Top 5 Captivating TED Talks

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Top 5 Captivating TED Talks: TED Talks, the lecture series from the U.S. private non-profit foundation that covers technology, entertainment, design, business, science and global issues, are some of the most engaging videos on the Internet. TED Talks are often short springboards into much broader topics, and thusly these videos are starting points for exploring the much bigger topics each speaker introduces. Here are some choice selections from the tremendous TED archive.

1. Stephen Pinker on the myth of violence (March 2007)

Eminent linguist psychologist Stephen Pinker's lecture on the myth of violence challenges the hypothesis that the modern world is more dangerous than ever in the age of terrorism, nuclear weapons, and mass manufacture firearms. Through a careful use of statistics and subtle studies, Pinker demonstrates that despite what you see in the news, the world today is the safest our species has ever been, and that while what violence exists in the world is still certainly terrible, there is so much less than there has ever been that our deep fears of violence are vastly overwrought.

2. Erin McKean redefines the dictionary (March 2007)

Today, the dictionary is no longer a thick, heavy book sitting in a cabinet. Lexicographer Erin McKean humorously explores how the practices of compiling a dictionary are changing, and how the Internet is making the dictionary more dynamic and adaptive. Her lecture makes the humble dictionary exciting, and livens up our concept of words and explains how you can start interacting with the English language in ways that will shape the future of words.

3. Dan Dennett on our consciousness (February 2003)

One of today's most prominent philosophers, Dan Dennett, is a dazzling speaker who has given several talks at TED over the years. While all of his talks are interesting, the best introduction to his ideas is his talk on consciousness. His talk explores the concepts of how our methods of studying consciousness are developed, how consciousness works, and how differently our mind works when compared to how we talk about it.

4. Hans Rosling shows the best stats you've ever seen (February 2006)

Swedish professor Hans Rosling's sparkling lecture on statistics of developing countries is surprisingly hilarious and hugely innovative. His graphical demonstrations of how the world has developed over the past century and a half present his data in an intuitive way and reveal shocking trends. His enthusiasm alone makes this video priceless, and his vision for the future of data interaction is inspiring. While this is his most popular video, his other lectures on similar topics are just as vivid.

5. Martin Rees on whether this our final century? (July 2005)

Astronomer Martin Rees' talk on how the rapid pace of human development sounds may drive us to extinction is a spectacular counterpoints to the wonder of Dawkins' lecture. While his sense of wonder is no less, his message about what we as a species must be mindful of in the coming century is an enthralling balance of hope and caution. We stand now as the only species able to radically reshape the planet, and our mindfulness of that responsibility is our greatest challenge.

I would like to thank James for this guest post. He is a technology writer who covers the latest developments in franking machine cartridges for a supplier of ink cartridges to businesses and homes in the UK.

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