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.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Yellowstone addendum: When credibility counts

January 27, 2011, 12:49 PM
Dsc_0071

I wrote earlier this week about the media and its treatment of Yellowstone caldera. Well, I tried to be calm about a post/video I saw earlier today on CNN's American Morning blog by Rebecca Hillman, but I don't think I can. Kiran Chetry decided to interview Michio Kaku, a noted physicist, about the caldera - specifically about the recent findings about the inflation. What happens next is one of the worst interviews about Yellowstone I've ever seen - and shows us what happens when you are lazy and don't get a real expert in the field. Heck, it didn't even need to be a volcanologist, but I'm sure that they could have found even a geologist for the interview.

Some things that Kaku says in the interview include:

  • Yellowstone is "due" to erupt - pointing towards the repose time as the only evidence.
  • Any eruption of Yellowstone will "destroy the U.S."
  • An eruption of Yellowstone can be dealt with by "running"
  • The last eruption was 600 million years ago (not 640,000) ... and had to be corrected by Chetry.
  • That an eruption like Yellowstone is somehow associated with the K-T extinction of the dinosaurs. A "double whammy?"
  • "We're nervous" about Yellowstone?
  • Sea level changes because of Yellowstone?
  • At least Kaku gets the idea of the 100 km devastation zone, but then he calls for "poisonous gases" to kill animals out to 1000 km.
  • "We don't want to panic everybody", but then goes on to say that predicting when it could erupt is "black magic". Yes, Kaku more or less called volcano monitoring "black magic".
  • You don't get much warning before an eruption of Yellowstone?
  • "We're still clueless" about volcano monitoring and "no understanding of the scope" and it could happen "tomorrow". 

Now, maybe I'm being very picky here, but this just smacks at geology and volcanology, not only hurting the disciplines' credibility by having an "expert" on Yellowstone (as they claim Kaku is) tell people that volcano monitoring is "black magic" but also it hurts Kaku's credibility because he is so wrong about so many things. This is where the media really needs to be called out for not taking the time to properly vet and research a topic that many people worry about - that is a potential eruption of Yellowstone. It might not be likely, but we definitely don't need people coming about and spreading inaccurate information about the very sophisticated monitoring going on at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. I know many people like Michio and his work towards popularizing science, something that I fully support, but CNN and Kaku should be ashamed of this performance.

Top left: A geyser at Norris Basin in Yellowstone behaving like me after seeing this interview.

 

Yellowstone addendum: When ...

Newsletter: Share: