TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talks have become a phenomenon since they were first conceived in 1984. The TED media organization has since broadened its reach to include Talks on cultural, political, and other topics. It has posted thousands of Talks online for free distribution under the slogan “ideas worth spreading.”
24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of the most viewed TED Talks of all time, reviewing TED data. Talks are ranked based on the total number of views on the TED site as of Jan. 10, 2022.
The results are more than a cultural barometer: The topics people are most interested in aren’t ripped from the headlines. In fact, some of them were debated by the ancient Greeks. (See here for some ancient inventions you thought were modern.)
The most viewed TED Talk is “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” by author and educator Sir Ken Robinson, from February 2006. He challenged the way children are educated, arguing for a radical rethinking of how schools cultivate creativity, and an acknowledgement of multiple types of intelligence. Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” he said. (These are the states with the best and worst early education.)
The second most viewed TED Talk is “Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are” by social psychologist Amy Cuddy. In June 2012 she said not only does body language affect how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. She argued that “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can boost feelings of confidence, and might improve our chances for success.
At No. 3 is “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator” from February 2016. We’d like to summarize blogger Tim Urban’s TED Talk for you. Maybe tomorrow.