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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

Professor Orwell

Missing
over 4 years ago

The Chronicle of Higher Education recalls George Orwell's advice on writing in order to explain why American academic writing is so unfortunately esoteric and—poorly written. "By writing prose that is nearly unintelligible not just to the general public, but also to graduate students and fellow ...

IdeaFeed

The Problem with Socialism...

Missing
over 4 years ago

The National Review comments on one of William F. Buckley's favorite quotes: "The problem with socialism is socialism; the problem with capitalism is capitalists." "The problem with socialism is socialism, because there are no socialists. Socialism is a system based upon an assumption about human ...

IdeaFeed

The Middle Way

Missing
over 4 years ago

The wealth disparities of naked capitalism are indefensible, but so too is the welfare state; there must be a third way, writes the New Statesman. "Even ardent free-marketeers scarcely foresaw the astonishing increase in disparity of income, particularly in the US. In 1968, the chief executive of ...

IdeaFeed

Coma Questions

Missing
over 4 years ago

A Croatian girl recently came out of a coma having forgotten her native tongue but remembering German, her second language, perfectly fine. "Multiple areas of the brain intersect to encode both types of memory, but the two systems are generally distinct from each other. That makes it possible for a ...

IdeaFeed

America and The Pill

Missing
over 4 years ago

The cultural revolution of the 50s and 60s made the development of the morning-after pill an important moment in the women's rights movement. "...the pill has been a tremendous boon for women, transforming sex and reproduction so thoroughly that it's hard for many to imagine what life was like ...

IdeaFeed

Music and the Brain

Missing
over 4 years ago

Learning music at an early age creates new neural pathways between the brain's hemispheres aiding in spatial and mathematical reasoning. "UCLA professor James Catterall, whose specialty is the connection between artistic learning and academic and social development, suggests that learning music, in ...

IdeaFeed

A Different Adam Smith

Missing
over 4 years ago

Though popularly billed as the spokesman for the free-market, it's high time we realize Adam Smith felt government intervention in markets was necessary. "The nature of the present economic crisis illustrates very clearly the need for departures from unmitigated and unrestrained self-seeking in ...

IdeaFeed

Help or Hurt?

Missing
over 4 years ago

Is China's interest in Africa's resources a path toward development for the Dark Continent or is it yet another round of colonialism? "China’s burgeoning partnership with Africa raises several momentous questions: Is a hands-off approach to governmental affairs the right one? Can Chinese money and ...

IdeaFeed

Dates Into Mates

Missing
over 4 years ago

Curiosity didn't kill the cat; it saved the marriage. Curiosity is the single most important trait in finding a good date or life-partner, writes psychologist Paul Dobransky. "For many busy people with heavy workloads, duties, and stress, it might not occur at first that there are good and bad ...

IdeaFeed

What Philosophers Believe

Missing
over 4 years ago

A survey of contemporary philosophers' beliefs was conducted at the world's top 99 university (analytical) philosophy departments; most are scientists who like Hume, Aristotle and Kant. "Free will gets a thumbs-up: only 12% of philosophers think that people’s lives are predestined. But God gets the ...

IdeaFeed

Terrorists Are Rational

Missing
over 4 years ago

Recent books demonstrate how terrorists make rational calculations when deciding whether to join the ranks; understanding their motivations will aid in stopping them. "Once you take terrorists to be rational actors, you need a theory about their rationale." Robert Pape, a political scientist at the ...

IdeaFeed

More R&D, Please

Missing
over 4 years ago

Bill Gates argues that private enterprise is insufficient to meet our renewable energy goals; public funds are best suited for critical research and development. "We need a vigorous strategy to invent our future and ensure its safety and prosperity. In the realm of energy, as with medicine and ...

IdeaFeed

She Was No Einstein

Missing
over 4 years ago

The popular notion that Einstein's first wife, Mileva Marić, contributed significantly to his mathematical theorems lacks fundamental evidence, writes Allen Esterson. "A highly regarded feminist sociologist has uncritically reproduced claims about alleged contributions to Einstein’s celebrated 1905 ...

IdeaFeed

Radiation on the Brain

Missing
over 4 years ago

Harper's magazine tries to make sense of the many baffling studies conducted on the effects of cell phone radiation on the brain. "Industry lobbyists insist that everything emitted by cell phones is innocuous—but can we trust them? Should we all be wearing headsets or even not using certain ...

IdeaFeed

Apologies and Progress

Missing
over 4 years ago

Rather than apologize for recent Western economic dominance, we should try to copy its model and implement it in developing nations to reduce poverty, writes David Landes. "In general, the countries and regions that have done best are precisely those that have taken advantage of the opportunities ...