Watch 21 Animated Ideas from Big Thinkers: Steven Pinker, Carol Dweck, Philip Zimbardo, David Harvey & More

The Roy­al Soci­ety for the Encour­age­ment of Arts, Man­u­fac­tures and Com­merce, bet­ter known as the Roy­al Soci­ety for the Arts, and best known sim­ply as the RSA, was found­ed in 1754. At the time, nobody could have imag­ined a world in which the peo­ple of every land, no mat­ter how far-flung, could hear the same talks by well-known schol­ars and speak­ers, let alone see them ani­mat­ed as if on a con­fer­ence-room white­board. Yet even back then, in an era before the inven­tion of ani­ma­tion and white­boards, let alone com­put­ers and the inter­net, peo­ple had an appetite for strong, often coun­ter­in­tu­itive or even con­trar­i­an ideas to diag­nose and poten­tial­ly even solve social prob­lems — an appetite for which the RSA Ani­mate series of videos was made.

We can’t under­stand what goes right and what goes wrong in our soci­eties with­out under­stand­ing how we think. To that end the RSA has com­mis­sioned ani­mat­ed videos based on talks by psy­chi­a­trist Iain McGilchrist on our “divid­ed brain,” for­mer polit­i­cal strate­gist (and cur­rent RSA Chief Exec­u­tive) Matthew Tay­lor on how our left and right brains shape our pol­i­tics, psy­chol­o­gist Steven Pinker on lan­guage as a win­dow into human nature, philoso­pher-soci­ol­o­gist Rena­ta Sale­cl on the para­dox­i­cal down­side of choice, psy­chol­o­gist Philip Zim­bar­do on our per­cep­tion of time, “social and eth­i­cal prophet” Jere­my Rifkin on empa­thy, philoso­pher Roman Krz­nar­ic on “out­ro­spec­tion,” jour­nal­ist Bar­bara Ehren­re­ich on “the dark­er side of pos­i­tive think­ing,” and behav­ioral-eco­nom­ics researcher Dan Ariely on dri­ve and dis­hon­esty.

Eco­nom­ics is anoth­er field that has pro­vid­ed the RSA with a sur­feit of ani­mat­able mate­r­i­al — even of the kind “econ­o­mists don’t want you to see,” as the RSA pro­motes econ­o­mist Ha-joon Chang’s talk on “why every sin­gle per­son can and SHOULD get their head around basic eco­nom­ics” and “how eas­i­ly eco­nom­ic myths and assump­tions become gospel.”

Freako­nom­ics co-authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dub­n­er make an appear­ance to break down altru­ism, and “eco­nom­ic geo­g­ra­ph­er” David Har­vey attempts to envi­sion a sys­tem beyond cap­i­tal­ism. And on the parts of the intel­lec­tu­al map where eco­nom­ics over­laps pol­i­tics, the RSA brings us fig­ures like Slavoj Žižek, who “inves­ti­gates the sur­pris­ing eth­i­cal impli­ca­tions of char­i­ta­ble giv­ing.”

As, in essence, an edu­ca­tion­al enter­prise, RSA Ani­mate videos also look into new ways to think about edu­ca­tion itself. Edu­ca­tion­al­ist Car­ol Dweck exam­ines the issues of “why kids say they’re bored at school, or why they stop try­ing when the work gets hard­er” by look­ing at what kind of praise helps young stu­dents, and what kind harms them.

Edu­ca­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty expert Sir Ken Robin­son explains the need to change our very par­a­digms of edu­ca­tion. And accord­ing to the RSA’s speak­ers, those aren’t the only par­a­digms we should change: Microsoft Chief Envi­sion­ing Offi­cer Dave Coplin argues that we should re-imag­ine work, and tech­nol­o­gy crit­ic Evge­ny Moro­zov argues that we should rethink the “cyber-utopi­anism” that has exposed harm­ful side-effects of our dig­i­tal world.

httvs://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&list=PL39BF9545D740ECFF&index=11&t=0s

But it is in this world that the RSA pro­motes “21st-cen­tu­ry enlight­en­ment,” a con­cept fur­ther explored in anoth­er talk by Matthew Tay­lor — and one of which you can get a few dos­es, ten min­utes at a time, on the full RSA Ani­mate Youtube playlist. Watch the com­plete playlist of 21 videos, from start to fin­ish, below.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Decline of Civilization’s Right Brain: Ani­mat­ed

Dan Ariely’s Ani­mat­ed Talk Reveals How and Why We’re All Dis­hon­est

The Pow­er of “Out­ro­spec­tion” — A Way of Life, A Force for Social Change — Explained with Ani­ma­tion

The His­to­ry of Music Told in Sev­en Rapid­ly Illus­trat­ed Min­utes

48 Ani­mat­ed Videos Explain the His­to­ry of Ideas: From Aris­to­tle to Sartre

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.


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