Great TED Talks for Learning About Your Brain

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Michael Shermer: Why people believe weird things

Michael Shermer, author and self-proclaimed skeptic, has the goal to reveal to us in a fun manner why people believe unbelievable things, and how the process of convincing ourselves of something works.

Beau Lotto and Cirque du Soleil: How we experience awe- and why it matters

This TED Talk is both a performance by Cirque du Soleil and a lecture by Beau Lotto on the importance of the emotion of awe. As a base for his speech, Beau shares his extensive findings while researching Cirque du Soleil.

Julia Galef: Why you think you’re right- even if you’re wrong

How are you in a discussion? Do you defend your opinions until the end, or do you explore the truth in the other person’s opinion? In this TED Talk, Julia Galef seeks to illuminate the motivations behind both mindsets and show how we view things differently depending on our position.

Dan Ariely: Beware conflicts of interest

Dan Ariely, psychology and behavioral economics professor and author, invites us to reflect upon the difficulty of ignoring our personal goals when pursuing knowledge, and how we may be much more influenced by our own needs than we thought.

Tali Sharot: The optimism bias

In this TED Talk, Tali Sharot, a psychologist and neuroscientist, delves into the human brain and states, against common sense, that we are actually natural optimists. She also elucidates its implications and opens up about its benefits and dangers.

Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

Through compelling and rational arguments, psychologist Barry Schwartz discusses the concept of freedom of choice in modern society, and how instead of giving the sensation of liberty and happiness, it frustrated and paralyzed.

Dan Dennet: The illusion of consciousness

Dan Dennet, through this TED Talk, explains to us his ideas on how our consciousness are merely a result of physical processes, and how we’re fooled every day by our brain.

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Dan Ariely: Are we in control of our own decisions?

Dan Ariely is an author and behavioral economist that, in his lecture, shows us that we don’t actually have that much control over our own choices. Using examples of his research and simple visual illusions, we watch bewildered as we realize our choices weren’t as rationally made as we thought they were.

Sheena Iyengar: The art of choosing

We define our choices, and choices define us. In a captivating presentation, Sheena Iyengar, famous for her research on choices, makes us contemplate the nature and implications of decisions, from the simple to the life-changing ones.

Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience vs. memory

In this TED Talk, Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel laureate and founder behavioral economics, will discuss the complex matter of experience vs. memory and its relation to our perception of happiness, bringing different examples to better illustrate the concepts.

Peter Donnelly: How juries are fooled by statistics

We’d like to think that all juries are impartial and just, but Peter Donnelly, an Oxford mathematician, shows us that that may not be the case. By revealing common interpretation error concerning statistics, Peter suggests that sometimes, misinterpretations can have a disastrous outcome.

James Randi: Homeopathy, quackery and fraud

James Randi is a legendary skeptic that debunks paranormal claims. In this TED Talk, James makes an unorthodox presentation by ingesting a big amount of homeopathic sleeping pills, after which he discourses about irrational beliefs and the concept of reality.

Sarah-Jayne Blackemore: The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain

Adolescence is a universal experience, that is often accompanied by impulsiveness and lack of self-awareness. Sarah Jayne Blackemore, a psychologist, manages to explain to the public why this behavior appears in adolescents, taking as the object of study the brain.

Dan Gilbert: The psychology of your future self

The person you are now is not the person you were before, neither the person you’ll be in the future. Whether you agree or not with this statement, Dan Gilbert will show you the truth of it and how we are not the finished product of ourselves, as much as we want to believe it.

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