TEDTalks Society and Culture

TEDTalks Society and Culture

United States

Thought-provoking videos about life and being human, with ideas from business leaders, psychologists and researchers speaking onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world. You can also download these and many other videos free on TED.com, with an interactive English transcript and subtitles in up to 80 languages. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.

Episodes

The urgency of intersectionality | Abby Dobson  

Now more than ever, it's important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias -- and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term "intersectionality" to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you're standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you're likely to get hit by both. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.

Can a divided America heal? | Jonathan Haidt  

How can the US recover after the negative, partisan presidential election of 2016? Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the morals that form the basis of our political choices. In conversation with TED Curator Chris Anderson, he describes the patterns of thinking and historical causes that have led to such sharp divisions in America -- and provides a vision for how the country might move forward.

Islamophobia killed my brother. Let's end the hate | Suzanne Barakat  

On February 10, 2015, Suzanne Barakat's brother Deah, her sister-in-law Yusor and Yusor's sister Razan were murdered by their neighbor in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The perpetrator's story, that he killed them over a traffic dispute, went unquestioned by the media and police until Barakat spoke out at a press conference, calling the murders what they really were: hate crimes. As she reflects on how she and her family reclaimed control of their narrative, Barakat calls on us to speak up when we witness hateful bigotry and express our allyship with those who face discrimination.

Enough with the fear of fat | Kelli Jean Drinkwater  

In a society obsessed with body image and marked by a fear of fat, Kelli Jean Drinkwater engages in radical body politics through art. She confronts the public's perception of bigger bodies by bringing them into spaces that were once off limits -- from fashion runways to the Sydney Festival -- and entices all of us to look again and rethink our biases. "Unapologetic fat bodies can blow people's minds," she says.

The unexpected challenges of a country's first election | Philippa Neave  

How do you teach an entire country how to vote when no one has done it before? It's a huge challenge facing fledgling democracies around the world -- and one of the biggest problems turns out to be a lack of shared language. After all, if you can't describe something, you probably can't understand it. In this eye-opening talk, election expert Philippa Neave shares her experiences from the front lines of democracy -- and her solution to this unique language gap.

The beauty of what we'll never know | Pico Iyer  

Almost 30 years ago, Pico Iyer took a trip to Japan, fell in love with the country and moved there. A keen observer of the human spirit, Iyer professes that he now feels he knows far less about Japan -- or, indeed, about anything -- than he thought he knew three decades ago. In this lyrical meditation on wisdom, Iyer expands on this curious insight about knowledge gained with age: that the more we know, the more we see how little we know.

What reality are you creating for yourself? | Isaac Lidsky  

Reality isn't something you perceive; it's something you create in your mind. Isaac Lidsky learned this profound lesson firsthand, when unexpected life circumstances yielded valuable insights. In this introspective, personal talk, he challenges us to let go of excuses, assumptions and fears, and accept the awesome responsibility of being the creators of our own reality.

We can fight terror without sacrificing our rights | Rebecca MacKinnon  

Can we fight terror without destroying democracy? Internet freedom activist Rebecca MacKinnon thinks that we'll lose the battle against extremism and demagoguery if we censor the internet and press. In this critical talk, she calls for a doubling-down on strong encryption and appeals to governments to better protect, not silence, the journalists and activists fighting against extremists.

Why some people are more altruistic than others | Abigail Marsh  

Why do some people do selfless things, helping other people even at risk to their own well-being? Psychology researcher Abigail Marsh studies the motivations of people who do extremely altruistic acts, like donating a kidney to a complete stranger. Are their brains just different?

Architecture that's built to heal | Michael Murphy  

Architecture is more than a clever arrangement of bricks. In this eloquent talk, Michael Murphy shows how he and his team look far beyond the blueprint when they're designing. Considering factors from airflow to light, theirs is a holistic approach that produces community as well as (beautiful) buildings. He takes us on a tour of projects in countries such as Rwanda and Haiti, and reveals a moving, ambitious plan for The Memorial to Peace and Justice, which he hopes will heal hearts in the American South.

