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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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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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Decision Making

The Big Idea for Thursday, February 09, 2012

In the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis, Alan Greenspan – the Fed Chairman who had presided over the collapse – admitted before a Congressional committee that he had been wrong about human nature. His aggressive pursuit during his tenure of financial deregulation, he said, was based on a belief that their own self-interest would drive banks and financial businesses to regulate their own behavior tightly. 

As it happened, vast numbers of people took out mortgages they couldn't possibly afford to pay off and the financial industry instead took enormous risks that put the entire global economy in jeopardy. 

Human decision-making is as extraordinarily complex and fallible as is the human mind, and self-interest is insufficient to explain it. Yet there is obviously a great deal to be gained from the study of how we tend to make decisions, and how we can make better ones. 

Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman has devoted his career to mapping out the cognitive errors we're prone to. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker offers an evolutionary explanation for irrational behavior. And Maria Konnikova shares lessons from the master decision-maker, Sherlock Holmes


  1. 1 The Trouble With Confidence
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  2. 2 You're So Predictable. Daniel Kahneman and the Science of Human Fallibility
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  3. 3 It Pays to Be Stubborn: Conflict Resolution, Steven Pinker-Style
    Big Think Editors Think Tank
  4. 4 Lessons from Sherlock Holmes Pt.III: Parting Wisdom from the Master Decision Maker
    Maria Konnikova Artful Choice

Decision Making

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