Boghuma Kabisen Titanji Ethical riddles in HIV research
It’s an all too common story: after participating in an HIV clinical trial, a woman in sub-Saharan Africa is left without the resources to buy a bus ticket to her health clinic, let alone to afford life-saving antiretrovirals. Boghuma Kabisen Titanji asks an important question: how can researchers looking for a cure make sure they’re not taking advantage of those most affected by the pandemic?
Good talk. Clear points on possible social steps—I really like the idea of having to justify why have a study in a country where the participants would not be able to afford the results.
Andy Puddicombe All it takes is 10 mindful minutes
When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking? Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe describes the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. (No need for incense or sitting in uncomfortable positions.)
The lovely British accent was nice to listen to, and I enjoyed atching him juggle, but it was a little too pep talk and a little too short on ideas to make me feel like I was getting much out of it.
Ben Saunders Why bother leaving the house?
Explorer Ben Saunders wants you to go outside! Not because it’s always pleasant and happy, but because that’s where the meat of life is, “the juice that we can suck out of our hours and days.” Saunders’ next outdoor excursion? To try to be the first in the world to walk from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back again.
An interesting man. A boring and unfocused talk.
Diana Nyad Extreme swimming with the world’s most dangerous jellyfish
In the 1970s, Diana Nyad set long-distance swim records that are still unbroken. Thirty years later, at 60, she attempted her longest swim yet, from Cuba to Florida. In this funny, powerful talk at TEDMED, she talks about how to prepare mentally to achieve an extreme dream, and asks: What will YOU do with your wild, precious life?
I had to watch this one just to hear about the jellyfish. And it was totally interesting to watch—I don’t know when I have listened to someone so simultaneously charismatic AND abrasive. What I really liked though, was when she pointed out that she was standing on stage giving a speech about her failure, and how that has its own kind of guts.
Ueli Gegenschatz Ueli Gegenschatz soars in a wingsuit
Wingsuit jumping is the leading edge of extreme sports—an exhilarating feat of almost unbelievable daring, where skydivers soar through canyons at over 100MPH. Ueli Gegenschatz talks about how (and why) he does it, and shows jawdropping film.
I want a wing suit. That is all.
Molly Crockett Beware neuro-bunk
Brains are ubiquitous in modern marketing: Headlines proclaim cheese sandwiches help with decision-making, while a “neuro” drink claims to reduce stress. There’s just one problem, says neuroscientist Molly Crockett: The benefits of these “neuro-enhancements” are not proven scientifically. In this to-the-point talk, Crockett explains the limits of interpreting neuroscientific data, and why we should all be aware of them.
Mmmm. Cheese sandwiches. Solves all of my problems.
Dan Gilbert Why we make bad decisions
Dan Gilbert presents research and data from his exploration of happiness—sharing some surprising tests and experiments that you can also try on yourself. Watch through to the end for a sparkling Q&A with some familiar TED faces.
Karen Thompson Walker What fear can teach us
Imagine you’re a shipwrecked sailor adrift in the enormous Pacific. You can choose one of three directions and save yourself and your shipmates—but each choice comes with a fearful consequence too. How do you choose? In telling the story of the whaleship Essex, novelist Karen Thompson Walker shows how fear propels imagination, as it forces us to imagine the possible futures and how to cope with them.
I enjoyed listening to her, even though I found her topic a bit boring… Maybe, though, it was just because it’s “in my field”—fear as narrative is probably an interesting new insight to someone else, much as I am like “Whoah, sterile mosquitos!” about disease prevention.
Haydn Parry Re-engineering mosquitos to fight disease
In a single year, there are 200-300 million cases of malaria and 50-100 million cases of dengue fever worldwide. So: Why haven’t we found a way to effectively kill mosquitos yet? Hadyn Parry presents a fascinating solution: genetically engineering male mosquitos to make them sterile, and releasing the insects into the wild, to cut down on disease-carrying species.
Hate mosquitos. Hate’em, hate’em, hate’em. Yay science. I’m usually a bit GMO leery, but screw that. Hate mosquitos.
(In seriousness, though, I think he does a fairly good job of explaining WHY the GMO is better than other options. Plus, one of the big GMO fears is introducing new organisms into the environment and then losing control of them, but since this is specifically a case of introducing sterile organisms, that seems much less of a possible unintended threat.)
Jonathan Haidt How common threats can make common (political) ground
If an asteroid were headed for Earth, we’d all band together and figure out how to stop it, just like in the movies, right? And yet, when faced with major, data-supported, end-of-the-world problems in real life, too often we retreat into partisan shouting and stalemate. Jonathan Haidt shows us a few of the very real asteroids headed our way—some pet causes of the left wing, some of the right—and suggests how both wings could work together productively to benefit humanity as a whole.
Meh. The catchphrase “common threats create common ground” was pretty good in context, but you only need to glance at the Internet comments at the bottom of the topic to remember how little hope we have for common ground and civil discourse.