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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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“Vegetative” Talking

February 4, 2010, 5:36 AM
Patients left in a “vegetative” state after suffering serious brain injury may still be able to understand and communicate according to groundbreaking new research. “Experts using brain scans have discovered for the first time that the victims, who show no outward signs of awareness, can not only comprehend what people are saying to them but also answer simple questions. They were able to give yes or no responses to simple biographical questions. The unlocking of this ‘inner voice’ has astounded doctors and has dramatic implications for thousands of life and death decisions over patients trapped in what is known as a persistent vegetative state (PVS). It means around one in five PVS patients may be able to communicate. It will raise questions about when doctors should switch off life support machines. It is likely to add to the debate on assisted suicide as the patient could potentially decide and communicate if they wish to carry on living. It comes just weeks after Kay Gilderdale was acquitted of assisting the suicide of her daughter Lynn who the jury accepted had lived a ‘twilight life’ for more than 17 years. Up to a thousand PVS patients in Britain are kept alive by doctors in the hope they may one day regain consciousness.”

“Vegetative” Talking

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