Michael Sandel The lost art of democratic debate
Democracy thrives on civil debate, Michael Sandel says — but we're shamefully out of practice. He leads a fun refresher, with TEDsters sparring over a recent Supreme Court case (PGA Tour Inc. v. Martin) whose outcome reveals the critical ingredient in justice.
Robb Willer How to have better political conversations
Robb Willer studies the forces that unite and divide us. As a social psychologist, he researches how moral values — typically a source of division — can also be used to bring people together. Willer shares compelling insights on how we might bridge the ideological divide and offers some intuitive advice on ways to be more persuasive when talking politics.
Sally Kohn Let’s try emotional correctness
It's time for liberals and conservatives to transcend their political differences and really listen to each other, says political pundit Sally Kohn. In this optimistic talk, Kohn shares what she learned as a progressive lesbian talking head on Fox News. It’s not about political correctness, she says, but rather, emotional correctness. (Contains profanity.)
Arthur Brooks A conservative's plea: Let's work together
Conservatives and liberals both believe that they alone are motivated by love while their opponents are motivated by hate. How can we solve problems with so much polarization? In this talk, social scientist Arthur Brooks shares ideas for what we can each do as individuals to break the gridlock. "We might just be able to take the ghastly holy war of ideology that we're suffering under and turn it into a competition of ideas," he says.
James Geary Metaphorically speaking
Aphorism enthusiast and author James Geary waxes on a fascinating fixture of human language: the metaphor. Friend of scribes from Aristotle to Elvis, metaphor can subtly influence the decisions we make, Geary says.
Jonas Gahr Støre In defense of dialogue
In politics, it seems counterintuitive to engage in dialogue with violent groups, with radicals and terrorists, and with the states that support them. But Jonas Gahr Støre, the foreign minister of Norway, makes a compelling case for open discussion, even when our values diverge.
Mark Forsyth What's a snollygoster? A short lesson in political speak
Most politicians choose their words carefully, to shape the reality they hope to create. But does it work? Etymologist Mark Forsyth shares a few entertaining word-origin stories from British and American history (for instance, did you ever wonder how George Washington became "president"?) and draws a surprising conclusion.
Julia Galef Why you think you're right — even if you're wrong
Perspective is everything, especially when it comes to examining your beliefs. Are you a soldier, prone to defending your viewpoint at all costs — or a scout, spurred by curiosity? Julia Galef examines the motivations behind these two mindsets and how they shape the way we interpret information, interweaved with a compelling history lesson from 19th-century France. When your steadfast opinions are tested, Galef asks: "What do you most yearn for? Do you yearn to defend your own beliefs or do you yearn to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?"
Omar Ahmad Political change with pen and paper
Want your local politician to pay attention to an issue you care about? Send a monthly handwritten letter, says former mayor Omar Ahmad — it's more effective than email, phone, or even writing a check. He shares four steps to writing a letter that works.