playlist

Editor's Picks of 2020

As we celebrate the end of 2020 ... what captured our imaginations, reflected our emotions and sparked hope for a better tomorrow? Here's a wide-ranging list of the talks that stayed with us this year (along with some hidden gems), selected by the editorial team at TED.

  1. 15:54
    Heidi Larson Why rumors about vaccines spread — and how to rebuild trust

    Why do people distrust vaccines? Anthropologist Heidi Larson explores how medical rumors originate, spread and fuel resistance to vaccines worldwide. While vaccines cannot escape the "political and social turbulence" that surrounds them, she says, the first step to stopping the spread of disease is to talk to people, listen and build trust.

  2. 13:11
    Jad Abumrad How Dolly Parton led me to an epiphany

    How do you end a story? Host of "Radiolab" Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.

  3. 10:15
    Nita Mosby Tyler Want a more just world? Be an unlikely ally

    A more equal world starts with you. Citing a formative moment from her own life, equity advocate Nita Mosby Tyler highlights why showing up and fighting for others who face injustices beyond your own lived experience leads to a fairer, more just future for all.

  4. 5:44
    Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya How to be fearless in the face of authoritarianism

    How do you stand up to authoritarianism? And what does it mean to be "fearless"? In this powerful talk, housewife-turned-politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya describes her unlikely bid to defeat Belarus's long-time autocratic leader in the nation's 2020 presidential election. Painting a vivid picture of how small acts of defiance flourished into massive, peaceful demonstrations, she shares a beautiful meditation on the link between fearlessness and freedom, reminding us that we all have what it takes to stand up to injustice — we just need to do it together.

  5. 18:13
    David Ikard The real story of Rosa Parks — and why we need to confront myths about Black history

    Black history taught in US schools is often watered-down, riddled with inaccuracies and stripped of its context and rich, full-bodied historical figures. Equipped with the real story of Rosa Parks, professor David Ikard highlights how making the realities of race more benign and digestible harms us all — and emphasizes the power and importance of historical accuracy.

  6. 14:21
    Heather C. McGhee Racism has a cost for everyone

    Racism makes our economy worse — and not just in ways that harm people of color, says public policy expert Heather C. McGhee. From her research and travels across the US, McGhee shares startling insights into how racism fuels bad policymaking and drains our economic potential — and offers a crucial rethink on what we can do to create a more prosperous nation for all. "Our fates are linked," she says. "It costs us so much to remain divided."

  7. 10:51
    France Villarta The gender-fluid history of the Philippines

    In much of the world, gender is viewed as binary: man or woman, each assigned characteristics and traits designated by biological sex. But that's not the case everywhere, says France Villarta. In a talk that's part cultural love letter, part history lesson, he details the legacy of gender fluidity and inclusivity in his native Philippines — and emphasizes the universal beauty of all people, regardless of society's labels.

  8. 12:12
    Cheryl Holder The link between climate change, health and poverty

    For the poor and vulnerable, the health impacts of climate change are already here, says physician Cheryl Holder. Unseasonably hot temperatures, disease-carrying mosquitoes and climate gentrification threaten those with existing health conditions, while wealthier people move to higher ground. In an impassioned talk, Holder proposes impactful ways clinicians can protect their patients from climate-related health challenges — and calls on doctors, politicians and others to build a care system that incorporates economic and social justice.

  9. 9:16
    Mandë Holford The power of venom — and how it could one day save your life

    Venom can kill ... or it can cure. In this fascinating talk, marine chemical biologist Mandë Holford shares her research into animal venom, from killer sea snails to platypuses and slow lorises — and explores its potential to one day treat human diseases like cancer. The mechanism behind this powerful substance is still mysterious, Holford says, but: "Someday, snail venom might just save your life."

  10. 9:18
    David Lammy Climate justice can't happen without racial justice

    Why has there been so little mention of saving Black lives from the climate emergency? For too long, racial justice efforts have been distinguished from climate justice work, says David Lammy, Member of Parliament for Tottenham, England. In a stirring talk about building a new movement to care for the planet, Lammy calls for inclusion and support of Black and minority leadership on climate issues and a global recognition that we can't solve climate change without racial, social and intergenerational justice.

  11. 11:42
    Jen Gunter Why can't we talk about periods?

    "It shouldn't be an act of feminism to know how your body works," says gynecologist and author Jen Gunter. In this revelatory talk, she explains how menstrual shame silences and represses — and leads to the spread of harmful misinformation and the mismanagement of pain. Declaring the era of the menstrual taboos over, she delivers a clear, much-needed lesson on the once-mysterious mechanics of the uterus.

  12. 12:47
    Colette Pichon Battle Climate change will displace millions. Here's how we prepare

    Scientists predict climate change will displace more than 180 million people by 2100 — a crisis of "climate migration" the world isn't ready for, says disaster recovery lawyer and Louisiana native Colette Pichon Battle. In this passionate, lyrical talk, she urges us to radically restructure the economic and social systems that are driving climate migration — and caused it in the first place — and shares how we can cultivate collective resilience, better prepare before disaster strikes and advance human rights for all.

  13. 10:38
    Oliver Jeffers An ode to living on Earth

    If you had to explain to a newborn what it means to be a human being living on Earth in the 21st century, what would you say? Visual artist Oliver Jeffers put his answer in a letter to his son, sharing pearls of wisdom on existence and the diversity of life. He offers observations of the "beautiful, fragile drama of human civilization" in this poetic talk paired with his original illustrations and animations.

  14. 7:13
    Prince William This decade calls for Earthshots to repair our planet

    "We start this new decade knowing that it is the most consequential period in history," says Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge. Inspired by President John F. Kennedy's "Moonshot," he calls on us all to rise to our greatest challenge ever: the "Earthshot." A set of ambitious objectives for the planet, the Earthshot goals seek to protect and restore nature, clean the air, revive oceans, build a waste-free world and fix the climate — all in the next decade. To do it, we'll need people in all corners of the globe working together with urgency, creativity and the belief that it is possible to repair the Earth.

  15. 17:19
    Marilyn Waring The unpaid work that GDP ignores — and why it really counts

    If you: do laundry, are (or have been) pregnant, tidy up, shop for your household or do similar labor, then by GDP standards, you're unproductive. In this visionary talk, economist Marilyn Waring seeks to correct the failures of this narrow-minded system, detailing why we deserve a better way to measure growth that values not just our own livelihood but the planet's as well.

  16. 10:29
    Myles Allen Fossil fuel companies know how to stop global warming. Why don't they?

    The fossil fuel industry knows how to stop global warming, but they're waiting for someone else to pay, says climate science scholar Myles Allen. Instead of a total ban on carbon-emitting fuels, Allen puts forth a bold plan for oil and gas companies to progressively decarbonize themselves and sequester CO2 deep in the earth, with the aim of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and creating a carbon dioxide disposal industry that works for everyone.

  17. 16:25
    Van Jones What if a US presidential candidate refuses to concede after an election?

    If the 2020 US presidential election is close, the race could drag on in the courts and halls of Congress long after ballots are cast, says lawyer and political commentator Van Jones. Explaining why the customary concession speech is one of the most important safeguards for democracy, Jones exposes shocking legal loopholes that could enable a candidate to grab power even if they lose both the popular vote and the electoral college — and shares what ordinary citizens can do if there's no peaceful transfer of power.

  18. 7:47
    Rebecca Henderson To save the climate, we have to reimagine capitalism

    "Business is screwed if we don't fix climate change," says economist Rebecca Henderson. In this bold talk, she describes how unchecked capitalism destabilizes the environment and harms human health — and makes the case for companies to step up and help fix the climate crisis they're causing. Hear what a reimagined capitalism, in which companies pay for the climate damage they cause, could look like.

  19. 51:14
    Ibram X. Kendi The difference between being "not racist" and antiracist

    There is no such thing as being "not racist," says author and historian Ibram X. Kendi. In this vital conversation, he defines the transformative concept of antiracism to help us more clearly recognize, take responsibility for and reject prejudices in our public policies, workplaces and personal beliefs. Learn how you can actively use this awareness to uproot injustice and inequality in the world — and replace it with love. (This virtual interview, hosted by TED's current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers and speaker development curator Cloe Shasha, was recorded June 9, 2020.)

  20. 6:49
    Daniel Alexander Jones What to do when everything feels broken

    "Some call me a soul sonic superstar," says Jomama Jones, the alter ego of TED Fellow and theater artist Daniel Alexander Jones. In this stunning talk and performance, Jomama Jones invites us to consider how coming undone can be the first step toward transformation. It's a powerful story of community, growth and renewal — and how breaking apart can mean breaking open.

  21. 14:17
    Jennifer L. Eberhardt How racial bias works — and how to disrupt it

    Our brains create categories to make sense of the world, recognize patterns and make quick decisions. But this ability to categorize also exacts a heavy toll in the form of unconscious bias. In this powerful talk, psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt explores how our biases unfairly target Black people at all levels of society — from schools and social media to policing and criminal justice — and discusses how creating points of friction can help us actively interrupt and address this troubling problem.

  22. 13:58
    Rebecca Knill How technology has changed what it's like to be deaf

    "Complete silence is very addictive," says Rebecca Knill, a writer who has cochlear implants that enable her to hear. In this funny, insightful talk, she explores the evolution of assistive listening technology, the outdated way people still respond to deafness and how we can shift our cultural understanding of ability to build a more inclusive world. "Technology has come so far," Knill says. "Our mindset just needs to catch up."

  23. 23:01
    Rosalind G. Brewer How to foster true diversity and inclusion at work (and in your community)

    When companies think of diversity and inclusion, they too often focus on meeting metrics instead of building relationships with people of diverse backgrounds, says Starbucks COO Rosalind G. Brewer. In this personable and wide-ranging conversation with TED current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers, Brewer invites leaders to rethink what it takes to create a truly inclusive workplace — and lays out how to bring real, grassroots change to boardrooms and communities alike.

  24. 16:12
    Neal Katyal How to win an argument (at the US Supreme Court, or anywhere)

    The secret to winning an argument isn't grand rhetoric or elegant style, says US Supreme Court litigator Neal Katyal — it takes more than that. With stories of some of the most impactful cases he's argued before the Court, Katyal shows why the key to crafting a persuasive and successful argument lies in human connection, empathy and faith in the power of your ideas. "The question is not how to win every argument," he says. "It's how to get back up when you do lose."

  25. 11:24
    Thomas Crowther The global movement to restore nature's biodiversity

    Biodiversity is the key to life on Earth and reviving our damaged planet, says ecologist Thomas Crowther. Sharing the inside story of his headline-making research on reforestation, which led to the UN's viral Trillion Trees Campaign, Crowther introduces Restor: an expansive, informative platform built to enable anyone, anywhere to help restore the biodiversity of Earth's ecosystems.