Big Think's Top 25 +1 Videos


Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Deny Evolution

If adults want to deny evolution, sure. That’s fine. Whatever. But those adults better not make their kids follow in step because we as society need them to be better. Bill Nye, everyone's favorite Science Guy, explains the importance of promoting evolution education for America's future voters and lawmakers.

My Man, Sir Isaac Newton

Are you at least 26 years-old? If so, you are older than Isaac Newton was when he invented calculus... on a dare! (If you're younger than 26, better hurry up.) Big Think expert and overall cool guy Neil deGrasse Tyson explains why Newton is the greatest physicist who ever and likely will ever live.

Will Mankind Destroy Itself?

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku sees two major trends today. One eventually leads to a multicultural, scientific, tolerant society that will expand beyond Earth in the name of human progress. The other trend leads to fundamentalism, monoculturalism, and -- eventually -- civilizational ruin. Whichever of these two trends wins out will determine the fate of mankind. No pressure, everyone.

Ricky Gervais on the Principles of Comedy

Comedy isn't just about making people laugh, says actor Ricky Gervais. It's about making people think. And while different forms of comedy require different approaches, the crux of any good performance will always be rhythm.

Reading the Bible (Or the Koran, Or the Torah) Will Make You an Atheist

Author and magician Penn Jillette was asked to leave his Christian youth group by a pastor who told his parents: "He's no longer learning about the Bible from me. He is now converting everyone in the class to atheism." The reason? Jillette did his homework and was turned off by the hostilities of the text. It can be intimidating to come out as an atheist, especially in a religious community. Jillette found that having "out" atheist role models helped him feel unalone.

Henry Rollins: The One Decision that Changed My Life Forever

Punk legend Henry Rollins describes the biggest turning point in his life: the moment he decided to leave his job as manager of a Häagen-Dazs store and eventually become the lead singer of Black Flag. It was the courage to take a risk, plus a whole lot of luck, that got Rollins to where he is today.

5 Programming Languages Everyone Should Know

Java is "heavyweight, verbose, and everyone loves to hate it," but programmer Larry Wall still thinks you should know it. In this video, he offers suggestions for people interested in learning languages, as well as suggestions for those significantly less invested in computer programming.

The Importance of Unbelief

If you assume there’s no afterlife, Stephen Fry says, you’ll likely have a fuller, more interesting "now" life. The actor and comedian details the positive influence philosophers have had on his life, as well as his journey of understanding both what he believes and why he believes it.

Why be happy when you could be interesting?

We don't really want what we think we desire, says philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

James Gleick on the Common Character Traits of Geniuses

This video is part of a series on female genius, in proud collaboration with 92Y's 7 Days of Genius Festival.


The personalities of Isaac Newton and Richard Feynman were, on one level, extremely different. Biographer and former New York Times reporter James Gleick says Newton was argumentative, had few friends, and likely died a virgin. Feynman, on the other hand, loved dancing and going to parties, and had many friends in the scientific community. But in regards to their working habits, both men were solitary and had the ability to concentrate with a sort of intensity that is hard for mortals to grasp. At bottom, Gleick says geniuses tend to have a yearning for solitude which, though fruitful for their professional work, made the task of daily living more burdensome.

The Importance of Doing Useless Things

From poetry and ballet to mathematics and being clever, life is laden with frivolous pursuits that hold no bearing on our ability to survive. Yet, insists Richard Dawkins, if it weren’t for the development of these impractical activities, we wouldn’t be here.

Why monogamy is ridiculous

Dan Savage: the idea that one instance of infidelity should ruin a relationship is a new—and misguided—notion.

Dan Harris: Hack Your Brain's Default Mode With Meditation

Dan Harris explains the neuroscience behind meditation, but reminds us that the ancient practice isn't magic and likely won't send one floating into the cosmic ooze. He predicts that the exercise will soon become regularly scheduled maintenance, as commonplace as brushing your teeth or eating your veggies. Harris, an ABC News correspondent, was turned on to mediation after a live, on-air panic attack. His latest book is 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story.

How Intellectuals Betrayed the Poor

For 40 years academics were duped into idolizing the idea of unfettered markets, says Cornel West, and now our society is paying a terrible price.

Why Some Races Outperform Others

A psychologist explains the latest research into education disparity.

Why It's So Hard for Scientists to Believe in God

Some scientists see religion as a threat to the scientific method that should be resisted. But faith "is really asking a different set of questions," says Collins.

Why Facebook Isn't Free

Internet pioneer Jaron Lanier argues that free technologies like Facebook come with a hidden and heavy cost – the livelihoods of their consumers.

How to Tell if You’re a Writer

For John Irving, the need for a daily ration of solitude was his strongest "pre-writing" moment as a child.

Your Behavior Creates Your Gender

Nobody is born one gender or the other, says the philosopher. "We act and walk and speak and talk in ways that consolidate an impression of being a man or being a woman."

Are You a Liberal Snob? Take The Quiz

Charles Mrray designed this quiz to have a salutary effect on bringing to people’s attention the degree to which they live in a bubble that seals them off from an awful lot of their fellow American citizens.

Why You Should Watch Filth

John Waters defends the creation and consumption of obscene films, and recommends some of his personal favorites.

What Are You Worth? Getting Past Status Anxiety.

Writer Alain De Botton says that status anxiety is more pernicious and destructive than most of us can imagine, and recommends getting out of the game altogether.

Sheila Heen on the Psychology of Happiness and Feedback

Sheila Heen, a Partner at Triad Consulting Group and a lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, explains the psychology behind feedback and criticism. Heen is co-author of "Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well."

Are You a Psychopath? Take the Test.

Psychologist Kevin Dutton presents the classic psychological test known as "the trolley problem" with a variation. Take the test and measure you response on the psychopathic spectrum.

Here's How to Catch a Liar, If You Really Want To

It’s very complex as to whether or not we really want to catch a liar. We think we do. What if we find out that both of our presidential candidates are lying? Then what do we do? I’m not saying they are; I never comment on anyone in office or running for office. Only after they’re out that they’re fair game. . . . Clinton said, "I didn’t have sex with that woman" and then gave her name. "That woman" is putting her at a distance from himself.

Why I Came Out at Age 81

As a teenager in the '40s, James Randi "would have gotten stoned" for being gay. But when he outed himself to the world in 2010, the reaction was "wonderful."

More playlists
  • "I think that the membership economy is having as big an impact on business as the industrial revolution," says Silicon Valley consultant Robbie Kellman Baxter.
  • Memberships or subscriptions fundamentally change the relationship between the consumer and the brand by delivering what Baxter calls a "forever promise." The famous example of Blockbuster vs. Netflix illustrates this perfectly.
  • Subscriptions are not a new idea. Charles Dickens released his books to subscribers one chapter at a time, as he wrote them. What's different today is technology and the speed at which even a one-person business can reach a huge number of customers.
  • Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being used in hiring.
  • AI can analyze the personality and decision-making of potential employees.
  • Consultants can offer advice to candidates on dealing with AI interviews.


Increasingly, artificial intelligence is being used in assessing job applications. It's you versus the robot. How is a human to prevail? By making key adjustments to how you present yourself to the technology, advises a South Korean careers consultant Park Seong-jung. He is among the growing number of professionals who focus on helping clients successfully deal with A.I.

While this eventuality is yet to take off equally everywhere, some countries like South Korea have seen quicker implementation of hiring technology. About a quarter of top 131 corporations already utilize or plan to use AI in making personnel decisions. This trend has spawned the growth of classes like Seong-jung's.

One concrete tip he offers students – if you were to do a video interview involving facial recognition software that can analyze character, you have to think about how your face appears. "Don't force a smile with your lips," suggests the consultant, according to a profile in Reuters. Instead "Smile with your eyes," he says.

In one example of an AI-conducted interview, taken by Reuters reporters, the technology asked interviewees to introduce themselves while examining facial expressions and processing word choices. The AI was also not averse to asking unexpectedly difficult questions like the scenario "You are on a business trip with your boss and you spot him using the company (credit) card to buy himself a gift. What will you say?"

Another aspect to be aware of – AI often utilizes "gamification" tests to analyze your personality and how adaptable you are. It can get as specific as figuring out 37 capabilities of the interviewee and their likelihood in fitting into the position for which they are being considered, explained Chris Jung, a chief manager of software firm Midas IT. What's more – some games have no right or wrong answers. They are used to understand the problem-solving approach of the candidate.

Conscious machines: How will we test artificial intelligence for feeling?

If AI is like a shrink in the machine, how do you convince it you're the best person for the job? It's important to study your competition and to understand the culture of the company you are trying to work at.

Nathan Mondragon, the head psychologist at HireVue, which creates hiring software for such clients as Goldman Sachs and Unilever, described just how pervasive the AI analysis can really get in an interview with the Guardian.

"We break the answers people give down into many thousands of data points, into verbal and non-verbal cues," said Mondragon. "If you're answering a question about how you would spend a million dollars, your eyes would tend to shift upward, your verbal cues would go silent. Your head would tilt slightly upward with your eyes."

All the data Mondragon's software gathers becomes a score that can be compared to the scores of the company's best employees. It makes sense to hire the kind of people who have already been successful for you.

Another way AI can weed you out before your resume even gets to a human's eyes is through Applicant Tracking Systems (APS), which increasingly rely on artificial intelligence. These are intelligent software scanners that can go through massive pools of data to identify candidates based on certain keywords and assigned data factors. According to a list from the millennial job recruitment site Muse, key ways you can right away improve your presentation to the APS is through streamlining your resume and cover letter. In particular, they recommend keeping the formatting of any documents you send in simple and using the right keywords (checking them with services like Wordle and TagCrowd). More pointers – don't overdo acronyms, and get rid of career objectives.

Last bit of wisdom that bears repeating – run a spell-check.

Command Your Career: An Emmy Award-Winning Actor's Advice for Millennials, with Bryan ...

Increasing efforts have been made in recent years to encourage students to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.


There's been a particularly positive emphasis on getting a more diverse group of people onto such courses: women, black and ethnic minority groups and working class people have all been the focus of drives and campaigns designed to help them enter STEM careers.

But, a new study suggests, the competitive nature of STEM courses may be having a knock-on effect on the confidence of certain students, in this case first-generation college attendees (those who are the first in their family to go to university). Such students, the paper argues, are more likely to experience "imposter syndrome" — the feeling that they don't belong or don't have the skills or intelligence to continue on their studies — precisely because of this atmosphere of competition.

In such environments, previous research has shown, students are more likely to compare themselves (often unfavourably) to others. When we feel our peers are our adversaries, rather than colleagues or comrades, we look to their successes and failures to judge ourselves: often, we believe we fall short, and our confidence falters.

In first-generation students, the paper argues, this can be even more damaging. First-generation students are often raised with communal values, relying on other people rather than seeing them as rivals. When this meets the competitive, individualistic world of STEM courses, it can have a particularly detrimental impact.

To study the impact of competition on first-generation college attendees, researchers enlisted 818 freshmen and sophomores enrolled in STEM courses at a large U.S. university. Participants were first asked to complete a survey, once at the beginning of term and once after the deadline to drop courses, measuring perceptions of classroom competition; participants rated statements such as "the professor seems to pit students against each other in a competitive manner in this class" on a scale of one to seven. Demographic data was also collected during these surveys, including information on whether participants were first-generation students.

Six weeks into term, students were sent further surveys to complete daily, asking whether or not they had been attending class. Those who had been attending were asked to explore imposter feelings, rating statements like "in class, I feel like people might find out I am not as capable as they think I am" on a scale of one to six; those who had not been attending were asked to explain why. The team also recorded how engaged students felt, how often they attended class, how much they thought about dropping out, and their grades.

As anticipated, those who felt classes were competitive were far more likely to feel as if they were an imposter, unable to keep up with the demands of their course. And compared to those with family members who had gone to university, first-generation students were more likely to experience feelings of imposter syndrome on a daily basis — but only in classes perceived to have high levels of competition. In non-competitive environments, imposter feelings were equal in both first-generation and continued generation students, suggesting that the atmosphere of the classroom really is a key driver.

By increasing their imposter feelings, the students' perceptions of classroom competition also had a negative impact on their achievement, reducing engagement, attendance, and performance, and increasing dropout intentions. This effect was much greater amongst first-generation students

The team do note that repeatedly seeing questions about imposter syndrome may in fact have triggered those feelings: although measures were limited to once per day in the second part of the study, contemplating competition and achievement may in fact have enhanced feelings of insecurity or inadequacy.

How other identities intersect with the phenomenon was also left unaddressed. Women and people of colour are both more susceptible to imposter syndrome, for example, and exploring how such identities interact with one another could be a focus of future research.

Creating a welcoming, supportive environment for everybody to study STEM subjects, no matter their background, is key to a diverse and inclusive field. Understanding more about how students of different backgrounds experience STEM studies and actively developing strategies to counter inequalities are both vital steps towards making sure this happens.

Feeling Like an Imposter: The Effect of Perceived Classroom Competition on the Daily Psychological Experiences of First-Generation College Students

Emily Reynolds (@rey_z) is a staff writer at BPS Research Digest.

Reprinted with permission of The British Psychological Society. Read the original article.

Finding room for "me time" during a stressful work week is no simple task. But in some places it's easier than others, according to a recent study.


Security company Kisi surveyed 40 cities around the world to discover where residents have the best work-life balance, scoring based on employment factors, such as average commute times, working hours and holiday leave, along with wellbeing and civic rights.

cities with the best work-life balance

These are the cities with the best work-life balance.

Image: Kisi

1. Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki residents enjoy the world's best work-life balance, with a comparatively short 40-hour work week and a low average commute time of 26 minutes.

Minimum holiday leave is 30 days, which is one of the highest of any country in the survey. Helsinki also offers generous paid parental leave, which at 1,127 days, is far more than other countries, with the exception of Hungary.

2. Munich, Germany

The first of three German cities in the top 10, Munich is the lowest-stress city on the list. The average work week is longer than Helsinki's by just one hour, and commute times are longer by one minute.

There are some pronounced differences between the top two cities. In the Bavarian capital, minimum holiday leave is just 20 days, though most employees take almost 30 days on average. Parents can take 406 days of paid leave, about one-third the time they can take in Helsinki.

3. Oslo, Norway

Of the cities surveyed, Oslo residents work the fewest hour per week (38.9), and only a small percentage of people work more than 48.

The city provides generous paid leave for parents and has the highest gender equality score of all cities surveyed, followed by Stockholm and Helsinki. It also leads the way in access to mental health services.

4. Hamburg, Germany

Like Munich, Hamburg has a 41-hour work week and is a relatively low-stress place to live and work, although not quite as safe.

Germany is the only country with more than one city in the top 10. All three of those cities have short work weeks balanced with family-friendly policies. Leisure plays an important role in the lives of Germans.

Stockholm is a good city for work-life balance

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

5. Stockholm, Sweden

Sweden's government has taken steps to help the population balance work commitments with home life.

Stockholm scored 76.9 for gender equality, the second highest in the survey. This is partly due to flexible working hours and the structure of parental leave. Social equality is high throughout the city, too, with LGBT+ equality reaching 100%.

6. Berlin, Germany

Employees in Berlin arrive for work around 10am on average, later than the other German cities in the top 10, but still ahead of many other places in the list. The average commute is marginally longer, but stress levels in Berlin are more than double those of Hamburg and more than three times higher than in Munich.

7. Zurich, Switzerland

In Zurich, people work the longest hours of any city in the top 10 and experience some of the longest commutes.

Access to mental health services is the second best, however, and the city enjoys one of the lowest stress levels, topped only by Munich.

Switzerland's most populous city has low air pollution and leads the survey in terms of the wellness and fitness of its residents.

Barcelona residents take more holidays than those in most other cities.

Photo by Mosa Moseneke on Unsplash

8. Barcelona, Spain

There is pressure to do away with the tradition of long lunches and afternoon siestas in some Spanish cities. In Barcelona, workers put in almost 41 hours each week, which is much the same as the other places in the top 10.

When they are not working, the city's residents take more holidays than those in other cities, with an average of 30.5 days, higher than the required minimum of 22 days.

9. Paris, France

Workers in the French capital have the longest commute time among the top 10, at an average of 44 minutes, compared with 26 minutes in Helsinki. But both cities share a generous holiday allowance of 30 days.

Legislation requires France to actively promote a healthy work-life balance. The work week is capped at 35 hours and employees can choose not to send or receive after-hours work emails.

10. Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is the only city outside Europe in the top 10. For most residents, the commute to work takes just over half an hour. And the work week is around 40 hours – similar to most others in the top 10.

Like their neighbour the United States, however, Canadians have limited paid holiday leave – Vancouver residents have just 10 days' paid leave, though residents take more than 15 on average.

Reprinted with permission of the World Economic Forum. Read the original article.

  • Changing the narrative around people's experience with pain or illness, combined with a bit of adrenaline and showmanship, can change their condition, says psychological illusionist Derren Brown.
  • Brown has a show on Netflix, called Miracle, that comes at faith healing from a scientific perspective, demonstrating the psychological tricks that can seem so god-like.
  • When we start to identify with a particular ailment and sink into that habit, it creates our psychological experience of pain. The so-called "healing" process of faith healers is really about tapping into the psychological component of suffering.