Week 3 – TED-Ed Lesson: On Science & Morality

This week we introduce you to TED-Ed Lessons Worth Sharing.
We can use engaging videos to create customized lessons, adapting
and editing any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or or creating lessons
from scratch around any TED or YouTube video. You can take the
TED-Ed tour to watch the video and learn how.

AU’s 2014-15 Common Book. We will also introduce you
to William Kwamba’s How We Built A Wind Mill.

Science can answer moral questions

Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can — and should — be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life.

  • Watch the video
  • Think about answers to related questions
  • Dig Deeper by exploring additional resources

How I harnessed the wind

At age 14, in poverty and famine, a Malawian boy built a windmill to power his family’s home. Now at 22, William Kamkwamba, who speaks at TED, here, for the second time, shares in his own words the moving tale of invention that changed his life.

Related Resources

Sam Harris: Talk to Me About Morality, Not Your Superiority

Sam Harris is offering $20,000 to anyone who can refute, disprove the central thesis of his book The Moral Landscape.

Too Simple to Be Wrong: Atheism’s Bronze-Age Goat Herder Conceit

Harris’ words [in his 2004 book The End of Faith] are indicative of a profoundly anti-intellectual conceit that holds an alarming amount of influence within contemporary scientifically motivated atheism.

→  Science, Religion and ‘The Breakfast Club’ Conceit 

Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba Story (video 6:07)

New documentary traces William Kamkwamba’s journey from rural Malawi to the TED Stage

William Kamkwamba is the subject of a new documentary, William and the Windmill, which made its world premiere at the SXSW film festival on Sunday, March 10. It is up for the festival’s Documentary Competition.


Week 2 – BANNED! TED Standards & Practices

In the United StatesStandards and Practices (also referred to 
as Broadcast Standards and Practices) is the name traditionally 
given to the department at a television network which is responsible 
for the moral, ethical, and legal implications of the program that 
network airs. - Wikipedia

The TED Talks is a phenomenon not without its critics. One issue is a possible standard that pitches and panders to an elite audience. Another is the practice of banning Talks because some vocal groups find the topics or ideas objectionable.

What’s Wrong with TED Talks?

Published on Dec 30, 2013. Benjamin Bratton, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at UCSD and Director of The Center for Design and Geopolitics at CALIT2, asks: Why don’t the bright futures promised in TED talks come true? Professor Bratton attacks the intellectual viability of TED, calling it placebo politics, middlebrow megachurch infotainment, and the equivalent of right-wing media channels. Does TED falsely present problems as simply puzzles to be solved by rearranging the pieces?

BANNED: Rich People Don’t Create Jobs

Via Business Insider: “As the war over income inequality wages on, super-rich Seattle entrepreneur Nick Hanauer has been raising the hackles of his fellow 1-percenters, espousing the contrarian argument that rich people don’t actually create jobs. The position is controversial — so much so that TED is refusing to post a talk that Hanauer gave on the subject. National Journal reports today that TED officials decided not to put Hanauer’s March 1 speech up online after deeming his remarks “too politically controversial” for the site…”.

TIME: Was Nick Hanauer’s TED Talk on Income Inequality Too Rich for Rich People?

FORBES: The Real Reason That TED Talk was Censored? Its Shoddy and Dumb

TED’s Chris Anderson Offers Up Tepid Defense For Blocking Hanauer Video

BANNED: The Science Delusion

TED’s Chris Anderson censored Rupert Sheldrake, along with Graham Hancock, and removed this video and Hancock’s from the TEDx YouTube channel. They dared question the Scientistic Orthodoxy, and for that they have been publicly castigated and defamed.

More on the controversy:

TED Blog ( >2,000 comments) 

Dear TED, Is it ‘bad science’ or a ‘Game of Thrones’?

Chris Anderson: TED, censorship, consciousness, militant atheists, and pseudo science!

Deepak Chopra: Reply to Chris Anderson, TED 

Deepak Chopra: TED relents, but whose hash has been settled?

BUT NOT BANNED: Dawkins on militant atheism

AND NOT BANNED: Chopra 2002 talk at TED

AND NOT BANNED: How economic inequality harms societies

We feel instinctively that societies with huge income gaps are somehow going wrong. Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.

Week 1 – Minds & Brains

The world needs all kinds of minds.


Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works — sharing her ability to “think in pictures,” which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans


Clinical psychiatrist Daniel Amen tells us how and why brain imaging is essential for diagnosis and treatment in psychiatry.

Related Resources

Temple Grandin’s Website

Temple Grandin – The Movie [8.4]

March 28, 2014 (CNN) — One in 68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a 30% increase from 1 in 88 two years ago, according to a new report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  More →

Study warns of higher risk of autism for kids born to men over 45 [Video 3:21]

The Puzzle of Neuroimaging and Psychiatric Diagnosis: Technology and Nosology in an Evolving Discipline

Anticipating Spring

We hope you are anticipating Spring and the next edition of The Best of TED. We are completing our  selection of the topics and Talks for the class and will update this weblog, including the Spring 2014 schedule as we go along. So please click the Follow button on the sidebar to be alerted to updates when they occur

If you would like to suggest a topic or specific Talk, please submit your suggestion by clicking on “I RECOMMEND…”, above.

Also, be sure to click the Follow button in the right sidebar to be notified via email of new posts and comments.

If TED is new to you, be sure to check out our helpful !!!WARNING!!!

We look forward to seeing you, soon, and talking TED.

– Ginny & Tom

Week 8 – The Experiment: Flipping

Today’s TED Talks

Meet the McGonigals: Kelly & Jane

For Week 8 we are asking you to view these two TED Talks before you come to class, as part of The Experiment on Flipping.


Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.


Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life

When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk, McGonigal explains how a game can boost resilience — and promises to add 7.5 minutes to your life.ng mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.


Ginny will lead the discussion, today.

Resilience [pdf]


Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal | Profile on TED.com

You found me. | game designer, author, future forecaster

Gaming can make a better world

Kelly McGonigal

Kelly McGonigal | Profile on TED.com

Where science and compassion meet

The science of willpower



Class Weblog

The Classes

Online Evaluation

The Future…

The Best of TED

OLLI Class Weblogs

Week 7 – “Pick Up” and Recommendations


This week we will use some of the class time to “pick up loose ends” on earlier topics, i.e.,  creativity in education, happiness, personal health information, and online learning,

Also, we are asking you to view as many of the recommended TED Talks (listed, below) as possible before coming to class; we will discuss some of them, but will not view any in class.

Here are the recommendations we received via email:

Iwan Baan: Ingenious homes in unexpected places
Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+
Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are
Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do
Katie Brennan: Global challenges & social Innovations – TEDx Auburn University
Steven Pinker: The surprising decline in violence
Denis Dutton: A Darwinian theory of beauty
Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds
Amanda Bennett: We need a heroic narrative for death
Rethinking the Bucket List: Kathleen Taylor at TEDx – Tampa Bay

Look for and offer comments on these recommendations under the Replies on the
I Recommend… page.


If you emailed a recommendation, please go to I Recommend… and enter your recommendation with the Leave a Reply option. Be sure to include:

  • the title of the Talk.
  • a link to it, and
  • tell us what you think is special about the Talk.