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

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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
Close

Would You Pass this Citizenship Test?

June 21, 2013, 7:03 AM
Flag

Eric Liu puts forward a “modest proposal” in this month’s Atlantic: instead of being awarded citizenship upon birth, perhaps Americans should have to pass a citizenship test just like immigrants to the country. You take the exam at the age of 18 and every ten years thereafter. If you truly bomb it at any point you can kiss your citizenship goodbye. (Liu doesn’t mention what happens next: deportation? Where to?) I took the test and was relieved to graduate “with distinction,” and you’ll no doubt be curious about your score.

When I wrote recently about the declining levels of social mobility in the United States and the duties that fortunate people have to less lucky individuals, I was talking mainly about inequalities of economic opportunity and social capital. But the contingency of our citizenship at birth is the probably the most decisive one of all. All the NSA funny business aside, being born an American buys you an excellent shot at a good, long, secure, healthy life. It brings you opportunities that most of the world’s population can only dream about.

Still, the 14th Amendment gives people born in the United States automatic citizenship for a very good reason, egalitarian concerns to one side. And the citizenship test Liu wrote is strangely heavy on identifying what national landmarks and Supreme Court justices look like. I’d prefer more questions about what the Court has ruled about freedom of speech or privacy rights than what distinguishes the mien of Samuel Alito from that of Antonin Scalia.

The actual test taken by those seeking to naturalize as U.S. citizens looks a little different, and one in three Americans would fail it. If nothing else, being aware of this should embarras you into reviewing your civics. And keeping current with Praxis.  

 

Would You Pass this Citizen...

Newsletter: Share: