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

What Good Is Davos?

January 27, 2011, 4:39 PM
2988917805_0cbf1f55a2_z

The world's elite have descended upon Davos. But the recent publication of a report claiming that the financial crisis was "avoidable" casts a shadow over what could be the world's most expensive and exclusive retreat. “The greatest tragedy would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming and thus nothing could have been done," the report concludes. So why did the smartest and most powerful minds fail to predict the coming crisis in 2008? 

In his interview with Big Think, Kevin Steinberg, the COO of the World Economic Forum USA, tells an illuminating story about an interactive workshop performed at Davos 2008, less than nine months before the financial bubble would ultimately burst. During the exercise, teams of global investment professionals were asked to allocate money to different industry sectors and then consider the implications of those allocations for the global economy's growth in the coming year. The professionals were then offered the option of privately putting as much money as they'd like "under the mattress" or in a safe bank—and the results came as quite a surprise given the buoyant mood, Steinberg explains in the video below.

Publicly the atmosphere was jovial and bullish, but privately a good majority of the money managers feared—correctly—a deep correction in the world's economy. Why weren't these fears addressed? Did the atmosphere of Davos prevent them from acknowledging the anxieties that most secretly harbored?

"A lot of what we decide is influenced by what’s going on around us" explains Legg Mason Capital Management's Chief Investment Strategist, Michael Mauboussin. Watch a portion of his interview below for a number of examples of how our decisions and behavior is unconsciously affected by our environment. 

If simply writing down a phone number can alter one's ability to make a simple estimate, could the insular, exclusive nature of the World Economic Forum be preventing the world's leaders from acting in the best interests of society?

More from the Big Idea for Thursday, January 27 2011

 

What Good Is Davos?

Newsletter: Share: