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

Are the Democrats' Prospects Improving?

May 25, 2011, 3:22 PM

In a special election last night, Democrat Kathy Hochul upset Republican Jane Corwin to become New York’s 26th District’s representative in Congress. The race had been widely seen—and was treated by the national party organizations—as an indicator of the overall political climate and a test of the parties’ messages. The result suggests that just six months after their resounding defeat in the midterm elections, Democrats’ prospects have improved dramatically.

In particular, the elections suggests that the Republican plan to privatize Medicare and cut Medicare benefits is costing them. The special election was to replace Chris Lee (R-NY), who stepped down after Gawker published shirtless photos the married congressman had sent a woman he met on Craigslist. At first, it seemed like Corwin, a state assemblywoman, would win easily, since the district had been held by Republicans since the 1960s and was one of just four New York districts to go to John McCain in 2008. But Hochul, the County Clerk of Erie County, made her opposition to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposal to privatize Medicare as part of his budget plan a key part of her platform, and her message seems to have resonated in a district with a large elderly population. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Steve Israel (D-NY) bragged that the Ryan plan had already “cost the Republicans $3.4 million and a seat in Congress.”

Special elections are special, and we should be careful not to read too much into this one result. The next elections are still nearly 18 months away, and western New York is hardly representative of the rest of the country. Corwin may have lost votes to third party candidate Jack Davis, a self-proclaimed Tea Partier (who also ran in the district as a Democrat in 2006). And there is reason to think that Hochul may simply have been a better candidate than Jane Corwin. Nevertheless Nate Silver argues that Hochul’s four point victory in a such a strongly Republican district is telling. After all, cutting Medicare as a way to reduce the deficit polls poorly in swing states. As E.J. Dionne says, Hochul’s victory has to worry Republicans in swing districts. And it is likely inspire more competitive candidates to run as Democrats in the next election, since the Democrats' chances of retaking the House are starting to look up.

Photo credit: Daniel Case


Are the Democrats' Prospect...

Newsletter: Share: