Debates & Talks
How Terrorists Are Made
Anthropologist Scott Atran, compelling as usual, talks to Robert Wright about what creates terrorists, the subject matter of his book a year ago, Talking to the Enemy.
Jonathan Haidt on Morality
Lecture by psychologist Jonathan Haidt whose "research indicates that morality is a social construction which has evolved out of raw materials provided by five (or more) innate "psychological" foundations: Harm, Fairness, Ingroup, Authority, and Purity.
Guinier on Redefining Merit
A brilliant lecture by Lani Guinier, professor of law at Harvard and civil rights activist, on what merit means, why we need to redefine it, the benefits of diversity in approaching complex problems, and more.
The Perils of Personalization
For over a decade, personalization has been a growing trend on the Internet. It feels nice, this idea of news, information, and services customized for our individual interests. But does it have any downsides?
Alva Noë on Consciousness
In Out of Our Heads, philosopher Alva Noë, "restates and reexamines the problem of consciousness, and ... suggests that rather than being something that happens inside us, consciousness is something we do.
Rao on Indus Valley Inscriptions
Rajesh Rao on the challenge of deciphering the 4000-year-old inscriptions of the Indus Valley Civilization, including whether they represent a linguistic script or a non-linguistic symbol system.
How Language Shapes Thought
The structure of particular languages affect the way we attend to, encode, represent, remember, and reason about the world—a brilliant lecture by Lera Boroditsky.
The Secret Lives of Ants
Ant colonies have long fascinated humans due to their parallels with human societies: millions of individuals with no central control, spanning many lifetimes and a large territory, solve problems through cooperation and division of labor. How do they do it?
Race vs. Class: The Future of Affirmative Action
An excellent 2009 debate and Q&A on the following motion: "Affirmative action policies should focus on class and wealth rather than race and ethnicity."
Ramadan and Zizek on Egypt
Riz Khan talks to Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek about the power of popular dissent, the limits of peaceful protest and the future of Egyptian politics.
Readings from 'Tablet & Pen'
An evening of music, poetry, and other readings inspired by a new anthology of Middle Eastern literature, Tablet & Pen, hosted by its editor Reza Aslan
The Roots of Mideast Terror
A brilliant lecture by Mahmood Mamdani, Herbert Lehman Professor at Columbia. He provides a necessary corrective to the mostly obtuse and ignorant discourse on Islamic terrorism in the U.S.
The Secret Powers of Time
Philip Zimbardo "conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. Time influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world."
Schneier on Security
Know any examples of an absurdly disproportionate response to a security failure? Check out Bruce Schneier on how to think about security.
Are Genes Left Wing?
"The right loves genetic explanations for poverty or mental illness," claims Oliver James. The problem, he says, is that a decade of scientific research does not support their views.
The Lost Art of Democratic Debate
The inimitable Michael Sandel's TED talk, a short digest of his brilliant Harvard course that I heartily recommend for one and all.
On Power, Human Nature, Justice
A 1971 exchange between Chomsky and Foucault (I especially resonate with the latter's take on these topics).
Radical Women, Embracing Tradition
"Kavita Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women talks about three encounters with powerful women who fight to make the world better—while preserving the traditions that sustain them."
Gloom Boom & Doom
A lecture by Marc Faber, the pessimist's economist, a "contrarian" who has been frequently right, and publisher of the investment newsletter "The Gloom Boom & Doom Report". His website is even adorned by the Dance of Death paintings by Kaspar Meglinger.
George Soros on the Future of Economics
In this lecture series, Soros offers some resolutely liberal and philosophically rich food for thought on economics—an odd thing to say, I'll admit, for a multi-billionaire hedge fund manager.
Tariq Ramadan on Muslims in the West
Al Jazeera interview by Riz Khan, in which Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, talks about a range of issues that relate to the experience of Muslims in the West.
Spivak on the New Subaltern
Here is an entertaining and though-provoking—if also a tad dense—lecture by Columbia Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, a leading literary theorist and cultural critic, well known for her essay, Can the Subaltern Speak?
A Universe From Nothing
A great primer by physicist Lawrence Krauss on what we have recently learned about the universe, how it is dominated by "nothing", aka dark matter and dark energy, and why the emergent picture is so bizarre.
Embrace Your Inner Girl
In this passionate talk, Eve Ensler declares that there is a girl cell in us all, which we have all been taught to suppress.
Tariq Ali on Afghanistan and Pakistan
British-Pakistani writer, journalist, and historian Tariq Ali disagrees with Obama's strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, describes what is happening in the two countries, and raises several awkward questions.
What to Make of the Naxalites?
How much does the Maoist cause of overthrowing the Indian state have in common with the Adivasi/Dalit cause of social justice and autonomy?
Michael Sandel on Justice
An introduction to moral and political philosophy and great philosophers of the past—from Aristotle to John Stuart Mill—but also to debate contemporary issues that raise philosophical questions—about individual rights and the claims of community, equality and inequality, morality and law.
Alan de Botton on Success
A breezy talk in which Alain de Botton looks at our ideas of success and failure, the anxiety we feel over our careers, why it's harder now to feel calm than ever before. Is success always earned? Is failure?
Dreyfus on Heidegger
Bryan Magee talks to Hubert Dreyfus, a leading Heidegger scholar from UC Berkeley. They explain why Heidegger has had an enormous impact on almost every contemporary academic discipline.
Searle on Wittgenstein
Bryan Magee talks to John Searle about the ideas and legacy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, covering his early work, the Tractatus, as well as his posthumously published, Philosophical Investigations.
Who Speaks for Islam?
A debate between Irshad Manji and Dalia Mogahed. Manji, a vocal critic of Islam, sees herself as a reform Muslim. Mogahed identifies herself as a mainstream Muslim who is "passionate about moderation."
Wired for War
Amy Goodman in conversation with PW Singer, author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.
Who Are We?
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's gripping story of her stroke, caused by hemorrhage to the left hemisphere of her brain, and the unexpected spiritual moment she experienced within that stroke: Nirvana.
Combatting Human Trafficking
According to Julia Ormond, slavery is alive and well today. Worldwide, tens of millions of people live in slavery ... the largest number of slaves in history.
On Nuclear Energy
A brilliant presentation on why nuclear energy must be a significant part of a clean energy solution (by Gwyneth Cravens and Rip Anderson).
Reza Aslan on Religion
An Apr 2007 debate between Reza Aslan and Sam Harris. Topics include religion, Islam, terrorism, etc. Aslan is the one to watch.
How Terrorism Works
Experts on Islamic terrorism are now everywhere, spouting wisdom on countless media outlets and blogs. Most of them ... reflexively summon their gut to explain what turns Muslims into terrorists,...
The Oldest Conflict of All
A debate between Professor Mansfield, author of the recent controversial study, Manliness, and Professor Kipnis, author of a similarly controversial new book, The Female Thing: Dirt, Sex, Envy, Vulnerability.
The Romance of the Nation-State
A thought-provoking and often amusing lecture by Ashis Nandy, prominent Indian political psychologist and social philosopher.