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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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Misread Ulysses?

January 26, 2010, 5:24 AM
“No great American has suffered more cruelly and undeservedly at the hands of historians than Ulysses S. Grant. The dominating influence of pro-Southern historians early in the twentieth century—an influence that tainted scholarship on the Civil War for decades—helps to explain Grant’s abysmal reputation. But it does not explain Grant’s fate in full, nor why the vilification of the man has continued into our own time. Grant is caricatured both as a drunken military brute and the heavy, venal presidential overseer of what Mark Twain, in the satiric novel he wrote with Charles Dudley Warner, called the Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. In fact, Grant’s presidency, far more than his generalship, has been the chief reason why condemnation of him has proved so enduring and so nearly universal. And therein lies a paradox—for Twain, who named the age, was also one of Grant’s closest friends in his later life, the man who arranged for the publication of Grant’s Personal Memoirs, a genuinely great book, and whose admiration for Grant led to the general’s initials appearing in the dedication of Huckleberry Finn. By the lights of the received wisdom, the combination makes no sense. Yet Twain is still remembered as Twain, whereas Grant is remembered as the sort of figure Twain should have ridiculed.”

Misread Ulysses?

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