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

Use Math to Combat Ultra-Violent Drug Cartels

October 18, 2012, 1:00 PM

What’s the Latest Development?

Violence caused by the international drug trade has continued to increase year after year despite the police effort to crack down on cartels and cartel leaders. Earlier this month, the death of the leader of one of Mexico’s most violent Cartels, Los Zetas, was considered a victory in the war on drugs. Outside experts are now saying that this top-down approach may be helpful with slowing the drug trade in the short run, but it ultimately results in more violence. These experts propose using statistical network analysis to take out the most vital parts of these organizations rather than the cartel bosses.

What’s the Big Idea?

What analysts are finding is that the deaths of cartel bosses lead to increased violence, after smaller cartels try to assert their power with more killing. “Prior to the crackdowns that began in 2006, drug-related crimes in Mexico killed about 3700 people per year. In 2011, that number was more than 16,000.” By developing network-analysis algorithms, experts are able to find vital nodes in the network of a drug cartel. Usually these nodes are “betweeners” or “people who are not well-connected, but serve as a bridge linking two groups” of legal and illegal counterparts. The hope is that ultimately the removal of these key players can reduce both violence and drug traffic throughout the Americas.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com



Use Math to Combat Ultra-Vi...

Newsletter: Share: