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."

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Like too many of us, I hated history classes throughout my school career, and only realized as an adult that there are few things more interesting to ponder than the ways people lived and thought in different times and places than my own.

After all, we're all stuck in our own time, limited by our culture, consciousness, and whatever knowledge we may possess of what came before.

Maybe that explains part of the appeal of historical fiction like the series Downton Abbey, set in a great Edwardian country house in the early 20th century. My guest today is stage and screen Director Michael Engler. He's the director of the new Downton Abbey feature film, and he directed episodes of Downton Abbey, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, 30 Rock and much more for TV.

Meticulously recreating one corner of Edwardian England and building original story worlds within it, Downton Abbey is part romantic comedy, part historical drama grappling with the tensions of class and society at the sunset of empire.

Surprise conversation starters in this episode:

Comedian Pete Holmes on visualization

Whether it's hitting up SoulCycle or taking a run in the park, exercise is key to stress management, good sleep, happiness, productivity — and above all, health.


But when should you push yourself the hardest, and when should you take a break? Which excuses to skip a workout are valid, and which aren't?

It's important to distinguish between "overreaching" and "overtraining," Jimmy Bagley, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology and director of the muscle physiology lab at San Francisco State University tells Thrive. Overreaching is what you want to be doing, Bagley notes — you work a little harder each day, week, or month, slowly maximizing your goals. As a result, you cause "overload" in your body (in a good way), which leads to adaptation and, ultimately, improvement. Conversely, overtraining is when you don't give your body enough time to recover between workouts.

We've rounded up six of the most common excuses for skipping physical activity (think: because you had a stressful day at the office), along with tips on whether you should work out or chill out for the sake of your well-being:

The excuse: "I'm stressed."

The verdict: Work out anyway.

Exercise helps relieve your stress. Rather than being an excuse for why you don't work out, stress should be a reason for why you do hit the gym.

"Exercise is physiological: Your blood flow to the brain increases, your breathing rate increases, and your heart rate increases. All of this is great for how you will feel a couple hours after completing an activity," Bagley tells Thrive. "When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, and those go to your brain. They stimulate the sensors in your brain that are related to rewards."

This means that even if you enter the gym stressing over a big work project, your brain chemistry will help you feel happier by the end of your sweat session — and it will continue for hours afterward. So yes, you should go to that spin class — especially if you're feeling overloaded. Your brain will thank you.

The excuse: "I don't feel like it."

The verdict: Lighten up.

If you aren't in the mood for an intense HIIT class, that's okay. But it's worth choosing an easier, more manageable alternative.

"If you're just not feeling it — say, if you have kids at home and they were up all night — you don't have to necessarily stick to your plan for that day. You can do something else lighter," Bagley says. Examples of lighter exercise that you can do instead include walking slowly (less than 2 m.p.h.), bicycling, and light yoga (like yin, not vinyasa power flow).

The key is to not view each workout as independent, Bagley explains. Look at your year-long plan and say, "I've got 100 training sessions this year. Is it okay for me to take this day, and not make it a super challenging workout?" In the grand scheme of things, one day won't change things. Just keep the bigger picture in mind.

The excuse: "I'm sore."

The verdict: It depends.

How long after your last workout does your soreness continue? Your answer to that question will determine whether to go hard or take it slow. "The day of your exercise, if you're a little sore, that's fine, but if you're still sore two to four days after you've exercised, you've got delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)," Bagley tells Thrive.

If you're experiencing manageable next-day soreness, go for it, and don't let that alter your planned exercise. But if you have DOMS, Bagley says that working very hard is actually detrimental: Your muscles are inflamed and trying to repair themselves, so training intensely on top of that would damage the muscles and delay recovery. Instead, turn down the dial and rest. Pushing through would be overtraining, so don't go all out.

The excuse: "I'm tired."

The verdict: Push through, but listen to your body.

Mild fatigue isn't a reason to ditch the running shoes, Bagley says. This is a case when you should push through. Exercise can actually help increase your energy, so it's worth going through with it. That said, you want to be careful not to do too much if you're truly very tired, and should pay attention to how you feel throughout your workout. "Listen to what your body is telling you," he suggests.

The excuse: "I'm really tired."

The verdict: Skip it.

Fatigue is one thing, but full-blown sleep deprivation should be an exercise red flag for you. Bagley takes this distinction seriously. "Sleep deprivation has a lot of physical and mental effects. Physiologically and psychologically, exercising is probably going to be detrimental to your health that day," he tells Thrive. If you got very little sleep last night, know that taking the time to rest is more beneficial than your workout.

The excuse: "I don't have enough time."

The verdict: Get creative.

You definitely don't need a two hour session at the gym to see the mental and physical benefits of exercise. Bagley cited this excuse as one of the most common among his clients during his time as a personal trainer.

According to The Department of Health and Human Services, 150 minutes of exercise a week is optimal, which is equivalent to 30 minutes, five days a week. "Any amount of moderate to vigorous activity can add up to 30 minutes. It doesn't need to be a structured program," Bagley tells Thrive. "You can spread it out." You can try three 10-minute walks a day, or two 15-minute quick in-home workouts, one in the morning, and one in the evening.

Reprinted with permission of Thrive Global. Read the original article.

  • The majority of growth of the human brain happens after birth.
  • While unrelenting stress can damage developing structures of the limbic system, calibrated challenge can positively stimulate brain growth. Teachers have an important role in assuring students of their safety when taking on new challenges.
  • This video is supported by yes. every kid., an initiative that aims to rethink education from the ground up by connecting innovators in a shared mission to conquer "one size fits all" education reform.


  • Millions of people around the world are taking to the streets to demand more urgent action on climate change.
  • The protests come just days ahead of the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit.
  • Although it's unclear exactly how many people are participating, it's likely to be the largest climate protest ever.


The global climate strikes kicked off in full force on Friday, September 20. Millions of people — many of whom are students skipping school, some are employees walking off their jobs — are gathering in more than 160 countries on all seven continents to call for more urgent action on climate change and an end to the age of fossil fuels. Although it's still unclear exactly how many people are protesting, it's likely to be the largest coordinated climate protest in history.

In New Delhi, India, protesters were chanting, "Eco, not ego!" and "I want to breathe clean!" Outside of the Houses of Parliament, in London, protesters chanted, "Save our planet!" In Washington, D.C., crowds chanted, "This is what democracy looks like!"

New York City has allowed more than 1 million public school students to miss classes in order to protest, while a handful of U.S. companies — among them, Ben & Jerry's, Patagonia, Burton, Lush, and SodaStream — are closing down or going offline for at least some part of Friday.

"We're going to disrupt our 'business as usual' on Sept 20 to demonstrate our solidarity with global climate strikers," Ben & Jerry's higher-ups said in a statement. "We believe we all must change the way we live, and the way we do business."

The global protests come days ahead of the 2019 UN Climate Action summit, in which world leaders from dozens of countries will meet in New York to discuss progress on past climate pledges and plans for the future. "Bring plans, not speeches," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres reportedly told heads of state before the summit.

It's unclear what effect the protests will have on the world's policymakers. The organizers of the global climate strike are demanding broad changes: the transition away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy, "climate justice" for everyone and, more curiously, "reparations," presumably from developed countries whose policies and consumption have accelerated climate change in other countries. But in the short term, the organizers say:

"Our greatest hope is simply to show that those working on this crisis have the backing of millions of human beings who have a growing dread about the climate emergency but who have so far stayed mostly on the sidelines. It will take all of our efforts to get millions of us in the streets worldwide. So join us. Our window for effective climate action is closing fast."

Here's a look at some of the global climate strike protests happening today around the world.

Chicago

Washington, D.C.

New York City

Pacific Press / Contributor

Los Angeles

San Francisco

Boston

Galway, Ireland

Lahore, Pakistan

Nairobi, Kenya

Freigburg, Germany

Islamabad, Pakistan

London, England

Sydney, Australia

Berlin, Germany

  • The tiny home movement has been popular on social media sites, often portraying an idyllic lifestyle that's cheaper and better for the environment without sacrificing aesthetics.
  • But tiny homes may become the answer to a growing population and growing inequality.
  • As the movement continues to build up steam, one has to wonder whether it's a housing crisis solution with a new coat of paint.

Tiny homes. They're the watchword of the Home & Garden network, at once an Instagrammable, envy-inducing lifestyle and an unfortunate necessity for a generation struck by a recession, historically high inequality, and loans taken out for an ostensibly necessary education that's failed to really net any benefits.

But the question is, which are they? A symbol of a smarter, more environmentally-conscious, humbler generation — or a symbol of one that's had to make do with less than its predecessors? (See: "Millennials buy the things their parents did — but they're much poorer.")

Downsizing housing and hubris

Image source: Mike Morgan / For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Will tiny homes look like this in the future -- smaller and more efficient but still beautiful?

In the U.S., things are just bigger, and houses are no exception. The median size of a single-family home in the U.S. peaked in 2015 at 2,467 square feet. Compared to other parts of the world — particularly Europe — this is a massive figure. There's a variety of reasons for this; one, for example, is that Americans began driving early and often, which transformed the design of their cities and suburbs. Developers could build outside of urban centers where the land was cheaper and more plentiful, enabling bigger houses to be bought.

In addition, the idea of having a lot of space seems to be an appealing one to the former European colonies — where Europeans have often lived in more cramped, repurposed older buildings, Australians, Canadians, and Americans had the opportunity to seize land (despite it already being occupied) and build new, sprawling settlements throughout it. The prosperity that the America saw in the 20th century didn't hurt, either; why not build big if you've got the money to spare?

But a considerable amount of this space is wasted. A UCLA study found that the majority of people spend their time in the kitchen or around the television and very rarely use the living room or porch. As a result of these extra, unused spaces, more resources are wasted on construction, and energy consumption is double what a family would need if their house only had the rooms that they actually use.

Smaller, more energy-efficient houses are appealing to a growing population of minimalists and resource-conscious individuals. In 2017 alone, the sales of tiny homes increased by 67 percent. Coming in at under 400 square feet on average, these houses are also understandably cheap — for tiny homes on wheels, the average cost is $46,300, while those with a foundation cost on average $119,000. As a result, 68 percent of tiny homeowners don't even have a mortgage.

Downsizing out of necessity

Tiny homes

Image source: George Rose/Getty Images

A community of tiny homes for homeless people known as "Nickelsville" in Seattle.

On the other hand, the group of people drawn to tiny homes isn't just homogenously composed of wealthy minimalists looking to reduce their consumption while still appearing trendy. In 70 percent of the U.S., the average worker can't afford a home, one-third of adults are a $400 bill away from financial difficulty, and a quarter have no retirement savings whatsoever.

Under these conditions, downsizing may be the only viable method to survive. Consider, for instance, how cities such as Seattle, Detroit, and Denver are constructing tiny homes as emergency shelters or transitional housing for the homeless. There are also the many retirees that had their savings wiped out by the Great Recession who now live nomadically in RVs and modified vans. This tiny-living trend also has its Instagram cheerleaders, but the reality of it is less idyllic. Journalist Jessica Bruder and author of Nomadland related an anecdote to MarketWatch illustrating the nature of nomadic tiny living:

"I talked to one couple, Barb and Chuck. He had been head of product development at McDonald's before he retired. He lost his nest egg in the 2008 crash and Barb did, too. One time, Barb and Chuck were standing at the gas station to get $175 worth of gas and the horror hit them that their account had $6 in it. The gas station gentleman said 'Give me your name and driver's license and if you write a check, I will wait to cash it.' He waited two whole weeks before he deposited it."

This might become a reality for more people in the future as well. Inequality widens when the rate at which wealth grows — say, your stocks or the price of your house — grows faster than the rate at which wages do. Research suggests that wealth is growing at a breakneck pace, keeping in line with economist Thomas Picketty's prediction of a dramatically inequal future.

Solutions for this will need to be found, and many municipalities or private individuals may find such a solution in constructing tiny homes. Homelessness is a powerful, self-perpetuating force, and having shelter is an obviously necessary step to escape poverty.

Regrettably, if tiny homes are being driven primarily by resource-conscious but fundamentally economically secure individuals, we can expect the trend to remain just that; a trend. In a few years, fewer and fewer tiny houses will be constructed and sold, and eventually there will just be a small contingent of diehard proponents of the lifestyle. If, however, the tiny home trend is being driven primarily by economic inequality, then we can expect it to stick around for a while.