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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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The Limits of Learning from Success

December 11, 2011, 9:00 AM

What's the Latest Development?

We naturally think that by repeating successful behavior, more success will follow, e.g. if studying a lot led to a high exam score, studying a lot for the next one will produce a similar result. But a new study of professional basketball players calls into question our ability to correctly infer the consequences of our actions. The study found that if an NBA or WNBA player made a three-point shot, they were more likely to take another. However, after making the first shot, they were statistically less likely to make the second.

What's the Big Idea?

Our understanding of how positive reinforcement drives behavior comes mostly from laboratories where rats and monkeys receive a reward for behavior 'X' and will repeat behavior 'X' believing they will receive another reward. But those simple conditions do not mirror the natural world where variables are myriad. "Although people can’t help but learn from the reinforcement signals of the worldthat’s just the way the mind is designedwe need to remember that these signals come with stark limitations..."

Photo credit: shutterstock.com



The Limits of Learning from...

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