The new American Dream | Courtney E. Martin  

For the first time in history, the majority of American parents don't think their kids will be better off than they were. This shouldn't be a cause for alarm, says journalist Courtney Martin. Rather, it's an opportunity to define a new approach to work and family that emphasizes community and creativity. "The biggest danger is not failing to achieve the American Dream," she says in a talk that will resonate far beyond the US. "The biggest danger is achieving a dream that you don't actually believe in."

Why you should talk to strangers | Kio Stark  

"When you talk to strangers, you're making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life -- and theirs," says Kio Stark. In this delightful talk, Stark explores the overlooked benefits of pushing past our default discomfort when it comes to strangers and embracing those fleeting but profoundly beautiful moments of genuine connection.

How Argentina's blind soccer team became champions | Gonzalo Vilariño  

With warmth and respect, Gonzalo Vilariño tells the captivating story of Argentina's blind soccer team -- and how a sincere belief in themselves and their capabilities transformed the players from humble beginnings into two-time World Champions. "You have to get out there and play every game in this beautiful tournament that we call life," Vilariño says.

A letter to all who have lost in this era | Anand Giridharadas  

Summer, 2016: amid populist revolts, clashing resentments and fear, writer Anand Giridharadas doesn't give a talk but reads a letter. It's from those who have won in this era of change, to those who have, or feel, lost. It confesses to ignoring pain until it became anger. It chides an idealistic yet remote elite for its behind-closed-doors world-saving and airy, self-serving futurism — for at times worrying more about sending people to Mars than helping them on Earth. And it rejects the exclusionary dogmas to which we cling, calling us instead to "dare to commit to the dream of each other."

How to grow a forest in your backyard | Shubhendu Sharma  

Forests don't have to be far-flung nature reserves, isolated from human life. Instead, we can grow them right where we are -- even in cities. Eco-entrepreneur and TED Fellow Shubhendu Sharma grows ultra-dense, biodiverse mini-forests of native species in urban areas by engineering soil, microbes and biomass to kickstart natural growth processes. Follow along as he describes how to grow a 100-year-old forest in just 10 years, and learn how you can get in on this tiny jungle party.

Why you think you're right -- even if you're wrong | Julia Galef  

Perspective is everything, especially when it comes to examining your beliefs. Are you a soldier, prone to defending your viewpoint at all costs -- or a scout, spurred by curiosity? Julia Galef examines the motivations behind these two mindsets and how they shape the way we interpret information, interweaved with a compelling history lesson from 19th-century France. When your steadfast opinions are tested, Galef asks: "What do you most yearn for? Do you yearn to defend your own beliefs or do you yearn to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?"

Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality | Brian Little  

What makes you, you? Psychologists like to talk about our traits, or defined characteristics that make us who we are. But Brian Little is more interested in moments when we transcend those traits -- sometimes because our culture demands it of us, and sometimes because we demand it of ourselves. Join Little as he dissects the surprising differences between introverts and extroverts and explains why your personality may be more malleable than you think.

A highly scientific taxonomy of haters | Negin Farsad  

TED Fellow Negin Farsad weaves comedy and social commentary to cleverly undercut stereotypes of her culture. In this uproarious talk/stand-up hybrid, Farsad speaks on her documentary, The Muslims Are Coming!, narrates her fight with the MTA in New York and offers a detailed breakdown of the different types of haters she's encountered in her work. "Comedy is one of our best weapons," she says. "We've tried a lot of approaches to social justice, like war and competitive ice dancing -- but a lot of things are still kind of awful. I think it's time we try and tell a really good poop joke."

The Chinese zodiac, explained | ShaoLan Hsueh  

A quarter of the world's population cares a lot about the Chinese zodiac. Even if you don't believe in it, you'd be wise to know how it works, says technologist and entrepreneur ShaoLan Hseuh. In this fun, informative talk, ShaoLan shares some tips for understanding the ancient tradition and describes how it's believed to influence your personality, career, marriage prospects and how you'll do in a given year. What does your sign say about you?

An entertainment icon on living a life of meaning | Eric Hirshberg  

In the 1970s (and decades following), TV producer Norman Lear touched the lives of millions with culture-altering sitcoms like All in the Family, The Jeffersons and Good Times, pushing the boundaries of the era and giving a primetime voice to underrepresented Americans. In an intimate, smart conversation with Eric Hirshberg, he shares with humility and humor how his early relationship with "the foolishness of the human condition" shaped his life and creative vision.

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