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

Will Obama's Nobel Be a Distraction?

October 12, 2009, 10:29 PM

Last week I wrote that President Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize more as a show of support for the multilateral policy he advocates than for anything he has actually done. But I also argued that the award is uncomfortably at odds with the fact that the United States is currently fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as holding prisoners under deplorable conditions at Guantánamo and Bagram Airforce Base without legal justification.

Another awkward fact is that President Obama was given the award in part for his role in getting the United States to play “a more constructive role in the great climatic challenges the world is confronting.” But while Obama does deserve recognition for his work changing our climate change policy, as Tobin Hack points out, the award comes as developing countries are walking out of climate talks in Bangkok in part because the United States’ reluctance to commit money to helping them adapt to climate change.

Steve Benen argues that in spite of all this President Obama may deserve the award, in part for the significant accomplishment of “charting a new course for American leadership” after the Bush era. And Steve Clemons likewise thinks that “the Nobel Prize Committee has shrewdly given a key down payment for a kind of leadership it wants to see from the U.S. for many more years and given Obama another tool help craft a new global social contract between the United States and other responsible stakeholders in the international system.”

But in some ways the award may actually make it harder for President Obama to pursue his agenda, by adding to the impression that he hasn’t actually done anything to deserve the adulation and honors he received. The Republican National Committee immediately fired off a fund-raising letter joking that Obama had won “the Nobel Peace Prize for Awesomeness” and accusing the Democrats of wanting to make American “subservient to the agenda of global redistribution and control.” The Democratic National Committee responded by attacking the Republicans for throwing in their lot with the terrorists because Hamas and the Taliban were also critical of the award. Both sides' accusations, as David Sirota argues, are completely absurd. But in the end, the award may be little more than another distraction that Obama doesn’t need.


Will Obama's Nobel Be a Dis...

Newsletter: Share: