Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger? | David Epstein

  • Published on Apr 29, 2014
  • When you look at sporting achievements over the last decades, it seems like humans have gotten faster, better and stronger in nearly every way. Yet as David Epstein points out in this delightfully counter-intuitive talk, we might want to lay off the self-congratulation. Many factors are at play in shattering athletic records, and the development of our natural talents is just one of them.
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  • SportsSports

Comments • 5 147

  • The King Guerra
    The King Guerra 2 days ago

    We were made by Jesus Christ . We are made in the image of God . Repent and give your life to Jesus Christ he is God the son only through faith in him are we forgiven and saved he loves you he is the only way to heaven to God the Father in heaven. Jesus is the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE no man comes to God the Father but by him

  • Charlie V.
    Charlie V. 4 days ago

    Amazing talk! So much information packed in and delivered flawlessly! Thanks!

  • enamuossuo
    enamuossuo 7 days ago

    I expected the ped topic but it didn't came ...

  • HeavenBound
    HeavenBound 9 days ago

    Evolutionists have been claiming better athletes prove evolution of man. Another false claim debunked.

  • Jacob
    Jacob 11 days ago

    We’ve gotten smarter

  • Iron Vanguard
    Iron Vanguard 13 days ago +1

    Work it harder make it better, do it faster, makes us stronger, more than ever hour after our work is never over.

  • Iron Vanguard
    Iron Vanguard 13 days ago +1

    As soon as I saw the title of this video I immediately thought Daft Punk.

  • Koalas445 !!
    Koalas445 !! 16 days ago +2

    Is someone gonna tell him that usain bolt’s fastest 100m time was 9.58?...

  • MassiveGat
    MassiveGat 18 days ago +2

    I think it just goes to show how stellar and concise this guys presentation is to get me to watch a 15 minute speech about a topic I otherwise wouldn't care about. Job well done, this was a very enjoyable video!

  • Linus Fondin
    Linus Fondin 19 days ago

    I'm 13 and I run a mile in five minutes.

  • Sabrina Pitzner-Jørgensen

    Been saying this for years

  • Mayank Ahlawat
    Mayank Ahlawat 23 days ago

    Very very Unhappy 😒 because he didn't mention MESSI. because he is American n he watch Football. Nt soccer ⚽

  • kdb16g
    kdb16g 23 days ago



  • Michael Melton
    Michael Melton 24 days ago

    Omg your taking away from the athletes

  • Jakob West
    Jakob West 24 days ago

    Maybe he should explain natural weight lifting records

  • Adam O
    Adam O 26 days ago

    Population has also grown exponentially, meaning more samples. The world has gotten richer meaning more opportunities for each of those samples.

  • Ballamone
    Ballamone 27 days ago

    Brilliant speaker

  • DarthVader20201
    DarthVader20201 28 days ago

    Athletes are getting faster, stronger, and better than in years past I seen. New records being created.

  • Drivermontana
    Drivermontana 29 days ago

    so humans haven't really changed then its just what ever environment you were born in will pretty much lend itself of what qualities your body will have

  • robert einer
    robert einer 29 days ago

    no one is going to mention how he stands in the exact same position the whole talk?

  • Danny Oberender
    Danny Oberender 29 days ago

    He talks about how our athletes are a very small amount of the population (basketball, swimmers, and runners) and then he talks about how it is evolution that caused the changes. A small minority does not mean that evolution is changing humans. Maybe some adaptation but not evolution.

  • Jimmy Parkhurst
    Jimmy Parkhurst Month ago

    Shows boxers from different eras can compete

  • Cameron Bertauski
    Cameron Bertauski Month ago

    favorite ted talk yet

  • Carleigh wilsonator

    Heh, I'm a swimmer and I'm really tall
    Will I fail or something?

  • Barry Lochridge
    Barry Lochridge Month ago

    Interesting presentation. Two things: 1) He failed to mention performance enhancing drugs (mention only as a joke). 2) Democratization is a stupidly inadequate word, and possibly agenda driven. He meant to say freedom to act and be ones own agent. Less government and inappropriate regulation will always lead to greater innovation. Yes, it's more dangerous, but governments and other regulation has failed miserably at eliminating death and destruction!

  • Will Marvellous
    Will Marvellous Month ago

    Boxers have become much better since the beginning of the sport.
    Anthony Joshua would destroy Rocky Marciano.
    Mike Tyson would have probably KO'd most of the heavyweight division in the 1960s and 1970s except Muhammad Ali - That depends on which generation you grew up in.
    But in all honesty, I strongly believe boxing has revolutionised

  • Jesus Zavala
    Jesus Zavala Month ago

    I kinda wanna see the way a gorilla runs upright now. Feels nice to be a human. Anyway I’ve got a reading suggestion that you may or may not be interested in reading. It’s is Acts from the Bible. Just a suggestion that you decide on since you are your own person

  • MegaMoh
    MegaMoh Month ago

    so... what's his point?

  • linkuei83
    linkuei83 Month ago

    Most excellent. Glad to see TED isn't the same as it's cousin TEDx. Brilliant.

  • VDDftw
    VDDftw Month ago

    What a great awesome smart guy.... I can't even remember my phone number >.>

  • William Reymond
    William Reymond Month ago

    Ok David, what you have laid out for us is that - as most of us already have figured out - is that athletics is becoming a carnival side show of fair competition between freaks. You cannot maintain interest in that past a certain point. One tribe from Kenya wins *all* the marathons?? who wants to pay to watch that???

  • z1522
    z1522 Month ago

    Pseudo-factisms. Barely in 2:20, cinder tracks are NOT comprised of burnt wood ash. Cinder tracks were fine pumice-like igneous rocks, giving a gravel-like texture that gave traction. "The more you Know,,,, that just ain't so."

  • quigleyfox
    quigleyfox Month ago +1

    Isn't this guy Elaine's boyfriend who she thought was black?

  • cory in da hus
    cory in da hus Month ago

    When is Ted going to talk, i mean the show is named after him so some time he should talk

  • Ballantyne de Wolf
    Ballantyne de Wolf Month ago

    Women should try sport. They'd probably be great at it.

  • Enson Balboa

  • J Lester
    J Lester Month ago

    Great presentation. Brings to light technology's contribution to the human element's ability to progress.

  • Earth Man
    Earth Man Month ago

    Better is a vague term.

  • steppe wolf
    steppe wolf Month ago

    excellent !! greetings from mongolia

  • TheRdfrota
    TheRdfrota Month ago

    Messi and Penaldo fangirls will deny it

  • Kenny Kusch
    Kenny Kusch Month ago

    and he's the first member of the DK crew

  • Petter Wiik
    Petter Wiik Month ago

    haaaaaaaave you met Ted?

  • Noah Kaufman
    Noah Kaufman Month ago

    David, what do you think about Alex Honnold's accomplishment as depicted in the Nat Geo documentary "Free Solo"? Many are calling it the greatest human athletic achievement of all time, and it seems to transcend physiology into a more mental realm where few if any may follow... Great talk and well conceived and delivered! Noah T. Kaufman, MD

  • Kevin Ruiz
    Kevin Ruiz Month ago

    Ok but the 1904 marathon runner didn’t WANT to take brandy and rat poison instead of water, his COACHES who were driving right behind him gave him all of it and all he wanted was water but there was only one water source in the entire marathon in the 90* weather of St. Louis

  • Neil Ovenden
    Neil Ovenden Month ago +2

    I think we should have drug Olympic. Best drug wins.

  • Rayaan Aly Khan
    Rayaan Aly Khan Month ago

    He used Ad

  • The Joker
    The Joker Month ago

    Easy drugs.

  • Scott Vermiliion
    Scott Vermiliion Month ago

    We have better performance enhancers so yes.

  • Colin Campbell
    Colin Campbell Month ago

    This was good but I got kinda scared

  • Zbriu
    Zbriu Month ago

    Good point.

  • Tom
    Tom Month ago

    People with long arms is not weird, it's offensive to call them so.

  • dsneidz
    dsneidz Month ago


  • DinoMight Studios
    DinoMight Studios Month ago

    Don't you mean...harder, better, faster, stronger … *winks in Daft Punk*

  • mbp85
    mbp85 Month ago

    This question falls under the category of “things I wonder about, but don’t teally want to know the answer to.” Some things are better just to wonder about and not know. But this kept getting recommended to me so here we go....

  • Chris Du Preez
    Chris Du Preez Month ago

    Why does such a brilliant presenter still use inches, feet pounds etc?

    • No Name
      No Name Month ago

      so he can communicate with his target audience

  • lillnemo1
    lillnemo1 Month ago

    one of the best TED talks ever. and i'm not even into sports lol

  • Mr Bare Foot Bogan
    Mr Bare Foot Bogan Month ago

    No the evolution of the physical capability of man is regressing, Because we rely to much on Technology and the more cognitive nature of the mind. We are moving backwards while also moving forward.

  • Gulam Mohamed
    Gulam Mohamed Month ago


  • tonyzein
    tonyzein Month ago

    Dude forgot roids

  • Y Y
    Y Y Month ago

    I have watched it now youtube

  • yue yu
    yue yu Month ago


  • Wafflepudding
    Wafflepudding Month ago

    I'm disappointed by the lack of Daft Punk jokes in the comments.

  • James Johnstone
    James Johnstone Month ago +1

    First impression; listening to a jew about sports, mmmmkay.............

  • ChelseaFC !!!
    ChelseaFC !!! Month ago

    Then why are we slower, worse and weaker than our competitor species?

  • jophus Xakc
    jophus Xakc Month ago

    I disagree with his conclusion. The average height of a man in the US has increased one inch from 1960 and 2002 (verywellfit). That isn't due to equipment or training. It's evolution. Taller men generally weigh more than their shorter counterparts, and also will have more muscle. If the trend is increasing in height, it must be more exaggerated on the extremes, and skews the average physical capability to the stronger, faster, better side. Equipment matters, but it doesn't account for evolution.

  • EdBoonSucks
    EdBoonSucks Month ago

    Not only technology, but the *RULES* of sports have also been changed over the years.
    As well as their daily diets.

  • Sun Tzu
    Sun Tzu Month ago

    Watching this video after seeing Icarus the documentary is really hard

  • Jan Karlsson
    Jan Karlsson Month ago

    Incredibly interesting

  • Abdulmohsen Al-Kurdi Al-Milli

    Work it harder
    Make it better
    Do it faster
    Makes us stronger

  • Dissident Bones
    Dissident Bones Month ago +1


  • cetin oguz
    cetin oguz Month ago

    Do your freaking research dude. I am a competitive swimmer and people should know that the full body suit made in 2008 was banned from being used in college swimming and up. This really made me mad

  • Vincent George
    Vincent George Month ago

    Rugby - Watch every All Blacks Try of 2018 -

  • Victor Rogers
    Victor Rogers Month ago

    Something is to said about Texas football in the same regard, we did things in highschool they had never seen or heard of because competition breeds success

  • AmericanDash
    AmericanDash Month ago

    But are they also getting harder?

  • Chris Greer
    Chris Greer Month ago

    also, the end of the world is coming again in a few years.

  • Unstoppable Tramp
    Unstoppable Tramp Month ago

    I hope there is no relation, Mr "Epstein."


    Its the Roids

  • Truthshock 5000
    Truthshock 5000 Month ago

    Dumb goyim will listen to anything.

  • M. Bison
    M. Bison Month ago

    better science now

  • Sydney Shorltz
    Sydney Shorltz Month ago

    Had this recommended for a month and I finally clicked on it.

  • Brian Wilder
    Brian Wilder Month ago

    Well presented

  • PauleePessimist
    PauleePessimist Month ago

    “Big ole Butt muscles! 🍑 You ever looked at an ape’s Butt?”

  • tricks
    tricks Month ago

    kinda get BB vibe off the intro

  • NICKMProductions
    NICKMProductions Month ago +1

    The title of this video should be:
    Are athletes really getting harder, better, faster, stronger?

  • terry hughes
    terry hughes Month ago

    I'm here because I misread the video title as "Are atheists really getting faster, better, stronger?"

  • Ryan Knudsen
    Ryan Knudsen Month ago

    His opening statement about the time gap between marathon winners is very loaded. The 1904 marathon is an extreme outlier in olympic history due to the appaling condition of not just the marathon route, but the entirty of the 1904 olympic games in general. I suggest anyone wanting to learn more about the 1904 race watch Jon Bois' video on the subject. It is thoroughly enjoyable.
    This mans overall speech is fine, but he lost me by knowingly using a statistical anomoly to try and strngthen his position. Thats what people with an agenda do. Not unbiased resesrchers who actually want to enlighten people to the facts. Very disappointing.

    • Ryan Knudsen
      Ryan Knudsen Month ago

      Furthermore, the winning time has only decreased by approximately 20 minutes since 1928. And less than 10 minutes since 1960 with very little change year over year. That said the time is decreasing. And he could have illustrated his point without being so disingenuous. It just wouldnt have been nesrly as shocking of a figure and thats a poor excuse to massage the stats in such a way as to emhamce your position.

  • Abraham
    Abraham Month ago

    This guy is Jewish

  • The Beauty Centre
    The Beauty Centre Month ago

    awesome presentation.

  • mohammed sayed
    mohammed sayed Month ago

    Simply genetics and juice

  • shinto666
    shinto666 Month ago

    Annnd, I learnt nothing that wasn't self explanatory....

  • SP FromNY914
    SP FromNY914 Month ago


  • J Ger
    J Ger Month ago

    How interesting.

  • Yodaismycopilot
    Yodaismycopilot Month ago

    1 in 10 NBA players are 7 feet tall? I'd like to see proof of that.

  • calamorta
    calamorta Month ago

    10 men per decade? lol
    Idk if that was a mistake or if he legitimately tried to lie about it...

    • calamorta
      calamorta Month ago

      Btw, I'm not trying to say technology isn't the main factor, it's just that I wanted to point out that mistake (I'm sleepy so I'm not sure if he really made a mistake like that)

    • calamorta
      calamorta Month ago

      2013-1954 = ~60 years = 6 decades
      This means we would have ~60 runners and not 530. So correct if I'm wrong, but for me he sounded bias towards his "humans haven't improved" idea... "Less than 10 per decade" sounds way less impresssive than "9 a year".

  • The Startup Stack
    The Startup Stack Month ago

    "the weird got weirder" weird flex but not ok

  • Sub Man
    Sub Man Month ago

    Who is he

  • Ralph van der Eb
    Ralph van der Eb Month ago

    530 runners sub 4 mins in 59 years is around 100 runners per decade not 10 !!!!! first major misinformation. he says 10 per decade ????

  • Gianni Camilleri
    Gianni Camilleri Month ago

    I know the comparison was probably super cherry-picked, but comparing ANY marathon result to the 1904 Olympic marathon is a joke. The winner of that marathon was slower than most marathon FINISHERS since.
    Good video on the subject:

  • Kaleidoscope Eyes
    Kaleidoscope Eyes Month ago

    Beta male ranting about the sports gene he lacks, what a cliche.

  • Charlie B
    Charlie B Month ago

    In 1936 they didn’t have an accurate way to measure time. Today they have lasers and video slow motion...better training and drugs