It's called the "Flynn effect" -- the fact that each generation scores higher on an IQ test than the generation before it. Are we actually getting smarter, or just thinking differently? In this fast-paced spin through the cognitive history of the 20th century, moral philosopher James Flynn suggests that changes in the way we think have had surprising (and not always positive) consequences.
What does real scientific work look like? As neuroscientist Stuart Firestein jokes: It looks a lot less like the scientific method and a lot more like "farting around ... in the dark." In this witty talk, Firestein gets to the heart of science as it is really practiced and suggests that we should value what we don't know -- or "high-quality ignorance" -- just as much as what we know.
Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus studies memories. More precisely, she studies false memories, when people either remember things that didn't happen or remember them differently from the way they really were. It's more common than you might think, and Loftus shares some startling stories and statistics -- and raises some important ethical questions.
It often seems like federal-level politicians care more about creating gridlock than solving the world's problems. So who's actually getting bold things done? City mayors. So, political theorist Benjamin Barber suggests: Let's give them more control over global policy. Barber shows how these "urban homeboys" are solving pressing problems on their own turf -- and maybe in the world.
By 2050, it will take 100 billion land animals to provide the world's population with meat, dairy, eggs and leather goods. Maintaining this herd will take a huge, potentially unsustainable toll on the planet. What if there were a different way? In this eye-opening talk, tissue engineering advocate Andras Forgacs argues that biofabricating meat and leather is a civilized way to move past killing animals for hamburgers and handbags.
What do 24,000 ideas look like? Ecologist Eric Berlow and physicist Sean Gourley apply algorithms to the entire archive of TEDx Talks, taking us on a stimulating visual tour to show how ideas connect globally.
Honeybees have thrived for 50 million years, each colony 40 to 50,000 individuals coordinated in amazing harmony. So why, seven years ago, did colonies start dying en masse? Marla Spivak reveals four reasons which are interacting with tragic consequences. This is not simply a problem because bees pollinate a third of the world's crops. Could this incredible species be holding up a mirror for us?
Hailed as the greatest pickpocket in the world, Apollo Robbins studies the quirks of human behavior as he steals your watch. In a hilarious demonstration, Robbins samples the buffet of the TEDGlobal 2013 audience, showing how the flaws in our perception make it possible to swipe a wallet and leave it on its owner’s shoulder while they remain clueless.
How do you pick up a malicious online virus, the kind of malware that snoops on your data and taps your bank account? Often, it's through simple things you do each day without thinking twice. James Lyne reminds us that it's not only the NSA that's watching us, but ever-more-sophisticated cybercriminals, who exploit both weak code and trusting human nature.
We’ve known how to cure malaria since the 1600s, so why does the disease still kill hundreds of thousands every year? It’s more than just a problem of medicine, says journalist Sonia Shah. A look into the history of malaria reveals three big-picture challenges to its eradication. Photos: Adam Nadel.
Months after he was born, in 1948, Ron McCallum became blind. In this charming, moving talk, he shows how he reads -- and celebrates the progression of clever tools and adaptive computer technologies that make it possible. With their help, and the help of volunteers, he's become a lawyer, an academic, and, most of all, a voracious reader. Welcome to the blind reading revolution.
A third of the world watched live as the World Trade Center collapsed on September 11, 2001; a third more heard about it within 24 hours. (Do you remember where you were?) So exhibits at the soon-to-open 9/11 Memorial Museum will reflect the diversity of the world's experiences of that day. In a moving talk, designer Jake Barton gives a peek at some of those installations, as well as several other projects that aim to make the observer an active participant in the exhibit.
Wolves were once native to the US' Yellowstone National Park -- until hunting wiped them out. But when, in 1995, the wolves began to come back (thanks to an aggressive management program), something interesting happened: the rest of the park began to find a new, more healthful balance. In a bold thought experiment, George Monbiot imagines a wilder world in which humans work to restore the complex, lost natural food chains that once surrounded us.
Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.
Alexa Meade takes an innovative approach to art. Not for her a life of sketching and stretching canvases. Instead, she selects a topic and then paints it--literally. She covers everything in a scene--people, chairs, food, you name it--in a mask of paint that mimics what's below it. In this eye-opening talk Meade shows off photographs of some of the more outlandish results, and shares a new project involving people, paint and milk.
Can we edit the content of our memories? It's a sci-fi-tinged question that Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu are asking in their lab at MIT. Essentially, the pair shoot a laser beam into the brain of a living mouse to activate and manipulate its memory. In this unexpectedly amusing talk they share not only how, but -- more important -- why they do this.
In Lebanon there is one gunshot a year that isn’t part of a scene of routine violence: The opening sound of the Beirut International Marathon. In a moving talk, marathon founder May El-Khalil explains why she believed a 26.2-mile running event could bring together a country divided for decades by politics and religion, even if for one day a year.
They're millions of digits long, and it takes an army of mathematicians and machines to hunt them down -- what's not to love about monster primes? Adam Spencer, comedian and lifelong math geek, shares his passion for these odd numbers, and for the mysterious magic of math.
Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist: He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, it turns out, for something we do with one-third of our lives. In this talk, Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep, busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages -- and hints at some bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health.
Long before sustainability was a buzzword, architect Shigeru Ban was using ecologically sound building materials such as cardboard tubes. He uses them to build remarkable temporary structures for disaster-struck nations such as Haiti, Rwanda and Japan. Yet often, these buildings remain a beloved part of the landscape long after they have served their intended purpose.
Born three and a half months prematurely, Derek Paravicini is blind and has severe autism. But with perfect pitch, innate talent and a lot of practice, he became a concert pianist by the age of 10. Here, his longtime piano teacher, Adam Ockelford, explains his student's unique relationship to music, while Paravicini shows how he has ripped up the "Chopsticks" rulebook.
From simple alphabets to secret symbolic languages, graphic designer Saki Mafundikwa celebrates the many forms of written communication across the continent of Africa. He highlights the history and legacy that are embodied in written words and symbols, and urges African designers to draw on these graphic forms for fresh inspiration. It's summed up in his favorite Ghanaian glyph, Sankofa, which means "return and get it" -- or "learn from the past."
Good design looks great, yes -- but why shouldn't it also feel great, smell great and sound great? Designer Jinsop Lee (a TED Talent Search winner) shares his theory of 5-sense design, with a handy graph and a few examples. His hope: to inspire you to notice great multisensory experiences.
Why do we argue? To out-reason our opponents, prove them wrong, and, most of all, to win! Right? Philosopher Daniel H. Cohen shows how our most common form of argument -- a war in which one person must win and the other must lose -- misses out on the real benefits of engaging in active disagreement.
Frustrated by not being able to sing two notes at the same time, musical inventor Beardyman built a machine to allow him to create loops and layers from just the sounds he makes with his voice. Given that he can effortlessly conjure the sound of everything from crying babies to buzzing flies, not to mention mimic pretty much any musical instrument imaginable, that's a lot of different sounds. Sit back and let the wall of sound of this dazzling performance wash over you.
More and more, English is a global language; speaking it is perceived as a sign of being modern. But -- what do we lose when we leave behind our mother tongues? Suzanne Talhouk makes an impassioned case to love your own language, and to cherish what it can express that no other language can. In Arabic with subtitles.
During a Formula 1 race, a car sends hundreds of millions of data points to its garage for real-time analysis and feedback. So why not use this detailed and rigorous data system elsewhere, like at children's hospitals? Peter van Manen tells us more.
Showing spectacular clips from productions such as Frida, The Tempest and The Lion King, director Julie Taymor describes a life spent immersed in theater and the movies. Filmed right as controversy over her Broadway production of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was at its peak, she candidly describes the tensions inherent within her creative process, as she strives both to capture the essence of a story--and produce images and experiences unlike anything else.
To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn't know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.
As a young EMT on a Jerusalem ambulance, Eli Beer realized that, stuck in brutal urban traffic, they often arrived too late to help. So he organized a group of volunteer EMTs -- many on foot -- ready to drop everything and dash to save lives in their neighborhood. Today, United Hatzlah uses a smartphone app and a fleet of "ambucycles" to help nearby patients until an ambulance arrives. With an average response time of 3 minutes, last year, they treated 207,000 people in Israel. And the idea is going global.