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

Is Autism Caused by Our Genes—Or By the Environment?

January 18, 2011, 12:00 AM

For a disorder that affects 1 in every 110 American children and 1 in every 70 American boys, there are a surprising number of misconceptions about autism. Study after study has shown that vaccines do not cause the disorder, yet some parents still refuse to vaccinate their children out of unfounded fears. And while autism rates have been on the upsurge for the past two decades, this most likely does not point to an epidemic but rather to a broadening definition of what constitutes the disorder.

Scientists are beginning to better understand the genetic and environmental factors that likely lead to autism, but there is still much upon which they do not agree—including why the disorder affects boys at roughly four times the rate that it affects girls.

In December, Big Think hosted a panel discussion highlighting cutting-edge autism research as part of our Breakthroughs series, made possible by Pfizer. The conversation features back-and-forth exchanges between top luminaries in the field, including Dr. Gerald D. Fischbach, Scientific Director of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative; Dr. Christopher A. Walsh, Chief of the Division of Genetics at Children's Hospital Boston; Dr. Susan Bookheimer, Professor of Cognitive Neurosciences at UCLA; and Dr. Susan Wilczynski, Executive Director of the National Autism Center. 

Over the next four weeks, Big Think's Breakthroughs: Autism series will look at the latest thinking and research about the causes and progression of autism. Each Monday and Wednesday, using information from this panel discussion, we will analyze a different piece of information about treatment of the disease and what might be done to prevent it. 

Produced by Big Think and made possible by Pfizer, Breakthroughs is a three-part series that focuses on leading-edge medical research. A previous installment on Alzheimer's disease can be found here, and another on cancer will launch in February.


Is Autism Caused by Our Gen...

Newsletter: Share: