Michael McWatters

UX Architect, TED


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If you could choose any historical figure to give a TED Talk, who would it be and why?

This one is pretty open-ended. I'm curious to know who you would choose for a TED Talk, why, and maybe what you think their "idea worth spreading" might be.

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    Apr 8 2013: Leonardo Da Vinci. Let's just keep this simple: The man is amazing.
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    Apr 12 2013: Nikola Tesla.. definitively ! So many of his projects are hidden, forgotten & unfinished.
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    Apr 8 2013: Nikola Tesla! :)
  • Apr 15 2013: Nikola Tesla-The man ahead of his time.!
    Why- To tell the world to invent the things not for the money but for humanity..!
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    Apr 13 2013: Albert Einstein. He was obviously intelligent, but what distinguished him was his willingness and ability to accept new interpretations of the universe. He looked at what obviously was the universe and recognized how it could be interpreted in a new way and thus, understood on a deeper level.
  • Apr 9 2013: Jesus. That'd help a lot of people more appropriately place their faith.
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    Apr 15 2013: Mother Theresa. I've always been a fan...Interesting to note, I asked my 4th graders this same question. In fact, we created an entire mock TEDx classroom symposium on the question, and they created TED talks & performances based on the lives of the following people: Eleanor Roosevelt, The Wright Brothers, Benjamin Netanyahu (prime minister of israel), Marion Anderson, Amelia Earhart, Ruby Bridges, Jackie Robinson, Kamehameha the Great, and Sacagawea...just to name a few. Their task was to identify the purpose of their speech (to entertain, inform, persuade, or all three), and base their talks on the "innovative" idea that each represented at that time in history. It was pretty cool so see what they came up with. My favorite was the lip sync of Marian Anderson as she sang the National Anthem at the inauguration of Presiden Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957!
  • Apr 13 2013: Buddha...
    Idea worthspreading : Self actualisation aka Enlightenment.
    His commentary on the way we live today would be most interesting, too.
    If you intend to invite him...!!! ;) :) suggest he speak English, please.
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    • Apr 13 2013: interesting, please elaborate?
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        • Apr 14 2013: I agree that Jesus would be a thrilling speaker - but for a different reason. He wanted to teach us that its possible to have a system of truth-based governance (the Kingdom he kept describing) that leads to a depth of knowledge that empowers us as human beings to overcome disease, hunger, war, and much of the ignorance we still have over how the earth and physical world we live in really works; and how as humans if we understood our own design, we could better influence physical outcomes. Now that would be one fascinating talk!!
        • Apr 15 2013: what do you mean by "levels of consciousness"?

          exactly how is reincarnation and resurrection fact?

          exactly who did you learn all of this from?

          excuse all the questions, just so far it sounds a little bit like you've mixed a couple of unrelated books into a single idea, though perhaps if you explained it would clearer.
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    Apr 12 2013: Definitely the greats: Buddha, Jesus and Moses.

    I mean, what we are calling religion now were merely Ideas that captured the imagination of people and it spread like wildfire, changing the consciousness of man for thousands of years. Jesus, love others as you love yourself. That was new then. Jesus was the first humanitarian. Including the samaritans despite them being outsiders of the flock. Buddha, x=X (individual consciousness = collective consciousness). Moses, there is only one God (the forces we see around are a product of one universal phenomena)

    Most scientists like Newton, and Johannes Kepler and even Darwin are quiet eccentric people who most likely don't look you in the eye. I would go for the luminaries!
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    • Apr 13 2013: Absolutely disagree Darwin and Newton were stand up guys. The other guys are legends. Many scholars believe Pythagoras was actually a handful of differant people whos works are attributed to one name. I would say the same thing about Jesus Buddha and Moses. These figures embody a movement not a single human vessel.
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    Apr 10 2013: Nicola Tesla. He truely was the best geek to ever walked the earth.
  • Apr 14 2013: @Chris - I agree that Jesus would be a thrilling speaker - but for a different reason. He wanted to teach us that its possible to have a system of truth-based governance (the Kingdom he kept describing) that leads to a depth of knowledge that empowers us as human beings to overcome disease, hunger, war, and much of the ignorance we still have over how the earth and physical world we live in really works; and how as humans if we understood our own design, we could better influence physical outcomes. Now that would be one fascinating talk!!
  • Apr 14 2013: Who? Nelson Mandela. Why? To discuss his experience in using forgiveness and empathy to attain widespread influence and impact. And for him to explore how we might all tap into that mind-set that has no dogma but sees with clarity, all the time, what it is that really matters.
  • Apr 13 2013: Churchill
  • Apr 13 2013: Thomas Hobbes (interesting ideas on government, great speaker apparently)
    Samuel Johnson (charismatic, quirky worldview, intellectual titan)
    Montaigne (original and accessible philosopher)
    Gerrard Winstanley (founder of the Levellers, early democratic movement)
    Howard Hughes (what a life!)
    Keynes v. Hayek (two views of the economic crisis)
    Mikhail Bakunin (founding father of anarchism)
    Sophie Scholl (died rather than condone the Nazi regime)
    Martin Niemoller (another individual with exceptional moral courage)
    Olaudah Equiano (how important really was the role of black activists in abolishing the slave trade?)
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel (indefatigable engineer of genius)
    Thomas More (a man who died for his philosophy).
    • Apr 13 2013: If we could bring back Sophie Scholl, I would be in favor of having her talk. She was a brave woman, the very essence of humanity that fascist regimes hate and eliminate.
  • Apr 13 2013: Teddy Roosevelt-It would be neat to see his "current " take on conservation, military intervention, business, taxation, and our current misguided Ideas on gun control.

    "Mr. President what are your thoughts on gun control?"

    "Very much in favor of hitting what I am shooting at..Bully!"
    • Apr 13 2013: ROOSEVELT would certainly support the 2nd Amendment, after all he was a huge hunting enthusiast. Many say he was a "PROGRESSIVE," but today he would probably be a LIBERTARIAN. I think even the republican party is far to "PROGRESSIVE," for even him.
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      Apr 15 2013: William the Silent, prince of orange and of the Netherlands, their Washington and Lincoln rolled into one, defender of freedom of conscience and the rights of the people.
  • Keith W

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    Apr 13 2013: Ben Franklin, he was a true renegade and the iconic Renaissance Man. From science to politics he was an overall well rounded guy. He was also quite the ladies man, definately got it how he lived...
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      Apr 13 2013: A truly intelligent man whose wisdom oozed out from all the shouting of the founding fathers and illuminated the way. But he did seem to "cherchez the femmes" when he was in France. I loved his letter to a young man about the advantages of marrying an older woman. He had an excellent sense of humor, too!
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    Apr 12 2013: I'd ask for a three-way between Galileo, Copernicus, and Thomas S. Kuhn. They could discuss Ted's shocking lack of forward thinking in the recent scandal about Ted coming out against scientists who aren't full of everyday, established talk and therefore must be labeled "pseudoscientists." I must be naive, because I was REALLY surprised to find out about this.

    Would you guys let Kuhn (Harvard) talk about paradigm in science belief and history? Would Tim Leary (Harvard) be given 18 minutes to discuss the effects of LSD on the brain? What would you have told Mark Zuckerberg if he'd come of age in 1983 and explained how this wacky thing called a "social network" might take over the whole danged world? I guess you'd have pooh-poohed it.

    I'm interested in new, exploratory ideas in addition to some old-hat fun stuff about fascinating subjects. That's why I'm part of the TED community, though I considered quitting after reading about this. I don't think it's up to TED to decide for me whether Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock have interesting views on interesting subjects, views I should consider and further research.

    I sincerely hope you will not censor this comment.
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        Apr 12 2013: I want to add that I have no particular skin in the game about whether Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock are right in their views. I do know they have credentials, they provoke discussion, and if TED is supposed to be so fabulous and embracing of a new idea culture, the organization should act like it!
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          Apr 13 2013: Its a process, on the one hand TED will not be a respected entity if everything is passable. I always say these are market forces. Its very difficult to take consciousness seriously because we can't even agree on what consciousness is. Everybody claims to be conscious, but wonder what the word really means outside of our...err...consciousness. We could be tiny little ants.
    • Apr 13 2013: really? ted has a problem with scientists who aren't scientific? the nerve!
      open minds are good, but it shouldn't be so open that any unsupported rubbish can get in.
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        • Apr 14 2013: no that's exactly not what science is. personal experience is deceptive, and science goes to great lengths to avoid it and the misunderstanding it fosters.
    • Apr 13 2013: One of the first talks I heard on TED back in 2008 was that of Jill Bolte Taylor.
      And I was hooked on TED!
      Because of the Consciousness that Jill Bolte had experienced in her left brain after a stroke. What she experienced was not "Materialistic Science"! Nevertheless till now, for me, it is among the most amazing talks I have heard because of the nature of consciousness... So when Graham Hancock's and Rupert Sheldrake's talks were removed from TEDx I considered quitting... I totally agree with Tiffany Lee Brown.
      • Apr 13 2013: There are a lot of people who entertain the illusion that they have their fingers on the button. Control freaks :) The ideas worth spreading are spreading and whether TED likes it or not, it is also in the business of spreading 'pseudoscientific ' ( the most advanced ) ideas sometimes.
        There are some talks worth listening :)
        • Apr 14 2013: unfortunately ideas not worth spreading are given 'worthy' status by people who don't understand, and also spread. i support ted's stance against comforting balderdash.
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    Apr 12 2013: I would like to hear John Stuart Mill giving a TED talk on the dead dogma of freedom. Although he is one of the main supporters of individual freedom that history has seen, he also argues in "On Liberty" that no principle should become a dead dogma. It seems to me that "freedom" itself has become a dead dogma and I would like to hear what he thinks about it. Something similar to a response to Barry Schwartz's "the paradox of choice" TED talk.
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    Apr 12 2013: Let's get some entertainers up on the stage.

    Enrico Caruso
    Scott Joplin
    Maria Callas
    Buster Keaton
    Igor Stravinsky
    Sally Rand
  • Apr 10 2013: ben franklin. got wealthy thanks to his printing business, realised he had more than enough income to live very comfortably and retired rather than going after more and more money. he decided to spend his time and money instead on scientific pursuits, the developments from which he deliberately chose not to patent, so that all citizens could enjoy improvement in their standard of living rather than holding it hostage for cash. capitalism but with an upper limit on wealth, pushing forward science and benefits to everybody - now that is an idea worth spreading!
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      Apr 11 2013: Great answer! I actually signed in to this conversation to say Ben Franklin, but you've made such a wonderful case that I will let yours stand, and pick a new speaker ...
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      Apr 12 2013: Ben most capitalists are similar to Franklin. Gates, Buffet, Rockefeller, etc.
      • Apr 12 2013: most? you've come up with 3, do tell me how 3 people among the richest 100,000 people leads to the conclusion that most capitalists are like franklin? and even among those 3 they've continued to work until well past becoming super rich, and have patented their work.

        not only do most of the rich not quit when they have enough and give back to the citizens to which their success depended on, they usually don't even pay the minimum amount that they are legally obliged to pay as their fair share. $100bn in taxes are avoided in america alone by the super rich who hide their funds in offshore bank accounts.


        i encourage everyone to engage in the debate, but please do some basic fact-checking before chiming in with such codswallop; support your statements with evidence or provide sources to where this evidence can be found.
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          Apr 12 2013: Yes that is the standard conjecture
      • Apr 13 2013: please elaborate?
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          Apr 13 2013: If you get what I'm saying no explanation is necessary if you don't none is possible
      • Apr 15 2013: the only things that can't be explained are those that aren't true.
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          Apr 15 2013: I used to think that also.
      • Apr 15 2013: and what led you to change your mind?
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          Apr 15 2013: Many talks that were a waste of time.
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    Apr 9 2013: Albert Einstein would be my #1 choice. Fascinating person.
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  • Apr 14 2013: My ideal lecturer would be George Orwell, the time of the lecture either just before WWII, or 2013. Orwell's was an uncompromising and sharp brain, with an ability to SEE the big picture, and to put his visions into words.
  • Apr 14 2013: TED Talk should interview this SMALL Brasilian Girl Isadora Faber (http://www.facebook.com/DiariodeClasseSC?fref=ts).
    She is fighting for GOOD PUBLIC EDUCATION in Brasil and some (power) people are trying to make her shut up.
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    Apr 13 2013: Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte - because he was misunderstood even while he lived, and certainly after he died, and because his vision for a unified Europe brought together under a common market, common legal and government system and common monetary system was not only bold, but also far ahead of its time. A TED Talk would not only allow him to clear his name for the record of history, but to also inspire others to aspire to higher ideals and not settle for what was easy, even if you disagreed with his methods and believe him to be a tyrannical figure.
  • Apr 13 2013: Marshall McLuhan.
  • Apr 13 2013: inspirational:Abraham Lincoln,Jesus, Robert E. Lee, George Wahington,Gandhi
    artisti/literature:Mary Cassatt, Michelangelo,Raphael,Walt Whitman,Ralph Waldo Emerson
    funny:Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
    science/exploration:Madame Curie, Enest Shackleton
  • Apr 13 2013: NIKOLA TESLA [1856-1943] - he only invented radio, microwaves, A/C current, robots, VTO aircraft, and radar - imagine what he might have done with support from TED!!

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    Apr 13 2013: Malcolm X. I wonder what great ideas and theories he would have about technology, ideas, and design with Minorities in the 21st century.
  • Apr 13 2013: Marcus Mosiah Garvey - Jamaican (inspirational speaker, Social Activist, Universal Negro Improvement Association
    in the cause of African redemption, philosopher, educator, founder of Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League).
    He was an outspoken leader, dedicated to promoting African-Americans and resettlement in Africa. He was self educated and made a mark in the history books as a believer in dominant black nationalism.
    A talk today would include Self pride, pride in one's race as we try to uplift black youths from the negative self impressions and idealisms created by 'others'.
  • Apr 13 2013: I would chose Gandhiji, because he still had much to teach us before he was assassinated.
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    Apr 13 2013: Jayavarman VII, King of Cambodia, who ruled Cambodia right around the 9th-11th century (I am not exactly sure). We need help right now, oh, King. We are drowning in greeds, corruption and lawlessness. Our primitive instinct is hacking us apart, rich from poor, Lexus from cyclo. The genocide of the Khmer Rouge is not over yet. Help us, just king.
  • Apr 13 2013: The Rev Doctor Sun Myung Moon who just left this life on Earth. Humanity was so busy condemning him that they missed his message. What a mistake! Individual insecurities and fears prevented hearing him speak about God our Father. Biggest mistake mankind has made NOT to of saw and heard him speak in person. He tried, he flew the world many times going to every corner of civilization. Rejection as every other man of God experienced since the beginning of human history is what he received - I wish God would give mankind one more chance to hear the Rev Doctor Sun Myung Moon speak.
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    Apr 13 2013: Ali Ibn Abi Talib, because his courage, knowledge, belief, honesty, unbending devotion to Islam, deep loyalty, equal treatment of all human and generosity in forgiving his defeated enemies,

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    Apr 12 2013: @Tiffany: Well, they weren't scientific because the method didn't come until Galileo. They were game changers and all three had a common goal, to introduce rationality in place of ritualistic practice. Jesus was trying to teach sense. The 613 commandments of the Jewish People can be a little bit too much when really its just the 7 laws of Noah in detail. What Jesus did was condense it even more to one teaching which is, you and I are no different so treat me as you want to be treated. It is humanitarian. And he taught this to like everyday folk, people who need to hear it, not the TED people of their time, the intellectual rabbis who are studied and learned.

    Moses took the magical letters from the egyptian tradition available only to priests and royalty, and made it available to the workers. The Alef-Bet is math, but not only math, it holds the progression of concepts from energy into matter. You will see what they mean if you study the alphabet. A for ox-power, B for house, G for path etc, etc. It was pretty advanced. He said that all those powers that the egyptians were breaking down as separate powers is ONE power.

    Buddha is the first atheist, let me just say that. Maybe humanist, not atheist. Most atheists have (knock knock, disclaimer...i do know this is a generalisation) parent availability issues and therefore cannot rely on a "saviour" or "a higher power" and believe that they're on their own.
    But people get ideas and hold tack them into fixed points and then check back on it constantly because they don't dare deviate from it or make it meaningful for them. Then it becomes dogma, then it returns to what it struggled against. Science is a method. It's not a god. What you find out in science moves, changes everyday. But its essence remains. All knowledge can be found and lost and regained but with better understanding. This is a human habit. We keep on forgetting what we know and then when we remember it, we think its new
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        Apr 13 2013: Great analogy Chris.


