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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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You ≠ Your Brain

November 6, 2011, 3:29 PM

What's the Latest Development?

Scientists and philosophers alike have begun to realize that our theories of the mind fail to account for how we talk about the world. The metaphors we use to describe our surroundings do not come from a purely mathematical or rational dissection of phenomena. Rather, the way we experience the world informs how we think about it. From an early age, for example, we associate warmth with security—the warmth of mother, warm milk, a warm blanket, etc.—so we describe things we trust as being warm, e.g. "I'm beginning to warm to him".

What's the Big Idea?

Descartes' dualism fell recently to the computational theory of the mind which viewed the brain as a rational calculating machine. It owed much of its impact to our understanding of computers and how our mind seemed to order the world by a similar process. But more and more we realize that personal experiences, shared across communities, also influence how we view and describe the world. For example, participants in scientific studies often lean forward when they think of the future, thus we associate the future with something 'forward'.


You ≠ Your Brain

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