Big Think's Top Videos of Summer 2012

The top videos of summer, '12, featuring experts such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Dr. Michio Kaku, Slavoj Zizek, Jaron Lanier and many others. 

Popcorn is required for reading this post. So is a good wifi connection on a beach near you as we hope you're enjoying the last days of summer, which we hope will be filled with relaxation, but also mental stimulation.


That is why we have compiled the top 10 videos from the summer featured on Big Think. How were the top 10 decided? You voted by clicking on them, and it's a good selection, covering religion and skepticism, genetics, philosophy, physics and human biology, among other topics. Enjoy!

1. Neil deGrasse Tyson: Atheist or Agnostic?

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson claims the title "scientist" above all other "ists." And yet, he says he is "constantly claimed by atheists." So where does he stand? “Neil deGrasse, widely claimed by atheists, is actually an agnostic.” 

Watch the video here:

2. Kadam Morten: Buddhism as a "Science of the Mind"

It’s early days still for the neuroscience of meditation, but Kadam Morten, a teacher in the New Kadampa tradition of Buddhism, argues that the Buddha (Gautama Buddha, who lived in India approximately 2500 years ago) was the creator of a “science of the mind.”

Watch the video here:

3. Jaron Lanier: In Defense of Life: Alan Turing, the Original Hacker.

This summer marked the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing's birth. According to computer scientist Jaron Lanier, the right way to understand Alan Turing's famous "Turing Test" is to understand that it "began in the mind of somebody who was in a deeply, deeply uncomfortable possible situation, who was very close to suicide, and that it amounted to a flight from life, but also a defense of life." 

Watch the video here:

4. Bryan Sykes: What Does Everyone Need to Know About Genetics?

According to Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes, it's perhaps too deterministic to say that your genes determine everything you do. It’s more like the deck of cards that you're dealt at birth. What you do with that deck, like any card game, depends a lot on your choices, but it is influenced by those cards, those genes that you got when you were born.

Watch the video here:

5. Slavoj Zizek: We Need Thinking

Slavoj Zizek answers the question, "Do you think science has replaced philosophy in discovering the bigger questions of life?" Philosophy is not dying, he says -- in fact, we need it more now than ever.

Watch the video here:

6. Jane McGonigal: Three Reasons Why You Should Play More Games (And Work Fewer Hours)

"We have this idea that playing games is kind of a waste of time," says Jane McGonigal. However, research shows that games help us tap into positive emotions like curiosity, optimism, creativity, and even love. They also make us more likely to cooperate with someone in our real lives after we’ve played a social game with them involving a cooperative mission. And lastly, we're more likely to set an ambitious goal for ourselves after we’ve succeeded in a game. 

Watch the video here:

7. Jesse Bering: The Porn Movies in Our Minds

The science writer Jesse Bering tells Big Think that humans have an "advanced social cognitive system" that allows us to "play back scenes in our heads, like a dirty movie theater." This cognitive ability makes us unique among animals, and it is a mechanism we use very often. 

Watch the video here:

8. Dr. Michio Kaku: This Super Camera Captures What is Beyond Human Comprehension

Dr. Michio Kaku says "there is a whole universe out there where events take place on a scale of billionths of a second and another timescale where events take place over a timescale of billions of years - and the sad thing is that we humans, our human brain, is unaccustomed to dealing with these true extreme universes that we never see." And yet, now we have a new camera "that can take a trillion frames per second and actually capture these processes that are beyond human comprehension."

Watch the video here:

9. Henry Rollins: The One Decision That Changed My Life Forever

Many successful people can point to a risky decision they made that paid off. In the case of Henry Rollins, a serial artistic entrepreneur and iconic self-made man, the decisive moment was especially stark.

Watch the video here:

10. John Seely Brown: How World of Warcraft Could Save Your Business and The Economy

Learning guru John Seely Brown is not being even slightly ironic when he says that he’d hire an expert player of World of Warcraft (the massive multiplayer online fantasy videogame) over an MBA from Harvard. 

Watch the video here:

Daniel Honan, Megan Erickson and Jason Gots contributed to this post. Videos were produced and directed by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

content.jwplatform.com
Videos
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

Scientists find a horrible new way cocaine can damage your brain

Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.

Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
  • Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
  • Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Keep reading Show less