Editor’s Picks: A (non-exhaustive) list of our favorite TED Talks of 2020
Author: Oliver Friedman
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As we usher out 2020 — the (enter superlative of your choice) year — let’s take a moment to look back before we close the door for good. What captured our imaginations, reflected our emotions and sparked our hope for a better tomorrow? From the wisdom of Dolly Parton to the life-saving potential of snail venom to the transformative work of antiracism, here are some of the TED Talks that stayed with us as the world shifted beneath our feet.
Why do people distrust vaccines? Anthropologist Heidi Larson describes how medical rumors originate, spread and fuel resistance to vaccines worldwide.
Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad gives a captivating talk on truth, difference, storytelling — and Dolly Parton.
A more equal world starts with you. Yes, it’s that simple, says equity advocate Nita Mosby Tyler.
Housewife-turned-politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya shares a beautiful meditation on the link between fearlessness and freedom.
Backed by the real, often-untold story of Rosa Parks, professor David Ikard makes a compelling case for the power and importance of historical accuracy.
Racism makes our economy worse — and not just for people of color. Public policy expert Heather C. McGhee offers a crucial rethink on how we can create a more prosperous world for all.
In a talk that’s part cultural love letter, part history lesson, France Villarta details the legacy of gender fluidity in his native Philippines — and emphasizes the universal beauty of all people, regardless of society’s labels.
For the poor and vulnerable, the health impacts of climate change are already here. Physician Cheryl Holder calls on doctors, politicians and others to build a health care system that incorporates economic and social justice.
Venom can kill … or it can cure. A fascinating talk from marine chemical biologist Mandë Holford on the potential of animal venom to treat human diseases.
Why has there been so little mention of saving Black lives from the climate emergency? David Lammy, a Member of Parliament for Tottenham, England, talks about the link between climate justice and racial justice.
“It shouldn’t be an act of feminism to know how your body works,” says gynecologist and author Jen Gunter. The era of menstrual taboos is over.
Scientists predict climate change will displace more than 180 million people by 2100. Disaster recovery lawyer Colette Pichon Battle lays out how to prepare for this looming crisis of “climate migration.”
In a talk brimming with original illustrations and animations, visual artist Oliver Jeffers offers observations on the “beautiful, fragile drama of human civilization.”
Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, calls on us all to rise to our greatest challenge ever: the “Earthshots,” a set of ambitious objectives to repair the planet.
If you: do laundry, are (or have been) pregnant, shop for your household or do similar labor, then by GDP standards, you’re unproductive. Economist Marilyn Waring explains her vision for a better way to measure growth.
The fossil fuel industry is waiting for someone else to pay for climate change. Climate science scholar Myles Allen shares a bold plan for the oil and gas companies responsible for the climate crisis to clean up the mess they made — and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Just like the rest of 2020, the aftermath of the US presidential election was unprecedented. Learn why the concession speech is one of the most important safeguards for democracy in this prescient talk from lawyer and political commentator Van Jones.
The way we’ve been doing business is hurting us and the environment. What’s the fix? Economist Rebecca Henderson calls for a reimagined capitalism where companies pay for the climate damage they cause.
Author and historian Ibram X. Kendi explains how the concept of antiracism can help you actively uproot injustice and inequality in the world — and replace it with love.
A stunning talk and performance from theater artist Daniel Alexander Jones on how coming undone can be the first step toward transformation.
How do we eradicate racial bias? Psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt explores how interrupting and adding friction to our thought processes could address the unfair targeting Black people face at all levels of society.
“Complete silence is very addictive,” says Rebecca Knill, a writer who has cochlear implants that enable her to hear. With humor and charm, she explores the evolution of assistive listening technology — and how we could build a more inclusive world.
Starbucks COO Rosalind G. Brewer invites business leaders to rethink what it takes to create a truly inclusive workplace — and lays out how to bring real, grassroots change to boardrooms and communities alike.
It takes more than rhetoric or elegance to win a dispute. US Supreme Court litigator Neal Katyal shares stories of some of his most impactful cases — and the key to crafting a persuasive and successful argument in (and out of) court.
Get the inside story behind Thomas Crowther’s headline-making research on reforestation — and the platform he created to help restore the biodiversity of Earth, everywhere.