Following is the second of a series on TED talks that will change the way you view the world. The talks selected are drawn from the more than 150 that I've listened to this year.
David Christian: The history of our world in 18 minutes
You can cast aside those old world history textbooks – historian David Christian covers it all in 18 minutes, guiding us through the history of our planet, and the elements that led us to where we are today.
Key Christian quotes:
· “. . . what makes humans different is human language. We are blessed with a language, a system of communication, so powerful and so precise that we can share what we've learned with such precision that it can accumulate in the collective memory. And that means it can outlast the individuals who learned that information, and it can accumulate from generation to generation. And that's why, as a species, we're so creative and so powerful, and that's why we have a history. We seem to be the only species in four billion years to have this gift. I call this ability collective learning. It's what makes us different.”
· “. . . fossil fuels and collective learning together explain the staggering complexity we see around us.”
· “What we see around us is staggering complexity. Eric Beinhocker estimates that in New York City alone, there are some 10 billion SKUs, or distinct commodities, being traded.”
· “Collective learning is a very, very powerful force, and it's not clear that we humans are in charge of it.”
· “What can big history do? How can it help us? “. . . [B]ig history can . . . show us the nature of our complexity and fragility and the dangers that face us, but it can also show us our power with collective learning.”
Christian, credited with coining the term “Big History,” has developed the Big History Project, a free online course funded by Bill Gates. Christian was born in New York and grew up in both Nigeria and England. His TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_christian_big_history