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.

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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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Outsider Thinking

The Big Idea for Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Many of today’s most innovative thinkers aren’t reinventing the wheel. They’re applying existing technologies to unlikely problems. They’re finding elegant and unconventional ways to make our lives better. Why do they succeed where others have failed? Where do these “flashes of insight” come from? Often they’re the result of “outsider thinking”: the ability to forget conventional wisdom and revisit an overworked problem space with fresh eyes.

Historically, outsider thinking has often resulted from chance meetings and experimental accident – the right minds in the right place at the right time. But internet and search technology have placed the whole history of human knowledge at our fingertips, and given us the means to parse it. Using these, we can uncover the principles of outsider thinking, learn to apply them, and build a healthier, more harmonious world.

Through a series of public interviews on Big Think and an online seminar offered through Big Think: Mentor – our online learning platform, we are bringing together visionaries in medicine, communications, education, and the arts – thinkers notable for their elegant, practical solutions to longstanding problems – to discuss the principles and potential applications of outsider thinking.




  1. 1 Outsider Thinking: What Science Can Learn From Art
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  2. 2 Rationality in Action: Look at a Problem as an Outsider
    Julia Galef
  3. 3 Mia Kirshner on the Impact of Art
    Mia Kirshner
  4. 4 Is Too Much Familiarity Bad For Creativity?
    Sam McNerney Moments of Genius

Outsider Thinking

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