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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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Ideas Must Be Tested, So Arm Yourself With Evidence

January 9, 2014, 1:00 PM

I think if you have a culture where dissent is difficult or disagreement is difficult you’ve got a big problem because any organization is going to make mistakes and those mistakes need to be fixed as quickly as possible. So one way or another you’re going to have to find a way where mistakes are revealed, exposed and then corrected. 

If you don’t have a culture where that can happen another approach is to try and get evidence and I think evidence is really important.  The reason why medicine has advanced so far and life expectancy has advanced so far is because quite simply it’s not that doctors are smarter than the rest of us or maybe they are a little bit smarter than the rest of us.  It’s because in medicine we’ve got this system, all these systems for testing ideas and actually testing whether putting leeches on somebody’s skin actually makes them better.  It turns out not, but there was a time when everybody thought it did. 

So sometimes it’s not about changing the culture.  Sometimes the culture is something that is difficult to change.  Instead it’s about producing clear, crisp evidence that people can believe that this idea is working, this idea is not working, so if you can look for ways to present that then you have a strong argument.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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Ideas Must Be Tested, So Ar...

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