We're more than halfway through our rollout of Big Think's Floating University video playlist, featuring some of the most mind-changing ideas delivered by America's leading thinkers. In this discussion, Harvard medical doctor and sociologist Nicholas Christakis looks at our world through the lens of the society we all belong to.

"No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main,"

said the poet John Donne. And that is essentially where sociology picks up. Our experience of the world, which we feel personally, is inextricably shaped by other human beings. Our successes and failures are similarly linked to others, though we may feel their effects only personally.

Every choice you make, every behavior you exhibit, and even every desire you have finds its roots in the social universe. Whether you’re absorbing altruism performed by someone you’ll never meet or deciding to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, collective phenomena affect every aspect of your life.


Check out our entire Floating University Playlist.