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

Want To Be Seen As Smart? Use A Middle Initial (Or Make One Up)

April 30, 2014, 7:00 PM

What's the Latest Development?

Newly published in the European Journal of Social Psychology is a paper suggesting that people whose professional names include one or more middle initials are perceived as having higher intelligence and social status that those who use just their first and last names. Authors and psychologists Wijnand A.P. Van Tilburg and Eric R. Igou conducted seven separate studies using different subject groups in a variety of test situations. In one study, they found that, given the opportunity to join a team competing in an intellectual (as opposed to an athletic) pursuit, more people were willing to sign up if the other members had middle initials.

What's the Big Idea?

Van Tilburg and Igou write that their results may reflect long-held cultural beliefs acquired through seeing items authored by professionals -- lawyers, doctors, professors, etc. -- who are presumed to be more intelligent than the people they serve. Such people often use their middle initials in formal correspondence and publishing. Also, they note that "social groups with habits of giving their children more middle names have overall more resources available for education." Interestingly, the "middle initial effect" appeared to increase with the number of middle initials.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at Pacific Standard


Want To Be Seen As Smart? U...

Newsletter: Share: