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X marks the spot: Beatboxing brilliance from TEDxSydney and this week’s favorite TEDx talks

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Tom Thum wowed at TEDxSydney this week by doing strange things with his mouth. With just a microphone and his charisma, Thum brings the sounds of Michael Jackson, fifties jazz and scratched vinyl to the TEDx stage. In this talk, he demonstrates his “innate ability for inhuman noisemaking.”

Thum’s talk has amassed over 2 million hits on YouTube in four days, which illustrates the reach of a TEDx speaker. Each week, from events all-round the globe, the TEDx team picks four favorite talks that embody big ideas from many cultures and countries. Below, listen to the selections for this week — about political and media language and the impact of oil on a nation’s democracy.

Where is the “Muslim World”?: Professor Tony McEnery at TEDxLancasterU
At TEDxLancasterU, linguist Tony McEnery identified an unsettling trend in the media. Between 1998 and 2009, the British press used the phrase “Muslim World” 11,000 times in articles discussing Islam. McEnery shows us how our language is alienating all Muslims and actively assisting the few who are hell-bent on violence.

What oil does to democracy: Andrew Nikiforuk at TEDxCalgary
Andrew Nikiforuk is a specialist in energy and economics. In this talk from TEDxCalgary, he discusses petrostates-economies where oil accounts for more than twenty percent of revenue. Nikiforuk tells us that these economies share the same chronic problems — overspending and under-taxing — and are in danger of becoming undemocratic. The solution he presents is an instate taxation structure like those that are in place in non-oil economies. If successful, this system would increase public inclusiveness and prevent one vested interest from dominating the political process.

Hey politicians! Talk like people: Natascha Engel at TEDxHousesofParliament
British Member of Parliament Natascha Engel walks the walk in this engaging talk calling for simplified political language. At TEDxHousesofParliament, Engel compares the relationship between a politician and a constituent to a failing marriage. Engel is refreshing and funny in addressing one of the most topical issues of a modern democracy.

Are you more than your atoms?: Erica Carlson at TEDxPurdueU
At TEDxPurdueU, physics Professor Erica Carlson puts the most complex science into a human context. Reductionism is explaining something through studying it at its most basic level but Carlson tells us that this isn’t always useful; we cannot begin to try and answer the ultimate question of what makes us human if we understand complex structures as just the sum of their parts. We are more than our atoms, she says.

And great reads on the TEDx Blog: