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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12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

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World Renowned Bloggers


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

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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.

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Negative Capability

The Big Idea for Monday, January 07, 2013

Remaining content with half-knowledge, or negative capability, is a literary concept that may be applied to innovation in general. In a famous letter to his brothers, the English poet John Keats defined negative capability as such: "when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason." 

This zen-like state of permanent beta makes many people uncomfortable today. In a rapidly changing world, we seek comfort in certainty. And yet, certainty cannot always be found, nor should it even be regarded as desirable. Innovation, after all, is a destructive act. We often have to unlearn what we know and disrupt our own thinking in order to create better outcomes. 

To the extent that we can make this process joyful, creative and ultimately productive will determine how good we are at embracing negative capability. And it is in this spirit that Big Think embarks on our next journey, on the occasion of our fifth anniversary. 

Read Big Think President and co-founder Peter Hopkins's letter to our audience which details the launch of two new platforms, Edge and Mentor. 


  1. 1 Big Think's Guide to Thinking and Doing Bigger in 2013
    Peter Hopkins What's New at Big Think
  2. 2 Why Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Change the World
    Jason Gots Input/Output
  3. 3 Visioneering: How to Answer the Challenges Just at the Edge of Human Grasp
    Daniel Honan Collective Intelligence
  4. 4 Four Steps to Harvest Winning Ideas
    Kara Finnegan Think Tank

Negative Capability

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