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


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

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


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

People Are Morally Different When Speaking a Second Language

May 16, 2014, 12:00 AM

What's the Latest?

When people were asked to throw a fat man off a bridge to save the lives of others (you know, ethics?), they were more likely to do so when the question was posed in their second language. "Morally speaking, this is a troubling result. The language in which a dilemma is posed should make no difference to how it is answered. Linguists have wondered whether different languages encode different assumptions about morality, which might explain the result. But the effect existed for every combination of languages that the researchers looked at, so culture does not seem to explain things."

What's the Big Idea?

The results of the survey correlate strongly with research done by Daniel Kahneman, who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics. Kahneman's research examined how people make decisions and found that two motors running at different speeds make the brain function. The fast motor governs our split-second emotional reactions while the slower governs more deliberative and logical thought. It seems that speaking in a second language helps to provide psychological and emotional distance, in much the same way that killing a fat man to save the lives of others does.

Read more at the Economist

Image credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock


People Are Morally Differen...

Newsletter: Share: