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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.

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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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Today's Big Idea: Cognitive Overconfidence

The Big Idea for Saturday, December 15, 2012

Daniel Kahneman has shown us how we're often confident in our intuitive judgments even when we have no idea what we're doing. And to make matters worse, we tend to evaluate the reliability of other people's decision making on the same basis - if they're confident, they must know what they're talking about.

In today's lesson David Ropeik argues that our cognitive hubris allows us to think that we’re smarter than we actually are, to stubbornly deny the overwhelming evidence that human cognition is in fact a messy subjective mix of facts and feelings, intellect and instinct, reason and gut reaction. Pure, objective, analytical ‘just-the-facts’ Cartesian reason is a wonderful goal – “God’s crowning gift to man” as Sophocles put it – but it’s an unachievable myth. And believing in it is dangerous.

Perspectives

  1. 1 Dealing With the Danger of Cognitive Hubris
    David Ropeik Risk: Reason and Reality
  2. 2 You're So Predictable. Daniel Kahneman and the Science of Human Fallibility
    Jason Gots Think Tank
  3. 3 What Rats Can Teach Us About Confidence
    Adam Kepecs
  4. 4 Slow Down, You Think Too Fast
    Daniel Kahneman
 

Today's Big Idea: Cognitive...

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