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

Cognitive Illusions

The Big Idea for Sunday, February 24, 2013

Close your eyes, this lesson won't hurt a bit. Yes it will, your brain tells you.

"We are hopelessly misled when we try to recall past experiences of pain," writes Big Thinker Steven Mazie in summarizing Daniel Kahneman's work on the difference between the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self.” If a past experience was painful it can greatly impact our capacity for making rational choices when we consider similar circumstances in the present. 

In today's lesson, Steven Mazie conveys his memory of running the New York City marathon and his subsequent vow to never do it again. We've all had a similar experience. So what tools do we possess to avoid the needless suffering and muted pleasure that results from these cognitive illusions?



  1. 1 The Upside of Suffering
    Steven Mazie Praxis
  2. 2 Do My Eyes Deceive Me? Optical Illusions, Framing, and Choice
    Maria Konnikova Artful Choice
  3. 3 Rationality in Action: Look at a Problem as an Outsider
    Julia Galef
  4. 4 Daniel Kahneman: Moving to California Won't Make You Happy
    Daniel Kahneman

Cognitive Illusions

Newsletter: Share: