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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

The State Versus Freedom

Missing
over 4 years ago

In an interview with The Nation, historian Tony Judt says consciously choosing to build a social democratic state is an expression of our freedom, not a limit on it. "Roughly speaking, Stalin versus the tea party: That's a caricature of the twentieth century. But it's one that we have to a large ...

IdeaFeed

Brains & Brawn

Missing
over 4 years ago

Athletics isn't all brawn: the professional athlete's brain has been trained to be more efficient enabling them to make quick decisions in a rapidly changing environment. "In recent years neuroscientists have begun to catalog some fascinating differences between average brains and the brains of ...

IdeaFeed

Pay-Per-Disease?

Missing
over 4 years ago

"Why don't doctors do a better job of matching the right patients with the right procedures?" asks Darshak Sanghavi. "Observers tend to blame this mess on our 'fee-for-service' payment system. The more doctors do, the more they are paid; rather than rewarding quality, insurers pay for quantity ...

IdeaFeed

Rapt Attention

Missing
over 4 years ago

"Concentration can be had, but for most of us it is only by setting oneself against the things that routinely destroy it, writes Sven Birkerts. "When it is achieved it can yield experiences that are more rewarding for being singular and hard-won. To achieve deep focus nowadays is also to have struck ...

IdeaFeed

Our Cousin, the Frog

Missing
over 4 years ago

"What's the difference between a frog, a chicken, a mouse and a human? Not as much as you'd think, according to an analysis of the first sequenced amphibian genome." The genome of a western clawed frog has now been analyzed, and researchers say it's surprisingly similar to that of the mouse and the ...

IdeaFeed

Warming Feedback Loop

Missing
over 4 years ago

"Scientists know that the Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet on average, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification," writes Michael Lemonick. "And they have a pretty good idea of why: warmer temperatures lead to more meltback in sea ice in the summer, which exposes more ...

IdeaFeed

Language in the Brain

Missing
over 4 years ago

Researchers have determined that there is no single part of the human brain that gives it advanced language capabilities. Rather, humans rely on multiple parts of the brain—all of which are related evolutionary to different primitive functions—to extract meaning from sentences. "Depending on the ...

IdeaFeed

The "Euro Trap"

Missing
over 4 years ago

"Is the euro itself in danger? In a word, yes," writes Paul Krugman. "If European leaders don’t start acting much more forcefully, providing Greece with enough help to avoid the worst, a chain reaction that starts with a Greek default and ends up wreaking much wider havoc looks all too possible." He ...

IdeaFeed

The Slow Lane

Missing
over 4 years ago

"The term 'slow travel' is tied to a burgeoning movement to return to a time when life’s pleasures were savored, to a time when people appreciated the going as much as the getting there," writes Nancy Keates. This includes taking long, meandering boat and train rides, and staying for longer at ...

IdeaFeed

Banking and Looting

Missing
over 4 years ago

The earliest chronicles of the recent financial meltdown "tended to portray it as a tale of groupthink and mania, of hubris and shortsightedness: all these smart people got it wrong!" Christopher Hayes writes that while that is true of many, it's also clear that plenty of people on Wall Street knew ...

IdeaFeed

Cult Following

Missing
over 4 years ago

La Santa Muerte, Holy Death, "is only one among several otherworldly figures Mexicans have been turning to as their country has been overwhelmed by every possible diffi­culty—drought, an outbreak of swine flu followed closely by the collapse of tourism, the deple­tion of the reserves of oil that are ...

IdeaFeed

Riot Tourism

Missing
over 4 years ago

"The May 1 riots in Berlin's Kreuzberg district have become an annual ritual. ... Now an American anti-capitalist activist has started giving tours of the neighborhood's hot spots to foreign visitors." The American, named "Bill" is a left-wing extremist who gives tours of what he calls ...

IdeaFeed

Hand-Drawn Maps

Missing
over 4 years ago

"The crucial advantage of the handmade map is that it is designed for a particular person confronting a particular task," writes Julia Turner. "Even if all computerized route maps eventually learn to mimic the most useful aspects of our homemade creations, we'll keep drawing maps for one another and ...

IdeaFeed

Multilingual City

Missing
over 4 years ago

"New York the most linguistically diverse city in the world," home to "a remarkable trove of endangered tongues ... born in every corner of the globe and now more commonly heard in various corners of New York than anywhere else." Experts believe that New York is home to as many as 800 languages, and ...

IdeaFeed

Lucky Charms

Missing
over 4 years ago

New research indicates that superstition may be able to influence the outcome of event. In a group of 28 participants, those who were told they were playing with a "lucky ball" sank more putts than those who weren't told the ball was lucky. "Our results suggest that the activation of a superstition ...