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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

Handwriting on the Wall

Missing
over 4 years ago

The idea that one's disposition can be analyzed by looking at their handwriting is considered spurious, yet medical graphology—the use of handwriting to detect disease—has diagnostic validity. "Writing is an exquisite fine motor skill—unlike brushing your hair, for instance," explains neuroscientist ...

IdeaFeed

Light Brings Rain

Missing
over 4 years ago

Scientists have discovered that shooting high-powered lasers into the sky can create the germ of a rain cloud, opening the door to eco-friendly cloud manipulation. “This is the first time that a laser was used to condense water from both laboratory experiments and from the atmosphere,” says Jérôme ...

IdeaFeed

Infinite Regret

Missing
over 4 years ago

David Foster Wallace's suicide "created a lacuna: the guy who wrote in the biggest, boldest type had suddenly silenced himself," writes Michael O'Donnell. "His death prompted a publishing drive that is at once soothing and a little unseemly: Wallace’s speeches, stories, and unfinished novels keep ...

IdeaFeed

Hard Labor

Missing
over 4 years ago

"It's time for Democrats, even liberal Democrats, to start looking at unions and unionism with deep skepticism," writes Mickey Kaus. "The answer of most union leaders to the failure of 1950s unionism has been more 1950s unionism. This isn't how we're going to get prosperity back. But it's the ...

IdeaFeed

Of Bones and Compost

Missing
over 4 years ago

A growing number of artists are "rummaging through the life sciences in search of materials, ideas, cosmic verities, tragicomic homilies, personal agency, a personal agent, a way to stand out in the crowd," writes Natalie Angier. Many examples of this type of "mulchy, redolent, unmistakably organic ...

IdeaFeed

Beyond India and China

Missing
over 4 years ago

"If the United States is to have a sustainable toehold in Asia, Washington has to start paying serious attention to some countries in the region that are not China or India," writes Ernest Z. Bower. "There are 10 other countries in particular that hold the key to America’s central role in all of ...

IdeaFeed

With Our Compliments

Missing
over 4 years ago

When it comes to compliments "we often hear what we want to hear," writes Elizabeth Bernstein. "If we are feeling secure—say, we've just done a fine job at work, lost weight or had a good hair day—it's easy to register the praise. But at times when we're mired in self-doubt—or if the comment hits ...

IdeaFeed

Why Spy?

Missing
over 4 years ago

In the months before the invasion of Sicily, British spies fooled German spies with a caper inspired by a detective novel, but Malcolm Gladwell wonders whether the incident is a case for or against spying. The lesson of the incident was that "The proper function of spies is to remind those who rely ...

IdeaFeed

Arms and the Man

Missing
over 4 years ago

"The age-old atavistic lust for war ... never really goes away," writes Evan Thomas. "It is too fundamental to the male psyche." He writes that we go through generational cycles of mythologizing war and then remembering its horrors. "Since 9/11, with the prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we've ...

IdeaFeed

Guiding Lights

Missing
over 4 years ago

Recent research suggests that, all over the world, many people might be modeling themselves after characters on soap operas—and that it's a good thing that they are. "Soaps, it turns out, are shaping behavior in ways that are subtle, profound and, from the standpoint of global development experts ...

IdeaFeed

Copy Nazis

Missing
over 4 years ago

"The secret of excellent proofreading is caring intensely about getting things right and loathing error with an intensity that perhaps only fascism or an alimony-collecting ex-wife deserves," writes Joseph Epstein. "Such people appear to have departed the earth, and don’t figure soon to return ...

IdeaFeed

Group Think

Missing
over 4 years ago

Group theory "bridges the arts and sciences," writes Steven Strogatz. "It addresses something the two cultures share—an abiding fascination with symmetry." He explains how group theory "underlies everything from the choreography of contra dancing and the fundamental laws of particle physics, to ...

IdeaFeed

Nuclear Iran

Missing
over 4 years ago

Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton writes that "It is hard to conclude anything except that the Obama administration is resigned to Iran possessing nuclear weapons. While U.S. policy makers will not welcome that outcome, they certainly hope as a corollary that Iran can be contained and deterred ...

IdeaFeed

The Brain on Green

Missing
over 4 years ago

New studies indicate that combining exercise activities (like walking or biking) with nature boosts mental health and well-being. Researchers found that mood and self-esteem were greatly improved by doing activities in locations such as a park, garden, or nature trail, and the biggest effect was ...

IdeaFeed

World in "Balance"

Missing
over 4 years ago

New data "suggests a much-desired 'rebalancing' of the global economy," writes Robert Samuelson. "The world needs a new engine of growth to replace free-spending American consumers and their ravenous appetite for other countries' exports. ... Advanced countries can no longer borrow their way to ...