. In this talk, the images were worth more than the proverbial thousand words.



TED Talks Thursdays, September 17, 2020

Where is home? It could be that white picket-fenced cottage or that old timber-framed family house or that cosy apartment rental. 
It could also be "where you become yourself." 
 
In this age of global movement that has led to the snowballing of over 220 million diasporic humans, acclaimed writer Pico Iyer provides an elegiac 12-minute essay on the floating concept of home.
 
With the same fluidity that marks his written work, Iyer weaves his meditation on how "home has really less to do with a piece of soil than...with a piece of soul," linking it to the lure of travel and the wisdom of stillness. There is much poetry to be found in his prose; just as there is much personal philosophy to be found in political concepts of identity and nationhood.
 


TED Talks Thursdays, September 10, 2020

Be warned. This is not your typical TED Talk. In fact, there is very little talk. Instead, one's ears, eyes and senses are besieged by the sight and sounds of a single human throat able to produce a galaxy of musical impersonations.

In 12 minutes, Tom Thum beatboxes his way through the ages and through very different musical cultures. Aptly titled "The Orchestra in my Mouth," the range of vocal percussion mimicking musical instruments, sound effects and voices, could well be a symphony orchestra.
 
Entertaining? Oh yes. But it also releases a slow burn of hope and marvel in the ingenuity of humans to create in endlessly idiosyncratic ways that are timeless and universal.

TED Talks Thursdays, September 3, 2020

We are intimate with the face in the mirror. We assume we are the norm. And then the larger world muscles in to show us the many ways we are not.
 
Gender, color, ethnicity, baldness, religion, height, weight, age, politics, lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The range of indices used by humans to separate "us" from "them" is as dizzying and infinite as identity itself.
 
Maysoon Zayid's TED talk opens with her most obvious "otherness" - cerebral palsy. "I shake all the time," she says at the start of "I Got 99 Problems...Palsy is Just One," a 14-minute searing and endearing dive into the many identity challenges she has faced.
 



TED Talks Thursdays, August 27, 2020
 
This is one of those memorable fishy tales! It ostensibly tells the story of world famous chef, Dan Barber, and his quest for the perfect fish to add to his menus. 
 
In truth, the fish-story is masterfully filleted to present a complex thesis of agricultural sustainability. It might need more than a single viewing to truly absorb every flavor that is produced.
 
In about 19 minutes of storytelling, 'How I Fell In Love With A Fish', chronicles a journey into Vita La Palma, Spain in 2010. There, Chef Barber finds a farmer who understands the importance of relationships so that fish, birds and wetlands network to produce a self-renewing oasis that is ecologically restorative and a promising template for future farming.
 
TED Talks Thursdays, August 20, 2020

Witnessing the goodness and ingenuity of people makes you see the world as a more hopeful place. In less than 10 minutes, Dr. Franz Freudenthal gave me that boost in his 2016 TED talk, "A New Way to Heal Hearts Without Surgery.". 
 
As a pediatric cardiologist, he combined his medical skills with the indigenous Bolivian culture he witnessed growing up. Ancient loom weaving techniques were used to create occluders, self-expanding alloy devices that were able to successfully block holes in the hearts of infants without the need for invasive surgery!
 
A scene showing one of Bolivia's traditional craft knitters entering a sleek modern facility where she will presumably knit these life-saving devices is inspirational. The sincerity of Dr. Freudenthal's presentation is only matched by the success of his device that has reportedly cured over 50,000 children worldwide.
 

TED Talks Thursdays, August 13, 2020

Schadenfreude is one of those German portmanteau words that combines harm with joy. It is defined as the unique pleasure derived from another's misfortune. Cyberbullying personifies that twisted pleasure.
 
In this 22-minute TED talk on "The Price of Shame," Monica Lewinsky provides a fervent argument against cyber-bullying and the growing "culture of humiliation" as a function of "technologically amplified shaming" leading to "shame as an industry."
 
Given that 58% of American teens claim to have been bullied online, her call to recognize the cruelty of digital stockades and develop compassionate alternatives to schadenfreude could be leveraged into timely discussions.

TED Talks Thursdays, August 6, 2020

"If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled" says the Tao. In this light but thoughtful 13-minute TED talk, Joseph Gordon-Levitt meditates on how big business has structured social media so that we are addicted to looking to others for fulfillment. The bittersweet charms of "being liked" or getting a thumbs up emoji on social media are here to stay; usage has rocketed from just about 5% in 2005 to 72% in the most recent 2019 Pew survey.
 
Gordon-Levitt should know; this 39-year old actor, filmmaker and founder of an online community  has been getting our attention since he began his acting career at the age of 4. In his musings on social media as an addiction for more and more attention, he gently slips in the idea that paying attention could lead to a more creative life than getting attention.
 

TED Talks Thursdays, July 30, 2020

Over two years ago, Harvard psychologist and author, Susan David, delivered a popular TED talk on "the gift and power of emotional courage." Her book, Emotional Agility,  went on to be a bestseller. 

In these ongoing COVID times, when the Jekyll of staying positive is in continuous battle with the Hyde of rising sickness and death, her talk is timely! 

The goal of avoiding the "tyranny of positivity" and having constant "secret silent correspondence" with oneself to accept that "discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life" is unabashedly motivational. For me though, the unexpected attraction was in the lyrical ways she merged personal storytelling with professional analyses.

TED Talks Thursdays, July 23, 2020

One of the pleasures of TED talks is their ability to tickle your brain into investing in unexpected recesses of the larger world around you. You might, for example, have zero interest in the subject of city flags. Or that there exists a tongue-rolling word like vexillology, the study of flags. And yet....!
 
And yet within the space of 18 minutes, radio producer Roman Mars charmingly tempts you into perhaps checking out Easton's flag and then moving farther into the principles of effective design and their subterranean value in our everyday lives. 
 
Be prepared for some gentle seduction in "Why city flags may be the worst designed thing you never noticed"!
 

TED Talks Thursdays, July 16, 2020

"The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete."

In her typically clear-eyed, wry, and hard-hitting style, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks of "The Danger of the Single Story."

Using personal anecdotes to illustrate larger truths, this 18-minute talk is a bracingly restorative reminder to consciously look for the many stories that make each of us human.


TED Talks Thursdays, July 9, 2020

With most of the world trying to work in not-quite-normal situations, Shawn Achor's popular 12-minute pep talk on '"The Happy Secret to Better Work" might just hit the spot.
 
He prods one to revisit the chicken-or-egg question on whether productivity sparks happiness or the other way around. And he is rapid-fire funny!

TED Talks Thursdays, July 2, 2020

This 17 minute talk is not for the faint of heart and great for those who trust in unvarnished truths! When 22-year old aspiring war correspondent Suleika Jaouad graduated from Princeton to take on the world, her life path changed abruptly with a crippling diagnosis of leukemia.
 
In this tightly constructed rumination on "what almost dying taught me about living,Suleika unsparingly excavates the truth of finding ways to move forward in that "in-between place." As she reminds us, health is not binary and all of us will travel back and forth between the porous walls of being sick and well. Ouch.
 
 
TED Talks Thursdays, June 25, 2020

Cave drawings testify to art as one of the earliest forms of communication and the recording of human history. With the evolution of language scripts, most of us have forgotten our innate fluency in "the language of pictures."

In less than 13 minutes, artist, author and animator Christoph Neumann reminds us of our skill in making "radical leaps with images". For those who have enjoyed Christoph's New Yorker magazine covers, his mastery in unearthing our shared experiences with whimsy, wit and empathic minimalism are in full display!
 

TED Talks Thursdays, June 18, 2020

 In 2008, I was forever hooked on TED Talks after listening to this old-but-gold classic. Watch neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor study her own brain as it suffers a massive stroke and shuts her body functions one by one. 
 
In just 18 minutes, "My Stroke of Insight" provides that rare example of intellect and experience merging in perfect articulation.
 

TED Talks Thursdays, June 11, 2020
 
Call me biased; but when you hear books being called a "magic portal," the lure to share is quite irresistible!
 
In this 6-minute love letter to the art of reading, Dr. Lisa Bu charmingly describes "How Books Can Open Your Mind."
 
Her novel approach to comparative reading makes one want to discover "books in pairs" that uniquely connect past and present, East and West, highbrow and lowbrow.

TED Talks Thursdays, June 4, 2020

O tempora, o mores! 8 minutes and 46 seconds is the time it took for the killing of George Floyd. It has been followed by long days of anger, fear, frustration and desperation around the country.
 
In a prescient 12 minute TED talk given over a year ago, Phillip Atiba Goff provides a cogent argument for defining racism as behaviors rather than feelings. Behaviors can be measured; maybe controlled? Therein lies the appeal of this widely circulated talk.
 

TED Talks Thursdays, May 28, 2020

In these pandemic times where our routines and beliefs have been dramatically upended, we are more attuned to see threat and opportunity in all aspects of life. It seems timely, then, to hear Dr. Ruairi Robertson's 2015 talk on gut biomes as an opportunity to boost personal immunity.

"Food  for Thought: How your Belly Controls your Brain" is an engaging account of how our "incidental war on gut bacteria has encouraged global diseases" and how we should be "restoring the relationship between microbes and man." Fascinating!


TED Talks Thursdays, May 21, 2020
 
Sir Ken Robinson's 2006 viral talk "Do Schools Kill Creativity" has been viewed over 60 million times, more than any other in TED talk history!
 
He returns in 2010 for yet another thoughtful deliberation, "Bring On the Learning Revolution," delivered in his inimitable and endearingly witty style. 
 
You may or may not agree with him; but you cannot help fall headlong into his charm and depth of thinking on life as an organic process unsuited to linear learning.   
 

TED Talks Thursdays, May 14, 2020

You are stuck in the house. You have a smart phone. You make a movie in the course of one night that is watched by over 10 million people! Welcome to the next generation.

In this 15-minute talk, online sensation Zach King tells us how "The Storyteller in All of Us" can, and should, be instantly gratified.
 
The 6-second "magic" video that he demonstrates in the talk can be seen on his YouTube channel.
 

TED Talks Thursdays, May 7, 2020

"We live in a vulnerable world," said Professor Brené Brown back in the BC era (before corona).
 
It seems timely, then, to once again view this intimate, wise and droll 20-minute talk on "The Power of Vulnerability" from someone who does not believe that "cussing and praying are mutually exclusive."
 

TED Talks Thursdays, April 30, 2020

Poetry matters. Or does it? You be the judge.

With infectious vitality and heartwarming sincerity, spoken-word poet Sarah Kay recites two of her poems in a 2011 TED talk that has since gone viral.
 
It seems only fitting to conclude National Poetry Month during a pandemic, with this 18 minute presentation by a poet who believes that "people find poetry when they need to."
 

TED Talks Thursdays, April 23, 2020

Us. How did we become us? How do people see us? How do all those thoughts churning in our heads and those emotions surging in our bodies get communicated to people?
 
Speech and body language, say this week's TED speakers.
 
In less than 10 minutes, author and expert Julian Treasure lists the seven deadly sins of speaking and provides tools to "Speak so that people want to listen."
 
At 21 minutes, in a much-debated talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy provides a different set of tools on how "Your body language may shape who you are."
 
Most seductive of all, their talks suggest that each one of us has the ability to communicate more effectively. Now that's an idea worth checking out!
 

TED Talks Thursdays, April 16, 2020

Procrastination is one of those internal human dramas that create emotional whirlpools ranging from anxiety and self-flagellation to creative bursts of sudden productivity. We have all procrastinated at some point in our lives or, worse, had to deal with congenital procrastinators.
 
In less than 14 irreverent and insightful minutes, popular blogger Tim Urban introduces us to the Instant Gratification Monkey who helps us understand "what goes on in the head of a procrastinator". 
 
You could watch it now. Or maybe later?
 

TED Talks Thursdays, April 9, 2020

Happiness. Philosophers from Aristotle to the Dalai Lama have tried to define it. Million dollar industries have sprung up to deliver it. Poems, songs and fables have been devoted to it. The mountain kingdom of Bhutan has codified an entire index of Gross Domestic Happiness to measure it. 
As with the concepts of "Fear" and "Hope" that we saw in the last two TED choices, "Happiness" is another central tenet of the human condition.We know it when we feel it. We want to know it better. We continue on an unending quest to figure it.
 
Here to help us is Harvard psychologist, Dan Gilbert. In this 21 minute video from 2004, Gilbert argues "The Surprising Science of Happiness" in a presentation that is equal parts scientific, funny and thought-provoking.
 
 
TED Talks Thursdays, April 2, 2020
 
It was Maya Angelou who said "Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay." We gave space to "Fear" at last Thursday's TED presentation. This week we shall invite "Hope" to stay.
 
In this 15 minute video from 2018, check out MIT Professor Hugh Herr. He lost both his legs in a mountain climbing accident in 1982 but strongly held on to the hope that "a human can never be broken."
 
As you can see, far from being broken, Professor Herr extends human potential to unimaginable limits!
 

TED Talks Thursdays, March 26, 2020
 
In the first 8 1/2 minute video from 2015, Bill Gates proposes the need to establish a global health system that can simulate "germ games" instead of "war games," while cautioning that "time is not on our side." Truer words were never spoken!
 
In the second 11 1/2 minute video from 2012, author Karen Thompson Walker argues how fear, (yes, the stuff we are all feeling right now!) can be seen as "unintentional storytelling" and a way to make decisions.
 
Both videos can be viewed within 30 minutes and make for hours of thoughtful discussions - so go ahead and give it a try. 
 
See you next Thursday with a new set of mind-revving ideas worth spreading.