If you're a massive TED fan like me, you've probably watched a whole lot of the compelling talks by now. But when it comes to consuming all the insights TED has to offer, even the most dedicated enthusiasts can't hold a candle to Chris Anderson.

As the curator of TED, he's had a front row seat for nearly every presentation or performance that's graced the event's stage. Which is what makes his answer to a recent Quora member who asked "What are the top 5 TED talks that you took away the most learnings from?" so fascinating.

Which of the event's many, many fascinating speakers have stuck with Anderson the most? He names these five "quirky" picks.      

1. David Deutsch

"Here's a maverick physicist giving an eloquent argument about the power of knowledge...framed in an incredible talk, full of unexpected twists and turns. Deutsch helped convince me that knowledge is far more than just a weird evolutionary trick invented by one of earth's species," writes Anderson of the talk, strangely but intriguingly named, "Chemical scum that dream of distant quasars."

2.Clay Shirky

"Back in 2005, Shirky spoke about how the Web was enabling new models that should encourage institutions to 'let go' and allow others to do some of their work for them. I think it helped convince us that we should be willing to risk giving away our best talks for free online," explains Anderson of this one, titled "Institutions vs. collaboration."

3. Nancy Etcoff

Why is Etcoff's talk, "Happiness and its surprises," one of Anderson's all time faves? "This is one of a whole collection of talks on happiness that have really changed my thinking and, um, I think actually made me happier."

4. Bryan Stevenson

"Bryan spoke about a tough subject--America's broken justice system--in a way that was unbelievably compelling. He won the longest standing ovation in TED's history. And I haven't been able to get him and his cause out of my mind ever since," Anderson reveals about his reaction to Stevenson's hugely thought-provoking talk, "We need to talk about an injustice."

5. Steven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

Anderson calls this one, titled "The long reach of reason," an "unusual talk," explaining that "it was given as a Socratic dialog." Together, Pinker and Newberger Goldstein "reach the conclusion that pure reason has shaped history profoundly, though it sometimes takes hundreds of years. If the world bought into this view, we'd do a much better job of listening to each other."

What are your favorite TED Talks of all time?

Published on: Jul 7, 2016