13 Websites That Will Make You Smarter

Where do you go to grow your brain?

We thank the internet gods for allowing the information playing field to be shaken up just enough to pave the way for variety of sources of information.  Now with a click of the mouse, and often for free, we can take a course from an ivy league school, or just watch an interview or lecture on our favorite subject.  At the end of the day, Americans, and increasingly the rest of the world, have more and more access to stuff that keeps us informed, educated, and continually growing as people.

Here are 13 of the sites that I think will assist you in your desire to get your nerd on.

TED.com :

Be careful, you can spend hours mining tons of mind expanding videos on TED.  Originally it began as a conference to bring together people from the technology, entertainment, and design worlds.  It eventually grew into something much larger.  TED believes in the revolutionary power of an idea, to change hearts, minds, and the world.

Check out these talks:  Karen Armstrong: Let’s Revive The Golden Rule & Ory Okolloh:  On Becoming An Activist

Bigthink.com :

Big Think takes the mantra, knowledge is power, seriously.  They’ve put together a global forum, and attempt to put you in contact with the biggest ideas, and the thinkers that represent them.  Now we all know experts can be wrong, but they are banking on the idea that putting you in direct contact with big ideas, and their respective authors, will act as a launching pad for your intellectual journey.

Check out these talks: Dr. Cornel West: Catastrophic Love

Fora.tv :

They claim to have gathered the web’s largest collection of unmediated video drawn from top conferences, universities, and public forums.  Their goal?  To bring you intelligent videos on people, issues, and ideas that are straight up changing the world.

Check out:  Tim Ferriss: ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ & ‘The 4-Hour Body’Cornel West interviews Jay Z


Formally known as ‘Speaking Of Faith’, Being, which is a product of American Public Media, has put together a spacious conversation on the questions that sit at the center of the human condition.  Krista, the host of the show, weaves the quest for meaning through many areas: Science, Arts, Religion, and more.  You’ll leave smarter, but also enlightened.

Check out: Words That Shimmer(A look at poetry and how it works in us)

PBS Video

Always expect great things from PBS.  This is basically everything you have grown to love about pbs, but a finger click away.  Check out the range of shows here.


Where can you go to voice those questions that have been eating you up on the inside?  SoulPancake, the brain child of Rainne Wilson, aims to make discussions about Spirituality, Creativity, and Philosophy “cool” again.  Their mission really resonates with aspects of what I’d like to foster more of in the future.  Check them out: SoulPancake


Think about your world before wikipedia.  Yes, they are still working on increasing realibility, but it looks like they’re here to stay.  The website is the 5th most popular site on the internet.  If you want to brush up on something…wiki it.


Forum Network is a PBS and NPR public media service in collaboration with public stations and community partners across the United States.  Browse through a vault of thousands of lectures on a wide range of topics, brought to you from from authors, artist, community leaders, scientist, and other leading thinkers.

Check out: The Immigrant Artist At Work


The web has a lot of great sites, but a lot of crap to clutter you mind. StumbleUpon aims to figure out the sort of sites you like, and feed you a stream of similar sites, based on your taste.

Project Gutenburg

There’s a bunch of books out there with expired copyrights.  Project Gutenburg has a spot online where you can download over 33,000 FREE ebooks to read on a computer, kindle, ipad, sony e-reader, and other portable devices.

Check out the top 100 books(FREE)


Want to take an college course for free?  Academic Earth is an organization with the goal of providing everyone on planet earth access to a quality education.  They are trying to  identify and remove the barriers to gaining an education.

Check out Michael Sandel’s course: Justice: What’s The Right Thing To Do?

MIT Open Courseware

MIT OpenCourseWare is a free publication of MIT course materials that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects taught at MIT.  But we’ll take almost.  Now you won’t get access to the professors, or get piece of paper that says you’re in student loan debt for having been there, but hey…

Check out one of their writing courses: Creative Spark


Newser claims to be “a news aggregator with brains.”  They select the best news stories from hundreds of sources all over the web, read them for you, and summarize them in two short paragraphs or less. Short and to the point.  Even though we like reading at Explore Truth, Newser tries to save you from reading more than you have too.

Check out an example here: NASA: Nearby Blackhole Is Enormous

Any you want to add to the list?


  • Carla says:

    Ok, I really need to step my game up! These are great (and I think I've only visited Wiki…is that sad?!) and now I have something to do while I'm at work…. ahem… I mean, in my spare time
    Thanks for putting these together!

  • veron says:

    Hey Carla…
    Be careful! You can spend days on some of the video sites! AND I would hate for you to be distracted from that new business of yours. ;-)

  • moniqueojohnson says:

    This is quite a list you get here Veron! I would also like to add listening to certain podcasts. I guess it depends on which topics you are interested in but you can definitely learn a lot from them.

  • veron says:

    Hey Monique! What podcast would you add?

  • Scott Harris says:

    I listen (or rather watch) TED and Itunes University (mostly Stanford lectures) podcasts. This is a great list. I was only familiar with about half of the sites.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hmmm…How could I forget about good old itunes? :-> Thanks for adding that one Scott.

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