Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Web Secret #132: Web Sites That Make You Think

Is the Internet rotting your brain?

I pondered this question in a spring time post. I concluded that there is enough great stuff on the web - the epic TED site comes to mind - to outweigh the moronic.

It made me wonder what other truly great sites might exist that I didn't know about. Lucky for me, I came across 10 Websites To Make You Think. Of course, TED made the list, but a few I didn't know about absolutely thrilled me:

1. Big Think - The Big Think website is a collection of very short (5 minutes or less) videos in which ‘global thought leaders’ discuss important issues, events and developments. Videos are grouped, and categories include Health and Medicine, Media and Internet, Science and Tech, and many more.

Here, Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, argues that abusers should be treated the same as anyone with a debilitating disease. Or here Tal Ben-Sharar, Psychology Lecturer at Harvard University discusses "Is Facebook Making Us Sad?"

2. Arts & Letters Daily - If Sherlock Holmes was a real person, and living in the 21st century, he would hang at this retro feeling site, featuring a fascinating collection of articles, essays, disputes and reviews by a select collection of bloggers and publications.

Here is an article that argues "Schizophrenia has long been blamed on bad genes or even bad parents. The real culprit, a new hypothesis claims, is a virus entwined in every person’s DNA." Or how about this essay, that begins, "Ed Dante, academic mercenary, will ace your Psych 101 term paper, or help “earn” you a Ph.D in history. If you have the money, Ed has the talent."

3. Academic Earth provides free university video courses spanning a broad range of subjects. Featured professors come from the finest universities in the US.

How about viewing UCLA Professor Benjamin Karney's course on "Communication and Conflict in Couples and Families"? Or for a really thought provoking experience, listening to Harvard Professor Michael Sandel's course on "The Morality of Murder." The quality of these courses is outstanding.

4. Eyewitness To History - A collection of eyewitness accounts and media from the ancient world through to modern history. I don't know that I can argue that this website will be directly relevant to your work. Think of it as a holiday gift to your mind.

Did you ever hear Franklin Delano Roosevelt speak? Watch film footage of the troops celebrating the end of World War I? Read the doctor's account of Hamilton's fatal wound after he was shot by Aaron Burr? If you are even remotely a history buff, this one is for you.

The web is full of treasures. You just have to find them.

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