TED Talk Challenge #30: Science can answer moral questions

TED Talk LogoI’ve been through a couple of talks in search of one that would serve as a satisfactory finale to the challenge and I think I’ve found it in Sam Harris.

For the past year or two since I began researching atheism and skepticism I’ve heard many people many times say that science can’t or shouldn’t touch on morals and for some time I’ve thought of that as complete and utter bullshit. Trying to explain why it’s bullshit on the other hand isn’t quite so easy.

Harris systematically goes through morals and how science can in fact have something to say on the matter.

I think this is one of the better talks I’ve listened to and I really hope it sparks some interesting conversations and debate. If nothing else I know I’ll be referencing it in future conversations I have.



TED Talk Challenge #29: The child-driven education

TED Talk LogoAt the end of this talk, Sugata Mitra receives a standing ovation, and boy does he fucking deserve it.

In one of my previous posts I wrote that children are natural learners. They want to learn and are usually eager to do so. Mitra has some pretty strong evidence that this is indeed the case.

Throughout the past few years he has been going into communities that don’t have internet access and often have never seen or heard of a computer before. He installs computers into locations and for the most part leaves the children to their own devices.

Sugata Mitra and the hole in the wallYou will be flabbergasted at what these children can achieve in a period of a couple of months.

With only two TED Talks left to post I’m very happy I’ve found this one. This is the reason I watch TED Talks. It is inspirational and fills me with so much hope, periodically bringing me to tears at just how wonderful this technology, and more importantly these children are.


TED Talk Challenge #28: Where good ideas come from

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Bright ideasHow are good ideas formed? Where do they come from? Where is the best place to have them?

Odds are some of this advice is pretty obvious, but it may be one of those ‘oohhh’ moments, where it’s only obvious once someone points it out to you.

From coffee houses to GPS systems and back again, Steve Johnson explains that good ideas come from connected minds.

“Chance favours the connected mind”.


TED Talk Challenge #27: Paradox of Choice

TED Talk LogoHappiness scaleThis TED Talk by Barry Schwartz is a bit of an old one, but if anything time has only made it more relevant. This is actually one I’ve seen before but it’s one of my favourites and it’s one I wanted to get in before the end of the challenge.

Schwartz explains how having an abundance of choice may in fact not be good for us, essentially paralyzing us when it comes to decision-making and ultimately making us less happy as a result.

Paradox of choiceOne thing I really love about this talk (and TED in general) is that I’ve found after learning this I’ve become much less worried about the choices I make (well, except for buying phones. Waaayyyy too many choices there). Now that I understand how having a mass of decisions to make in life can be detrimental to my happiness I find that making those decisions is much less complicated and less stressful. Hopefully it will help you in the same way.

For anyone interested, you can buy a copy of Barry’s book ‘Paradox of Choices‘ at Amazon.com.

(Typical, only four more TED Talks to go to finish the challenge and now I find the embed option. Blah!)


TED Talk Challenge #26: Don’t regret regret

TED Talk LogoAt first I wasn’t sure I was in agreement with Kathryn Schulz in this talk, and I’m still not certain I’m 100% with her, but she finishes strong in her talk about regret and I think there’s a lot people can learn from thinking more about this rather human phenomenon.

Myself, I only have a small handful on things I regret and they sit there as reminders of how I can improve in the future. I think we should try to live our lives with as little regret as possible, but as Kathryn says we shouldn’t feel like we need to beat ourselves up over them.

Those were the droids you were looking forHave things that you regret, but once you’ve learned what you need from the event, let it go.


TED Talk Challenge #25: The magnificence of spider silk

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Spider silk glands

The 'business end' of the spider.

I hope we don’t have any arachnophobes in the audience today, because this TED Talk is all about spider silk.

Did you know there is something like 40,000 different species of spider? How about the number of different types of silk, or that a single spider can produce a whole range of different silks for different purposes? All this and more in this fascinating talk by Cheryl Hayashi.


TED Talk Challenge #24: The battle between your present and future self

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CommitmentIn this talk Daniel Goldstein explains the conflict between what you want now, and what you want or need for the future.

What I really like about this talk is how he breaks down the idea of making contracts with yourself. Daniel’s example is having to write every single day, and any day he didn’t he was required to give up $5. What he has realised is that this doesn’t really work, and can in fact have detrimental effects on your self-control in the future.