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

1

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

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

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
Close

Sharpen Your Skills: Learning to Listen

The Big Idea for Friday, March 30, 2012

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thru' narrow chinks of his cavern.  

–  William Blake

We operate in the world by representing it in simplified forms. Just as a roadmap eliminates trees, buildings – anything that might distract the driver from the task of navigation, our cognitive schema are simplified abstract representations of places, people, and situations that enable us to take action even in circumstances where we have a very limited idea of what’s going on. 

The brain operates in this way because it’s necessary to our survival. When opportunity arises, the hunter cannot pause, awestruck by the unique configuration of his prey’s antlers. But schema can also become inflexible, limiting our ability to process the complexities of the world. Now, especially, at a time when the human world is changing faster than ever, we need to be wary of our tendency to foreclose on reality – to identify patterns prematurely. This openness to experience is the essence of creativity, and it is essential to success in th 21st century.

 

Perspectives

  1. 1 Filthy, Hopeful, Brutal, Beautiful London
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  2. 2 The Africa That's Not in the News
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  3. 3 Henry Rollins: America, Meet the Rest of the World
    Keerthi Chandrashekar Think Tank
  4. 4 Disgust, Prejudice, and Stereotypes: Pathogen Protection Gone Awry
    Maria Konnikova Artful Choice
 

Sharpen Your Skills: Learni...

Newsletter: Share: