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We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

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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Econ201 Posts

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How to Predict the World Cup

2 months ago

With the World Cup in Brazil only a day away, the predictions are pouring in from gamblers, analysts, and even investment banks. All of them are trying to guess who will advance in the tournament, as well as who will win it all. But which model is best? It’s a question that can’t be answered in ...


When the Perfect Really Is the Enemy of the Good

4 months ago

Very few aspects of our lives are completely meritocratic. As much as we might like it to be the case, we usually aren’t evaluated solely on our talents and effort. Something that has nothing to do with us will almost always affect our success – and that should change how we try to attain it. To ...


Will Our Kids Be Better Off Than We Are?

7 months ago

One of the bedrock principles of the American economy is that each generation should be better off than the one before. In terms of material living standards, the nation has done a pretty good job of fulfilling this promise. But the ability to consume goods and services may not be what matters most ...


The Manufacturing Myth

7 months ago

Hardly a month goes by without me hearing people bemoan the decline of American manufacturing. I find their laments hard to understand, as do other economists. Why is a manufacturing job superior to a job in any other sector? It’s true that American manufacturing employment has fallen steadily ...


How Much Is a Life Worth?

9 months ago

I’m a supporter of foreign aid for health, because I believe in helping the less fortunate, but also because I think it’s a great investment for the United States. As I wrote in my book with Philippe Douste-Blazy, saving lives in poor countries is cheap, but incomes in poor countries are rising ...


How Are Jobs Connected to Economic Growth?

9 months ago

A few days ago I got into a Twitter discussion with The Guardian’s United States finance and economics editor, Heidi Moore, about inequality and growth. My main point was that inequality hurt growth by preventing the economy from allocating opportunities to the people best able to exploit them ...


The Sixteen Days of Shutdown Song

10 months ago

Sixteen days - that's how long the government shutdown lasted, at a total cost to the American economy that may reach $24 billion. About one fifth of that amount would have come to the Treasury as tax revenue, so the government itself may have lost $300 million for every day that Congress ...


When the Odds Are News

11 months ago

This morning a story broke reporting that Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary former boss of the Manchester United soccer team, was quickly becoming a favorite to be the next coach of Ireland’s national squad. It’s certainly possible that some gamblers got a tip and poured a ton of money onto ...


The Perils of Restaurant Week

about 1 year ago

Here in New York City, diners are lining up for the semi-annual ritual of Restaurant Week – it’s really almost a month – when some of the city’s finest establishments offer cut-rate meals. But if they thought about the economics of the event, they might prefer to stay away. Consider an ...


What to do With an Old Pair of Shoes?

about 1 year ago

Today I went into my closet and realized that I had an old pair of shoes that I no longer wore. The shoes are still pretty serviceable, so I’ve been wondering what I should do with them. To an economist, this question does not have an easy answer. Here are my options: Throw them away. By ...


Snowden’s Endgame

about 1 year ago

Another day goes by, and leaker Edward Snowden is still – so we hear – in the transit area of a Moscow airport. Russia hasn’t offered him asylum yet, and he can’t easily get to the countries that have. A little bit of game theory suggests how his odyssey might end. Game theory was a popular ...


Turn That Bubble Into Bricks!

about 1 year ago

This week the New York Times published a story about Chinese investors snapping up property in the United States. Prices are rising here, but I don’t think these purchases are just speculation. Instead, the stateside spending spree is probably the latest manifestation of a well-known phenomenon ...


The Value of a Complaint

about 1 year ago

I’m writing this blog post from tens of thousands of feet above the midwestern United States, on an airline that I won’t name here. The flight got off to a rocky start, and before we left the airport I had lodged a complaint with the airline via Twitter and its website. Should I be rewarded ...


The Failure Fetish

about 1 year ago

Failing is cool. Failing is great. Failing is the best thing you can do. A fetish for failure has been sweeping the blogosphere, the Twitterverse, and the broader market for ideas for a couple of years now. It’s ridiculous, and here’s why. Thought leaders, social innovators, and TED talkers ...