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Why we ignore obvious problems — and how to act on them | Michele Wucker

Why do we often neglect big problems, like the financial crisis and climate change, until it’s too late? Policy strategist Michele Wucker urges us to replace the myth of the “black swan” — that rare, unforeseeable, unavoidable catastrophe — with the reality of the “gray rhino,” the preventable danger that we choose to ignore. She…

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Why do we often neglect big problems, like the financial crisis and climate change, until it’s too late? Policy strategist Michele Wucker urges us to replace the myth of the “black swan” — that rare, unforeseeable, unavoidable catastrophe — with the reality of the “gray rhino,” the preventable danger that we choose to ignore. She shows why predictable crises catch us by surprise — and lays out some signs that there may be a charging rhino in your life right now.

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The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more.

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89 Comments

89 Comments

  1. Avatar

    The Best Channel

    May 23, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    TED videos is prefect ??

  2. Avatar

    AURELIO KILLIAN

    May 23, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    Number 10

  3. Avatar

    O'SSÉIN - Master Your Mind With Me

    May 23, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    Because we are not being in tune with our own selves.
    We are walking zombies, fumbling in a limbo of constant stress and anxiety.
    Detaching and practicing awareness is the only way.

    • Avatar

      Payhole Everdouche

      May 23, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      Are you a Master of the Ridiculously Absurd or a Guru of the Absurdly Ridiculous…???

  4. Avatar

    giuliete1

    May 23, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    This lady got a bunch of things wrong in the very first 2 min of video
    Alan Greenspan’s real job was NEVER to look out for the economy. And the financial meltdown of 2008 was orchestrated to be exactly what it was: a huge ripoff from banks. People do solve problems… the ones they consider to be problems… it’s a matter of perspectives

    • Avatar

      Proverbial Potato

      May 23, 2019 at 3:57 pm

      Also people make economic predictions all the time. Just because you take a cynical position doesn’t mean that everyone else is ignoring a so-called “obvious grey rhino”. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t consider worst case scenarios, but at the same time one must not create problems by fixating on problems that could happen, or those that are truly out of anyone’s control.

    • Avatar

      Aaron Long

      May 23, 2019 at 4:25 pm

      @giuliete Eh, the nominal job of the Federal Reserve is to regulate the supply of fiat money. That job is guided by two factors: The interest rate, which is supposed to hit a 2% target, and the unemployment rate. But the Fed (it’s a committee, Greenspan never acted alone) has a limited set of levers they can use to influence the way markets behave. As for ripping of banks… no. The Fed is staffed and run by bankers for the benefit of banks, and many, many banks went bust in 2008. So what happened? Greenspan and his cohorts chose to believe their de-regulatory rhetoric in lieu of the facts. To admit that there was a problem, that there was massive lending fraud and irresponsible speculation would have been tantamount to admitting that their de-regulation drive for the past 30 years had been a mistake.

      The root problem isn’t the Fed. The Fed has been around since 1913, and for many, many years after that, the American economy was functional and effective. The root problem is that since the 1970’s, moneyed special interests have gotten very effective at subverting democracy, sabotaging regulation, and enriching themselves at the expense of regular people. The way we know this is true is that we somehow have both political parties in this country clamoring against corruption from Wall Street, and yet somehow they’re still unable or unwilling to regulate Wall Street. Even the modest, pro-forma regulations passed by Dodd-Frank are once again under attack, as the same entities who profited immensely from the 2008 crash lobby to re-create the conditions which allowed it to take place to begin with.

  5. Avatar

    Peggy Harris

    May 23, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    So…we should get out of the stock market?

    • Avatar

      Payhole Everdouche

      May 23, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      Clearly, you’re an effing Genius…!!!

    • Avatar

      Matthew Menich

      May 23, 2019 at 5:07 pm

      Yes stop gambling.

  6. Avatar

    Siyathokoza Zulu

    May 23, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    this talk just broke and built me back up all in 10 minutes

    • Avatar

      Payhole Everdouche

      May 23, 2019 at 3:52 pm

      Another fragile snowflake remade…!!!

  7. Avatar

    Mindprovement

    May 23, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    We are always trying to make simple things complicated.

