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.

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

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The Lessons of Failure

The Big Idea for Friday, February 21, 2014

The Danish physicist Niels Bohr once said "an expert is simply someone who has made all the mistakes there are to make in a narrow field."

The more we come to understand about the way we learn, the more Bohr's statement holds true. Our brains need us to make prediction errors in order to correct, amend and improve our performance. In short, improvement comes through failure. 

In today's lesson, Megan McArdle, author of The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success, explains the essential lesson that while it is fine to celebrate success, it is more important to learn the lessons of failure.


  1. 1 The Upside of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success
    Big Think Editors Specific Gravity
  2. 2 There's No Success Like Failure: Why You Need to Learn to Sing the Blues
    Robert Steven Kaplan What You're Really Meant To Do
  3. 3 Failure is not an option. It's a necessity.
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  4. 4 The Failure Fetish
    Daniel Altman Econ201

The Lessons of Failure

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