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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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Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

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IdeaFeed Posts

Big ideas in the news from around the web

IdeaFeed

Nazi "Research": Unethical & Useless

Missing
about 4 years ago

Amid claims that doctors who helped the CIA torture Guantanamo Bay detainees violated medical ethics standards, Brian Palmer looks at whether any useful science came out of Nazi experiments such as by concentration camp doctors. The 1947 Nuremburg Medical Code was formulated in response to gruesome ...

IdeaFeed

Gushing Over Glee

Missing
about 4 years ago

Some see a shallow sitcom but Matt Zoller Seitz sees a stylistically bold show in Glee. Likening its impact to Twin Peaks, he says its great accomplishment was creating a zone where contemporary Americans could live, "without the encumbrance of quote marks, forget context and logic and ...

IdeaFeed

Templeton Merging Science & Spirit

Missing
about 4 years ago

Is how we think about the most lofty things now much at the mercy of an eccentric investor's later-life dreams? Nathan Schneider looks at the Templeton Foundation, which is "active in disciplines from biology and cosmology to philosophy and theology". It has assets of about $1 billion, but what ...

IdeaFeed

Immortality

Missing
about 4 years ago

New companies are creating sophisticated digital backups of individuals that can, in some sense, make one immortal, even if copying consciousness remains beyond current technology. "Though there is little prospect of creating a genuinely conscious robo-clone in the foreseeable future, several ...

IdeaFeed

The Psychology of Fiction

Missing
about 4 years ago

In an effort to spice up the classroom and dodge patient privacy concerns, psychology professors are teaching pathologies of fictional characters, like Twilight's vampire, Edward. "Sigmund Freud named the Oedipus complex for Sophocles' tragic character and was fascinated with Shakespeare and ...

IdeaFeed

Do Women Trust Men?

Missing
about 4 years ago

Levels of testosterone in women partly determine how much they trust men, according to a Dutch study published in the U.S. The results support skepticism as an important adaptive trait. "In many mammals, testosterone’s effect on social behavior is mostly to promote aggression when individuals ...

IdeaFeed

Corporations Will Own Music

Missing
about 4 years ago

Downloading free music may eventually disenfranchise listeners, says Cris Ruen at The Big Money, because musicians will be desperate for whatever corporate patronage comes their way. "Non-music-industry corporations have long provided essential support for music and other creative industries. But ...

IdeaFeed

How to Sleep Smarter

Missing
about 4 years ago

Diet, naps and exercise are three areas important to a good night's rest, says Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan. Eight hours isn't a magic number; relax and let your body determine the right amount. "'The biggest myths are that we need seven or eight hours a day, or that we shouldn't wake up in the night ...

IdeaFeed

The Myth of Ronald Reagan

Missing
about 4 years ago

"Today's conservatives have conjured a mythic Reagan who never compromised with America's enemies and never shrank from a fight. But the real Reagan did both those things, often," says Peter Beinart. After his polemic The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment, Beinart takes on the myth of ...

IdeaFeed

Don't Sympathize Too Much

Missing
about 4 years ago

After working in Tanzania, a British doctor reflects on the pitfalls of expressing excessive amounts of sympathy, even in the face of abject poverty. "A man able to commiserate only with himself would surely be neither admirable nor attractive. But every virtue can become deformed by excess ...

IdeaFeed

Creating a Global Internet

Missing
about 4 years ago

Google's new translation tools are helping to make a truly universal Internet by translating pages into 57 different languages; the company is developing photo and voice recognition, too. "Those who can only read in their native language are 'missing this extraordinary opportunity to get much, much ...

IdeaFeed

Boring Books Win Awards

Missing
about 4 years ago

"There was a great fashion in the last century, and it's still with us, of the unenjoyable novel," says Martin Amis. "And these are the novels which win prizes." "During an hour-long talk Amis also criticised the work of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett — considered by many to be among the most ...

IdeaFeed

Mental Disease, Secondhand Smoke

Missing
about 4 years ago

An recent English study has found that exposure to secondhand smoke makes non-smokers more vulnerable to psychological distress and hospitalization for mental illness. "Cigarette smokers have been shown to have more psychological problems than nonsmokers do, and new evidence suggests that nonsmokers ...

IdeaFeed

A Stable Economy for Africa

Missing
about 4 years ago

Gary Becker and Richard Posner weigh in on African development, which has weathered the current economic storm better than any advanced economy. Will Africa finally take off? Becker, a Nobel Laureate, is optimistic: "Several factors explain why Africa’s future looks rather bright. Probably number ...

IdeaFeed

Should Humans Procreate?

Missing
about 4 years ago

"Is a world with people in it better than one without?" asks Peter Singer of Princeton. How do we justify brining new human life into the world amidst so much suffering and unprecedented crises? "Few of us would think it right to inflict severe suffering on an innocent child, even if that were the ...