        Compassion & Cruelty are not feelings they are choices!!

        Wisdom (Consciousness) = Intelligence (Science) + Compassion (choice)
        Stupidity = Intelligence (Science) + Cruelty (choice)

        Intelligence (Science) is a great tool
        A knife is a great tool developed by science
        Unfortunately a knife in the hands of a cruel intelligent...
        The world is paved with intelligent people...
        Few "choose" compassion and give the quantum leap to wisdom

        Intelligence (Science) is therefore a great path (choice) towards consciousness
        Intelligence (Science) is also a great path (choice) towards stupidity
        • Apr 13 2013: Who is that who chooses ?
          The world is governed by the laws of dynamics and chaos. Chaos is the order of infinite complexity. I don't think that anybody is in control ; the time has come for science to embrace the idea of 'spirit' , which is consciousness and compassion, awareness if you will.
          Just thoughts :)
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    Apr 12 2013: Would love to hear from the family of Isambard Kingdom Brunel - would love to know what his mother might have to say.
  • Apr 12 2013: Bucky Fuller.

    (Although an actor did an Tedx talk impersonating him. It was great -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=956yZZKDA18)

    Since I am here, I had this idea for TEDxGraveyard. Essentially find great actors to play historical figures and see what happens.
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    Apr 11 2013: My "historical" line up for a day

    Leonardo Da Vinci: innovation and disruptive thinking
    Niccolò Machiavelli: how organizations like TED are influencing politics
    Jim Morrison: musical interpretation Riders on the storm
    Confucius : have we traded human values with technological tweets
    Howard Robard Hughes : startup and entrepreneurship
    Omar Khayyam: mathmatics and religion
    Jacques-Yves Cousteau: climat change and stewardship of the earth
    Elvis Presley: musical interpretation (anyone)
    Martin Luther King: equal citizens
    Cleopatra: women leading organizations
    Frank Sinatra: musical interpretation (anyone)
    Gandhi: changing within
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    Apr 11 2013: Actually, if I was allowed a second opinion, after Jesus (or Abraham or Mohamed) and their honest opinion on various matters, I would invite the 'original Buddha' and question him about certain things. And what he thought about consumerism and capitalism. (and whether he thought that it was human nature to just compete.)
    Always get to the original source eh?
    Or maybe just get all of them into one room, and make them debate (on a TED conversation!). And just watch that for 20 minutes. Be good enough for me.
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    Apr 10 2013: Christopher Marlowe: He seems to have been a man ahead of his time...Gay, Atheist, probable secret agent...
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    Apr 9 2013: Somebody already beat me to it, but the Buddha.
  • Apr 9 2013: God.

    Because then we could stop arguing about who's religion is the best and all simply get on with the peace and love.

    Peace and love.

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      Apr 10 2013: I don't want to be rude but he asked about historical figure. If you'de like a TED talk from a historic religen figure there are many figures that have some or complete evidance of existence, like Joshua son of Miriam (Jesus as a peace loving person), Siddahartha (Buddah) Joseph Smith, L. Ron Howard and so on.
      • Apr 10 2013: I did consider others but they had already been taken so I went with the first thing that came to mind when reading the question. I'll be more careful not to express my thoughts next time so as not to offend you.
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          Apr 10 2013: I'm not offended, and I'm sorry to make you fill not at ease, but I was just baffled by the choice, because mostly even religious people don't offer a direct speak of god or count him/her/it as a historic figure.

          Once again, sorry, truely. The more an opinion is diffrent, the more it is importent to express.
  • Apr 9 2013: Karl Marx, i think it one of most inspired people of the last century and has been very misunderstood..:)
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    Apr 9 2013: Brilliant question.
    Probably "Jesus", If I am allowed to say that. (I mean he was a very influential historical figure, whether or not he came back from the dead!)
    Get to know what his honest views were on certain matters.
    (And on a similar question, if I could have three people to a diner party to discuss a certain matter, I would invite :
    Jesus, Abraham, and Mohammed, and just let them debate who was the right one out of them.) ;P
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    Apr 9 2013: ISAAC NEWTON, hands down.
    When I think of the achievements of Isaac Newton, I become at a loss of words......
    He discovered the laws of optics
    He discovered the laws of motion
    He discovered the Universal law of gravitation
    He discovered - integral differential calculus
    He did all this before he turned 26 years of age. I find this beyond extra ordinary..... I find this mind blowing
    If he could be here to give a TED talk, I would go to any possible extent to secure a front seat.

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    Apr 9 2013: Gotta go with Siddhartha Gautama
  • Apr 9 2013: Some other wish-list names, in no particular order:

    Mark Twain (Sam Clemens)
    Miyamoto Musashi - Seriously, look up his story. He was an amazing out-of-the-box thinker.
    Jules Verne
    Teddy Roosevelt
    Tesla (despite what I said above)
  • Apr 9 2013: I'd love a panel of Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton, and Franklin. The first three would talk about what they really were thinking when the Constitution was drafted, and Franklin would tell great off-color stories.
  • Apr 9 2013: One more vote for Tesla here.

    After researching a bit about him I got to respect him a lot, and Im glad he is becomign more popular. There is a lot of myth surounding him nowadays.
    I got shivers when I saw a picture of him standing in an apartment when he was nearing his life´s end.
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    Apr 8 2013: Definitely Theodore Roosevelt. He was a major contributor to the Conservation Movement; he created five national parks and almost two hundred reserves. He also stayed educated in Foreign Policy to maintain good relations with other countries during his time in office and made strides in the ongoing Civil Rights Movement.
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    Apr 15 2013: Kurt Cobain wouldn't be considered a historical figure to most..
    But he's got my vote =)
  • Apr 15 2013: Eva ("the first woman"), to hear her story about "loosing paradise"
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    Apr 15 2013: 1) Charles Darwin (he should give more than one talk)
    2) Parmenides
    3) J.S. Mill
    4) L. Wittgenstein
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    Apr 15 2013: Paul of the New Testament. Not because I am religious, but because I'd like to hear to what degree he carried Roman culture and organizing principles into the Catholic church. It is pretty clear to me, that ancient Rome never vanished, but was recreated into a new form of organization that spread throughout the earth, and I'd like to hear it directly from Paul.
  • Apr 15 2013: I Think General George Patton Would have been amazing to hear he Would have so many views and perspectives on what is going on in our society as of now...
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    Apr 15 2013: I would love to hear Abraham Lincoln speak about leadership. Lincoln is the type of leader I love looking into. I believe he would motivate the crowd about standing about for what they believe in. I also believe he would discuss how we as people need to stop giving up so quickly. A lot of people today have lost courage, but Lincoln would find a way to bring that spark back.
  • Apr 14 2013: Maria Montessori would be my choice. She had the key for educating children blissfully and successfully. It's amazing to me that her theories are still not being implemented in this country on a wide scale.
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    Apr 14 2013: I'd like to hear Abraham Lincoln talk about how he used mathematical principles to organize and structure his rhetoric to maximize his persuasiveness. His speeches were like headlines written by a poet, surgical strikes that I believe propelled him from relative obscurity to the Presidency at a crucial historical moment.
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      Apr 14 2013: Mark,
      I saw the insult to your name, and I understand your feelings maybe a little. I don't think you are "censored". It looks like one of your comments was removed, and often, TED removes comments that are connected to the insulting comment. Don't give up:>)
    • Apr 15 2013: i wouldn't define ted itself as being that way, though i have noticed the ongoing increase number of quasi-religious commenters who like to declare whatever it is they personally would like to be true as fact. i think there are still some people capable of having an intelligent discussion supported by evidence and logical argument though. i too have had a comment removed because the comment i was replying to was removed.
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    Apr 14 2013: I would have loved to see William Sloan Coffin speak. He's not quite a historical figure but he has passed away.
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    Apr 14 2013: @Chris Kelly,

    I think the TED community would be the short-hand way of pointing to intellectual elites. I know what a rabbi means, and they were thought leaders because there was no other education other than religious education. Anything that pertains to phenomena is attributed to God. It was only after the 19th century, when the method was introduced as an "objective" way to concur on what causes a phenomena that the separation between religious thought and intellectual thought happened.

    I must say, to say that the brain does not generate the mind is a religious assertion. Not a factual one. But anyone who studies the anatomy, particularly the brain will see that despite its material nature, it is quite a miraculous thing! And yes, this little mass of grey on our heads CAN produce the mind. As a matter of fact, I believe that the body is the larger mind where the unconscious resides. (but that's for another forum).

    My point is matter and spirit is only separated by the limits of our senses. In truth they are one and the same, they are stable energy relationships that we codify in our mind as "reality" or the material world. But observed in another way, it really is all energy. The mind and the body are one and I see nothing wrong with the notion that the same mass of grey is a version of the universe, scaled to human size.

    My point is, we need scientists to be what they are. It is essential for them to continue to doubt and ask. That is their role. Just as we need the rabbis and priests to provide answers to questions that are unsettling, that is their role, they provide the imaginary number that bridges the equation. Somewhere in between those two forces tugging at each other is the answer, a moving evolving answer... without the two forces tugging and challenging each other, how can both grow?
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      • Apr 15 2013: just a couple corrections, they don't deny spirit, they have searched for spirit on many occasions, found evidence of it nowhere, and contrarily have found evidence that 'spirit' isn't a thing at all but something created in the human mind.

        also energy does not precede matter, they are one and the same - matter is energy.
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    Apr 13 2013: I always found Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord to be a controversial figure. Known more simply as "Tallyrand" he was regarded by some as one of the most versatile, skilled and influential diplomats in European history, though some believe that he was a traitor. But since so many here have named politicians I'll suggest an American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor, George Washington Carver. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed Carver a "Black Leonardo."
  • Apr 13 2013: Sorry for resubmission (this time with explanations) but the 'edit' feature doesn't appear to be working!

    Thomas Hobbes (interesting ideas on government, great speaker apparently)
    Samuel Johnson (charismatic, quirky worldview, intellectual titan)
    Montaigne (original and accessible philosopher)
    Gerrard Winstanley (founder of the Levellers, early democratic movement)
    Howard Hughes (what a life!)
    Keynes v. Hayek (two views of the economic crisis)
    Mikhail Bakunin (founding father of anarchism)
    Sophie Scholl (died rather than condone the Nazi regime)
    Martin Niemoller (another individual with exceptional moral courage)
    Olaudah Equiano (how important really was the role of black activists in abolishing the slave trade?)
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel (indefatigable engineer of genius)
    Thomas More (a man who died for his philosophy).
    • Apr 13 2013: Keynes v. Hayek would be a very interesting debate
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    Apr 12 2013: Maquiavel.
    It would be Funny and Outrageous (for some).
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    Apr 12 2013: yup. those darned spiritual wifty unscientific lame-os!
  • Apr 12 2013: Cyrus, Darius, Caesar Augustus (Octavian), Claudius Augustus, Rabbi Moses Ben Maimonides (RaMBaM), maybe Uthman is that how you say the Caliph's name.
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    Apr 12 2013: Most historical figures were well documented and their "idea worth spreading" would vary little from what we know of them. Socrates and others would maintain the same views ... we of course could solve some of the mysteries by talking to the source.

    I would be interested in the staff of the library of Alexandria. It was the largest and most significant library of the ancient world and was burned in a fire that may have been ordered by Ceasar to burn his docks and ships. The Library at Alexandria was in charge of collecting all the world's knowledge, and most of the staff was occupied with the task of translating works onto papyrus paper.

    People like Jefferson and Franklin could tells us I told you so ... or who ever thought of Executive orders ... Jefferson would have a heart attack over the banks rule of the country ... a real I told you so moment.

    The staff of the library and the ones who attended the great ones who could give us real insight would be of great interest.

    I think history is to kind to some of these and the real story would be shattering to the image we have of some of the "great ones".

    Interesting though ... Bob.
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    Apr 11 2013: I think practically every possible candidate I would have considered commenting with has been mentioned previous to me, and clearly some of you are far more creative than me when it comes to thinking up influential characters throughout history!
    My apologies for repeating any, but here are just a few individuals I'd love to do a TEDtalk on;

    - Buddha
    - Cleopatra
    - Shakespeare
    - Steven Hawkins
    - Henry VIII
    - Darwin
    - Julius Caesar
    - Churchill
    - Malcolm X

    I think this list could quite potentially go well over the 2000 character limit as if given the opportunity, there are an endless number of people throughout history, and in the present day, who would be very worthy of being talked about. We have been blessed many a time with those who have changed the world for the better, and who deserve there righteous place in history :)
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    Apr 11 2013: Konstantin Tsiolkovskiy, one of the founding fathers of rocket science, lived most of his life in the log house. Such a surprising answer on the eve of the first-man-to-space-day (Apr.12) :) We're not really the country of awesome presenters, so would be awesome to see him fit the sky-high dream into TED format
  • Apr 11 2013: Les Brown
    He would motivate the world if only the could see and hear his massages
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    Apr 11 2013: Abraham Lincoln

    Emily Bronte

    Florence Nightingale & Mary Seacole

    Roald Dahl


    Jules Verne

    Mary Shelly

    Charles Dickens

    That's about it for now :-)
  • Apr 11 2013: I can think of several, but because TED talks are limited to 20 minutes, my choice would be

    Henry Ford.
  • Apr 11 2013: Franklin Roosevelt! Imagine what he would say about the current state of the economy!
  • Apr 11 2013: Richard Feynman
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    Apr 10 2013: I think Sigmund Freud would be an amazing speaker. This man was just amazing. He's the father of psychoanalysis and discoverd really important things about unconscious.
  • Apr 10 2013: Peace brother.
  • Apr 10 2013: Salvador Dali, he could be an excelent ted speaker, just imagine talking us about the imaginary world of the abstract dimesion comparing with the surrealist world of politics and all this mix with a specially touch of perfect non verbal comunication.
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    Apr 10 2013: The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him)

    Not only since i am Muslim, but rather id like to listen to a Talk from him on his philosophies on life.
    Maybe to put into context, the same reasons Micheal H Hart had in his book.

    If its specifically only about science, then i would love to hear from Isaac Newton! brilliant to a level we cannot fully appreciate!
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      Apr 11 2013: I would invite Jesus, to get his honest opinion on certain matters like Abortion.
      Would be interesting to see what would happen with a 'Jesus vs Mohammed' debate. :P
      Hope you take no offence!
  • Dan F

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    Apr 10 2013: Charles Darwin

    I would enjoy what he would have to say about the flowering of biological knowledge and the incredible applications of his concept of biological evolution since his original introduction of his book and theory.

    On the other hand, it would be nice to know it the ideas of creative design, etc., in an effort to discredit evolution would have surprised him. This is such a rich topic it would just be nice to hear his thoughts no matter the specific areas of concern or interest.

    It would also be interesting to know if he found it difficult to get up to speed on all the new related information devloped since his original work and knowledge on the subject.
  • Apr 9 2013: Isaac Newton!
  • Apr 9 2013: Hubert H. Humphrey ---Presidential Candidate Vice-President , US Senator, Mayor of Minneapolis __ ai had the opportunity to be in a seminar that he gave, and the class was mesmerized for 4 hours. Not only engaging, but informative and passionate. He taught the value of people caring for people and the role government can engage to be a better community.
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    Gord G

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    Apr 9 2013: I would choose any informed person whose opinion ran contrary to a historical figure.The loser's point of view, unfiltered by historical account.
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  • Apr 9 2013: Aristotle is my the most willing person to see.
  • Apr 9 2013: Alexander Hamilton.....interested in his take on our current economic issues.
    If "druthers" are available...then a panel of common sense leaders. People like Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and Adlai Stevenson to offer their opinions on the current political leadership.
  • Apr 9 2013: Maybe I will choose Osama Bin Laden. I excaterly want to know what he thinks everyday .
  • Apr 9 2013: Gandhi. The only down side is we might not hear anything new because he spoke and wrote voluminously. But I think his ideas have withstood the test of time. His ashrams were "green" before the Green movement. His idea of local food and economy may be the only way humanity can survive the warring urges of nationalism.