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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

After the Fall

Missing
about 4 years ago

The U.S. public still has faith in capitalism, says NYU economics professor Nouriel Roubini. "One of the lessons of the financial crisis is that the public also grudgingly realizes that prudential government intervention, at least in the regulation and supervision of the financial system, might be ...

IdeaFeed

The Un-Matchmakers

Missing
about 4 years ago

There is a "peculiarly Japanese profession—part-private investigator, part-prostitute—known as wakaresase-ya; the 'splitter-uppers.' The function of the wakaresase-ya is the direct opposite of a dating agency: with great ingenuity, and the right fee, they will break apart human relationships." The ...

IdeaFeed

The Shrinking City

Missing
about 4 years ago

"Detroit is finally chipping away at a glut of abandoned homes that has been piling up for decades, and intends to take advantage of warm weather and new federal funding to demolish some 3,000 buildings by the end of September. ... When it's all over, said Karla Henderson, director of the Detroit ...

IdeaFeed

Against Pasteurization

Missing
about 4 years ago

"Raw milk is one of those issues that riles people," writes Corby Kummer. He looks at anger among raw milk-ists in Massachusetts about legislation that bans the sale of unpasteurized milk anywhere but directly from farms certified to sell it. "Because of direct-sale laws, anyone in and around Boston ...

IdeaFeed

End the Embargo

Missing
about 4 years ago

Daniel Wilkinson and Nik Steinberg write that the U.S. embargo of Cuba must end, but that it is naive to think that the Caribbean country's government will stop repressing its people simply because the embargo has been lifted. "Nor is it realistic, given the effectiveness of the Castros’ repressive ...

IdeaFeed

Lizards Die Out

Missing
about 4 years ago

A study has found that by 2080, global warming could result in one-fifth of the world's lizard species becoming extinct. "Even under the most optimistic scenarios for curbing carbon dioxide emissions, the analysis by an international team shows that one-fifth of the globe's lizard populations ...

IdeaFeed

Oil Spill Experimentation

Missing
about 4 years ago

Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank, vast quantities of dispersant chemicals have been sprayed onto the resulting slick. The chemicals are an attempt to reduce the environmental damage of the oil by helping large globs of oil "disperse" into smaller pieces which are easier for sea ...

IdeaFeed

Tea Party Feminists?

Missing
about 4 years ago

More women than men belong to the tea party movement—55 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll. "While no movement that uses Michelle Malkin as a poster girl could fairly be described as feminist, the party has become an insta-network for ambitious women," writes Hanna Rosin. "Some are ...

IdeaFeed

Purple Prose

Missing
about 4 years ago

"One of the less trumpeted features of the Internet is the unprecedented access it provides to really, really bad writing," writes Laura Miller. "Of course, awful books have always been with us, but nowadays a specimen of unkempt, puffed-up prose or stumbling, lugubrious verse doesn't even need to ...

IdeaFeed

One Common Ancestor

Missing
about 4 years ago

New statistical analysis finds that all life on Earth shares a single common ancestor, confirming a "central pillar of evolutionary theory." Researchers did rigorous statistical tests on various evolutionary ancestry models, and determined that a universal common ancestor is at least 102,860 times ...

IdeaFeed

The Brain, Inspired

Missing
about 4 years ago

New research into the brain provides intriguing information about the neural activity associated with moments of sudden insight. A study at the University of British Columbia examined how groups of frontal cortex neurons in rat brains switch from encoding a familiar rule to a completely novel rule ...

IdeaFeed

Russia's Dark Past

Missing
about 4 years ago

"Communism led ... inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps," writes Claire Berlinski. "Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world ...

IdeaFeed

Hiding Fannie and Freddie

Missing
about 4 years ago

"The government's current policy to leave a great deal of its liabilities off-balance sheet makes the U.S.'s current debt levels look a lot more favorable than they really are," writes Daniel Indiviglio. "Future entitlement costs, for example, are already accrued, but remain included as unfunded ...

IdeaFeed

Some Jobs Vanish

Missing
about 4 years ago

"Many of the jobs lost during the recession are not coming back," writes Catherine Rampell. "Millions of workers who have already been unemployed for months, if not years, will most likely remain that way even as the overall job market continues to improve, economists say. The occupations they ...

IdeaFeed

Cab Driving for Executives

Missing
about 4 years ago

All London taxi drivers spend two to four years studying the shortest route between all roads within a six mile radius of Charing Cross before taking a test and receiving their license. But in a unique way, drivers are also taught conflict management, in particular the benefit of humility. "Drivers ...