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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  • A new study finds that reaching an orgasm doesn't always indicate the sexual encounter was pleasurable.
  • A variety of reasons were reported by participants for "bad" orgasms.
  • Communication is key to improving sexual experiences, maintain the scientists.


The psychology of human sexual behavior is often not what you'd expect. Even if sex is consensual and leads to an orgasm, that experience can still be very negative, reveals a new study.

The study was co-authored by Sara B. Chadwick, a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, Miriam Francisco, and Sari M. van Anders, a professor at Queen's University. The researchers got interested in figuring out whether "bad" orgasms can exist after finding out through other research that orgasms are far from simple.

"There seems to be a widespread assumption that orgasms during consensual sex are always positive, but research had never explored the possibility that they might be negative and/or non-positive under some circumstances," explained the psychologists.

The study involved 726 adult subjects, recruited through online ads. The researchers looked at orgasmic experiences during forced sex, consensual but unwanted sex, and while being pressured to have an orgasm. 289 of the subjects gave descriptions of their bad orgasms.

In an interview with Psypost, Chadwick and van Anders shared that people shouldn't assume that just because their partner reached an orgasm they had an enjoyable experience.

"People who have had orgasms during unwanted or undesirable encounters should note that their orgasm does not mean they liked it or secretly 'wanted' what was happening — it is okay to have mixed or even entirely negative feelings about a sexual encounter where you had an orgasm," explained the scientists.

Rutgers psychology professor Barry Komisaruk on "Why Some Women Can't Have Orgasms"

How does sex end up being bad even with an orgasm? The participants explained scenarios ranging from being pressured to have an orgasm just to please an unhappy partner to experiencing emotional detachment, frustrations or even feelings of being betrayed by their bodies. Some religious participants felt shame and guilt afterwards.

The authors say that some men regard the orgasms of their partners as a "masculinity achievement," leading to women feeling the need to have an orgasm to assuage their male partner's ego.

Factors like sexual orientation and gender identity also have an influence. Bisexual subjects described the pressure to orgasm to "prove" their bisexuality to partners of other genders. Some transgender participants viewed orgasms as reminders "of being in the wrong body."

On the other hand, bad orgasms could in some cases lead to better outcomes, especially with regards to communication between partners.

The researchers shared that in order to have good sex, it's important to pay attention not only to the clear needs of their partners but also the unspoken cues like nonverbal communication and gestures. A partner could be ready to finish the sexual encounter even if it hasn't resulted in an orgasm.

Pushing someone to have sex or continue with it when they don't want to can lead to feelings of coercion and being ignored.

"People can have orgasms during unwanted sex, sex that has complicated, mixed-feeling moments, or even just mediocre/boring sex. Orgasm does not automatically make the sex 'great' and it does not invalidate negative feelings about certain parts of the encounter or the encounter in general," concluded the psychologists.

You can check out their study "When Orgasms Do Not Equal Pleasure: Accounts of 'Bad' Orgasm Experiences During Consensual Sexual Encounters" in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Thinking Yourself to Orgasm

The relation between the mind and sexual response is still fertile ground ...
  • When you're going through a moment that tests your patience, even causes you to psychologically suffer, sometimes you have to step back and say, "Yes, thank you."
  • Suffering is like sandpaper, and, if we choose, it can buffer us and make us better versions of ourselves.
  • Also, it's critical to find a quiet place within where just the fundamental fact that you are participating in reality imbues you with enough value and dignity to draw upon at any moment. Regardless of exterior sentiments about you.

Young climate strikers I spoke to recently are confused and distressed about the things adults are doing.


It's not just inaction during the worsening climate crisis that bothers them, but the increasingly bizarre criticism many older people throw at striking schoolchildren, in the media and elsewhere. In the absence of any meaningful attempts to restrain global carbon emissions, the direct action of young people should, logically, be applauded. But maybe we're not dealing with an entirely logical problem here.

The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused Greta Thunberg – the Swedish teenager who started the global strikes – of creating “needless anxiety" in children. So it's Thunberg's activism that is responsible for the anxiety children feel about their future, not the climate crisis itself? Thunberg has also been called mentally ill, a hysterical teenager and “a weirdo". French academics criticised her looks and rather than address the points in her UN speech, Donald Trump dismissed Thunberg as “a happy girl looking forwards to a bright future".

None of this acknowledges the urgency of the crisis that climate strikers are drawing attention to. So, why are they being made?

Beneath the thin skin

It's been argued that most of the bullying Thunberg receives is from middle-aged, conservative men who feel threatened by her agency as a young woman, and respond with misogyny. But the criticisms of the strikers aren't only from powerful men like Donald Trump. I've also heard from parents supporting their children on the school strikes that strangers have accused them of manipulating “that poor Greta Thunberg" and betraying their children's right to have a “normal childhood".

greta thunberg at the un

"A happy girl looking forwards to a bright future." (VIEWpress/Getty Images)

Some parents were told by passing women that they should be reported to child protection for abusing their children as they stood alongside them on the school picket line. Just to paint a picture of the scene, this was a picket line before school started with children under the age of eight holding their parents' hands, with painted signs urging onlookers to "save the turtles". They went into school afterwards at the normal time.

As an academic and psychotherapist, I study how children are emotionally affected by the climate crisis. But I also want to understand why some adults have reacted the way they have to the young strikers. I find these children inspiring. On September 20, 2019 – the day of the global strike – children in Afghanistan marched through the streets with their banners, flanked by soldiers in full body armour carrying guns. These children were putting their own lives at risk to get their message across to the world. On the other hand, we have these verbal attacks from adults, safe in their offices and homes.

In her UN speech, Thunberg challenged adults the world over to care about the climate crisis. She spoke of the shattered dreams and despair that her generation bears. She also recast inaction as a conscious choice. "If you choose to fail us, we will never forgive you," she said. By making this choice conscious, she left older generations with no more excuses. That challenge was always going to hurt and provoke a backlash. When adults are challenged to behave like adults, by a child, they can go in one of two directions.

One is simply to grow up. The other, is to defend themselves. In psychology, we try to listen through the defences people make when they feel threatened. For example, when someone says that these young people should be in school instead of on strike, they may be pining for the sense of normality that seemed to exist before the climate crisis gained such prominence in everyday life.

When people complain that children don't understand how complex the problem is and should leave it to the experts, perhaps that's another lament for a time when complex problems could be trusted to authorities such as the state that looked out for their interests.

When people attack Thunberg for not showing emotion or for showing too much of it, perhaps there's an inkling that the severity of the climate crisis demands a great deal of painful and complicated emotions, and they'd rather not think of them.

Generally, the size of the defence mirrors the size of the fear. It may be reasonable to assume many of the people who attack Thunberg and the school strikers are terrified. It's much easier to attack others than to look at ourselves, reflect on our own feelings and start to deal with them, like grown ups.

Caroline Hickman, Teaching Fellow in Social Work and Psychotherapy, University of Bath.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

  • The theories we build to navigate the world, both scientifically and in our personal lives, all contain assumptions. They're a critical part of scientific theory.
  • Cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman urges us to always question those assumptions. In this way, by challenging ourselves, we come to a deeper understanding of the task at hand.
  • Historically, humans have come to some of our greatest discoveries by simply questioning assumed information.


In 1972, the year I was born, there was apparently a famous TV ad for Geritol. My guest today describes it thus:

"…a husband spoke to the camera while his wife draped herself over his shoulder, smiling like something between a model and the brainwashed resident of a creepy commune…"My wife's incredible. She took care of the baby all day, cooked a great dinner and even went to a school meeting—and look at her!"

Her potion of eternal youth, of course, is Geritol. It's got all the vitamins and iron she needs. This perfect woman grins silently at the camera as her husband concludes: "My wife: I think I'll keep her."

Though what constitutes "getting old" for women in America has been a moving target throughout US history, it has rarely been a picnic. But our history's also full of women who have raised hell and pushed back in a hundred different ways against the cultural and literal corsets America keeps trying to stuff them into.

My guest today is New York Times columnist and celebrated author Gail Collins. Her new book is No Stopping Us Now: the Adventures of Older Women in American History. It's a bumpy, often exhilarating ride through the lives of older women in America from colonial times up to the present day. And Gail's good company as our wise, wisecracking stagecoach driver. We're headed West, and there's hope on the horizon.

Conversation starters in this episode:

Liz Plank on masculinity from Think Again, episode #214