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

Diff'rent Folks, Diff'rent Intelligences

September 10, 2009, 5:34 PM

If you've ever been comforted by the fact that, though calculus is Greek to you, you've always been "good with words," or that, though you can't spell to save your life, you've always had a "strong aesthetic sense," you have Howard Gardner to thank. Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Dr. Gardner pioneered the theory of multiple intelligences in 1983 with Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The book essentially challenged the notion that there exists a single, quantifiable human intelligence and argued that, in fact, there may be eight or more different "intelligences."

Aside from its role in shifting education away from the linguistic/mathematical paradigm, Gardner's theory has done much to change our cultural conception of "smart" and "stupid"—bringing people with "naturalistic," "visual-spatial" and even "existential" intelligence back into the fold. Undercutting the notion that each of us has a single "computer" that falls somewhere on the smart-stupid spectrum, Gardner asserts that it's possible to be strong in certain intelligences and weak in others. President Obama, for instance, is clearly strong in interpersonally, intrapersonally and linguistically—but is it possible that he may fall short on existential intelligence?

Lately, Gardner has geared his work towards reevaluating what it means to be successful, and the importance of good work. His GoodWork Project, developed in the mid-90s, has become newly relevant in the wake of the financial crisis and what he sees as Americans' obvious over-emphasis on "money," "markets" and "me." As Paul Krugman points out in last week's NYT Magazine cover story, blind faith in the market has led us seriously astray. Gardner agrees, warning that Americans need to wise up, or risk losing their moral authority as a nation.

Like most of the psychologists we've interviewed, Gardner was curious about our "interrotron", wondering which interviewees came across well (lots) and which took issue with the set up (Oliver Sacks, among other psychologists). We think he wound up coming across pretty well.


Diff'rent Folks, Diff'rent ...

Newsletter: Share: