January 30, 2012

Best Commencement Speeches on Audio & Video

Get inspired with this list of the 10 best commencement speeches available on audio & video. While college commencement addresses are aimed at graduates, the wisdom they contain can be inspirational for everyone, no matter what stage of life you’re at. Since colleges have been putting out more videos in recent years there are now many commencement addresses available on YouTube. And we’ve also discovered that the C-SPAN video library also features many great commencement addresses from the past twenty years or so.

We’ve selected these top 10 best commencement speeches mixing some historic commencement speeches with some great modern commencement addresses as well:

1. 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University by Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs delivered this commencement address at Stanford University and it’s one of the more inspiring commencement addresses we’ve ever had a chance to hear. Jobs tells three stories of endurance through his education, his career, and his diagnosis with cancer, and through it all his advice is: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” This title is available on streaming video.

2. 1963 American University Commencement Address by John F. Kennedy

In this famous address delivered a few months before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy spoke of peace. Delivered at the height of the Cold War, Kennedy expressed his goal for peace that wasn’t a “Pax Americana” based on American weapons of war. He spoke of the U.S. intentions around the World and against many of the policies of the Soviet Union. Many of Kennedy’s words on peace still ring true today such as his statement: “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

3. J.K. Rowling Speaks at the 2008 Harvard Commencement

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling delivers some wise words of wisdom during her Harvard Commencement address in 2008 which she entitled “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination”. She talks about how failure in her life after a divorce and when she was living in poverty helped her to eliminate everything that wasn’t most important to her. And she talks about what she learned of human good and evil in her work for Amnesty International. She points out how fortunate the graduates of Harvard are and encourages them to succeed and fail and live rich lives.

4. 2001 Harvard Commencement Address by Bono

Rock star Bono addresses Harvard graduates in this 2001 Commencement Address. He talked about his journey with economist Jeffrey Sachs to encourage debt cancellation in Africa in the Jubilee 2000 campaign. He encouraged graduates to rebel against indifference and create an America where anything is possible. The address is full of inspiring words from the U2 frontman and activist.

5. Oprah Winfrey’s 2008 Stanford Commencement Address

Oprah Winfrey packs as much advice as she can into this 30 minute Commencement Address which she gave to the Stanford graduating class of 2008. Through stories in her own life, she relays life lessons like: “Grow into being more of yourself”, “Listen to your gut”, “If it doesn’t feel right don’t do it”, “If you’re not sure what to do, get still”, “If you struggling, then help others who are struggling”. And there are many more lessons relayed here in Oprah’s wonderful speech.

6. 1978 Harvard University Commencement Address: A World Split Apart by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

In one of the most ambitious commencement speeches ever delivered, the Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn accessed the Western political and cultural situation in the year 1978 and many of his criticisms still hold true today. While in exile from the Soviet Union, he spent a number of years in the United States and this address is his analysis of the Western predicament. In this comprehensive one hour speech he discusses Western politics, the media, our role in Vietnam, the lack of courage in our leadership, Soviet communism, commercialism and materialism, and the spiritual state of Western man. He delivers the speech in Russian and it is simultaneously translated into English. This speech is offered on streaming audio through Google Video.

7. 1990 Commencement Address at Wellesley College by Barbara Bush

First Lady Barbara Bush imparted some words of wisdom in her well received Commencement Address at Wellesley College back in 1990. She emphasizes what’s most important in life, provides some humorous anecdotes, and even quotes Ferris Bueller. In this brief 10 minute speech she receives thunderous applause.

8. Randy Pausch Inspires Graduates at the 2008 Carnegie Mellon Commencement

Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch is famous for his “Last Lecture” which he delivered shortly after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A few months before his death he delivered this brief and inspiring speech at the Carnegie Mellon commencement on what’s really important when you look back at your life.

9. 2000 Boston University Commencement by Tom Wolfe

Watch this turn of the century commencement address from the great American author Tom Wolfe. While most commencement address speakers urge students to go out and change the world and fight the system, Tom Wolfe reminds graduates to keep up the current greatness of America and of our tremendous wealth and openness as a country. He praises our middle class virtues and laughs at movie actors and rock stars and other “intellectuals” who tear down the ordinary virtues of America with satire and cries of indignation. Throughout the talk Wolfe gives some of his own hilarious observations on America at the turn of the 21st century. It’s a unique commencement address from one of America’s most keen observers and most entertaining writers.

10. Conan O’Brien’s 2011 Dartmouth College Commencement Address

And for some comic relief in a commencement address, Conan O’Brien delivered a rapid fire comic routine at Dartmouth College last year. After many jokes to warm the crowd up he gets a little serious about his failure at hosting the Tonight Show and the importance of having your greatest fear realized. Through it all he learned that dreams do change and that can lead to a much more exciting life than was previously imagined.

In addition to this top ten you might also want to check out NPR’s list of “The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever” with videos available for many of the speeches:

The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever

And here are some other good commencement addresses we listened to that have proven to be popular. Here are over dozen other commencement addresses in historical order. We’re linking directly to these ones for the most part:

1941 Winston Churchill Address To Harrow School

Delivered in the midst of World War II, Churchill’s speech to the Harrow School contains the lines: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

George C. Marshall Introduces The Marshall Plan at the 1947 Harvard University Commencement

George C. Marshall introduces the Marshall Plan to rescue Europe after World War II.

1999 George Washington Commencement Address by Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu preaches for a new world and asks graduates to work for it.

1999 Agnes Scott College Commencement Address by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut gives a freewheeling and funny commencement address with some gems of wisdom for the graduates to remember.

2000 Antioch College Commencement by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal gives a politically charged taped audio address from death row for the Antioch College commencement.

2001 California State University at Fullerton Commencement by Nicholas Cage

Actor Nicholas Cage spreads his passion for movies and acting and art and life.

2001 Vassar College Commencement Address by Stephen King

America’s Boogie Man Stephen King says life is short and then you die so give away what you have to the poor.

2004 Commencement Address at The College of William & Mary by Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart praises the youth generation and encourages them to fix what the previous generation has broken.

Ellen at Tulane Commencement 2009

Comedienne Ellen DeGeneres talks about how she overcame some of the tougher setbacks in her life.

2011 Commencement Address by Denzel Washington

Actor Denzel Washington tells graduates to not have something to fall back on, but instead fall forward and keep getting back up.

Dr. E.O. Wilson at the 2011 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Commencement

Biologist E.O. Wilson encourages us to rescue the biodiversity of the plant.

Tom Hanks Addresses the Yale Class of 2011

Actor Tom Hanks talks about the “ying yang thang” of life and how our faith can grow bigger than our fears.

January 16, 2012

20 Free Famous Speeches by Martin Luther King

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Celebrate the life and legacy of this great leader by listening to some of his speeches.

Stanford University’s King Research and Education Institute now freely provides streaming audio of over 20 of Dr. King’s most famous speeches and sermons:

Martin Luther King Speeches and Sermons from the King Institute

Here are the speeches you can listen to there:


28 February 1954 – Rediscovering Lost Values


5 December 1955 – Address to the first Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) Mass Meeting


4 November 1956 – “Paul’s Letter to American Christians”


7 April 1957 – The Birth of a New Nation, Sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
17 May 1957 – “Give Us the Ballot,” Address at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom
17 November 1957 – “Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church


16 April 1963 – “Letter From Birmingham Jail”
23 June 1963 – Speech at the Great March on Detroit
28 August 1963 – I Have a Dream, Address at March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
18 September 1963 – Eulogy for the Martyred Children


10 December 1964 – Acceptance Speech at Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony


25 March 1965 – Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March

4 July 1965 – “The American Dream”


5 June 1966 – “Guidelines for a Constructive Church”


4 April 1967 – Beyond Vietnam
9 April 1967 – “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life”
11 June 1967 – “A Knock at Midnight”
16 August 1967 – “Where Do We Go From Here?,” Delivered at the 11th Annual
SCLC Convention
27 August 1967 – “Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool”


4 February 1968 – “The Drum Major Instinct”
3 March 1968 – “Unfulfilled Dreams”
31 March 1968 – “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”
3 April 1968 – I’ve Been to the Mountaintop

And if you’ve not yet listened to these speeches by Martin Luther King that we’ve featured in the past we highly encourage you to do so:

I Have a Dream Speech

I’ve Been to the Mountaintop Speech

Beyond Vietnam Speech

And for our comprehensive collection of audio & video resources about Dr. King check out:

MLK Out Loud Audio & Video Resources

Some of the new free resources we’ve added there this year:

African-American History: Modern Freedom Struggle – Stanford course taught by Professor Clayborne Carson who is the author of many books on Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement, and the director of the Martin Luther King Papers Project, a long-term project to edit and publish the papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Memorial Dedication – C-SPAN’s video coverage of the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial on the national mall which took place October 16, 2011 and features speeches by Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, Dan Rather, and many others.

And also in the past year we added our Martin Luther King, Jr. audio & video author page which features all of the audio & video titles we have that are directly by Martin Luther King including audio of his speeches and writings.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Audio & Video Resources Page

Plenty of great resources to help you celebrate the holiday!

January 15, 2012

Great Video Explaining Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

Watch the above video for a good summary of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act now making their way through Congress. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Amazon, Paypal, WordPress, Wikipedia, and pretty much the entire Internet community are opposed to these two pieces of legislation which could have devastating effects on the Internet through the ability of the government to shutdown websites and allowing major media companies to sue sites linking to proposed copyrighted content.

At LearnOutLoud.com we stand in strong opposition to these bills. In our attempts to support online audio & video learning we’ve tried our very best to only link to websites and content that are following copyright laws and legally hosting audio & video learning content. We do support copyright and the intentions of anti-piracy laws, but these two pieces of legislation will do little to curb piracy and potentially do a lot to change the structure and freedom of the Internet.

With our site we’ve run into a few copyright hiccups along the way such as Apple’s cease & desist from linking to any of their iTunes University content and other companies notifying us to remove links to their content. Under SOPA, companies could go right to the courts without even notifying alleged copyright infringers and the government can then shut websites down blocking access to them and preventing Google or other search engines from linking to them, creating a new Internet blacklist. Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet and Google vice president says, “Requiring search engines to delete a domain name begins a worldwide arms race of unprecedented ‘censorship’ of the Web.” Right now it’s the movie and music industries that are calling for blacklisting sites, but this bill could pave the way for censorship of websites for any number of reasons. There are many more arguments against this legislation and we encourage you to educate yourself on it and take action if you care about the future of the Internet. Here are some great places to learn more and take action:

Send an Email to Your Representative

Where Do Your Members of Congress Stand on SOPA and PIPA?

And this is the site that made the above video and has a lot of great resources and ways to take action:

The White House did issue a response to the petitions on their website:

White House Response to Petitions

Once you’ve educated yourself then educate your Congressman. Adam Thierer, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, gave a very telling remark about a recent hearing on the bill: “The techno-ignorance of Congress was on full display. Member after member admitted that they really didn’t have any idea what impact SOPA’s regulatory provisions would have on the DNS, online security, or much of anything else.”

Big media companies are lobbying Congress to pass the act, and without public outcry it may very well pass. This coming Wednesday, January 18, 2012 there’s going to be an internet blackout involving websites Wikipedia, Reddit, Boing Boing, and a number of other sites attempting to raise awareness about these pieces of legislation. Spread the word!

January 13, 2012

Ron Paul Speeches, Podcasts, and a Free Audio Book

Congressman Ron Paul came in 2nd place in the New Hampshire primary this past Tuesday in his 2012 presidential campaign for the Republican Party nomination. With a largely grassroots following Ron Paul’s ideas on freedom have proved popular with his libertarian base. He is an advocate of the Austrian School of Economics developed by Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek which emphasizes free markets that are not intruded on by government intervention. Ron Paul has spoken many times at the Mises Institute and he even offers a few of his writings on audio book there as well. You can view a lot of his talks there right here:

Ron Paul: Mises Institute Lectures

And if you’d like to see our collection of over a dozen audio & video resources from representative Ron Paul check out:

LearnOutLoud’s Ron Paul Audio & Video Resource Page

Today we’re featuring Ron Paul’s audio booklet Gold, Peace, and Prosperity which is a 1981 text that outlines his advocacy of returning to the gold standard and getting rid of the U.S. Federal Reserve which regulates the U.S. money supply among other things. Paul feels that since its creation the U.S. Federal Reserve has created a flood of paper money which has led to constant inflation and the gradual decline of the value of the U.S. dollar. By backing up the dollar with a gold standard which was in place through the Great Depression, Paul feels we can restore real value to the dollar and separate the economy from governmental influence in the same way church and state are separated. In today’s headlines of corporate welfare and government bailouts, Ron Paul’s ideas on these matters of economic freedom still prove to be popular.

Gold, Peace, and Prosperity

And when we added over 2000 new free resources a few months back we included over 30 free audio books from the Mises Institute along with many free audio courses and audio essays that they offer there. Here are the free audio books we added:

Against Intellectual Property by Stephan Kinsella

Chaos Theory: Two Essays On Market Anarchy by Robert Murphy

Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block

Deflation and Liberty by Jorg Hulsmann

Economic Science and the Austrian Method by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Economic Calculation In The Socialist Commonwealth by Ludwig von Mises

Human Action: A Treatise on Economics by Ludwig von Mises

Theory and History by Ludwig von Mises

Mises and Austrian Economics: A Personal View by Ron Paul

Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism by Jorg Hulsmann

A History of Money and Banking in the United States Before the Twentieth Century by Murray N. Rothbard

An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, Volume 1: Economic Thought Before Adam Smith by Murray N. Rothbard

An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, Volume 2: Classical Economics by Murray N. Rothbard

Conceived in Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard

For a New Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard

Man, Economy, and State, with Power and Market by Murray N. Rothbard

The Case Against the Fed by Murray N. Rothbard

The Ethics of Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard

What Has Government Done to Our Money? by Murray N. Rothbard

My Years with Ludwig von Mises by Margit von Mises

No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner

Our Enemy, The State by Albert J. Nock

Speaking of Liberty by Llewellyn Rockwell

The Austrian School of Economics: A History of Its Ideas, Ambassadors, and Institutions by Eugen-Maria Schulak

The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle by Richard M. Ebeling

The Driver by Garet Garrett

The Failure of the “New Economics” by Henry Hazlitt

The Law by Frederic Bastiat

The Man versus The State by Herbert Spencer

The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude by Etienne de La Boetie

January 9, 2012

Top 25 Science & Technology TED Talks

Yesterday was theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s 70th birthday! We’re celebrating this amazing scientific mind by featuring his 2008 TED talk in which he addresses some of the big questions about the universe such as: How did the universe begin? How did life begin? Are we alone? Along with this TED talk we’ve selected 24 other outstanding TED talks on science and technology to expand you mind. There are talks from science giants like James D. Watson, E.O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Craig Venter, along with talks from technology leaders like Jeff Bezos, Jimmy Wales, and Bill Gates. Here are our “Top 25 Science & Technology TED Talks” complete with LearnOutLoud reviews.

1. Stephen Hawking Asks Big Questions About the Universe

Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking takes a look at the big questions of the universe and gives the best answers that science has produced to date. He gives insight into how the universe began and how we discovered the universe is still expanding. Hawking also discusses the search for intelligent life and how we haven’t found anything yet in the nearest 100 light years. He cautions about the threats of destruction to life on Earth and feels man needs to keep venturing out into space in the future. He then answers a question about whether he thinks there is life outside of Earth in the Milky Way galaxy.

2. Debunking Third-World Myths with the Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen

Professor of global health Hans Rosling brings data to life in his first TED talk which dispels common myths about the so-called developing world. While many people assume that there is a large gap between technologically advanced western world and the rest of the developing world in terms of health and wealth, Rosling shows some tremendous animated graphs which show that from 1960 to the present day the so-called developing world has made enormous strides in terms of life expectancy, particularly in Asia. He presents a lot of other interesting data showing the rise of a global middle class and how diverse the statistics are in Africa. He hopes that by making data interesting and accessible to the average person it will give us a clearer picture of the way we view the world. And if you liked this one watch all of Hans Rosling’s TED talks.

3. Earth in Its Final Century?

British cosmologist Sir Martin Rees gives a wise talk on the history and future of Earth in this TED Talk. Viewed as a whole the Earth has seen very gradual change in its 4 billion year history. Since the dawn of man though there has been some quite rapid change on the planet particularly in the last 2000 years. And in just the past 50 years the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has begun to rise abruptly, the planet has been emitting radio waves, and small metallic objects have begun orbiting the Earth and some have journeyed out of that orbit. With 6 billion years yet to come on Earth it remains to be seen what sort of life will inhabit it, and we will need the humane wisdom of the elder Albert Einstein to prevent catastrophe.

4. Brian Greene on String Theory

Try wrapping your mind around string theory with this TED talk delivered by physicist Brian Greene. He starts the talk with the story of the German mathematician and physicist Theodor Kaluza who proposed that the universe might have more dimensions than the three-dimensional space apparent in of the physical world. This led much later to the attempt at discovering a unified theory through string theory and superstring theory which proposes 10 dimensions. Brian Greene ends the talk with describing some experiments which are being conducted that could lead to proving the existence of other dimensions.

5. James Watson on How He Discovered DNA

Legendary scientist James D. Watson tells the story of how he and Francis Crick co-discoverered the structure of DNA in 1953. As detailed in his bestselling book The Double Helix, Watson gives an entertaining account of how scientific discoveries are made in the modern world. He goes into some talks on genetics and DNA which may require some basic genetic knowledge to understand, but even without this knowledge one gets a taste for the excitement of scientific discovery. At the end of the talk he looks at the more recent discoveries of the genes that are thought to give predisposition to autism, schizophrenia, and more.

6. Debate: Does the World Need Nuclear Energy?

Listen to this brief debate at the TED conference over nuclear energy between environmentalist and Whole Earth Catalog editor Stewart Brand who argues in favor of nuclear energy in the face of global warming and Stanford University environmental engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson who argues for using renewable energy sources of energy instead of resorting to nuclear power. Brand sees nuclear power as the best way to reduce the massive amount of carbon dioxide that coal plants emit. Jacobson provides stats on wind and solar power and warns of the dangers of countries secretly developing nuclear weapons in conjunction with establishing nuclear power.

7. E.O. Wilson on Saving Life on Earth

In this 2007 TED Prize talk biologist E.O. Wilson takes a look at the vastness of the biosphere and points out that the majority of species on Earth we’ve yet to discover. From his studies of insects he has come to understand immense beauty and variation in the smallest living things. Yet he cautions that humanity’s actions are set to destroy over half of the surviving animal and plant species on the planet by the end of the century along with destroying many species of living things before they are even discovered. He sums up these extinctions as being caused by H.I.P.P.O.: habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution, population expansion, and over-harvesting by excessive hunting and fishing. With this destruction of life, we will lose a vast amount of knowledge, along with the potentials of what this life can provide for the world. He wishes for an online encyclopedia of life to be created that researchers all over the world can contribute to in order to catalog our ever-expanding knowledge of life on Earth and value you it enough to avoid its destruction.

8. Richard Dawkins: The Universe is Queerer Than We Can Suppose

In this mind-bending lecture from TED.com, biologist Richard Dawkins examines the universe from the standpoint of contemporary science and finds that our universe is much stranger than we are capable of supposing. He provides many examples in the biological world about how assumptions such as a rock being solid and our bodies being the same throughout our life are incorrect. Stretch your perspective with Dawkin’s case for “thinking the improbable”.

9. Craig Venter is on the Verge of Creating Synthetic Life

Craig Venter is famous for his role in the Human Genome Project and their accomplishment in being the first group to sequence the human genome. In this TED talk he talks about his attempts to create life with a synthetic genome, and in 2010 Venter announced the creation of first self-replicating semi-synthetic bacterial cell. This talk from 2008 describes what they were doing in their attempts to create synthetic life and more importantly why they attempting to create synthetic life. Venter argues that synthetic life can create new forms of energy that convert carbon dioxide to fuel and replace the entire petrol-chemical industry. It’s an ambitious goal from one of the leading figures in genetics.

10. Paul Root Wolpe: It’s Time to Question Bio-Engineering

Bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe shows some of the latest feats in bio-engineering from creating animal hybrids such as the zorse (a zebra-horse hybrid) to genetically creating bio-luminescent animals that glow in the dark. He also covers the advances in cloning, genetically modified foods, and animal-robots which can be controlled by computers. After presenting all these fascinating and sometimes terrifying bio-engineering advances, Wolpe asks some very important ethical questions about the future of bio-engineering.

11. Ray Kurzweil on How Technology Will Transform Us

Futurist Ray Kurzweil takes a look the exponential growth of many forms of technology and where these technologies will take us in the not to distant future. From the spread of the cell phones to the development of nanotechnology, Kurzweil feels this is all leading to a technological singularity. It’s an interesting glimpse into the future with a leading technological thinker.

12. An Inside Tour of the World’s Biggest Supercollider

Physicist Brian Cox talks about the Large Hadron Collider which is the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. Cox talks about how it is hoped that it will explain many of the most fundamental questions in physics. He explains the creation story as know by physics starting with the theory of the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago and taking us through time to the present day.

13. Jeff Bezos on the Next Web Innovation

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos takes a look at the history of internet and compares it to past historical developments. He starts off relating it to the gold rush of the mid 19th century. At first people were skeptical but by a certain point everyone wanted in on the gold rush and the internet riches that were arising the late 20th century. They both had a bust and their excesses led to some tragic losses, but the internet has continued to be resilient in its innovations. Bezos then compares the internet to the development of electricity. By the early 20th century the ground work had been laid for electricity to be delivered to houses in urban areas and immediately people started developing electrical appliances. These rudimentary appliances were a long way away from the ones we know of today and Bezos feels we are at that early stage with the internet where we haven’t even begun to think of all the things we are going to be able to use it for.

14. Jared Diamond on Why Societies Collapse

Scientist Jared Diamond takes a look at the many factors that go into the causes for societies that have collapsed throughout history in this TED talk. He analyzes the Greenland Norse and the many environmental and social factors that led to its societal demise, and then focuses on the modern US state of Montana which, as a society within the United States, is facing many of the same issues. Diamond then points out some ways we can learn from history in order to prevent the collapse of contemporary societies and lead us off our current path of unsustainability.

15. Aubrey de Grey Says We Can Avoid Aging

Theoretician in the field of gerontology Aubrey de Grey looks at how new medical technologies are going to increase the lifespan of humans to the point of “longevity escape velocity” where we will be able to essentially live forever. He addresses a number of the arguments against his theory and provides some projections how old we are going to live on average in the coming years. He quickly addresses some of the scientific research behind his ideas and fields a few questions.

16. Chris Anderson: Technology’s Long Tail

Chris Anderson of WIRED magazine gives his grand unified theory of technology in this TED talk. He points out the four stages of a technology: first they fall below a critical price, then they rise to a critical mass, then they often displace an existing technology, and finally they often become nearly free. He walks us through the stages with the rise of the DVD from the 1990s into the 2000s. This talk was delivered back in 2004 and he does make some predictions with the rise of hybrid cars, free phone calls (Skype), and other technologies that were rising at the time. For the most part Anderson’s theory of technology seems to still hold up.

17. Sam Harris: Science Can Answer Moral Questions

Sam Harris, author of the recent book The Moral Landscape, posits that just as there are scientific facts there are also moral facts and science can play a role in determining morality when in comes to the well-being of humanity. He sets up the idea of a moral spectrum of what is optimal for human well-being within a culture and argues that there are universal truths which contribute towards this well-being just as there are truths when it comes to the physical health of a human being. With humor and clarity he questions certain religious practices as being the best way to confront moral dilemmas.

18. The Vision Behind One Laptop Per Child

In this TED talk the founder of the One Laptop per Child Association, Nicholas Negroponte, shares his ambitious vision of distributing $100 laptops to the children of the world. To date his organization has delivered 2 million laptops worldwide. He delivered this talk in 2006 when they were just ramping up their distribution and he tells of the challenges they faced in making a $100 laptop. He also talks about some of the successes they’ve had in the program in aiding the education of children throughout the globe.

19. Jimmy Wales on the Birth of Wikipedia

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales separates fact from fiction regarding the founding of his super popular online encyclopedia and how it operates. He talks about the close knit community which is at the heart of developing Wikipedia and the team of volunteers which have helped it grow technologically and have keep the costs down. Wales discusses some of the controversies and criticisms that have arisen about the Wikipedia project. It’s an interesting look behind-the-scenes at one of the most popular websites on the world wide web.

20. Bill Gates on Energy: Innovating to Zero

In this TED Talk Bill Gates speaks on innovating our energy policy so we reach zero carbon emissions globally by 2050. In this talk Gates provides a simple equation for the increase in carbon dioxide globally and he sees that the only way to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is to reduce carbon emissions from the equation. He calls for innovation in all alternative methods of creating energy and says it will take a miracle of innovation to come up with a solution. He suggests one possible “miracle” which he is investing in is a new kind of nuclear power which generates power from what we currently designate as nuclear waste. Listen to this clear and concise talk about how one of America’s top business & technology leaders is looking at solving the climate crisis.

21. Michael Pollan Gives a Plant’s-Eye View

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, talks about how he came to the idea of viewing the world from other species points of view. And while humanity often assumes human consciousness is the end-all and be-all of evolution, he humorously suggests that humanity was maybe grass’s way of getting another species to mow the lawn so there are less trees to prevent its growth. He presents a way of farming that he has discovered in which viewing the farming process from the point of view of other species could produce a new world where it is not a zero sum game of humanity winning.

22. Julian Assange: Why the World Needs WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange sits down with TED’s Chris Anderson at TEDGlobal 2010 for a discussion of his controversial website. Assange talks about the purpose of WikiLeaks which takes highly classified documents and video from whistleblowers and other sources in order to alert the press and public and instigate political change. Assange provides many examples of leaks which his site has released that have had an impact on global politics.

23. Al Gore: 15 Ways to Avert a Climate Crisis

Al Gore lays out 15 ways to avert climate crisis through our personal and professional lives. He plays a brief slide show and provides examples of many of the ways that these steps are being used in action. Speaking to a business audience at the TED conference he also points out important steps that businesses can take to influence climate change.

24. Leonard Susskind: My Friend Richard Feynman

Physicist Leonard Susskind talks about his friendship with the legendary Richard Feynman. Feynman made many contributions to various areas of physics and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. Susskind tells stories of Feynman and his scientific method which sought to eliminate the “baloney” and make physics explainable. Through the many stories Susskind portrays the complexity of this brilliant 20th century physicist.

25. Jane Goodall on What Separates Us From the Apes

In this TED Talk from primatologist Jane Goodall, she discusses her many years spent with chimpanzees in Tanzania and the many ways in which she and other researchers have discovered that chimpanzees are similar to humans. From their ability to make tools to their emotional lives Goodall lays out the characteristics of chimps that may make us second guess how they are treated. She then talks about how chimpanzees are being endangered and she connects this to the many ways in which life and our environment are being threatened. At the end of the talk she gives reasons for hope with telling of some of the courageous acts of young people throughout the world that participate in the Roots & Shoots program she started.

Happy birthday Stephen Hawking!

January 8, 2012

Free Lecture Samples from The Great Courses

This is a dated blog post. Check out our latest comprehensive blog post on The Great Courses:

Check Out Our Blog Post Covering Over 70 Free Great Courses Lectures

The Great Courses (formerly The Teaching Company) has made many upgrades in the past year including a newly designed site, user reviews for every course, and the addition of video downloads for almost all of their video courses. You can check out all these additions on their site:


And now they are starting to add some samples of their video lectures for certain courses to further aid their avid fans in deciding the next course to buy. They’ve launched a YouTube channel which contains all these videos samples:


On the course pages for their courses on LearnOutLoud.com we’ve embedded these sample video lectures for each course. The free video samples generally run 5-10 minutes long and cover a specific point from a lecture in the course. Here are the courses that have samples on them. Note: You’ll need to scroll down below the course description to see the video sample.

Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning

Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer’s Craft

Change and Motion: Calculus Made Clear



Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution

The Everyday Guide to Wine

Games People Play: Game Theory in Life, Business, and Beyond

History of Christian Theology

How to Listen to and Understand Great Music

Joy of Mathematics

Late Antiquity: Crisis and Transformation

Museum Masterpieces: The Louvre

Nature of Earth: An Introduction to Geology

The New Testament

What Are the Chances? Probability Made Clear

Enjoy these free video lecture samples. We’ll keep adding more here as The Great Courses keep releasing them. Hopefully they’ll help you decide which Great Course to buy next!

And if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out The Great Courses Plus. You can now sign up for a free one month trial on TheGreatCoursesPlus.com. For fans of The Great Courses it’s overwhelmingly awesome. You subscribe to The Great Courses Plus, and you can then watch 300 great courses and over 6,000 video lectures as much as you want, whenever you want!

After the initial free month, the price is only $19.99/month now! A bargain considering all the great courses you get access to. And if you sign up for a full year the price breaks down to only $14.99/month. We’ve gone through their entire catalog and there are so many courses and individual lectures we want to watch. You can browse all these courses by category on their website as well:

Browse Over 300 Courses Currently Offered Through the The Great Courses Plus
We’ve updated a blog post that lays out The Great Courses Plus in more detail and lists all the current courses:

Watch 300 Great Courses on the Great Courses Plus Updated Blog Post

January 5, 2012

2011 Best Videos from FORA.tv

Sorry, but the FORA.tv video library was taken down as of August 31, 2018, so these videos are no longer available, unless you can find them on YouTube.

FORA.tv now offers over 10,000 videos from 100s of partners who offer recordings of their conferences, events, and lectures. FORA.tv just put out their top 10 videos on their site from 2011 and they picked some good ones. Their criterion for selecting the videos was as follows: “The Best of FORA.tv 2011 videos were selected using measures both objective and subjective: view counts, interactions and comments, as well as feedback from out Facebook, Twitter, and blog pages”. Here at LearnOutLoud.com we’ve checked out all of these top 10 videos and written up some reviews of them to let you know what they’re all about. Note that the #10 and the #8 videos are not free, but can be purchased on FORA.tv. Enjoy this intelligent top ten list from FORA.tv!

10. Walter Isaacson: ‘Nice’ Not an Adjective to Describe Steve Jobs

This is a short video preview of the video of biographer Walter Isaacson’s talk on Steve Jobs. For the full video you’ll need to pay $4.95. Isaacson describes why in his biography Steve Jobs he didn’t convey Jobs as a “nice” man.

9. Michael Moore: Here Comes Trouble

In this 2-hour video author & filmmaker Michael Moore speaks at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue about the state of contemporary politics and he reads from his new memoir Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life. Moore voices his support for the Occupy Wall Street movement and expresses his dismay with the wealthy in America, along with President Barack Obama and the Democrats in the past three years. He tells many stories from his life and then reads from his memoir providing an entertaining story about flying to Germany to protest a Nazi funeral. He answers many questions and closes with a passionate cry against the greed of the richest 400 Americans who have now accumulated more wealth than 150 million of the poorest U.S. households combined. Enjoy this talk by Michael Moore.

8. Richard Dawkins: There Never Was a First Homo Sapiens

This is a short video preview of the video of evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkin’s talk with Henry Finder at the New Yorker Festival. For the full video you’ll need to pay $9.95. Dawkin’s briefly answers the question “Who was the first person?” which he addresses his latest book The Magic of Reality. He says that there never was a first person but if we go back 185 million generations ago there is slow, gradual continuum of evolution from fish to human. He says it’s like asking when did a child become an adult and that the change is so gradual that one cannot pinpoint it.

7. Debate: The World Would Be Better Off Without Religion

In this lively debate from Intelligence Squared U.S., four speakers argue whether or not the World would be better without religion. On the faith-based side of the aisle, Dinesh D’Souza and Rabbi David Wolpe point out several strong cases for how religion has provided human beings with a framework for moral action and meaning. Countering these claims are Matthew Chapman and A.C. Grayling, both of whom enumerate on the historically negative social influence of religious belief and do not necessarily agree that faith is synonymous with ethical living.

6. Slavoj Zizek: Catastrophic But Not Serious

Slavoj Zizek is a Slovenian philosopher who works in the traditions of Hegelianism, Marxism, and Lacanian psychoanalysis. We didn’t get a chance to watch this one yet, but feel free to dive in if you’d like.

5. Steven Pinker: Language as a Window into Human Nature

In this 15-minute RSA animated lecture Steven Pinker takes a look at using overt language vs. innuendo. He takes a look at a few examples from the movies Fargo and `When Harry Met Sally to illustrate his point. He uses anthropologist Alan Fiske’s idea of three relationship types: dominance, communality, and reciprocity. When these relationships cross over they often lead to awkwardness. Through indirectness we can help bridge the gap between these relationships. We can also use innuendo in a relationship to avoid awkwardness. If we are overt with our language we can’t take it back and there is common knowledge about what is said, but if we use innuendo then there is no mutual knowledge and we can maintain the fiction of our current relationship.

4. Robert Sapolsky: Are Humans Just Another Primate?

Primatologist and neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky speaks at the California Academy of Sciences on the differences between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom. He dispels many myths about the uniqueness of humans such as we are the only violent species, we are the only species capable of altruism, and we are the only species that uses tools. And while our DNA and genes are 98.6% similar to chimpanzees, we do have bigger brains with many more neurons than they have. And with these bigger brains we have developed the capacity for symbolic culture and language, the ability to take pleasure in delayed gratification, the capacity for morality that goes far beyond the basic reciprocity of primates, and many more interesting unique qualities which Sapolsky addresses in this hour-long talk. At the end he answers some great questions from the audience.

3. Roger McNamee Says Google Is Done

Roger McNamee is the founding partner of the venture capital firm Elevation Partners which has $1.9 billion of assets under management. In this talk delivered at the Churchill Club McNamee makes some bold predictions about the future of business on the Internet. Most notably he feels that Google and their domination of the web through Internet search is on its way out as new players in search have entered the space (Wikipedia, Facebook, Yelp, etc.) and Apple has revolutionized the web with the iPhone and the iPad and their new model of apps. McNamee also feels that the new web language of HTML 5 is going to dramatically change the web by making the creative tools of generating great web apps much easier and more affordable. And as a member of the band the Flying Other Brothers, he gives his thoughts on the future of the music industry during the Q&A period.

2. WikiLeaks: Why It Matters. Why It Doesn’t?

With this roundtable hosted by the Churchill Club, the Wikileaks scandal serves as a jumping off point for a discussion on how we access government secrets. Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, internet law commentator Jonathan Zittrain, and other notable pundits within the tech sector survey how Julian Assange’s work to make classified documents available on a broader scale has redefined journalism and put pressure on 4th amendment rights. They also explore new tools governments are utilizing to supress information, keep tabs on citizenry, and control behavior in a rapidly changing global exchange of information.

1. Christopher Hitchens: Some Confessions and Contradictions

Author and journalist Christopher Hitchens passed away a few weeks ago on December 15, 2011 at the age of 62. In this most watched video from FORA.tv in the year 2011, Christopher Hitchens sits down with Paul Holdengraber, Director of Public Programs at the New York Public Library, and Hitchens discusses his life with stories from his memoir Hitch-22. Hitchens covers a great deal in this 90 minute interview from his parents to his heroes to his political beliefs over the years. It’s an excellent look into the life of this popular writer and public intellectual whose work spanned the last four decades.

Watch the most popular intelligent videos from FORA.tv!