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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.

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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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Knowledge Gaps

The Big Idea for Saturday, April 26, 2014

When Kas Thomas asks the question "Which came first, life or Earth?" in today's lesson, he is not asking a trick question. Well, it's sort of a trick question because we cannot answer it, and as Thomas points out, "there is not only no consensus view on the subject, there is not even any consensus on which of the many available candidate theories deserve to be candidate theories."

According to one potential candidate theory, for instance, life must have originated before Earth was formed, since it didn't have enough time to develop here.

This all speaks to the tendency we have to think science knows more than it knows. Not only do we have knowledge gaps here and there, Thomas points out, we have gaps when it comes to answering fundamental questions about how life arose. 


  1. 1 Which Came First, Life or Earth?
    Kas Thomas Devil in the Data
  2. 2 Which Came First, the Galaxy or the Black Hole?
    Michio Kaku
  3. 3 Evolution is Like a Self Organizing Flash Mob
    Bill Nye
  4. 4 Richard Dawkins on Why Science is Art
    Richard Dawkins

Knowledge Gaps

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