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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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Despite Introspection, We Are Strangers to Ourselves

July 31, 2011, 1:00 PM

What's the Latest Development?

There are many examples of people offering grossly incorrect analysis of common physical phenomena. Eye witnesses to crimes have notoriously fallible memories about who or what they saw; it is common for two people who experienced the same event to have different interpretations of what happened. "Even when reporting current experience," says L.S.E. psychology professor Nicholas Humphrey, "we make divergent, confused and even contradictory claims about what it’s like to be on the inside."

What's the Big Idea?

How is it that we have so much trouble knowing what happens inside our own minds? Perhaps we have too little information to go on? Wrong, says Humphrey. He contends we often have too much information about mental states: "We are asked to say 'what it’s like'—to dream, to imagine, to feel—as if there ought to be a simple answer: colored or not, single or double, in the head or in the heart. But, when it comes to it, the rich totality of our experience will not fit the Procrustean bed that philosophy, and everyday discourse also, tries to impose on it."


Despite Introspection, We A...

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