  8. Avatar

    Spencer Adams

    May 23, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Drexel sam

  9. Avatar

    Payhole Everdouche

    May 23, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    I have a huge problem with this presenter, and it’s obvious to me. That horrid outfit, has got to go.

  10. Avatar

    El Pelado

    May 23, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    En serio?????? Subtitulos en Birmano, pero no en español?

  11. Avatar

    Flower Productions

    May 23, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Am I the only one who thought this woman was the granny on the train from Captain Marvel, from the thumbnail?

    • Avatar

      Payhole Everdouche

      May 23, 2019 at 3:53 pm

      Yes…!!! It’s her awful outfit and them bedroom eyes…!!!??

  12. Avatar

    domsau2

    May 23, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    To summarize: inform yourself about the problems that can happen.

  13. Avatar

    Active Worker

    May 23, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    The responsability is mainly on our leaders who have tough decision to take.
    On our local non-political side, we can vote, debate, ideate and create startups.

  14. Avatar

    Fandyus

    May 23, 2019 at 3:55 pm

    I never experienced these times but i sure do miss the times when TED was about innovation and technology.

    No offense to the guest.

  15. Avatar

    Spencer Arnot

    May 23, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    We ignore obvious problems because there are hidden financial motives for some “representatives” to ignore obvious solutions. Take the current carbon crisis for example. Why not nuclear? The tech has significantly advanced in the last 50 years. It could solve a big problem but it’s being blocked. This is just one of many examples.

  16. Avatar

    LO V3

    May 23, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    It’s the little lies we tell ourselves to live the lives we think we want. “This isn’t the time to talk about it” “What can I do about it” “It’ll all work out for the best” sayings like this keep ourselves from seeing and admitting the problem as well as beginning the change within yourself that is ultimately needed.

  17. Avatar

    Julia Cherenkova

    May 23, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    I know one huge problem ignored by the majority of people, it’s CLIMATE CHANGE!!!11

    • Avatar

      Spencer Arnot

      May 23, 2019 at 4:38 pm

      @Julia Cherenkova Obvious problems often get ignored because there’s a hidden financial motive to obscure, denigrate or simple ignore the obvious solution. Nuclear is one such solution to the climate crisis. No carbon emissions, constant base load power, inexpensive and plentiful fuel source. And yet I bet you’ve heard nothing but horror stories about it, right? Curious don’t you think?

    • Avatar

      Ell Jay

      May 23, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      Unless you ignore problems with breeder reactors, then I don’t think fuel for fission nuclear is plentiful enough for the entire world to use it for that long. It’s only fusion where there’s some hope for a panacea.

  18. Avatar

    Gabriel Zhang

    May 23, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    As a Chinese, I’d like to list all the things that could happen when dealing with matters and give each one on the list a possible solution. And that help me hold many alternatives in my life and optimize the best one out of them.

  19. Avatar

    Aaron Long

    May 23, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    “We” don’t tend to ignore obvious problems. “We” have a political system which forfeits our ability to address big systemic problems to representatives, and those representatives have contrived to ignore obvious problems and/or thwart proposed solutions because it is politically convenient to do so.

    • Avatar

      Spencer Arnot

      May 23, 2019 at 4:40 pm

      @Aaron Long Just follow the money!

  20. Avatar

    mhtinla

    May 23, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    According to the media: ABC, NBC, NYT, TED…, the “obvious” problem in front of us is the orange man, not the black swan or the gray rhino.

    • Avatar

      Matthew Menich

      May 23, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Yea what the fug is she really talking about?

  21. Avatar

    Elrayah 23

    May 23, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    Answer:

    We dont want to deal with them. There you go. Video over.

  22. Avatar

    World's Netizen

    May 23, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    election crisis? yeah, but it is a very big and time-consuming project which might need one or two generations to fix. Needless to say, it needs a dedicated long-time group to work on it and keep an eye for its’ oversight.

    • Avatar

      SURAJ GAJHANS

      May 23, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      India??..
      We are doomed as a nation today!

  23. Avatar

    David G

    May 23, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    LOL a liberal women trying to teach the mindless sheep.

  24. Avatar

    Cok van Gaalen

    May 23, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    speakproject.net lucid dreamer youtube Dan Lutz youtube thepeoplesclub.org cre8change gocamelot.com thishow thomas williams spreaker

    • Avatar

      Cok van Gaalen

      May 23, 2019 at 5:13 pm

      Zeitgeist moving forward

  25. Avatar

    Xubin Yang

    May 23, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    You should stay in China for a while, and live in the living area of ordinary people, not the special hotel or guest house that the Communist Party has arranged for you.

    • Avatar

      Combat Bananas

      May 23, 2019 at 6:21 pm

      Yea no thanks. I don’t want them recording me jerkin off. I hear its like -150 points for that on your social credit score.

    • Avatar

      signalamplifier

      May 24, 2019 at 1:27 pm

      Ya triggered?

    • Avatar

      Combat Bananas

      May 24, 2019 at 1:59 pm

      +signalamplifier -34 points on your social credit score, disagreeing with positive Chinese statements. No groceries for you this week.

    • Avatar

      signalamplifier

      May 24, 2019 at 2:31 pm

      +Combat Bananas the talk does not praise nor chineese neither us governments. You might enjoy using your brain instead of parroting standard phrases about muh freedom.

  26. Avatar

    olli tuovinen

    May 23, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Allahu akbar.

  27. Avatar

    Mabel Pereira

    May 23, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Well spoken, inspiring!

  28. Avatar

    Combat Bananas

    May 23, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    Strange audience eh?

  29. Avatar

    Will B

    May 23, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    i heard hearsay that hearsay is up. sell sell sell! 🙂

    • Avatar

      Cheryl Sibson

      May 24, 2019 at 5:33 am

      hersay not hearsay HER SAY I think she makes the point, that we can’t take it with us when we die.

  30. Avatar

    Scott Sanders

    May 23, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    The whole economic blitz in 2008 was pre-engineered by the Federal Reserve to suit their agenda, that’s why most people didn’t see it coming and those that did had a handle on the machinations of a nefarious organization like the Fed and had some kind of a heads up. The Great Depression of 1929 was also pre-engineered.

    • Avatar

      nosirrbro

      May 24, 2019 at 12:18 am

      No… no… no…

      I’m really going to need a source on that if you actually believe that and want to argue in favor of it.

    • Avatar

      Scott Sanders

      May 24, 2019 at 6:48 pm

      There’s tons ob books out there on this, you just have to search for them yourself. Try Katherine Austin Fitts, Cliff High, Anand Giridharadus, Parag Khamma, Wayne Jett for instance

    • Avatar

      nosirrbro

      May 24, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      +Scott Sanders You know full well someone on the internet isn’t going to read the entire portfolio of several authors’ books just in order to resolve a comment dispute, if these books had any truth to them whatsoever there would have been without a doubt shorter form articles on the subject using them as a source.

  31. Avatar

    Anders Løbger

    May 23, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    Why the poor sound quality? Struggling to understand I gave up after a few minutes.

  32. Avatar

    Bob Frog

    May 23, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Is this moron seriously praising China? Mass Murder Champs of the 20th C?

  33. Avatar

    John Kesich

    May 23, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Do honest bankers give mortgages to people with no income, no jobs, no assets? Do honest brokers think slicing and dicing such toxic assets turns them into AAA investments? Do honest regulators and financial commentators not understand the scam unfolding before their eyes? Do honest politicians bail out the bankers and leave their victims to twist in the wind? Even going so far as to let the banks illegally foreclose on thousands or millions of them?

  34. Avatar

    BoBo Mill Tv

    May 23, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    We do not ignore obvious problems, we do not understand them, mostly…

    • Avatar

      Cryptonymicus

      May 24, 2019 at 5:36 am

      AND we don’t want to pay for the repair.

    • Avatar

      BoBo Mill Tv

      May 24, 2019 at 9:47 pm

      +Cryptonymicus -true!

  35. Avatar

    ACANKU!

    May 23, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    I think the real problem is, that ignoring a problem and jump over it is a prooven strategy first used by psychopaths to be “successful” in reaching their goals and later imitated by sociopaths, which are today the most politicians and rich powerful people. They have learned nothing than ignoring problems. Thats why they are where they are now. Ignoring two problems solves the first problem (in many cases, not all, but they think in all cases) The thing why this happens is, the people always look UPWARDS. They dont want to help someone who is downwards. So if you want something important and you dont get it, just ignore and get something they want. Now they want you and you have solved a problem by just ignoring it and moving forward. This doesnt work out on climate change. You cant push forward. In this case you have to go slow and maybe a little back but as I said, powerful people have learned something different and they are not able to move back. Just look at what shady things they did all the time. This shady things to crush and ignore problems, neglet them and discredit them is their MAIN JOB. Ignoring and moving forward.

    • Avatar

      Stefan Nikola

      May 24, 2019 at 2:38 am

      Wow! I’ve been saying that for years! I hear you. I hear you. I’d like to add that since Jesus, Moses, Mohammad, Buddha, and Lao Tzu never taught any lessons about responsibility that there’s no responsibility ethic in the world. Psychopaths and sociopaths are irresponsible for their thoughts, feelings, words, and actions, yet they succeed. I don’t like the world as it is, and I have no power to change it for the better. I’m eager to leave!

  36. Avatar

    End Of Innocence

    May 23, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    The speaker is very invested in establishment narratives and does not understand how the world really works, and is this mostly wrong.

  37. Avatar

    DeathAngel

    May 23, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    my grandma just died, I’m the one your talking about who has to clean up the 30 years of horded newspapers and a bunch of other junk.

  38. Avatar

    Matheus Serra

    May 23, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    After the invite of Brazilian researcher Joana D’Arc Félix who lied about her doctorate degree for TedEx the program lost my respect and confidence …

  39. Avatar

    Being Human

    May 24, 2019 at 3:02 am

    Ifyoudontseeitjustlook

  40. Avatar

    Vikram Srinivasan

    May 24, 2019 at 3:23 am

    Which fool will live in China? ?

    • Avatar

      seneca

      May 28, 2019 at 12:16 pm

      Vikram Srinivasan living in China can be amazing. The best 6 years of my life were there.

  41. Avatar

    Karina Royuki

    May 24, 2019 at 3:44 am

    灰犀牛不查真不知道是什么意思

  42. Avatar

    Talloolah Moon

    May 24, 2019 at 3:52 am

    Very funny arrogant aunty

  43. Avatar

    Washington Strong arm

    May 24, 2019 at 4:13 am

    Global warming , climate change, vortex, climate moo, climate poo, I wonder what will be the next name for the hoax…?

  44. Avatar

    B Welkinator

    May 24, 2019 at 4:32 am

    In-equality is NOT a problem. That there are stratum of relative economic prosperity is a fact – but NOT a problem.

  45. Avatar

    Cryptonymicus

    May 24, 2019 at 5:35 am

    It’s easier to deal with the dust in the corner than the roof caving in on our heads. And the fact is a great many of us aren’t capable of dealing with the roof caving in.

  46. Avatar

    韩淑君

    May 24, 2019 at 6:22 am

    I see several Asian audiences who look more like Chinese in view of their impassive expressions. For most of Chinese who have access to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, they know a giant grey rhino is dashing toward us and hundreds and thousands of black swans are fluttering overhead right now. But more people are sanguine about China’s prospect and are completely unconscious of obvious disasters. In fact no one would like to ignore problems. People would like to face them and act on them if they know what is happening.

  47. Avatar

    Giovanni P.

    May 24, 2019 at 7:37 am

    Alan Greenspan wrote a paper/thesis prior to the events that occurred in 2006. His thesis extrapolated that a crisis like this would occur under the right conditions…

  48. Avatar

    Good Joke

    May 25, 2019 at 12:03 am

    I still didn get the answer, how to act on them?

  49. Avatar

    Sherry Li

    May 25, 2019 at 12:09 am

    Climate change.

  50. Avatar

    Sarah Collins

    May 25, 2019 at 1:34 am

    Black swans are very common if you live in the right place. You just have to be prepared to go there.

    (Australia has only black swans)

  51. Avatar

    desame suo

    May 25, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Some scientists and politicians might think that people ignore climate change. Actually they also ignore that we can’t stop using cheap energy . We all have limited money, so we can’t help using cheapest energy. If all human being stop using fossil fuel, our civilization will collapse.

  52. Avatar

    ELLE Frank Hittlerová švejnar

    May 25, 2019 at 9:18 am

    ©

  53. Avatar

    Kleber Alanis

    May 25, 2019 at 10:10 am

    With that laughter and double thumbs up, she just basically called suckers the people whom she sold her NY apartment to.

  54. Avatar

    DeeJay Aech

    May 25, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    The public school system.

  55. Avatar

    mmisbach

    May 25, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Grey Rhinos: The less control we have over a problem the more likely to not see it. Self imposed blind spot. If you feel like someone’s got your back, you’ll take more risks. We are scared to remove our blind spots, but if we do it enables us to handle them. #TEDTalk

  56. Avatar

    Positive Leonine

    May 25, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Interesting speech.

  57. Avatar

    Jacob Opstad

    May 25, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    I had just barely become an adult but I could tell something was going to happen when I saw all those people trying to invest in real estate.

  58. Avatar

    Thirukumaran Sabapathi

    May 26, 2019 at 5:54 am

    Grass is always greener on the other side {for most}

  59. Avatar

    Максим Голубинцев

    May 26, 2019 at 10:51 am

    We’re like children, who are closing theirs eyes and thinking that nobody sees them, we think that if we don’t speak about problem it won’t happen with us

  60. Avatar

    judyslome1

    May 27, 2019 at 10:47 am

    I published a way to eliminate all postpartum hemorrhage at vaginal birth in 2010. It has been ignored . Grey rhino. see:
    Minimizing bleeding and tearing at vaginal births: one practitioners experience. Women and Birth. 2018 Apr;31(2):e144.

  61. Avatar

    barry weber

    May 27, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Great talk.

  62. Avatar

    renate løland

    May 27, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    As a norwegian this sounds very veep to me

  63. Avatar

    Sultan Al-thobaiti

    May 28, 2019 at 6:42 am

    Nice

  64. Avatar

    Ramona Sz

    May 28, 2019 at 6:46 am

    Can we take a step back and use the same speech in order to understand why, oh why we do completely nothing (nowhere near enough) about climate change?

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Science & Technology

Possible futures from the intersection of nature, tech and society | Natsai Audrey Chieza

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more. Biodesigner Natsai Audrey Chieza prototypes the future, imagining a world where people and nature can thrive together. In this wildly imaginative talk, she shares the vision behind her innovation lab, which works at the intersection of nature, technology and…

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Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized talk recommendations and more.

Biodesigner Natsai Audrey Chieza prototypes the future, imagining a world where people and nature can thrive together. In this wildly imaginative talk, she shares the vision behind her innovation lab, which works at the intersection of nature, technology and society to create sustainable materials and models for the future. Chieza invites us to consider what kind of world we wish for — and what systemic changes and collaborations need to happen for it to exist.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

TED’s videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy (). For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at

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Education

Online learning could change academia — for good | Tyler Dewitt

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Higher education remains rooted in rigid, traditional structures and tracks — and it’s at risk of getting left behind in favor of expanded access, greater flexibility and tailored learning. Educator Tyler DeWitt explains how innovations in digital content and virtual reality are ushering in the future of learning, emphasizing why academia must adapt to this new reality and embrace an approach to education that works with students’ needs — not against them.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

TED’s videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy (). For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at

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People & Blogs

How to have constructive conversations | Julia Dhar

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“We need to figure out how we go into conversations not looking for the victory, but the progress,” says world debate champion Julia Dhar. In this practical talk, she shares three essential features of productive disagreements grounded in curiosity and purpose. The end result? Constructive conversations that sharpen your argument and strengthen your relationships.

The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. You’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with people you know.

TED’s videos may be used for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons License, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives (or the CC BY – NC – ND 4.0 International) and in accordance with our TED Talks Usage Policy (). For more information on using TED for commercial purposes (e.g. employee learning, in a film or online course), please submit a Media Request at

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