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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Questions of Perception

The Big Idea for Saturday, January 28, 2012

“Deceptions of the senses are the truths of perception,” said Jan Perkinje, the celebrated 19th century physiologist whose work inspired Goethe to study optics. Perkinje was speaking for the Romantics, but the findings of contemporary cognitive scientists could be articulated in much the same way. We know that responses to one’s environment are mediated by many factors, including biology, culture/language, and the brain. Today, we’ll focus on all the ways perception can be misleading, limiting, frustrating -- and occasionally, revelatory. What can you see that no one else can see, because of your own unique experience? What, on the other hand, are you missing? 


  1. 1 Brain Bugs: Hallucinations, Forgotten Faces, and Other Cognitive Quirks
    Megan Erickson Think Tank
  2. 2 Memory, Preferences, and Choices: How Our Noses Impact Our Decisions
    Maria Konnikova Artful Choice
  3. 3 The Amygdala and Unconscious Memories
    Joseph LeDoux
  4. 4 Understanding Risk Perception to Avoid Its Risks.
    David Ropeik Risk: Reason and Reality

Questions of Perception

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