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Ted Talks

Throughout the year, TED presents talks on a variety of topics many of which are both entertaining and informative. We have complied a list of TED Talks related to critical thinking that we hope will inspire faculty and further dialog. If you find a talk you think would be great to add to our list, let us know.


Maurice Ashley

Working backward to solve problems

Maurice Ashley

Imagine where you want to be someday. Now, how did you get there? Retrograde analysis is a style of problem solving where you work backwards from the endgame you want. It can help you win at chess — or solve a problem in real life. At TEDYouth 2012, chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley delves into his favorite strategy.

Jeff Dekofsky

The Infinite Hotel Paradox

Jeff Dekofsky

The Infinite Hotel, a thought experiment created by German mathematician David Hilbert, is a hotel with an infinite number of rooms. Easy to comprehend, right? Wrong. What if it’s completely booked but one person wants to check in? What about 40? Or an infinitely full bus of people? Jeff Dekofsky solves these heady lodging issues using Hilbert’s paradox.

Amy Herman

How art can help you analyze

Amy E. Herman

Can art save lives? Not exactly, but our most prized professionals (doctors, nurses, police officers) can learn real world skills through art analysis. Studying art like René Magritte’s Time Transfixed can enhance communication and analytical skills, with an emphasis on both the seen and unseen. Amy E. Herman explains why art historical training can prepare you for real world investigation.

Steven Johnson

Where Good Ideas Come From

Steven Johnson

One of our most innovative, popular thinkers takes on-in exhilarating style-one of our key questions: Where do good ideas come from?

Jesse Richardson

How To Think, Not What To Think

Jesse Richardson

His talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Jesse is the founder of an online fully immersive learning environment that will be free for students, teachers and universities all over the world. He believes the key to engaging future generations is to teach them how, and not what, to think.

Derek Cabrera

How Thinking Works

Dr. Derek Cabrera

Dr. Derek Cabrera is an internationally recognized expert in metacognition (thinking about thinking), epistemology (the study of knowledge), human and organizational learning, and education. He completed his PhD and post doctoral studies at Cornell University and served as faculty at Cornell and researcher at the Santa Fe Institute. He leads the Cabrera Research Lab, is the author of five books, numerous journal articles, and a US patent. Derek discovered DSRP Theory and in this talk he explains its benefits and the imperative for making it part of every students’ life.

Steve Joordens

Unnatural Critical Thought As The Driver Of Social Change

Steve Joordens

Steve Joordens is a multiple award-winning professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Steve, together with colleagues, developed an online support tool for the development of critical thinking skills, winning him the 2009 National Technology Innovation Award. His unique teaching style and ability to engage has led to packed lecture halls for his Introductory Psychology course that attracts 1800 students yearly. In addition to his teaching and research, Steve also engages in animal activism, provoking audiences to think deeply about the way in which humans ‘consume’ animals in laboratories and on the dinner table.

Switch Doors

Should I stay or should I switch doors?

The Monty Hall Problem is a brain teaser based on the popular game show, Let’s Make a Deal. The folks at Numberphile explore the famous problem which posits if a contestant should switch doors in order to find the car amongst the goats.