The most watched and most highly-rated TED talks at the moment

Recently the list of most watched TED talks appeared in TED blog.  Very helpful to make sure you didn’t miss anything:

  1. Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity (2006): 8,660,010 views
  2. Jill Bolte Taylor‘s stroke of insight (2008): 8,087,935 views
  3. Pranav Mistry on the thrilling potential of SixthSense (2009): 6,747,410 views
  4. Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense (2009): 6,731,153 views
  5. David Gallo‘s underwater astonishments (2007): 6,411,705 views
  6. Tony Robbins asks Why we do what we do (2006): 4,909,505 views
  7. Hans Rosling shows the best stats you’ve ever seen (2006): 3,954,776 views
  8. Arthur Benjamin does mathemagic (2005): 3,664,705 views
  9. Jeff Han demos his breakthrough multi-touchscreen (2006): 3,592,795 views
  10. Johnny Lee shows Wii Remote hacks for educators (2008): 3,225,864 views
  11. Blaise Aguera y Arcas runs through the Photosynth demo (2007): 3,007,440 views
  12. Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing your genius (2009): 2,978,288 views
  13. Dan Gilbert asks: Why are we happy? (2004): 2,903,993 views
  14. Stephen Hawking asks big questions about the universe (2008): 2,629,230 views
  15. Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation (2009): 2,616,363 views
  16. Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice (2005): 2,263,065 views
  17. Richard St. John shares 8 secrets of success (2005): 2,252,911 views
  18. Mary Roach on the 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm (2009): 2,223,822 views
  19. Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action (2010): 2,187,868 views
  20. Chimamanda Adichie shares the danger of a single story (2009): 2,143,763 views

But I decided to take it one step further and create a list of the most highly-rated TED talks.
Which is not hard to do using their Youtube channel statistics. So, here it is. The list of most highly-rated TED talks:

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Geniuses, savants and gifted children

For a long time I wanted to write about savants, people whose intellectual capacities significantly exceed what we consider to be normal. Usually, they have one or two fields where they really shine, but more often than not other abilities, usually social skills are sacrificed. You all remember Rain Man, right?

For example, Matt Savage learned to play piano at the age of 7, gave his first concert at 9 and recorded his album later on. You see him playing here:

 

What I find interesting and amusing about these people is how vividly they show the the real width of our own abilities and how inefficiently we use our own brain. Of course, personal traits, genetics and sometimes even injuries all play role here. But still all these amazing abilities are somewhere in our heads… And I like to believe that we can find a key to unlock them.

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How to win any negotiation: summary of “Getting to Yes” by William Ury

I listened to Getting to Yes by William Ury who is probably the most recognized negotiations expert few months ago.

If you never heard about William Ury, short TED talk might be the best way to get to know about his impressive career:

And here are the notes that I wrote down while reading it. Probably they will be of some use for you as well:

1. Always set a goal of negotiation form the very beginning: “You want to sell at the higher price and I want to buy at the lower price. Let’s find the fair price that can both agree upon.”
2. Always try to understand interests behind a position. How did you arrive at that price? Why do you consider it just?
3. Always repeat the position of another side: “Correct me if I’m wrong. Do I understand correctly that you consider this price to be just because…”
4. Always set a principle, external standard to judge the agreement. E.g. fair solution.
5. Separate a person from a problem. “We are very grateful for everything you did for us but it’s very important for us to arrive at the fair solution.”
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Heart-to-heart talk: how to be happy – scientific and religious point of view

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to always tell the difference”
Reinhold Niebuhr, Kurt Vonnegut

Cyprus, 2008.

I’ve been thinking about covering this topic in my blog for a long time and eventually decided to do it. Firstly to structure it all for myself and secondly to share some thoughts and interesting articles & videos which I collected for last couple of years. As a result, this post is quite long and wordy, so don’t open up the full article if you’re not really interested in such kind of philosophical issues and get bored easily by them. In this case you might think that this is just an unpractical gobbledegook.

I actually find the combination of how important and how ambiguous this issue is quite puzzling. Very high percentage of people respond to the question about meaning of their lives with “to be happy” answer. And very few of them actually have any particular idea what this happiness is, how to achieve & feel it. Even in their individual case, not universally.

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Superfreakonomics review

Book with a stupid name Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner appeared to be quite surprisingly interesting and was listened on my way to work and back home in a week or so. I would probably even say that the sequel is better than the first book – Freakonomics.

Authors position themselves as economists doing research into non-conventional topics. However, I feel that it would be more appropriate to say that book is in the sociology field. Yes, individual & group level economics is often discussed, usually through the prism of decision-making. But in overall it’s more about psychology.

Topics covered are global warming (or cooling?) & ecology, technological & scientific breakthroughs, economics of prostitution, algorithmic search for potential terrorists based on banking activity and human altruism which is covered in more details in video below. In other words, as authors confess themselves, there is no uniting topic.

Superfreakonomics

Superfreakonomics is full of curious facts. For instance, you have statistically higher chances to get into trouble if you walk home drunk then if you drive home drunk.

All topics are presented as stories revolving around particular characters and therefore easily digested. One of the main lessons sounds quite banal and generic: “people respond to incentives, sometimes unpredictably”. However, we forget about it more often than we’d like to think.

You might use this RSA video made from co-author’s speech as a trailer of some sort:

Update 2010.09.22: It turns out they make a movie based on the first book! Trailer is below: