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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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.

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Set Perception

The Big Idea for Saturday, November 09, 2013

We are confronted with groups of objects in our visual environment all the time, whether it is a bouquet of flowers or a crowd of people. So how do we process these groups of objects?

Our brains compute a statistical summary representation. When it comes to human faces - whether we are processing their emotions or physical attractiveness, research shows that we compute the mean level of each set. 

This helps explain the so-called Cheerleader Effect, the pop-culture notion that individuals are more attractive when they are in a group. 


  1. 1 The Cheerleader Effect: Why You're More Attractive in a Group
    Big Think Editors Think Tank
  2. 2 Who You Find Attractive Is Based on How Hot You Are
    Dan Ariely
  3. 3 The Most Important Thing We All Have in Common
    Paul Ekman 60 Second Reads
  4. 4 The Mystery of Our Sexual Evolution
    Laurie Santos

Set Perception

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