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Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Congratulations, You Are Now Less Dumb

July 20, 2013, 12:00 AM

How did humans, in the course of just a few generations, go from burning witches and drinking mercury to mapping the human genome and playing golf on the moon?

According to David McRaney, author of the new book You Are Now Less Dumb, science intervened, thank goodness. That is to say, scientists intervened and right now continue to intervene on your behalf "for flavors of ignorance you have yet to even discover."

So don't go patting yourself on the back that you are so much smarter than the people who once believed that geese grew on trees. You are merely less dumb. In the video below, McRaney explains how people reached a conclusion that geese grew on trees and then their brains came up with a story to explain it.

This is the same kind of backward thinking that Aristotle was also guilty of, and which you are guilty of all the time. You come up with a conclusion and then "polish and protect that conclusion with biased observations," McRaney points out.

There are, however, tools that can help you break out of this way of thinking, tools that will force you to look for evidence to the contrary. And these are the tools that McRaney provides with a healthy does of humor and wit. 

Watch here:



Congratulations, You Are No...

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