What is Big Think?  

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 Angry Gene

Missing
over 4 years ago

Richard Dawkins lets go some invective against Pope Benedict XVI when asked by the Washington Post if the pontiff should be held responsible for the Church's sex abuse scandals. "Yes, of course he should. This former head of the Inquisition should be arrested the moment he dares to set foot outside ...

IdeaFeed

Value Added Tax?

Missing
over 4 years ago

Gary Becker and Richard Posner of the University of Chicago discuss the merits of a Value Added Tax as a replacement for income tax and a solution to American budget deficits. "The case for a VAT is that it is a relatively efficient tax that induces less distortion in behavior than say a progressive ...

IdeaFeed

Video Game Violence

Missing
over 4 years ago

The Los Angeles Times argues that video game violence is protected by the 1st Amendment and that parents should act as regulators, not governmet. "Last week the Supreme Court declined to create a similar exception to the 1st Amendment for depictions of cruelty to animals. It should show the same ...

IdeaFeed

Literary Philosophers?

Missing
over 4 years ago

When did Foucault and Derrida replace Trilling and Eliot? And why do literature students look to philosophers rather than literary critics in the first place? "It's not simply a matter of literary criticism turning into literary theory. Literary theorists in more recent times such as Paul de Man ...

IdeaFeed

The Underdog Syndrome

Missing
over 4 years ago

Almost everyone cheers for the underdog, but why? Turns out it may be to maximize our pleasure and psychological gain when watching sports events. "If you're pulling for the favorite, then a loss cuts extra deep, while a victory merely delivers what you thought you deserved. 'Thus a utilitarian ...

IdeaFeed

Profoundly Routine

Missing
over 4 years ago

Beyond novelty, which is extrinsically valuable, lasting love must find ways to enjoy routine activities, which are intrinsically valuable. "Although loving relationships often involve new experiences, most of the time lovers engage in routine activities. Long-term happiness and loving relationships ...

IdeaFeed

Know Thyself

Missing
over 4 years ago

The eternal quest for self knowledge has entered the realm of cold data collection: statistics to make our personal lives more calculable and efficient. "The imposition, on oneself or one’s family, of a regime of objective record keeping seemed ridiculous. A journal was respectable. A spreadsheet ...

IdeaFeed

Tea Party Appropriation

Missing
over 4 years ago

The New Yorker looks at the history of The Boston Tea Party and how the event has been appropriated by people of different political leanings ever since. "Beginning even before it was over, the American Revolution has been put to wildly varying political ends. Federalists claimed its legacy; so did ...

IdeaFeed

TV Triumph

Missing
over 4 years ago

Of all old media platforms, TV has been the best at adapting to the Internet and still enjoys popularity while the CD, the newspaper, and possibly the book, are in decline. "With impressive speed, TV firms are now building online subscription-video services. The trendiest model is authentication ...

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 ...