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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.

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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The Power of Art

The Big Idea for Monday, June 09, 2014

Since cave paintings, humans have been using art to make sense of the world around them. Art is also a tool for envisioning the future. Science fiction, from Jules Verne to Philip K. Dick, featured fantastical technologies that are now realities. From Picasso's Guernica to Pussy Riot, art also confronts injustices and calls attention to urgent human rights issues. It's safe to say that we, as a species, need art for our survival. 

Sarah Lewis, the author of  The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, explains how art also makes us discover our shared humanity. She stopped by the Big Think studio to talk about the power of art to change the world and shared this story: “Think about the way that Brown versus the Board of Education would not have had Charles Black there, that constitutional lawyer, if he hadn’t seen Louis Armstrong perform that night in 1931 in Austin, Texas.  And in that moment say to himself, well there is genius coming out of this man’s horn.  And if there’s genius in this black man then segregation must be wrong.”

Today's big idea challenges you not to underestimate how art can change us and therefore the world.




  1. 1 "Art Changes Us"
    Big Think Editors Think Tank
  2. 2 The Bard's Beginning
    Bob Duggan Picture This
  3. 3 Pussy Riot and the Weapon of Art
    Andrea Chalupa Purpose, Inc.
  4. 4 Awakening Your Inner Picasso
    Bob Duggan Picture This

The Power of Art

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