Prisoner in handcuffs clenching fists.

10 Ted Talks That Will Challenge You to Change Perceptions

‘What if…’ is the beginning of some of the most interesting questions. TED Talks have become a powerful platform for individuals to share their unique insights and experiences. Each of the following talks serves as a window into a different “what if” scenario.

These talks challenge conventional wisdom and encourage viewers to reconsider their preconceptions. They span a wide range of topics, from criminal justice reform to the mysteries of the multiverse. 

What if We Could Live Sustainably, Using Resources in an Infinite Loop?

Plastic water bottles pollution in ocean (Environment concept)
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William McDonough is not a doomsday prophet, but he doesn’t shy away from hard truths. Instead, he works with corporations and governments to find solutions to pollution that will allow humanity to flourish. How does he persuade and inspire them to make such radical changes?


What if We Could Understand the Mind of a Conspiracy Theorist?

Peter McIndoe does a Ted Talk on Getting into the Minds of conspiracy theorists.
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Peter McIndoe set out to convince the world that birds were actually government spy drones. His story is a frighteningly successful case study in misinformation, but he also sheds light on what works (and what doesn’t work) in dismantling a conspiracy theory.


What if You Could See Every Tiny Detail of an Insect?

Shiny green Mint Leaf Beetle - Chrysolina herbacea.
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Levon Biss’s photography was famous worldwide, and he had photographed the biggest events around the globe, but this time, to find inspiration, he had to think very, very small.


What if the People on Opposite Sides of the Courtroom Actually Listened to Each Other?

Prisoner in handcuffs clenching fists.
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Jarrell Daniels explains how he helped to break down barriers within the legal system by sharing his life story. In an innovative college course program, entitled “Inside Criminal Justice,” Jarrell and seven other incarcerated men opened up to a cohort of prosecuting attorneys, and the results speak volumes about the power of empathy and hope.


What if We Could Make World Peace a Reality?

Drawing of a dove on barbed wire that is turning into green vines illustrating optimism.
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Jody Williams, Nobel laureate, would like to introduce you to some iconic women who are struggling to change the world, not with grand dreams but with committed action toward safety and dignity.


What if There Were Such a Thing as “Too Healthy”?

Broccoli, water bottle, apple, tape emasure and weight for weight-lifting arranged together on grass.
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A.J. Jacobs is well-known for pursuing too much of a good thing, and the year he spent dedicating himself to healthy practices was no exception. He listened to all the health experts (so you don’t have to.)


What if a Sea Slug Could Revolutionize the Field of Mathematics?

Beautiful nudibranch sea slug with frilly edges.
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Margaret Wertheim didn’t intend to explore a new field of mathematics; she just wanted to use crochet to replicate a coral reef. As she and her growing team of volunteers put their wool to work, they found themselves using a very old handicraft to model a very new field of mathematics (hyperbolic geometry), which is key to describing the shape of sea slugs, coral reefs, and even a frilly stalk of kale. 


What if All Facts Were Fun Facts?

Laptop computer displaying logo of Wikipedia.
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There’s overthinking, and then there’s Annie Rauwerda, who has turned her love of trivial knowledge into her life’s passion. Join this guided tour of the world’s biggest digital trivia repository, Wikipedia, and come out both weirder and wiser.


What if Everyone Agreed to Make Life a Lot Sillier?

Los Angeles, CA - January 11, 2015: People without pants arriving in the 7th Annual International
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Charlie Todd is the founder of Improv Everywhere, and he will do just about anything to coax a gasp and a smile out of a stranger in New York City. Check out some samples of his proudest work, including the very first annual No-Pants Subway Ride.


What if We Could Grasp the Secrets of the Multiverse?

Alignment or array of many Earth planet in outer space - 3D rendering illustration.
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Brian Greene is here to carve a few new grooves into your brain as he explains the latest revelations in physics, from string theory to dark matter. The nature of the universe is a dizzying mystery, but we are coming closer and closer to actually understanding it.


Debunking Common Myths

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Author: Amelia Bowler

Amelia Bowler is a writer, behavior consultant, illustrator, parent, and logic puzzle enthusiast. She's always been happiest in the company of odd ducks, rule-breakers, and scatterbrains. A bit of an odd duck herself, Amelia took a teaching degree in the hopes that she'd be able to create learning environments where kids like her could thrive.

Amelia has a Master's Degree in Applied Disability Studies and has worked in clinics supporting children with developmental disabilities, specializing in teens with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.